How to choose the right hosting for your website

Every website host is a little different, so making the right selection will differ greatly depending on what you intend to accomplish as the website owner. In definition, your web host acts as the storage location for the contents on your website, including the relevant files, photos, data, style sheets (CSS), and videos.

To provide guidance, we have provided a detailed outline of the steps worth considering to ensure your website can succeed with several criteria up for consideration.

Prioritize site features

Long before you begin evaluating website features, teams must sit down and determine their desired outcome, working backward to create a list of features that may help them achieve this. Website owners should write their list in order of priority to ensure that they can easily compare features as they start researching. Consider that some websites may include many high-quality photos or videos, such as a photography business. In this example, storage will become a major consideration and make or break factor. On the other side, websites might need functionality for eCommerce and require a large focus on security.

Setting the contract

Reliable web hosting contracts may be offered monthly, yearly, or over a few years. Although these options vary, it is important to weigh the pros and cons between taking a shorter contract that might come with a higher price tag or opting for a longer contract with discounted rates. While price is a big driver in this decision, it also comes down to your comfort level and how long you may be willing to commit to a contract from the get-go. It may make more sense for those completely new to website hosting to choose a platform with a money-back policy or a month-to-month payment plan to try it out before committing to something longer term.

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Furthermore, as is true with any other contract, it is often a good idea to review the terms of the contract before signing the dotted line. Consider penalties for upgrading your plan or leaving your contract early. Sometimes the hidden fees may be enough to sway a user in a different direction.

Review the uptime guarantee

Crucial to your website hosting decision will be the platform’s uptime guarantee or the amount of time your content will be available online for users to view. Typically, you expect your website to be available almost 100% of the time. In reality, providers can only get as close to the 100% mark as possible (between 99.5%-99.99%). That said, some providers will include a different definition of what “uptime” means in their case, meaning website owners should carefully review this ahead of time. Website owners may also benefit from reading third-party reviews to hear the other side of how a host is handling their downtimes and how often these may be occurring. Researching both sides can ensure owners are making decisions with well-rounded information.

Compare features

As mentioned in the first step, hosting services differ greatly in features and functionality. Therefore, by comparing your previously compiled list of priorities, users will be able to determine which platforms line up with their goals. Most hosts will offer very generalized services at a starting price point, often lacking in storage capacity, bandwidth, or free security features. However, other offerings may provide functionality specific to a content management platform that you may have familiarity with.

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Upon initial inspection, users will quickly notice if the hosting provider’s plan meets their needs. In contrast, it may be a tell if this information requires significant research to dig up. After all, if these features aren’t easy to find, they may not be a focus of the provider to begin with.

In your research, you may also look into the additional features you might be interested in employing. Such as the cost of added storage or any other “extras.” Not all hosting platforms give users the ability to add on as they please, making upgrades more difficult as needs shift.

Evaluate eco-friendly options

Even if your business isn’t particularly “green,” the latest push for sustainability and eco-friendliness is not one that website owners should overlook. Reducing your environmental impact can often be done with little extra effort. It can help optimize your operations as an added benefit, whether through LED lighting, advanced lighting controls, or otherwise.

Summary

After carefully reviewing the above list of criteria, most website owners have agreed they are in a good position to take the next step in selection.

About the author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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