How To Pick Website Hosting
Web hosting powers the internet. Every blog, every app basically everything on the internet is hosted by a company. When starting a blog you will come to a point when you are ready to select your web hosting that will host your website online.
There are hundreds if not thousands of web hosting companies, the problem is selecting the best website hosting company with top notch performance. In this article I’ll give you every thing to look for from a seasoned pro so even a noobie can qualify web hosting providers.
In all transparency this blog is hosted on Shock hosting formerly Arch hosting. Ive not recommended them here for my own reasons. Ill be recommending hosting providers from my experiences with my other websites and businesses.
In short web hosting is super important when building blogs, ecommerce stores and businesses. You will need it to start any of these businesses.
The TLDR for skim readers
- Know what type of hosting you need ie, Ecommerce, blog, business site etc
- Search for website hosting for [your need] in Google and bookmark 5 that you think are ok
- Rate them by price
- Rate them by limitations, restrictions
- Rate them by performance
- Review their security policies
- Review features you get on the plan you like
Thats the short of it. Web hosting is important and you shouldnt skip over this because it might bite you in the butt later. Ive seen it choke growing website and Ive seen hosting tap out under traffic surges.
I suggest taking two lenses when reviewing a website hosting provider is to have a business sense lense and a technical lense to find a good web hosting company.
Types of Web Hosting
Hosting on a shared plan is the same is living in apartment complex, everyone lives on the same block but each person has their own unit number. This is best for startups so they can start something at a low cost around $3-$8 month.
The Advantages is that its cheap, you can get started fast, most features work, you can get a simple website up online with relative ease.
The Disadvantages is that you are sharing resources with other people, you dont know how many people you share resources with, you dont know if your neighbours are drug lords or criminals, you have no control over who you share the network with. You are at risk of being shut down.
- HostGator is a shared hosting provider
- BlueHost is a shared hosting provider
- Shared hosting is like living in an apartment complex
Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
VPS’s are a type of web hosting service where a physical server is divided into multiple virtual servers, each of which is allocated to a specific user. Each virtual server is isolated from other virtual servers, providing users with their own dedicated resources, including CPU, RAM, disk space, and bandwidth.
This hosting type is a popular option for websites that require more resources and control than shared hosting but don’t need a dedicated physical server. Users have full root access to their virtual server, allowing them to customize the server configuration and install any software they need. VPS hosting is typically more expensive than shared hosting but less expensive than dedicated physical server hosting.
VPS hosting offers many benefits, including increased control, scalability, and reliability. It is a good choice for websites that have outgrown shared hosting and need more resources to handle increased traffic and data storage needs.
Advantages of using a VPS:
- Cost-effective: VPS is a cost-effective alternative to a dedicated physical server. It is significantly cheaper than having to purchase and maintain your hardware.
- Scalability: VPS provides an easy way to upgrade your server resources as your business grows. It allows you to scale up or down resources like CPU, RAM, and storage.
- Customization: VPS offers users more control and customization over their server configuration, including the choice of operating system, server software, and security settings.
- Improved security: VPS hosting is more secure than shared hosting because the server resources are isolated, making it harder for hackers to access your website.
- Reliability: VPS hosting usually comes with a high level of uptime and reliability.
Disadvantages of using a VPS:
- Technical knowledge required: Managing a VPS requires some technical knowledge. If you are not comfortable with server management, you may need to hire someone to help you.
- Security risks: While VPS hosting is more secure than shared hosting, it still has some security risks. If you don’t properly configure your server, you may expose your website to potential security breaches.
Overall, VPS hosting is a good choice for businesses that require more resources and control than shared hosting but don’t want to invest in a dedicated physical server. It is important to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages before choosing a VPS hosting provider.
Dedicated hosting is a type of web hosting service where a user gets access to an entire physical server that is dedicated solely to their website or application. This means that the user has complete control over the server resources and can configure the server to meet their specific requirements. The user has full root access to the server, which allows them to install any software and operating system they want.
Advantages of dedicated hosting:
- Complete control: With dedicated hosting, the user has complete control over the server resources and can configure the server to meet their specific requirements.
- Increased performance: Since the server resources are not shared with other users, dedicated hosting can provide a higher level of performance and faster page load times.
- Enhanced security: Dedicated hosting offers a high level of security as the server is not shared with other users. This eliminates the possibility of security breaches caused by other users on the server.
- Scalability: Dedicated hosting can be easily scaled up or down based on the user’s requirements. Users can add or remove resources as their website or application grows or as traffic fluctuates.
- Reliability: Dedicated hosting provides a high level of uptime and reliability as the user has complete control over the server and can configure it to ensure maximum uptime.
Disadvantages of dedicated hosting:
- High cost: Dedicated hosting is typically more expensive than shared hosting or VPS hosting because the user is renting an entire physical server.
- Technical knowledge required: Managing a dedicated server requires some technical knowledge. If the user is not comfortable with server management, they may need to hire someone to help them.
- Lack of flexibility: Dedicated hosting is less flexible than shared hosting or VPS hosting as the user is limited to the physical resources of the server.
- Responsibility for maintenance: With dedicated hosting, the user is responsible for maintaining and securing the server. This can be a disadvantage if the user does not have the time or expertise to do so.
Overall, dedicated hosting is a good choice for websites or applications that require high levels of performance, security, and scalability. It is important to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages before choosing a dedicated hosting provider as it can be an expensive option for those on a tight budget.
Cloud hosting is a type of web hosting service where a website or application is hosted on a cluster of servers that work together to provide a high level of performance and uptime. In cloud hosting, resources such as processing power, memory, and storage are spread across multiple physical servers, which can be easily scaled up or down based on demand.
Advantages of cloud hosting:
- Scalability: Cloud hosting provides users with a high level of scalability. Users can easily add or remove server resources as needed, allowing for a flexible and cost-effective solution that can easily adapt to changing traffic levels.
- High level of uptime: Cloud hosting offers a high level of uptime as resources are spread across multiple physical servers. If one server goes down, the other servers in the cluster can pick up the slack, ensuring that the website or application remains online.
- Enhanced performance: Cloud hosting provides a high level of performance as resources can be quickly allocated based on demand, ensuring that the website or application runs smoothly.
- Cost-effective: Cloud hosting can be a cost-effective solution as users only pay for the resources they use. This eliminates the need to purchase and maintain expensive hardware.
- Redundancy: Cloud hosting offers a high level of redundancy as resources are spread across multiple servers. This ensures that if one server fails, the website or application remains online.
Disadvantages of cloud hosting:
- Technical knowledge required: Managing a cloud hosting environment requires some technical knowledge. If the user is not comfortable with server management, they may need to hire someone to help them.
- Security concerns: Cloud hosting involves sharing resources with other users, which can be a security concern if the cloud hosting provider does not have robust security measures in place.
- Cost: While cloud hosting can be cost-effective, it can also be expensive for websites or applications that require high levels of resources.
- Dependence on the internet: Since cloud hosting relies on an internet connection, it can be affected by connectivity issues or outages.
Overall, cloud hosting is a good choice for websites or applications that require high levels of scalability, performance, and uptime. It is important to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages before choosing a cloud hosting provider as it can be an expensive option for those on a tight budget. It’s also important to choose a reliable and secure cloud hosting provider to ensure that the website or application remains online and secure.
Storage: Storage refers to the amount of space provided by the web hosting provider to store your website data. This includes all the files, images, videos, and databases associated with your website. It is important to choose a web hosting provider that offers enough storage to meet your needs, while also leaving room for future growth
- Explain what storage is and how it’s measured.
- Discuss the different storage options available, including hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs).
- Provide examples of popular hosting providers with different storage options.
Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transferred from your website to your visitors. It is important to choose a web hosting provider that offers enough bandwidth to support your website traffic without causing slow page load times or downtime.
- Explain what bandwidth is and how it’s measured.
- Discuss the different bandwidth options available, including unlimited and metered plans.
- Provide examples of popular hosting providers with different bandwidth options.
Uptime guarantees refer to the amount of time that a web hosting provider guarantees that your website will be online and available to visitors. It is important to choose a web hosting provider that offers a high level of uptime guarantees, ideally 99.9% or higher, to ensure that your website is always accessible to visitors.
- Explain what uptime guarantees are and why they’re important.
- Discuss the different uptime guarantee levels offered by hosting providers.
- Provide examples of popular hosting providers with different uptime guarantees.
Backups refer to the process of creating and storing copies of your website data in case of a disaster or data loss. It is important to choose a web hosting provider that offers regular backups to ensure that your website data is safe and can be easily restored in case of a problem.
Whenever Im making big changes I will make a backup of my site just in case something goes astray. You never know when you will need it.
- Explain what backups are and why they’re important.
- Discuss the different backup options available, including automatic and manual backups.
- Provide examples of popular hosting providers with different backup options.
One of the biggest features you will need when starting out, looking back this helped me immensely when starting. I would routinely break my website and be stuck not knowing what to do or how to move forward.
Tech support refers to the level of support provided by the web hosting provider in case of any issues or problems with your website. It is important to choose a web hosting provider that offers 24/7 support, with multiple ways to contact their support team, such as phone, email, or live chat.
The best type of support was always live chat experts.
Email support gets lost over days or weeks depending on the web hosting company.
I only did a handful of support phone calls and they didnt seem to fix the problem and would always refer to email.
It is hit and miss with support people, some get it in one and just know the product so well that they can help you while others are there to get paid and they just answer a ticket because they have to.
Touching on that, every second your website is down means you are not able to make commissions. The speed of tech support is crucial to your earning capacity, push them to help and at speed.
Ive waited weeks for HostGator support to help me with errors and I can confidently say that my time at HostGator was time wasted Ill never use them again.
An example I faced was updating my themes and plugins on my WordPress site. No one told me when I started to update the plugins one by one and dont try to update all at once. That huge update request crashed my site and I was not able to get support for 3 weeks to fix it. Facepalm.
Performance and Speed
The physical location of a web hosting company’s server can have an impact on the performance of a website or application. At least I would like a CDN in place to help distribute my content faster.
Here are some ways that server location matters:
Distance from visitors: The physical distance between the web hosting server and website visitors can affect the website’s loading speed. If the server is located far away from the majority of visitors, the website may load slower due to increased latency or lag time. A server located closer to the visitors will generally provide faster website loading times.
Local regulations: Some countries or regions have specific regulations on data privacy, which can affect the server location. For example, some countries require that personal data must be stored on servers located within their borders. If a website collects personal data from visitors, the server location may need to comply with these regulations.
Network infrastructure: The web hosting company’s server location can also affect the network infrastructure and connectivity. Some web hosting companies may have better infrastructure and connectivity in specific locations, leading to better uptime, faster speeds, and more reliable service.
Overall, the web hosting company’s server location can have a significant impact on website performance, user experience, and search engine rankings. It is important to choose a web hosting company with servers located in a region that best meets the website’s needs in terms of speed, user location, and regulations.
- Cloudflare is a CDN company that helps with removing limitations of a server location. They have free and paid plans.
Web caching can have a significant impact on the performance of a website. Caching involves temporarily storing frequently accessed website content in a local storage, such as the visitor’s web browser or a web proxy, in order to reduce the load on the web server and improve website performance.
When it comes to a web hosting company’s web caching performance, there are a few things to consider:
Type of caching: The web hosting company may offer different types of caching, such as browser caching, server caching, or CDN caching. Browser caching stores website data on the visitor’s web browser, while server caching stores data on the web server, and CDN caching stores data on a network of distributed servers. Each type of caching has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best option depends on the specific needs of the website.
Cache hit rate: The cache hit rate is the percentage of requests for website content that are served from the cache rather than from the web server. A higher cache hit rate means that more requests are being served from the cache, resulting in faster website performance. The web hosting company’s caching performance can be evaluated based on the cache hit rate and the effectiveness of the caching mechanism.
Cache expiration settings: The web hosting company’s caching mechanism should also have appropriate cache expiration settings. The cache expiration determines how long the website content is stored in the cache before it is removed and refreshed from the web server. If the cache expiration is too long, visitors may see outdated website content. If the cache expiration is too short, more requests will be served from the web server, reducing the effectiveness of the caching mechanism.
A hosting company should have decent web caching performance as a baseline, with some fine tuning you can adjust the cache policy to be struct or relaxed depending what you want.
It is important to choose a web host with a caching mechanism that is appropriate for the website’s needs and that is configured to provide optimal cache hit rates and appropriate cache expiration settings.
- Kinsta Cloud has a very strict caching policy that makes it difficult to see changes instantly
- Vultr has a relaxed caching policy
When buying web hosting for the first time this security part can be real mind blowing to wrap your head around. It’s a big daunting thing that hackers could wreck your site and steal all your personal information.
It can happen but it doesnt have to happen. Here are some factors to understand as they impact the quality of performance and security for your new website hosting plan.
Encryption: The web hosting company should use encryption to protect website data, such as SSL/TLS encryption to secure website traffic and encryption for stored data.
Firewall protection: A web hosting company should have a firewall in place to prevent unauthorized access to the server and website.
Anti-malware and anti-virus protection: A web hosting company should use software to scan for malware and viruses, and to prevent website visitors from downloading or uploading malicious content.
Access control: The web hosting company should have measures in place to prevent unauthorized access to the server, such as secure passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Backups and disaster recovery: A web hosting company should have a backup and disaster recovery plan in place to protect against data loss and to restore data in case of an outage or breach.
Compliance with regulations: Depending on the type of website, the web hosting company should be compliant with relevant regulations, such as GDPR or HIPAA.
Security updates and patches: The web hosting company should regularly update server software and security patches to prevent security vulnerabilities.
It’s also a good idea to research the web hosting company’s security policies and read reviews from other customers to get an idea of their track record with security. Remember, web hosting security is a shared responsibility, so it’s important for website owners to also take steps to protect their website, such as using strong passwords, keeping software up-to-date especially web browsers and website plugins.
You should be able to get a free SSL certificate from your hosting provider for joining them as a new customer. If you dont and they try to make you pay for it call them up and try to negotiate a deal. There are other companies willing to provide the SSL for free if you join them. Make sure you at least try to get it free, thats a cool savings of $110 a year.
Website Builders and CMSs
WordPress is a popular content management system (CMS) that allows website owners to easily create and manage a website without having to learn technical skills like coding. When it comes to web hosting, WordPress can be used on any web hosting platform that meets the minimum requirements for running WordPress.
Here’s how it works:
Choose a web hosting provider: To use WordPress, you need to choose a web hosting provider that supports WordPress. Many web hosting providers offer pre-installed WordPress or offer one-click installation of the platform.
Install WordPress: Once you have chosen a web hosting provider, you can install WordPress on your web hosting account. This usually involves downloading the WordPress software and following the installation instructions.
Customize your website: Once you have installed WordPress, you can customize your website by choosing a theme, adding plugins, and creating pages and posts. With WordPress, you don’t need to know how to code to create a professional-looking website.
Publish your website: After customizing your website, you can publish it by connecting your domain name to your web hosting account. This makes your website accessible to visitors online.
Overall, WordPress is a popular and user-friendly CMS that can be used on a variety of web hosting platforms. It offers a simple way to create and manage a website without requiring technical expertise, and can be customized to fit the needs of businesses and individuals alike.
- This website is hosted by a Shock hosting and uses WordPress as the CMS.
Shopify is a hosted content management system (CMS) that is designed specifically for e-commerce websites. It provides a platform for creating and managing an online store without requiring technical skills like coding.
Here’s how it works:
Sign up for a Shopify account: To use Shopify, you first need to sign up for an account. You can choose a pricing plan that fits your needs, which determines the features and functionality that you have access to.
Customize your website: Once you have signed up for a Shopify account, you can customize your website by choosing a theme, adding products, and setting up payment and shipping options. Shopify offers a variety of templates and tools that make it easy to create a professional-looking online store without requiring technical skills.
Manage your store: With Shopify, you can easily manage your online store by adding and removing products, tracking inventory, and fulfilling orders. You can also use built-in analytics to track your store’s performance and make data-driven decisions.
Use Shopify’s hosting: One of the key advantages of using Shopify is that it is a hosted CMS, which means that Shopify hosts your website and provides technical support and security. This eliminates the need to find a separate web hosting provider, and ensures that your online store is secure and always up-to-date.
Integrate with third-party tools: Shopify offers a variety of integrations with third-party tools and services, such as payment gateways, shipping providers, and marketing tools. This allows you to extend the functionality of your online store and improve your customer experience.
- This site was on Shopify for a while when I was selling Tshirts and posters. I since moved back to WordPress
- Shopify is best for ecommerce stores.
Overall, Shopify is a user-friendly CMS that makes it easy to create and manage an online store. As a hosted CMS, it eliminates the need to find a separate web hosting provider, and offers a variety of features and integrations that are specifically tailored to e-commerce websites.
Try Shopify for free using this link
In WordPress, website themes are pre-designed templates that determine the layout, design, and functionality of your website. Page builders, on the other hand, are tools that allow you to design and customize individual pages on your website, often using a drag-and-drop interface.
These 3 theme builders have served me well and I highly rate them:
2 Divi Theme & Page Builder
Here are some pros and cons of using website themes and page builders in WordPress:
Website Themes: Pros:
- Easy to install and use: Themes are easy to install and use, even for beginners, as they come with pre-designed templates that can be customized to fit your needs.
- Saves time: Themes can save you a lot of time compared to building a website from scratch.
- Professional design: Themes are usually designed by professional designers and developers, which can give your website a professional look and feel.
- Limited customization: Pre-designed themes can be limiting in terms of customization, as you have to work within the confines of the theme’s design.
- Requires additional work: If you want to customize a theme to fit your specific needs, you may need to spend time editing the code or hiring a developer to make changes.
- May be overused: Some popular themes may be used by many other websites, which can make your website look less unique.
Pricing and Plans
What do they cost
Bricks Builder I got in super early and picked up a deal for 1,000 sites for I think $99 USD at the time. This was when Bricks was in beta phase and still rolling out a lot of new features. Right now they retail $99 USD for 1 starter site and $999 USD for unlimited sites.
Divi has various deals throughout the year I purchased a lifetime deal for $147 USD in 2019 that came with all the spoils, unlimited use, Bloom, Monarch and the upgraded extra speed optimised theme.
Thrive Themes is a suite of 10 tools or just a theme builder. The suite retails for $299 USD per year for all tools. Im a big fan of Thrive and what they have built. There was a time I only used Thrive on my affiliate websites but as my niche site strategies changed I started mixing up themes. Thrive is a flexible theme for anyone just starting.
Most theme builders and page builders have big businesses built on top end customer support, so refunding an unhappy customer is not something they wont do. As long as you tried to make it work, have used the product and it did not meet your needs then you should be able to get a hassle free refund.
Im also not a representative of these companies so please do your own research into each ones policies around refunds and money back guarantees.
When starting a new blog, choosing the right web hosting company is a critical decision that can have a significant impact on the success of your website. To find the best web hosting company, consider factors such as storage, bandwidth, backups, uptime guarantees, and tech support. It’s also important to consider the company’s server location, web caching performance, and security policies.
Finally, when using popular CMS platforms like WordPress or Shopify, understanding how they work and how to use their themes and page builders can help you create a professional-looking and functional website. With these key considerations in mind, you can find a web hosting company that meets your needs and gives you the best chance for success with your blog.