It ain’t easy.
Sorting through the myriad of claims by different hosting providers could take you months.
How do you find the one web host that is your best match?
Hosting your website on a computer in a corner of your office is possible, but is a security risk unless you employ technicians around the clock to prevent hacking attempts. Consequently, every business needs to pay a hosting company to store your website data on its computers.
What Type of Hosting?
You have four choices; three traditional hosting types, plus cloud hosting.
Shared, VPS and dedicated server hosting all use one copy of your website on one server. The differences are in the detail.
Shared hosting is the cheapest you can get, sometimes you can even find shared hosting for free. Your website will be on a server hard drive with hundreds of other websites, but that’s not the worst of it. Your website data will be split up all over the drive, so when someone wants to load a web page the server has to find scores of separate files, which takes time so your pages load slowly. Shared hosting works best for small sites with few visitors.
With VPS hosting your website data is still on a server with many other websites, but you have your own section of the hard disc, so all your data is together, which means your website loads faster because the server doesn’t have to search the entire drive to find the different components of each webpage. VPS hosting costs more than shared hosting but is more suitable for business use.
Dedicated servers are expensive. You get the entire hard disc and all the CPU resources to yourself.
Cloud hosting uses multiple copies of your website on different servers which may be in different cities. You pay for the data you use, so costs can be higher than conventional hosting. However, cloud hosting is scalable; if you have a surge in users you can increase your data allowance so your website never crashes because it is too popular.
You will find large variations in cloud services, so use a cloud comparison tool like this one to find one that is perfect for you.
Comparing Web Hosting
Web hosting businesses often use affiliate marketing, where bloggers and other affiliates are paid $75-150 for everyone they refer who buys hosting. This makes blogger recommendations difficult to believe and genuine best buy choices hard to find.
The companies you see mentioned most often are those that pay the most to affiliates: These easily recognised hosting businesses often have appalling customer satisfaction ratings.
Some hosting companies offer gimmicks such as ‘unlimited websites’, ‘unlimited bandwidth’ and unlimited storage. Ignore them.
Nobody needs unlimited websites because nobody has the time to develop more than one or two.
Unlimited bandwidth and storage are cheap and getting cheaper every week.
Low-cost web hosts usually mark their claims with an *. If you read the small print you find that the * refers to “fair usage” restrictions that mean your ‘unlimited’ is extremely limited and unreasonable.
Independent Hosting Advice
Forget the individual hosting company websites – You need independent advice.
Forget bloggers’ recommendations – $100 affiliate commissions distort any blogger’s idea of the perfect host.
You need independent reviews from experts and from people who have bought hosting to compare hosting plans in a meaningful way.
Make a short-list of two or three hosting providers, then read every independent review you can find:
- Discount any companies that are known to ‘throttle’ low-cost hosting accounts to pressure users into paying for more expensive accounts.
- Drop any web hosts that do not have at least 24/7 chat support because you will need support outside of US office hours
- Ignore any come-ons such as ‘First month free’ offers
- Think long and hard before committing to a three-year contract. A long contract is much cheaper per month, but a waste of your money if it turns out to be sub-standard
- Ensure you can upgrade your hosting if you outgrow it
The Short Version
Know what you want from your hosting partner before you start shopping around. That way you don’t get bamboozled by all the numbers that individual companies throw at you.
Use a hosting review website for genuinely independent advice. These sites do earn affiliate commissions, too, but they show you survey results from thousands of buyers and allow you to make side-by-side comparisons, so they are earning their affiliate commissions.