Over the years of building and operating websites, I have had the pleasure (somewhat) of working with and trying out various web hosts and technologies such as shared hosting and VPS (virtual private server). My goal with this post is to demystify the process of picking the best web host based on your needs and I am also going to compare some of the pros and cons of each. Feel free to post your comments below to contribute to this topic and let us know your experience with your web host of choice.
How to Pick a Web Host
Ask the question… “What are my needs?”
The first step to finding a web host that will provide the service you need for your personal or business website is to take a quick inventory of what services you require of a hosting company. Some of the most common services that people look for are as follows:
- Unlimited storage space
- Email accounts
- Domain hosting and/or a free domain
- FTP Access
- For eCommerce sites: SSL Certificates
- For eCommerce sites: Shopping carts
What kind of website are you operating? Is this a business website that needs more available resources or is this your own personal blog that will be largely for sharing your thoughts with the world? As a business you cannot afford website downtime or a website that loads slowly. People will give you 3 seconds of their time before they move on to another website and so as a small business that could mean making a sell or not. Personal websites typically can get by with the basic packages that hosts provide, many of which come with more than enough features to give you a functional and moderately fast website.
If you run a business and are selling product through your website then you will likely want a host that provides a shopping cart feature in addition to SSL certificates for secure checkout. The alternative to this would be using a payment gateway such as Stripe or Paypal which we actually prefer over other payment methods.
Determine your budget
Most importantly you need to determine your needs, THEN and only then should you set your budget because your needs will ultimately determine how much you will be spending on hosting. I understand that keeping costs as low as possible is important for small businesses (we are a small business too!).
There is a direct correlation between how much effort you want to put into development of your website and how much it is going to cost you. If you want to spend more time developing a website yourself then you will save a little on cost, or you could use a managed hosting service where everything is setup for you and you just have to add your content.
For most business owners, it’s not feasible to spend a lot of time building a website so the managed hosting is a viable option. When you work with us for your website needs, we will spend the time developing your website and so we don’t use managed hosting ourselves and this will save you hundreds over the course of a year.
Cost of Shared Hosting vs. VPS
To learn more about shared hosting, visit this link.
Shared hosting is essentially leasing part of a physical server in which you share resources with multiple customers on that same server. For some people this is a good option and is relatively low cost but for anything more than a personal blog, I would NOT recommend shared hosting options for the reasons in the article linked above.
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. When you purchase a VPS through a hosting company you are allocated your own resources on a server. The benefits of this are numerous, most importantly not having your website’s performance determined by the activities of other people or by your website using up the minuscule resources that you have access to in shared hosting.
Our preferred VPS option is Amazon Web Services (AWS). This requires quite a bit more knowledge about servers and how to install WordPress on a completely self managed VPS, so we do not recommend the lay person to try and setup this service without assistance. Our company can setup and operate your website on AWS (or any other VPS service) and ultimately provide you with a very fast and reliable website.
Answering these questions will help you pick a web host most compatible with you or your business. If you take our advice you will end up with a host that is going to be sufficient for your type of usage but not one that you’ve been oversold on by a company that will under deliver on their promises. Any company that will charge more than $10 for shared hosting is taking you for a ride and laughing all the way to the bank while you pay just slightly less than a VPS service will cost.
Get in contact with us if you would like to discuss web hosting options for your blog or business website and don’t purchase anything until you have a good grasp on your needs and your budget. We want to make sure you are completely happy with your website and we will do what we can to make that possible for you.