To start a website successfully, you must know how to choose a web hosting provider. Without a good hosting provider, you may not be able to provide a great browsing experience to your visitors.
This is especially important for businesses that intend to go from offline to online.
Why, you might ask?
Because you must be able to offer your customers a smooth browsing and shopping experience.
If your website is down or loads slowly, they might move on to your competitors. Which could mean losing the customer forever.
A good web hosting provider can help your website have low downtime and faster loading speed. But there’s a lot more to it than just that.
So, you might ask, how can you find a web hosting provider for your business?
To help you out, I’ve put together this detailed guide.
Let’s dive right in.
Pro Tip: Compare multiple web hosting providers before selecting one.
How to Choose a Web Hosting Provider in 16 Steps
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you choose a web hosting service to take your business online.
1. Determine the Type of Hosting You Need
When you want to start a website, you need to know the type of hosting that you need. There are multiple types of hosting for websites. They are:
1. Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is one of the most common hosting methods and works great for small businesses.
What does shared hosting mean?
It means that your website is hosted on a single server along with many other websites. This comes out to be the least expensive option for businesses because the server is shared.
However, this also means that the bandwidth that you get is dependent on the traffic of other websites that are hosted on your server.
Your website might become slow in such situations or may not be able to handle many visitors at that point.
2. Dedicated Hosting
The second type of hosting that you can choose is dedicated server hosting. In this type of hosting, your website is hosted on a single server and it’s the only website that’s hosted on it.
What does this mean?
This means that the entire computing power of the server will be reserved for your website. As a result, your website is likely to experience faster speeds and fewer downtimes.
However, this also means that the hosting will be costly as yours will be the only website hosted on it.
3. Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting is yet another popular type of hosting. In this type of hosting, your website is hosted across a cloud-based server.
What does this mean?
It means that your website will be hosted along with several others, but not on a single server. Cloud servers can pick up the load if another server crashes. This ensures that your website will experience minimal downtime and faster loading speeds.
Cloud hosting offers you the capability to quickly scale up or scale down your server power based on the demand, unlike other forms of hosting.
Whenever you’re expecting a spike in traffic, you can easily adjust to it using cloud hosting.
4. WordPress Hosting
WordPress hosting is a managed WordPress hosting that can be paired up with any of the other web hosting configurations.
The only difference is that the server is specifically designed to handle WordPress websites. As a result, website performance can improve if you intend to create a WordPress website.
Now that you know the different types of hosting, you need to figure out which form of hosting you’ll require.
Different hosting providers may specialize in various types of hosting. So, the type of hosting you want can help you choose a web hosting service that may be the best for you.
2. Check the Performance
Performance is a very important parameter that you need to take into consideration when you want to choose a web hosting provider for your online business.
A slow-loading website can be disastrous for your business.
Why, you may ask?
Because users are pressed for time. As a result, they tend to wait for a short while for the website to load. If it doesn’t load quickly, they’ll immediately move on to another website.
For an online business, this could mean the loss of a potential customer.
So, you must avoid this at all costs.
And for that, it’s crucial to have a web host that provides good performance.
When you’re comparing the performance of various web hosting services, you should check the performance for the particular type of web hosting that you want, be it shared or cloud hosting.
Also, check the hardware that the web hosting company uses because this, too, can affect the performance of your website.
If you do opt for WordPress hosting, make sure to see if the hosting provider is providing the latest PHP version as well.
3. Find the Uptime
The uptime of your website is yet another important parameter to be considered while selecting a web hosting provider for your online business.
Why, you may ask?
You ideally want your website to be online all the time. Because if it goes down, you’ll likely lose out on a lot of visitors and customers.
So, you should choose a web hosting provider that delivers at least a 99.9% uptime guarantee. This would mean that most of the time your website will remain online.
Hostwinds is one such web hosting company that promises a 99.9999% uptime guarantee. This makes it very favorable for businesses that want to ensure that their websites almost never go down.
Image via Hostwinds
4. Consider the Cost
Cost tends to be something that you’ll have to look at whenever you’re choosing a web hosting provider for your brand.
The cost of web hosting varies based on the hosting provider, the package, and the type of hosting.
So, ideally, you need to figure out what your web hosting requirements are.
For that, you need to have answers to questions such as:
- Do you want to host a single website or multiple ones?
- How much traffic do you anticipate?
- Is your website a WordPress website?
- Will your traffic grow drastically for a short span of time and drop again?
Based on the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to select a suitable hosting plan for your website.
Once you’ve done that, you need to check the best web hosting providers available.
Among them, find the ones that offer similar hosting plans for your type of hosting. Then you can compare the features and the pricing.
Based on that, you can select the web hosting platform that provides the best services for the most affordable price.
5. Analyze the Scalability
While the performance and uptime of your website are important, you also need to look at the scalability of the website hosting provider.
Because your traffic might end up growing and you may need more bandwidth and storage space, which might not be available in your current plan.
For this reason, you should have a web host who can help you scale up your hosting when the demand spikes and scale back down when the demand decreases.
If you have an ecommerce store, you might have a holiday season or Black Friday sale. During this short time, you might experience a surge in the number of visitors to your website.
This is the time when you’ll need to be able to scale up to accommodate more visitors and if your web hosting provider can provide such a feature, you’d be better-placed there.
In a nutshell, the hosting provider should be able to provide the cloud hosting facility as this is the one that you can use to rapidly scale up and scale down your resources.
Hostwinds, for example, offers numerous cloud hosting packages from which you can select the one that suits your needs the most. From 1GB RAM and 1TB bandwidth to 96GB RAM and 9TB bandwidth, it offers you a host of packages to choose from.
Image via Hostwinds
6. Look at the Security Features
When you take your business online, you need to provide a secure browsing experience to your visitors. This is even more important if you’re launching an ecommerce store that will be linked to a payment gateway.
Why, you might ask?
Because you’ll likely hold sensitive information about your customers, including their card numbers. As a result, you’d need to ensure that your website is well protected against cyberattacks.
And the number of these attacks is only increasing. In fact, there has been a 52% increase in cyberattacks on websites in the last year.
So, how can you ensure protection against such attacks?
Your web host can help. The host must be able to thwart off such attacks and should also offer features and resources that can aid in your fight against such attacks.
These include features such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and SiteLock Security.
Many good web hosting companies offer these security features for free with hosting plans.
You should check which security features are available in your plans across different hosts and accordingly make a decision.
They should also be able to offer a secure infrastructure that’s updated regularly with the latest security patches and protocols to make your website more secure.
7. Check the Effectiveness of the Customer Support
Customer support is an important part of a web hosting platform. Once you purchase a web hosting plan, it’s likely that you may hit some snags along the way.
These can hamper your experience of using the web hosting to its complete potential.
They can also delay and affect your work.
In dire cases such as migrating your website, you might even have to face some website downtime if you aren’t able to understand how to use your web hosting platform.
In such a situation, it’s critical to have a customer support option from the web hosting provider.
Knowledgeable customer support executives can help you resolve your problems and help improve your overall experience of using the web hosting service.
While most web hosts do have customer service teams, there are various factors that you’d have to consider to choose which ones are the best.
Firstly, you should check the different channels through which you can get in touch with the customer support team.
The greater the number of channels through which you can get in touch with customer support, the better it is. Ideally, you should be able to contact the customer support teams through email, live chat, and phone.
But that’s not everything.
The availability of the customer support team matters a lot too. You should look out for web hosting companies that offer 24×7 customer support. This will be most convenient for you.
It’s also necessary to know the expertise of the customer support team. While you won’t be able to figure this out instantly, you can refer to reviews to determine if the team is truly helpful.
8. Check for Website Migration Services
If you already have a website and are looking for a new web hosting provider, you also need to check if they offer any migration services.
Why, you may ask?
Because each web host works differently and you might have to go through a lot of hassle doing backups and then migrating your website to another web hosting provider.
If the process isn’t done right, you might end up breaking your website.
Even if you don’t end up breaking the website, you might be left with a lot of downtime. This can happen if you haven’t been able to move it successfully before your hosting plan from the previous web host expires.
If the new web hosting company offers free migration services, you’ll be able to avoid this issue and can move to the host with ease.
And even if the host doesn’t offer free migration services, it’s helpful if their customer support team can guide you through the process.
9. Consider the CMS (Content Management System) Installation Process
When you intend to integrate a CMS like WordPress into your online business, the process should be easy.
A CMS is necessary if you want to start a blog for your online business.
For this, it’s essential to choose a web hosting provider that makes this process simpler.
Based on your CMS, you should look out for hosting providers that allow simple installation for it.
For example, there are many web hosting providers that offer a one-click installation of WordPress.
If you intend to use WordPress, these are the ones that you should consider as the installation and setup can be completed in a jiffy.
10. Evaluate the Availability of Website Building Tools
If you don’t intend to choose a CMS such as WordPress, you might have to design your website from scratch. This can prove to be a challenge if you have a limited budget and little or no technical knowledge.
What should you do in such a situation?
In this case, it helps to have a web hosting provider that also offers website building tools. These tools can help you set up your website without much technical expertise.
As a small business owner, this can prove to be helpful for you as you won’t need to spend your budget on expensive developers to create your website.
These tools usually tend to be drag-and-drop website builders. As a result, you can seamlessly add and move elements across your web pages and design your website with ease.
So, you should check if the web hosting provider does offer such a tool when you purchase a hosting plan from them.
Additionally, you should also check reviews to determine the effectiveness of the website builder and accordingly make a decision.
11. Check for Free Domain Name
Domain names are essential to help you establish your identity online. Without them, you can’t have a website up and online.
Along with web hosting, they’re the other essential component of a website.
However, the domain needs to be purchased separately and this can make it an added expense for you as a business owner.
So, what should you do?
You should look for web hosting providers that provide a free domain along with your web hosting plan.
Many web hosts give a free domain for one year along with your website hosting plan. This means you’ll be able to save on the expense of the domain for the first year.
However, there’s a caveat to this.
You should check the domain’s renewal price and compare it with that of other domain registrars and accordingly decide which web hosting platform you should choose.
12. Number of Emails Offered
When you launch a website for your online business, you need to have an email address for it as well.
Many online businesses may need multiple email addresses, especially if you intend to give different email addresses to your employees.
You might also require email addresses through which you’ll send out promotional emails as a part of your email marketing strategy.
In such a situation, you should also consider the number of email addresses that come with your hosting package.
You should check how many email accounts the web hosting provider offers in your package and accordingly make an informed choice.
Some web hosting platforms give you the option of creating unlimited email accounts in their packages.
That would be great if you expect that you’ll need to create more email accounts in the future.
13. Check the Control Panel
While this might not be the first thing that would come to your mind when you choose a web hosting provider for your website, it’s an important thing to consider.
Why, you might ask?
Because the control panel of your website is the page with which you’ll be interacting regularly.
If this isn’t user-friendly enough, you might have a tough time navigating through it and finding what you want.
The control panel should make it easy for you to be able to get an overview of your website. It should also simplify the maintenance of the website.
So make sure that you check the control panel of your website before you choose a web hosting provider.
cPanel is one of the most popular control panels among web hosting providers so be sure to check if your host provides it.
14. Figure Out the Operating System
The operating system of your website’s server matters a lot too. After all, it can affect the performance of your website.
Linux and Microsoft Windows are the two most popular operating systems used by web hosting providers.
Based on your preference, you should choose a web hosting provider that gives you the operating system of your choice.
Some web hosting providers offer both operating systems. However, the charges may vary based on the operating system you choose to use.
Also, be sure to check the features offered by each to determine which one might be the best for you.
15. Determine the Server Location
The server location plays a crucial role in determining the speed of your website.
If your server is located in the same location as your target audience, the loading speed will be much faster than that of a server that’s located far away.
That’s why it’s essential to check the server location when you choose a web hosting provider.
While you may find many local web hosting providers that’ll give local servers, some of the bigger ones have data centers in multiple countries too.
So make sure that you buy hosting based on the location of your target audience.
Faster page loading speed will improve the browsing experience and the conversion rates too.
Image via Pingdom
16. Analyze the Bandwidth & Storage
Yet another factor that you should consider when you choose a web hosting provider is the bandwidth and storage offered by it.
This, of course, will vary based on the hosting plan that you choose.
However, these are both crucial aspects that you must understand thoroughly before choosing a web hosting service provider.
Why, you might ask?
If the storage space provided to you is low, the chances are that you won’t have enough space to upload media to your website.
Similarly, low bandwidth would mean that your website won’t be able to support a lot of visitors.
Some web hosting providers also write “unlimited” storage space and bandwidth. In such a situation, you should do some digging to find out what the “unlimited” here actually means.
Ready to Choose a Web Hosting Provider?
Choosing the right web host is of the utmost importance when you’re starting a website for your online business.
If you end up with the wrong host, your website will likely have a lot of downtime, be slow, and this can lead to a loss of customers.
So, you must assess your potential web hosting providers for their uptime, customer support, website migration services, operating system, and security features.
It’s also essential to check the server location, bandwidth, storage space, hosting type, performance, and CMS installation process.
Lastly, you should see if the hosting platform offers website building tools, email, and free domain names.
Do you have any questions about the factors for choosing a web hosting provider mentioned above? Or anything to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments.