Website hosting is essentially what runs and drives your website. It is important to start with a solid hosting company. There are literally hundreds of web hosting companies to choose from and it is equally important to have a web hosting company that fits your needs. Your needs are going to be much different if you are a small company and all you need is a few pages for recognition VS. an entrepreneur with multiple websites of scale. Let’s take a look at what to look out for when choosing a web hosting provider.
Do they have the essentials that all web hosting provider’s should provide:
- Free SSL or SSL included
- 10GB of Web Space on an SSD
- Unmetered Traffic
- Free Email Services
- Access to MySQL database
- Provide the latest versions of PHP at minimum the latest stable version.
- Less than $20/month
Also consider if they offer these services as well
- Daily Backups
- CPanel interface or something similar
- Unlimited websites ( if you own more than 1 company)
- Free CDN
- Unlimited databases
- Staging Environments
Why are all of these important and what are they?
SSL – Is the encryption on your site. Originally it was used fairly exclusively for ecommerce but is now essential especially when it comes to SEO. Google will definitely ding you for not having an SSL and you may get the dreaded “This site is not safe” when visiting your website.
Web Space – With the size of just wordpress and photos, your website grows exponentially faster than you think. Like your computer or your phone the more space you take up the slower your site will load. And, an SSD (Solid State Drive) serves up content considerably faster than the an HDD.
Unmetered Traffic – The amount of data that a server can transfer in a certain amount of time. Unmetered traffic or bandwidth means that they will never “bog” down your site for overuse. They will always server content equally as fast regardless of traffic.
Free Email Services – Why pay extra for a service that should be include. All cpanel hosting accounts have free email.
Access to MySQL Database – Basically, access to information stored in a database that you can physically get into and make adjustments if needed. It would be rare to find a hosting provider that does not include this is 2020.
Latest Versions of PHP – This is more important than you think and is also something hosting providers tend to hide. At a minimum, as of August, 2020, they should be providing PHP 7.3 but I would like to see 7.4 as an option. I have ran into many hosting providers that only provide php services that have reached their end of life (php 7.0 and php 5.6 as examples). This creates security holes in your website and also could be a huge reduction of speed.
Daily Backups – Things can go wrong very quickly and if you can restore what your site looked like yesterday VS. 3 or 6 months ago, that can save some serious headaches and problems.
cPanel – cPanel is basically a control panel for your hosting server. It allows you to edit files, publish websites, manage domains, manage ssls, create email accounts, create backups. Essentially allows full control of anything that has to do with your website(s).
Unlimited Websites – If you have multiple businesses with multiple websites, you should only be paying for 1 hosting provider not 2 or 6. Consolidating costs are important with any business.
Free CDN – A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is refers to a geographically distributed group of servers which work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content. In short it speeds up your site. This is not a game changer if you have only 1 website since cloudflare is a free service that anyone can use and essentially does the same job. If you are running multiple sites, then take this into consideration since cloudflare doesn’t work on multiple sites in a shared hosting environment.
Unlimited Databases – Unlimited may be a stretch but at least more than 1. If you upgrade your website in the future its good to have a place to store either a new database. If you are running multiple websites, you definitely will need at least 1 per website.
Staging Environments – Staging environments are awesome. they are essentially duplicates of your website that are hidden from users that do not have the address of them. They are great for making major changes, redoing your website, or diagnosing an error. They can save some headaches on live fixes.
Who do you recommend?
I have dealt with a lot of hosting companies and these are the ones that I have felt worked the best: