Launching your own website can be an exciting time. Whether you’re opening your first e-commerce store or starting a blog to showcase your favorite hobby, there are infinite possibilities.

However, getting started with web hosting can be daunting if you don’t know what it is or how to choose a good provider.

Fortunately, web hosting is relatively straightforward, as long as you can identify your site’s needs and keep in mind some crucial criteria when choosing a hosting provider. With the right basic knowledge, even beginners will be able to make informed decisions about this essential service.

Web hosting is a service that houses all your website’s files and allows them to exist on the internet. Every website needs it.

In this post, we’ll explain what web hosting is and why every website needs it. Then we’ll explore some key criteria to consider when choosing a web host. Let’s get started!

What Is Web Hosting?

As we mentioned before, web hosting is a service that allows you to house (and often manage) your website’s files so they can then be published online. Essentially, when you pay for a web host, you become a renter on the internet.

To continue the metaphor, the web servers that your hosting provider manages offer the infrastructure for your house. Hosting services are sometimes confused with domain names, but the latter is more similar to your house’s address.

Typically web hosting providers have different plans that include varying levels of assistance. They may offer features like site migration, backups, security, and even performance check-ups:

A2 Hosting homepage.

However, not all hosting is created equal. There are many different types. At first, it may be difficult to distinguish between them. With that in mind, let’s review the five main types of web hosting:

  1. Shared hosting: With this option, your website shares a server with other users’ sites.
  2. Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting: This is technically a shared hosting service as well, but you have a virtually-partitioned section with dedicated resources.
  3. Dedicated server hosting: Your site gets full use of one or more physical web servers.
  4. Cloud hosting: Instead of hosting your website on one physical server, you can distribute your site’s data across a network of servers.
  5. Managed WordPress hosting: This service includes hosting (any of the above types) as well as benefits like site maintenance, security features, and more. Kinsta and WP Engine are popular options for managed hosting.

Generally, shared hosting is a great option for personal bloggers and entrepreneurs, while VPS and cloud hosting are ideal for small businesses. You can find these plans for as little as $5 to $15 per month. Large-scale e-commerce and enterprise sites may opt for dedicated servers, which offer a lot of power and resources for a high price.

Why Do You Need Web Hosting?

Everyone needs web hosting; you simply can’t get around it. It provides the structural foundation for your website. Of course, each site will have its own unique needs.

A temporary wedding website.

For example, an agency will not have the same requirements as a beginner, and an e-commerce store will need more power than a temporary wedding website.

However, your choice of hosting plan and provider affects more than just the resources that are available for your site. Here are just a few of the other areas your hosting may impact:

  • Site performance: This includes speed and usability, which can affect user experience.
  • Security: Solid protection can prevent your site from being hacked.
  • Backups: These can be crucial in an emergency.
  • Integrations: You may need your hosting service to cooperate with other third-party services and tools you’re using.

Ultimately, your choice of web hosting affects almost everything about your site. It provides a crucial foundation for you to build on top of.

5 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Web Host

Now that you know why this choice matters, you’re probably wondering how to pick a web hosting provider. Hosting plans typically offer a suite of integrations and services, so it may be challenging to choose the one that’s right for you.

To make things easier, let’s explore five vital characteristics you should consider when choosing your web hosting.

1. Bandwidth

Your ‘bandwidth’ establishes the limit for the amount of data that can be sent to and from your web server over a fixed period of time. If you have a complex multi-page site (such as an e-commerce store), and you expect a steady flow of high traffic, you’ll need more bandwidth.

E-commerce store for Everlane.

Some web hosting plans may advertise ‘unlimited bandwidth,’ but practically speaking this can’t be true. Review the details to ensure that your site will have enough bandwidth to operate optimally. If you have multiple sites, you’ll want to pay close attention to this factor and look into extra storage space as well.

2. Backups

Some WordPress hosting plans offer free backups. These are simply copies of your website’s files that are stored somewhere safe in case of an emergency.

Events like server failures and hacking incidents are common. If you’re not prepared with recent backups, this could be disastrous for your website.

VaultPress WordPress plugin.

Always examine your web host’s offerings in this area. Ideally, you’ll want a service that can run frequent automatic backups that are safely housed in a remote storage location (or multiple locations). However, if you’re on a budget and you can only get a plan with minimal backup offerings, you can always use a tool such as VaultPress instead.

3. Security

There’s more to security than just password protection (although that is definitely important). A solid web hosting plan will include Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, security checks, malware scanning, email alerts, and more.

Sucuri plugin for WordPress.

If you do end up going with an affordable web hosting provider with minimal security, you can always opt to enhance your protection with WordPress security plugins such as Jetpack Security or Sucuri.

4. Customer Service

Reliable customer service is a must for any web hosting provider. Troubleshooting website issues can be extremely frustrating, so if you’re in need of some assistance, you’ll want someone who can respond quickly and effectively.

Kinsta web hosting support page.

Look for a robust library of resources and a support-ticketing system at a minimum. Ideally, you’ll want access to phone or chat support as well.

5. Pricing

While it may be tempting, it’s probably best to avoid free web hosting. No matter your needs, you may want to invest a little now, so you can ensure that your site has the resources and protections it requires.

Blue Host pricing page.

However, just because you have to pay for this service doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Establish a budget, but remember that shared and VPS hosting can be very affordable. Additionally, don’t forget to include the cost of a domain name in your estimations.

Conclusion

We know that web hosting can seem confusing. With so many options, choosing a provider and plan might feel overwhelming.

Just remember to consider these key criteria when choosing hosting for your website, and you’ll be starting with a strong foundation:

  1. Bandwidth
  2. Backups
  3. Security
  4. Customer Service
  5. Pricing

Do you have any questions about the basics of web hosting? Let us know in the comments section below!

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