This is perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing a web hosting provider, the reason being is that uptime is ultimately the dictating factor of availability and accessibility of your website and content. The server’s uptime is measured by uptime/downtime, which can be monitored either by third-parties such as Pingdom, Uptime Robot and StatusCake or by your hosting service provider. Each and every web hosting provider worth choosing will offer an uptime guarantee and if honoured, the provider will usually offer some sort of discount which increases in correlation with their downtime.
Undoubtedly the hardware of the server is important as it correlates with the performance of the websites hosted on it. Therefore, your providers’ servers should be using enterprise-level hardware to ensure stable server loads for optimal web hosting.
For the vast majority of webmasters the price of hosting is the deciding factor as to which provider they choose, which is why companies like iPage are so successful. Further, the saying – “You get what you pay for”, is mostly accurate in the industry, which is something to keep in-mind as providers offering hosting for a mere $1 per month are likely to uncover a myriad of problems for you and your website.
Whether you’re a novice or veteran, it’s always preferable, and for many, essential to have tech support on-hand whenever you need them, day or night, holiday or not. Further, the support should be either in-house or based in your country. Often times web hosting providers outsource their support to maximize their profits, which in return fills their pockets while lessening the quality of support they’re providing.
Some web hosts are specialist of either a particular web-server technology such as virtual private server, or for a particular purpose like e-commerce for instance. Furthermore, choosing a specialist host is often a smarter option; providing they fit into your niche, as they’re likely to be able to provide a further level of support than most hosting providers.
The reputation of the provider is of great importance as it is representative of the experience you’d potentially endeavour if they were chosen as your provider. The reputation of the service provider is determined by the providers’ former and current customer reviews and their transparency – which can be reflected within their hosting plans in-conjunction with terms and conditions.
For many, it’s un-necessary to worry about the resources included in their hosting plan as their websites aren’t getting extensive incoming traffic. Which is why the arbitrary ‘unlimited’ resource plans are as popular as they are with so many people. Although, people in the know, so to speak, are aware that the term unlimited in the industry is merely a deceptive marketing gimmick to entice as many customers as possible. Which can be substantiated by looking into the terms and conditions of the web hosting provider.
In the hosting realm, is essentially is the amount of growth a particular web hosting provider will be able to facilitate for you and your website. For instance if your website is initially hosted on a shared server, and the website becomes popular overnight causing the shared server become a bottle-neck for the performance of your site, are you able to upgrade to a more powerful server option such as dedicated or virtual private server?
The features included with hosting plans are where companies often gain the edge of their competition. Below are the primary features of hosting packages.
- First and foremost, the resources you’ll be allowed are the core of any hosting plan, you should choose a non-arbitrary bandwidth and storage plan, for instance 1GB of storage and 250GB of bandwidth is plentiful for most small to medium sized start-ups.
- Secondly, the number of domains and sub-domains you’ll be able to host is also distinguished in the details of the package. As most providers will allow plentiful if not unlimited sub-domains for your account they shouldn’t be of great concern, however domains are not allowed so plentifully, usually between 1 and 5 – unless you choose a reseller account wherein you can usually host as many domains as you would like.
- Thirdly, the software included within the deal is also important – especially if you’re a novice. Nearly all plans will provide a control-panel wherein you can monitor and change details of your plan and easily create email accounts and databases, popular control panels include: Cpanel, DirectAdmin, Plesk and H-Sphere amongst many others. Further, most of the listed control panels allow add-ons wherein third party companies can develop plugins – which can be allowed by your provider for your use. The most popular type of add-on would have to be the auto-installers, wherein they’ll take care of the technical part of the installation of software like phpBB or WordPress and let you easily configure their installations to your preference.
- Finally, having access to have an .htaccess file is for many a must, the file is a configuration file which can be used on Apache servers only. This configuration file can be used for rewriting URLs, redirecting them, and even password protecting them!
The freebies included in hosting packages are usually only found with the most popular web-hosts like BlueHost or HostGator whom have the ability to strike up marketing deals. One of the common types freebies being offered at the moment are search engine marketing vouchers with Bing, Google and Yahoo. Although, freebies are always a plus, they shouldn’t be a primary factor when choosing your web hosting provider.