How To Choose Your Hosting Provider

Trying to find the right hosting provider for your website can feel like a nightmare at times. There are so many different considerations, price options and special offers out there, it’s a bewildering process trying to whittle down the hundreds of options to the right one for you.

In this blog, I want to discuss the specific aspects you should be looking for when deciding on a hosting provider and why those special offers are often too good to be true.

Know what you need for your website

Hosting packages from providers are often designed around specific website types so you may find buying the wrong option for your website could be a bad move. You need to be sure your website has:

Enough bandwidth –your website may get throttled at peak times when demand exceeds your allowance but a good hosting provider will offer unlimited bandwidth.

Enough storage – the more photos, pages, videos and other files on your website the more storage space it’ll need. Emails may also use up your storage space so look out for larger storage offerings.

Free site transfers – if you’re moving hosting providers and you aren’t tech savvy, do they offer a free website migration? This can save you a lot of time and effort.

cPanel – one of the easiest and most preferred control panels for managing the backend of your website is cPanel. Know which one you’re using now and check to see if it’s the same.

Understand the different types of web hosting available

Go to any hosting provider’s website and you’ll find different hosting options available to you. Generally, you’ll see:

Managed WordPress – specific to WordPress with the back end taken care of for you and things like automatic updates happening in the background (click here to discover why that might not be a good idea for your website)

Virtual private server – if you don’t want to share server space with other websites, this is the option to go for although usually, you will be responsible for more of the technical aspects of web hosting here (like your own security, backups, etc).

Reseller hosting – if you are wanting to sell web hosting to your clients or manage a lot of websites and want them in one place. You might be surprised to hear that many hosting providers are actually reselling hosting from another provider, especially when smaller companies have been taken over by larger corporations.

Web hosting – this is the straightforward web hosting most of us will need, using shared servers.

Check for server location and reliability

Where your server is located is important for not only GDPR but also SEO and website functionality. A lot of the cheaper website hosting providers out there use servers located in the United States which means data stored on your website/hosting may not be classed as secure under GDPR but it also means that it takes longer for your website to load for your visitors located in the UK or Europe.How to choose your hosting provider - Picture of a cloud with an open drawer inside it

Another factor to consider with servers is their reliability. Hosting providers use shared hosting for websites where your website will be stored on the same server as hundreds if not thousands of others, generally, the cheaper the cost the more websites are sharing a server.

While shared hosting isn’t inherently bad and can be considerably cheaper than other options, look out for uptime guarantees – these should be at least 99%. This means if there is a problem with another website on the same server, there’s only a 1% chance of it affecting your own.

Gauge what the customer service is like

You’ll find that most hosting providers are making the same offers and sharing the same features and it can be a nightmare trying to distinguish between them. A good place to find out a good web host from a bad one is through reviews.

Use third-party review sites like Google or Trustpilot and see what people are really saying (and recently!). Look to see what the customer service is like – chances are you will encounter a problem with your website at some stage but it’s how hosting providers support you that matters. A good host will respond to a support ticket within two hours or less, so anything more than this indicates that customer service is bad, or they simply don’t have enough technical staff available to support their customers.

How secure will your website be

Obviously, security matters for your website. You want to know that the server isn’t going to get hacked into – or your website!

Check what the hosting provider is saying about their security arrangements and look out for:

  • DDos protection – helps against hacking attempts
  • RAID levels – the higher the level the higher the server storage protection
  • Secure data centres

They should also be taking daily backups of the data they hold so if an attack does happen, you’ll only lose a few hours of work if at all.

SSL certificates are another consideration here. Most reliable hosting providers will give you an SSL certificate for your website for free (although expect to pay more for eCommerce certificates, etc). Cheap providers will often try to charge you for an SSL – you can install one without having to pay for theirs in most cases, so don’t fall for this trap when you sign up!

Only pay for what you really need

I’ve often had clients tell me they’re paying £20 a month or more for their web hosting, which is offering the same features, protection levels, etc as providers only charging £5 a month. You don’t always get what you pay for when it comes to web hosting, so you might not be receiving the premium hosting you think you are if you do pay large amounts like this.

As a general rule of thumb, between the £5 to £10 a month fee is right for most service-based websites, with a little more necessary for those larger eCommerce websites. So do check what you’re paying for, check those reviews and make sure you’re not paying more than you should be for your website hosting.