If your new to the whole “owning a website” world or are a new web designer/developer and aren’t as familiar with hosting as you’d like to be, this short guide should help.
Let’s get acquainted first with the “jargon” and figure out what all these hosts’ have in common. What do we need to look for in a good host, and more important than the jargon and if their "e;good"e; or not, are they “good” for YOU! All too often people get pigeon-holed into a hosting plan that have bells and whistles you will never blow. We’ll take a look at some of these whistles.
Common features important to hosting:
- UNLIMITED GBs of Space – Many hosting providers will tote this, but unfortunately this is not the case. Technically. See a good 80% of the hosting companies out there will state “Unlimited GB’s of Space” but what it really means is: The vast majority of people out there that own websites do not need that much space on a hosting server. Personally, I use Dreamhost, although they are much better than most hosting services out there, this should give you a ballpark idea. They specify you have 50gig for your website files and as a bonus (I haven’t seen any other hosting do this) Dreamhost actually gives you 50 EXTRA gig to use for personal backups. You may be confused thinking “wait! I thought you said it was *unlimited*. Well, it practically is. 95% of website owners out there don’t use 10 gig for their websites let alone 50gig so chances are seeing “unlimited” should be a line you pass right over while you try and read the fine print to see how much you *actually* get.
- UNLIMITED GBs of Transfer – Again, here is that *unlimited* again. It would be smart of me to inject a reminder right here that applies to any place you see *unlimited* within a hosting plan, a more accurate way to describe these plans are *so-much-transfer/space/domains etc-that-the-majority-of-website-owners-won’t-have-to-worry instead of the word “unlimited.” As far as transfer though, let me give you an example of how this works: *Transfer* means the rate inwhich your website users can download and access the files, images, videos, etc on your websites. To the normal users with moderate traffic the base amount is perfectly fine. IF your website begins to do well and you are into the thousands of users visiting every day, it would be a smart move to chat with one of the hosting reps of the host you selected, discuss with them if there is a plan to improve the speed in which your users will be able to access your website.
- UNLIMITED Domains Hosted – This is one of the most important ones and truly the closest to *unlimited* as you can get. Some hosting companies will only allow only one domain name. These hosting companies you want to stay away from, this essentially means if you decide later on to purchase another domain name so you can host another website, you can’t put it on the hosting service you are currently paying. Consider this example: If websites are like houses in this example and a hosting service is the area or neighborhood that those houses live on, you do not want to pay for the land/neighborhood and only be limited to a single house. Companies like Dreamhost and HostMonster allow for UNLIMITED domain names. See again there is probably a limit but a very very small amount of people would ever even get close to that limit. This is very important again, say Bettysbakery.com decides to create a breadline and call it “Bettysbakerybread.com you won’t even have to think twice.
- UNLIMITED E-Mail Accounts – This *could* be importantly depending on your structure of website development, personally I don’t use the email accounts anyway due to just using a gmail or yahoo account. If your a website owner and use the website in your email (for example: bettyJones@bettysbakery.com) and you also have an email for each of your employee, this may come into play.
- UNLIMITED MySQL Databases – Being a web developer databases are a necessary evil within any moderate to large website. Although some hosting companies may claim unlimited, they strongly suggest you keep the databases under 1gig each. If your website or hosting usage utilizes databases and MANY entries you may discuss with the hosting rep if there are any other plans inwhich you can bump your sizing up a little or better yet, just get a private server.
- FREE Goodies or One-Click-Installs – This may not seem like a large deal, but it is. You will see a LOT of small time hosting services that do NOT have these *goodies* or conveniences and this is one of the many reasons you want to go with a reputable hosting company that has been around for years. Dreamhost and 1and1 are two that I’m familiar with that have these amazing features. If you want to set up a wordpress website, create a new Joomla site, set up your PHPmyadmin you literally click “install” and get a coffee, when your back your email has a welcome message and your ready to go. As a web designer or even just a beginning website owner, these very common website additions are somewhat of a pain in the neck to do manually. In reference to hosting, you can tell how “user-friendly” they’re focus is by the wide range of these features.
- FREE 24/7 Technical Support – Most of us just pass right over “help” or “support” but when your talking about your hosting provider and your website support, this is EXTREMELY important. Look at the support ratings and even try it out before hand if they offer “live support” If they do NOT offer “live support” I would seriously consider a new hosting provider. The reason for this is obvious, Betty’sBakery.com is having a sale, the pages are being overworked and the site says it’s down for maintenance or a server error. Emailing your host and waiting for a response tomorrow because it’s Sunday….you get the idea.
Out of the years I’ve been a web developer/designer, I have used a number of different hosting providers and the one that I have had the absolute best experience with is Dreamhost. You may be able to snagg a few dollars cheaper with another hosting company but it’s not something you can try and go cheap with. This is like buying a firearm, you hope you never have to use it in an emergency, but it’s not something you want to chance with if you do. Good Hosting, Support, and ensuring your sites are in good hands, are extremely important. If you do your research and decide you’d like to give them a try, I can help you save a little bit on your fee.
- Dreamhost – DreamHost is committed to providing the best hosting experience across one of the most diverse client bases in the industry. From big businesses to small businesses to sites about cats, our friendly support staff works ‘round the clock to ensure all of our customers receive nothing but the best value in hosting – the complete DreamHost experience.
- Bluehost Host – $3.95 Unlimited Storage & traffic. Under 2 minutes 24/7 Phone Support. Voted Best Web Hosting for 2010. Free Domain Name with Privacy & SSH. Best Web host.
- Host Monster – $3.95 offer with unlimited domain storage & bandwidth. Free Domain name for life & Free SSH. Anytime cancel prorated refund. Over 50+ Free One Click Apps.