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How To Choose A Hosting Provider

Your choice of a hosting provider is important so you need to find a good one.  After all, you have a website for a reason, be it a means of making sales, promotion and advertising for your business or a way of notifying your customers about your company’s latest news.  Your hosting provider plays a big role here.

Firstly, understand that your site will not be up 100% of the time.  How many times have you tried to access government sites only to find you can’t get in?  Or made a payment using a card in stores and discovered that the internet for the bank is down?  It happens and is unavoidable.

At the end of the day, human error, networks going down or computers with issues will lead to your site going down.  What is important is what sort of support does your hosting provider give?  Will they be there for you straight away?  Do they provide help and are they transparent?  Do they notify customers online when a problem occurs?

When looking at the many hosting providers out there, you will most likely discover that most offer the same type of software and hardware and specifications.  There are some more specific things for you to find out and consider.

  • how frequently are site backups made?
  • what sort of customer support is available to you – email only, telephone support in business hours only or 24/7?
  • how much storage will you get?
  • how much bandwidth and data transfer is covered?
  • will you be charged for over usage and how much?
  • what is the hosting provider’s guaranteed uptime?
  • what security monitoring, intrusion prevention and detection is provided?

There are different types of web hosts and understanding them will help with your choice.

Free hosting may be just an individual who is selling a small part of his server space for revenue.  You may have to put their banner advertisements or links on your site.  Free hosting can be unreliable, especially as you don’t know if or when they will stop offering the service.

Shared hosting is the most popular and the most affordable.  You are sharing a large server with many sites, so the host  is able to share the cost.  They may say they offer unlimited storage but the reality is if your site takes up too much server load, you will be asked to upgrade your account.  Users taking up a large part of the load will cause a negative effect on the performance of other sites on the same server.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS) hosting involves partitioning a physical server computer into multiple servers.  Using VPS hosting means you are sharing the server with just a few and it can be configured to run specific server software.  However, if you have limited technical knowledge, make sure you use a managed VPS so your host will manage all system upgrades and will be available to provide assistance when necessary.

Dedicated Server hosting involves leasing a physical server from the hosting provider.  Here you have full control over the server including choosing the operating system and hardware.  Dedicated server hosting is not for beginners and is really for sites with a large amount of traffic.  Again, if you have little or no technical knowledge, you can purchase managed dedicated server hosting where a full time systems manager will maintain and monitor your server, do updates and provide telephone support.

Managed WordPress hosting is where the provider only allow you to host WordPress based sites.  Your provider will make sure your site is secure, make regular back ups, optimise your site’s performance, provide advice about plugins and automatically and regularly scan your site to monitor hacking attempts.  This hassle free service comes at a cost and is generally used by businesses and bloggers who can justify the expense.

The Site Wizard offers further and more specific advice on how to choose a hosting provider.

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