How to Choose the Best Web Hosting For Your Site
Getting the wrong kind of hosting for your site can be a very costly mistake. Too much power and resource and you’re overpaying.
Not powerful enough? You could be hit by downtime, lost business and penalty charges.
Bandwidth and storage figures rarely tell the whole story, and hosts rarely compare like-for-like.
So how do you determine what kind of hosting is right for your site?
Hosting Features to Consider
Bandwidth and storage are always advertised prominently, but they’re not always as important as you might think.
Often, the first sign of a problem is a crashed site because it’s used too much RAM or CPU power.
RAM and CPU are a little more ‘wooly’ and harder to estimate.
Instead, simplify things a little. Weigh up the following:
- How many domains do you have? Does the package have enough resources to support them all?
- Do you get a lot of email? Remember: the server has to have the resources for your mail and your sites.
- Are your sites static or dynamically generated?
You’re aiming to get a picture of how intensive your sites are, which will determine the type of hosting you’ll need. Lightweight sites are fine on shared hosting, but multiple copies of WordPress may call for a more expensive package.
What is Shared Hosting?
Most sites begin life on a shared hosting service. Most websites offer shared hosting: it’s affordable for customers, and it’s also good for the host, since they cram hundreds or thousands of sites onto one server.
But the amount of resources given to every account is very small, and it’s very easy to exceed them. Don’t be fooled: unlimited shared hosting may not be truly unlimited, and if your host thinks your site is too resource-intensive, it’ll ask you to upgrade.
What is Cloud Hosting?
Stepping things up a notch, cloud or grid hosting can help you to cope with larger amounts of traffic. The resource drain is split over multiple servers, so no one server is put at risk.
Cloud or grid hosts are not great for continuous high traffic. They’re better for small sites that occasionally get hit with a spike.
What is VPS and Dedicated Hosting?
If your site is getting consistently high traffic, regular spikes or it’s outgrown its shared hosting space, choose a virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated hosting account.
These hosts give you independent space, private or semi-private resources and more control.
So what’s the difference between VPS and dedicated hosting? Easy. A VPS has multiple accounts on the same server, but unlike shared hosting, there are only a few and they’re all isolated from each other.
Dedicated servers have one account per machine: the server is entirely yours, but you’ll pay for the privilege.
What to Choose
If you’ve never created a site before, choose shared hosting (or a form of site builder hosting if you’re not technically confident).
But if your site is your business, try to purchase an account one step up from your needs, if you can afford it. Shared hosting puts business sites at risk if it’s compromised by another user, so you’re better off with a VPS. Likewise, any growing company should be looking at a dedicated server before their VPS becomes restrictive.
If in doubt, go with a low cost package from a host that offers easy upgrades. That way, you can always migrate.