Web Hosting Buyers Guide
Having a website is often a vital step to owning a small business, or promoting yourself as a service provider these days. Even if you largely do business in person and through word of mouth, it’s still important to have a place to point people when they ask where they can get more information. Comparison shopping online has taught us to always check for websites before doing any other type of research into companies or services.
So with that in mind, you’ll need to decide where to host your website. Hosts are the people who provide the space where your site resides; think of them as landlords, giving you your corner of the Internet, for a price. Certain hosts are better than others, because they offer more features and more affordability, than other hosts.
Shared hosting is one of the most affordable ways to register a website, because it involves less dedicated server space. Basically, you share a server with other websites. The host coordinates the server’s ability so that you all get equal space, and ensures that the server is never overloaded, so that everyone’s website stays up and running.
Many hosts who offer shared hosting, such as BlueHost, claim to offer unlimited space for your website. Because you are on a shared hosting plan, this is physically impossible. The fine print generally includes a clause that explains that “unlimited” means “more than you really need, based on average customer data”. It simply means that you should never need the amount of space you’ve been allotted on the shared server.
In addition to hosting your site on the servers, many hosts offer website building tools. If you don’t know anything about building a website, or you don’t wish to use an additional tool to build your site while you host it elsewhere, this can be a major time saver. GoDaddy, BlueHost, HostGator, and others all offer this feature.
Within a site-building feature are many other features that can be compared. For example, one service may offer email with great spam filters, while the other offers “unlimited” mail (again, check the fine print for the definition of unlimited). While hosts like HostGator are very basic and stripped down, others like GoDaddy offer contemporary themes and the ability to build contemporary sites that look like they were designed by a professional.
Pricing among the big names in shared hosting is very similar. For the most part, you’ll be paying between $4 and $10 per month for a single shared site, and that price usually includes any other features like email and customer support. There are frequently tiers so that you can choose exactly what features you want and nothing more. While GoDaddy is probably one of the highest of this particular group, the list of features and reliability of its services have made it far more popular than many other web hosting services.
There are some services, like Hosting.com, that are marketed for large healthcare and financial businesses; these services cost more (well into the hundreds or thousands of dollars per month) largely due to their dedicated IT services for each client. These types of hosting services are not optimized for individual or small business use.
Overall, choosing the right web host is a matter of finding the right features, and looking through reviews left by previous customers. A reliable host that keeps your website running is the most important factor by far. If your website doesn’t stay up, your clients can’t reach you, and that means your site will be costing you money in two ways.