If you google ‘’Web Hosting Companies’’ you’ll soon see that there are a ton of options available… in fact, at the time of writing this post, a google search returned ‘About 1,360,000,000 results (1.01 seconds)’
So, who do you put your trust in? Who offers the right web hosting plan for you and what about the features?
Carry on reading if you want to understand the difference between Shared Hosting, having a Dedicated Server and all the options in between. We’ll also look at the things that make a good web hosting provider and what to look for.
Finally, we’ll look at web development companies and give you a few tried and tested options for getting your own site online quickly but more importantly at an affordable price with a web hosting provider that’s not going to break the bank.
What’s the difference?
Spend enough time looking at any of the 1,360,000,000 results that come up when you google ‘Web Hosting Companies’ and you’ll notice that they all have one thing in common. Lots of different options and plans.
What’s right for one website is not necessarily right for another, so what’s the difference between the different options?
Before we get stuck in and look at the options to offer it’s worthwhile taking some time to think about the type of website want to create or build. If it’s a one-page blog and only a bit of fun, then Free Hosting might be the option for you. Perhaps you want to build a multi-page site using WordPress as your Content Management System (CMS), in that case, the free hosting is not going to be an option, you would be better to consider a managed WordPress Hosting option instead.
You read it right, Free Hosting, yes, it is an option.
There are web hosting companies out there that offer free hosting plans, and, in some cases, it might be an ideal option. For example, if you just wanted to build a simple website or blog for fun this would be a definite contender.
Of course, as the saying goes, ‘’there’s no such thing as a free lunch’’. If you chose to build your website using a free hosting plan you can expect slow connection speeds, frequent downtime and perhaps even annoying banners that are automatically added to your site without your permission.
While this still might be an option for you to understand that most web hosting companies that offer Free Hosting require you to buy a domain name from them. Then, if you decide to upgrade your needs or shift your website to another web hosting company, you’ll have to do so without your chosen domain name. Like we said – There’s no such thing as a free lunch!
Look at Free Hosting options if you want a simple one-page site and don’t mind the annoying banners. This option is good for a bit of fun… that’s all!
As the name implies Shared Hosting means you share a server with other website owners in your chosen web hosting provider’s data centre.
This can have major benefits as far as keeping the price down as the cost of the server is shared between you and other website owners. On the downside, you usually find that resources like disk space, monthly allowed traffic, email accounts and databases are all limited.
Shared Hosting plans are great if you’re starting out and don’t expect a lot of traffic or need lots of disk space, email accounts or database capabilities.
This is the plan most people start out on and grow from, you’ll find blogs, small business websites, portfolios and small eCommerce stores using Shared Hosting.
Managed WordPress Hosting
It’s estimated that there are some 455,000,000+ websites using WordPress as their Content Management System (CMS) right now, so given that the WordPress community is constantly growing and evolving its natural that web hosting providers would want to offer a WordPress specific hosting option.
Again, as the name implies a Managed WordPress Hosting means your WordPress Hosting is managed by the host, meaning that all the technical aspects of running a full-blown WordPress site are looked after for you. This includes Speed, website uptime, any WordPress updates, site security and daily backups.
It all sounds great, right? Well, before you rush off to find a Managed WordPress Hosting Provider consider this, not all WordPress sites need to be ‘’Managed’’ as such. In most cases, you could and should start with a regular WordPress Hosting plan why? Because it’s more affordable that’s why!
If you’re a small business and you can’t afford for your website to go down or have a high traffic website then paying the extra bucks to have a managed WordPress hosting makes sense, otherwise stick to hosts like BlueHost who have regular WordPress hosting plans.
You would look at Dedicated Hosting plans if you have a large-scale business that’s expecting high traffic, need a lot of system resource or need a high level of security.
Dedicated Hosting plans offer the user the use of an entire server without having to own a server. The upside is that you have plenty of disc space and system resource to play with resulting in a faster website with better performance. You’re also not sharing your server with other website owners. You have full control
The downside is it costs more and you’re also responsible for the security and maintenance of your server, not something you need unless you know what you’re doing.
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is where things get a little more technical. This option allows full root access and total control over your hosting environment means that you can install whatever operation system, custom scripting, application or configuration you desire.
Virtual Private Servers give you all the benefits of a Dedicated Server without the costs.
The great thing about Virtual Private Servers is that they are also scalable so you can start out small and as your business and website grow (in traffic or complexity) you can easily add resources, you’re only paying for what you use.
VPS Hosting also allows you to host unlimited domains, create unlimited sub-domains, email addresses, databases etc and often providers will include website development tools, website templates and script Installers with their VPS plans.
The downside is that in some circumstances, depending on if your plan is managed or unmanaged, you may be responsible for patching and maintaining the server.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is perfect for those that have high traffic to their website, have a complex website, need a specific server set up or are in a business that will start out small and scale over time.
Cloud Hosting is a relatively new type of hosting platform, it’s very scalable, reliable and super flexible when it comes to pricing. Your website is essentially stored across multiple servers which means your site pulls resources from several different places.
When it comes to reliability, a website that uses cloud hosting is more reliable than a website that uses a different hosting plan. This is because Cloud Hosting doesn’t rely on just one server. If the power went down or there was an issue or failure with one of the servers, the other servers in ‘the cloud’ would simply compensate and your website would remain up and viewable.
Cloud Hosted websites are even less susceptible to local power disruptions and even natural disasters, simply because everything is decentralized and held in one location.
Cloud hosting providers usually only charge users only for the resources they consume, rather than a flat fee for resources the user expects they will use (Shared Hosting), or a fixed cost upfront for hardware investment as with a dedicated hosting plan.
This means cloud hosting plans are perfect for those sites that have ebbs and flows in the traffic department. The pay-as-you-go type billing also allows you to plan for busy months where you’re driving more traffic to the site than usual.
The downside to Cloud Hosting is the lack of centralization giving users little control over where their data is stored. This could be a major problem if you require a high level of data security or have privacy concerns.
If you’re a Freelancer, Web Development/design or Digital Marketing Agency this option might work incredibly well for you. Reseller Hosting or White Label Hosting as it’s sometimes called allows you to set up multiple individual hosting plans within a single web hosting account. Essentially you could host all your client’s websites on your own server and charge them for the privilege. You become their hosting company.
Be warned though you’ll need to provide your own customer and technical support services.
How do you choose the best web hosting provider for your needs?
In today’s age of instant gratification, the last thing you need is a beautifully designed website loaded with amazing content that loads at snail’s pace is unreliable and easy for hackers to get into.
The saying ‘You only have one first chance to make a first impression that lasts a lifetime.’ Is true for websites too. If someone visits your site, they take just a few seconds to decide to stay awhile and look around or hit the back button. A site that loads slowly is one of the main reasons people have for looking elsewhere.
So, with literally thousands of web hosting companies out there all looking to help you get your dream website online how do you choose the right web hosting provider for you? And what components are important in a web hosting provider?
Before you get lost somewhere in the 1,340,000,000 results google will bring up in an impressive 0.71 seconds when you google web hosting companies, there are a couple of things you might want to consider to avoid confusion, frustration and going round in cycles.
Think about how much traffic your site will have. If you’re an individual blogging as a hobby or an artist with an online portfolio your needs are likely going to be different to a large company that has a marketing team driving constant traffic to your website. A lot of providers, depending on the type of plan you go with will charge on the use of bandwidth and storage.
If you’re only expecting your monthly traffic to be under a hundred visitors and your site isn’t large, then sticking to a shared hosting plan or a managed hosting option will more than likely fore fill your needs. On the other hand, if you’re expecting a lot of traffic have a large site a dedicated server or cloud hosting plan may be a better option.
The next thing to consider is what’s most important to you. Do you need extra support, will your website be scaling up (in terms of size and traffic) quickly? Do you need to have Fort Knox level security? Is the loading speed of your site a critical factor?
Answering these questions will give you a good idea of the type of web hosting plan you’re looking for before you start the search. Once you have an idea of what your needs are reading reviews on web hosting providers can be a good place to start but there’s one more thing you should do before you start down that path and that is to understand the server types and what the advantages or disadvantages there are between the different types.
If you’ve read this article from the beginning, you should have a clear understanding of each type of server on offer and what will work for your own situation.
Ultimately, there are four things you’re looking for to distinguish between web hosting providers, the speed at which your site loads, the level of support (Customer and Technical), they type of security the provider offers and whether or not you’re able to scale your website quickly and without interruption if needed.
One final word on picking a web hosting provider and that is to be aware of unlimited offers and introductory rates the provider might offer. When it comes to unlimited bandwidth or unlimited storage it’s best to read the fine print before going ahead. In most cases, you will find that unlimited bandwidth results in the provider throttling your performance or shutting your website off altogether.
Also keep in mind that the prices you often see when you first sign up ($2.75/month) are introductory prices, once your initial term is up that price will often go up considerably. Nothing too major if you go in with your eyes wide open and know what to expect, quite shocking otherwise.
So now that you’ve taken the time to understand your needs for hosting, you have estimated the amount of traffic your site will get, understand the different types of server on offer and what type of plan you want in terms of speed, security and support levels you’re ready to start the search for a web hosting provider one that will be the best fit for you and your website.
Be sure to check out our web hosting reviews to find a provider that will work for you. There’s also a list of web hosting providers we feel are the best in breed and should be able to help you get up and running no matter what your needs are.
Now that you’re ready to build your website there are a couple of best practices you should implement to make sure you cover every eventuality with your new web hosting provider, these three things are also best practice when it comes to websites in general.
First, make sure you use a portable Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress to build your website. WordPress is used by over 455,000,000+ websites, and for good reason, it’s easy to build and maintain a website and can easily be moved to another host.
Second, back your site up regularly. There are a ton of plugins and ways of creating a back up of your site, the main thing to look out for is that you’re getting a full back up of your site – media, content, databases the lot – make sure you do this regularly too so that your backup remains up-to-date and is the latest version of your website.
Finally, make sure you own your domain name. It might sound like a fantastic part of a web hosting providers introductory offer to give you a free domain name but check to see if you actually own the domain or if there will be a cost incurred should you want to change providers in the future.
Doing these three things will mean that if things change at your web hosting provider like prices going up, a change of management or your plan is no longer competing with other web hosting providers you can simply sign up for a new provider, download the latest version of your website back up and point your new host towards your domain name.
What web hosting providers do we recommend?
As you’re now aware there are a ton of web hosting providers you can choose from, hopefully, you’re now able to better identify those that will suit your specific needs.
Below you’ll find our list of recommended web hosts, these providers are some of the best in the business and have web hosting plans for every conceivable website and situation.
We’ve taken the time to review each provider to make your decision even easier, just click on the links below to read the review!
- Green Geeks Hosting