Finding the perfect web host can be a thankless task and many webmasters try various different providers before settling on their best deal. The top reason for this is that a web host is required to fulfill various different responsibilities, and their performance will vary largely on account of variables both within and out of your control. In order to stand the best possible chance of finding the perfect host, you need to, first of all, know exactly the kind of hosting you need and do extensive research. Once you know whether you want to be shared, dedicated or VPS hosting, make sure to check these key features are offered by the host company and to what extent.
Familiarize Yourself With The Basics
Before diving in headfirst, it’s a good idea to get the know the kind of language that surrounds web hosting and familiarize yourself with the key terms. In this previous post we addressed all of the key jargon that you might encounter as you begin your search to help you get started.
Once comfortable with web hosting terminology, it’s time to look at the specifics. Here we run through the top attributes all great web hosts should offer: these are what will make your website run well, offer visitors a great experience, and make it easy for you to manage.
It is estimated that most people surfing the web will wait just 3-4 seconds for a page to load. This means that if you want to build your site visitor numbers and drive conversions you will need to make site speed a top priority for your user experience. Moreover, Google uses page load speed as a key factor in its algorithm when ranking sites on its results page. This means that if your site is taking too long, it will lose considerable visibility.
For all these reasons, it’s important to make sure your host offers the fastest possible web hosting speed. There are a number of speed testers out there, such as Bitcatcha, which can instantly check your site performance. Should you have a particularly content-heavy site, or one with a number of elements and rich graphics, you might consider using a CDN (content delivery network) to work alongside your regular hosting to help speed up your site.
Online security is a major issue at the moment and ensuring your site has top-notch protection from attack should be of foremost concern. As a result, you should only consider using a web host with an SSL certificate. This certificate guarantees that all information passed between you and the server is encrypted and therefore cannot be viewed by any other computer in between. This is especially important for e-commerce sites as sensitive data such as credit card numbers and personal phone numbers would otherwise be viewable.
Beyond SSL certification, you should also look out for whether your web host offers protection from DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack and SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) to add an additional layer of security to file uploads to the server. Finally, if your web host performs regular server maintenance this is a good sign that they are operating the most up-to-date versions and patches of software, helping to ensure attacks are limited.
A web host who offers a scalable service will undoubtedly set you in best stead no matter what changes your site may see in the next few years. Depending on the amount of RAM is available for your website and the memory limit, your host server will be able to respond differently to a sudden increase in visitor numbers or the addition of an online shop. Consequently, it’s always important to take into account the scalability of your host’s service before committing to a deal.
To see how a prospective host might respond in the event of sudden site growth, check to see whether they have affordable package upgrades or expansion options. For instance, 1&1 have various different levels of web hosting performance that can cater to your site’s specific needs.
Responsive Customer Service
Making sure that your host offers 24/7 customer support is essential for helping fix problems the second they might occur. If your host has a reputation for offering a poor support service this might lead to your enduring major downtime in the event of an issue arising, resulting in possible financial losses.
A good way to test your host’s responsiveness is to ask as many questions as possible before signing up; if they take the time to carefully answer each one and reassure you it’s a good sign. Moreover, simply testing how easy it is to get someone on the phone gives you a good insight into the size of their team and their availability.