Posted in Business on Jul 17, 2015
It took a few tries to find a web host with which I was completely happy. From slow, overloaded servers, to hacked servers and finally one that was unreliably available, it was a long and tedious journey. It has occurred to me that, for most people, this could be a truly tiresome task. So I wanted to offer some advice.
Let’s start with the basics. You have just purchased your domain name, now what? See our previous post, Registering a Domain Name.
What is Web Hosting?
An over simplified analogy for the web would be—a domain name is like a street sign that points to your business. Web hosting would be the actual building you rent, and then your website would be all the shelves, displays and products inside that building. If you ever move your business, you can always rent a new building (new hosting) and move all your stuff (your website) to the new building (new host), and then point the sign (your domain name) to your new location.
A web host is just a computer hooked up to the internet, with a fast connection. A host rents you space on this computer, and you can then point your domain at this spot on your host’s computer. There is more to it than that, but this is the simple version of it.
How to Choose A Hosting Provider
Integral Creative offers a turnkey solution. I only host websites that I build, so I know what is running on my servers so I can closely monitor them. If I create a site for you, I offer to register your domain, provide hosting, and set up backups. If you already have a website, need to move, or would just like to handle things on your own, there are many of options out there. Let me help you weed through them.
If you are hosting a straight HTML website, that is something that is not dynamic, like Wordpress or some other content management system, then the low priced web hosting service will work. Remember, you do get what you pay for. If you are paying bottom dollar for a web host, then they are most likely making up the difference in volume, by cramming as many sites onto a server as possible. While HTML sites are the least impacted by this, but they still can be. I would advise on monitoring your page speed (as that is a now a factor in Google Search results). Use a tool like www.webpagetest.org, tools.pingdom.com, or Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Then, visit your site at various times, over the next several days. I would recommend at the very least a page load speed under three seconds. Faster is always better. Remember - it is not just Google you are making wait, it is your potential customers, and a lot of them are impatient. As a rule, I attempt to keep all of my client’s websites loading in under one second.
For more advanced sites—a site that runs a database like Wordpress, ExpressionEngine, Joomla or Drupal, then cheap, shared hosting is not the way to go. A web host can cram thousands of plain, HTML websites onto a shared server, but when databases are added, things slow down. Most hosting companies have an available upgrade path. Check with them first to see if you can purchase a medium plan, and then have a simple upgrade path to get more resources allocated to your website if need be.
If you are running a particularly large database site, or need some special software running online, then you might want to check out a Virtual Private Server. A Virtual Private Server divides a server up into a set number of chunks. Each piece gets “X” amount of resources and is better equipped to make sure you are getting the RAM, disk space, or processing power that you need. Also, if you ever wanted to upgrade a VPS, they hold an advantage over standard servers. Virtual Private Servers usually have no downtime, as they just give you a larger piece of the pie as needed. Most dedicated servers have to shut down to install new hardware.
There are lots of great hosts out there. To start with here are a few I’d recommend:
For larger sites that require a Virtual Private Server, or Dedicated Server I’d recommend: