A Web Hosting Checklist: What to Consider Before Choosing A Web Host
How do you decide if a web host is any good? Choosing a quality web host for your websites is an art. It’s really hard to pick the reliable, fast and secured web hosting especially if you’re new to online. Here’s where having a good web hosting checklist helps.
There are thousands of web hosts out there that make your decision harder. If you don’t focus on few web hosting checklists, you will be facing a lot of web host issues in the future.
Having a better web hosting is essential for any website’s success. The web hosting you determines your loading speed, downtime, bandwidth, and SEO factors. If you are using a free or cheap web host, you will face a lot of hosting problems like frequent downtime issues.
Before you choose a web host, it’s important that you take some time to first determine what you need out of your web hosting package. Here is a brief web hosting checklist of things you should consider before you choose a hosting plan.
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Web hosting checklist to pick the BEST web hosting
1. Secure Server Capabilities
You must have secure server capabilities if you are going to sell anything online. This lets people give you private information (like credit card numbers) without having to worry about the information being intercepted. Most people will not order anything online unless you offer a secure server.
When you start out, a shared secure server may be good enough, but it shows the host company’s URL (www.secure.webhost.com/yourcomany/order.cgi). Make sure your web hosting company can set up a dedicated secure server for you when you’re ready. This isn’t critical when you are just starting up, but once your business starts making money online you’ll want to direct customers to your own URL (www.secure.yourcompany.com/order.cgi).
2. Fast Servers
You should choose a web host that has at least a T3 Internet connection. This is very important because your profits are directly proportional to the speed that your web pages load. There’s no such thing as a server that is too fast!
The web host’s level of connectivity to the Internet affects even the fastest-loading pages. The best way you can lose visitors (and thus customers) is to make them wait 30 seconds for a page to load. As a rule, Internet shoppers are very impatient.
Make sure to speed up your WordPress site loading times because it also affects your SERP rankings. So the web hosting service you choose is directly proportional to the loading speed of your sites and SERP rankings.
3. How Much Space they Provide
Most websites don’t use more than 10–15 megabytes of space, but it’s always a good idea to have some extra space available to you in case you decide to expand in the future. Make sure you can also buy more space from your web host, in case you end up using all the space you were originally provided with.
If you will be offering downloads of e-books, software, or other large files, make sure your web host doesn’t have any unreasonable restrictions on bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data your customers can download from your site.
Choose the web hosting services that offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space. There are so many good web hosting services like Dreamhost, Bluehost etc offers unlimited bandwidth to their users for uninterrupted services even when they get huge traffic.
4. Unrestricted CGI Access
Most professional websites use CGI programs at some point or other, so make sure you have full CGI-bin access. Don’t go with a web host that doesn’t provide this.
5. SSH and FTP Access
Choose a web host that will let you use an FTP to transfer files back and forth from your local computers and your web server. Also make sure that public FTP access is an option for you.
SSH (Secure Shell) access encrypts data moving between your computer and your website’s server so that it can’t be read if it’s intercepted. This can cut down significantly on your programming development time.
For example, if you do not have SSH access, then you won’t be able to compile any applications written in programming languages like C and C++. You will have to rely on the web host to do this for you, which can take a lot of time since you have to wait for them to get around to you.
6. Pricing of the web host
One of the factors you should consider while choosing a web host for your WordPress sites is the cost. Firstly, know your priority for the website. If you are running an eCommerce website, using a premium web hosting service like Media Temple, WP engine etc. can work. Although they cost too much, but they serve your website needs as they provide separate VPS servers for your websites to run smoothly.
Whereas if you are running a website for small businesses or services, you can use affordable web hosting services like Bluehost, HostGator, Dreamhost etc. that come at extremely cheap price tag of around $4 per month. Most of these hosting services offer free domain name when you buy hosting from them. So find our your website needs before choosing the right web host for your sites, also consider user reviews before getting your hands on any web hosting service.
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7. Access to Raw Server Logs
This is an important feature to have because you will need access to this information to analyze your website’s traffic. Server logs will tell you how much traffic you get per week, how long these visitors stay on your site, where they come from, how they navigate through your site, and more.
Choose a web host that will allow you unrestricted access to your own private server logs (you might need to request this). Some web hosts even offer basic online log-reading software that will present all of your data in an easy-to-read format.
8. Full Email Services
A good web host will offer full email services, including POP mailboxes and unlimited email aliases. It’s even better if they offer IMAP, which is a newer technology that gives you more control over your messages. These features should come standard with a good web host, so don’t pay for them.
9. Power and Daily Server Backups
Good web hosts use a backup power system and perform daily off-site backups of your server (this means backups are done to an external device in case something happens to the hard drive of the server you’re on). This makes sure that you won’t lose anything in case the hardware crashes or there’s a natural disaster.
Few web hosting services don’t provide automatic database or server backups so you have to additionally pay them to create full backups for your whole sites. If you are on a budget, choose the web hosting services that offer automatic (yet free) backups for your WordPress sites. I recommend you to use Bluehost as it comes at an affordable price and also offers automatic backups for WordPress.
10. No Minimum Contracts
Never serve a long-term contract, it just isn’t necessary. If you do, you will be giving up a lot of flexibility. You wouldn’t be able to switch web hosts if you ever needed to for some reason. Make sure you are selecting a web hosting service where you can easily migrate to other web host any time without any hassle.
11. How Long the Web Host Has Been in Business
This aspect of the web host isn’t necessarily crucial, but it does give you a better idea of how well the company is doing. If they’ve been around for a few years, you can assume that they must be doing something right. I don’t suggest a WordPress user to buy web hosting from a newly established company as you can’t say how reliable their servers are. Although if they are providing at half the price of their competition, don’t choose new hosting services if you value your website readers or visitors.
12. What is the Web Host’s Downtime?
A reliable web hosting company will be up 99.9% to 100% of the time. You stand to lose a lot of money if your website goes down right in the middle of a new marketing campaign. Your website is your business, so choose a web host that you know you can depend on to keep your site up and running and visible to the world.
13. Test their Technical Support
Email a question to the web host’s technical support to see how long it takes to get a response. If you have a serious problem, it can be very frustrating and possibly cause you to lose a lot of money if you need to wait days and days for a reply. A good web host’s technical support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week both by phone and email. You will run into technical problems eventually—it’s inevitable. You need to know that assistance will be provided to you quickly and effectively when you need it.
Before getting a web host that you are interested in, seek your friends help and ask them whether the corresponding web host has good value for money. You can also Google the web hosting reviews to find out the average customer rating.
14. Services, Scripts, and Software
A web host of good quality should have a vast library of scripts you can use to add forms, statistics, and other extras to your website. They should also offer e-commerce features like shopping cart software, real-time processing availability, merchant account support, and more. In addition, they should support Java, Real Audio, Shockwave, Real Video, MySQL, PHP, and FrontPage extensions.
Most website hosting services are now offering 1 click WordPress installations. So make sure the web host you are going to select has the same option because you can easily install WordPress on your sites with 1 click WordPress installation services. Also find out whether the hosting you are going to choose has a cPanel (Control panel) where you can easily manage your files and data.
15. Charges for Extra Services
Some web hosting companies may seem like they are offering you a good deal at first, but make sure they aren’t charging you for every single extra service. For example, you should never be charged for POP mailboxes, email aliases, auto-responders, CGI scripts and bins, or your website statistics.
Most web hosting services provide extra (unwanted) services while you are at check out. Don’t choose anything other than hosting, domain name and backups (as they are really needed). All the extra services like web statistics, search engine optimization boost etc. are not recommended and they cost you additional money.
16. Web-based Administration
A reputable web hosting company will offer a web-based administration interface, like cPanel or Plesk, that will let you manage your server via the Internet. This a great option for people who are not very technically inclined.
Final thoughts about the web hosting checklist
If you want to a fast and secure web hosting for your WordPress sites, make sure to use the above web hosting checklist. The checklist for choosing a web host provided in this articles gives you a detailed explanation on the factors that affect your websites. Your overall search engine rankings, website loading speed, performance etc. hugely depend upon the web hosting service you use.
You also need to consider the tech specifications, limitations of a web host, overall customer rating, tech support, control panel, email features, bandwidth etc. to determine the strength of a web hosting service.
Are you using any web hosting checklist while searching for your favorite web host, share your views about the same in the comments section below?