Good web hosting – what should I look for?

If you are building a new website for the internet, you need a web server to put your website files on. There are more possibilities, when you need a web server for your files:

  • You can have your own webserver where you can put the files. This is a quite expensive solution, and needs a lot of administration. This will only be the solution for big companies.
  • You can buy some space on a webserver, called a web hotel or web hosting. This is a cheap solution, and the web hosting company does all the administration of the webserver company for you. This is the solution for most people, e.g. small companies or private persons.
  • You can get access to a free web hosting solution. If you choose this solution, you might expect the web hosting company to put ads on your site, the space of the web hotel might be limited to a small amount of Mb, you may not be able to point your own domain towards at and there might be limited control with your site. This is only the solution for you that is a beginner and only wants a simple website or a test site. I will recommend you to choose a web hotel instead, since this is very cheap.

In this article I will focus on the second possibility, where you choose to buy a web hosting solution. This is a very cheap solution, where you can buy a web hotel from approximately 1 $ per month. Often it is a very good idea to buy a domain name together with the web hosting, which can be bought from approximately 10 $ per year.  This means you can get a web hosting solution and a domain name for a cost of approximately 22 $ per year. This is very cheap, and exactly why I don’t recommend you to choose the free web hosting solutions.

But what is important to look for, when you have to choose the right web host? In this article I will show you some of the choices you have to made, when you need to choose between different packages of web hosting.

What programming language?

Generally there are two types of webservers you can choose: some based on ASP suites and some based on PHP suites. An ASP suite uses the programming language ASP.net (or just ASP) and MS SQL, Access or MySQL as database. A PHP suite uses the programming language PHP and MySQL as database. If you have any doubts, choose the PHP suite since this is the most used choice. In most cases the web hosting company lets you convert between ASP suites and PHP suites, if you want to change.

PHP is the most used programming language, since it is open source and free. And it uses the open source database MySQL. Since this is a free solution, the web hosting’s based on PHP will often be most cheap. Beside this, if you want to use a content management system (CMS) then most of these are also based on PHP and MySQL, such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal that are the three most used CMS.

How much web space?

You also have to choose an amount of web space. For most beginning websites, 500 Mb would be enough, but if you want to have many pictures and movies on your website, then you should choose more space. However, it is always better to choose to little web space, since the most web hosting companies lets you convert to more space for free.

How much traffic is supported?

Some time, the amount of traffic to your website is limited. You should only use web hosts that supports unlimited traffic to your site, since it is not very good if your amount of traffic is limited if you have a lot of traffic. This will lead to less customers, so only choose unlimited traffic.

E-mail addresses

Often when you buy a domain name together with your web hotel, you will also get access to a mail server and e-mail addresses that ends with @your-domain.com. With some web hosts, you will only get a limited number of e-mail addresses (e.g. 20 e-mail addresses) and other places you will get unlimited numbers of e-mail addresses.

There are different mail protocols the web host can support, e.g. POP3 where your mail is downloaded down on your computer using an e-mail program (e.g. Microsoft Outlook or Windows Mail) or IMAP3 where your mails will stay hosted on the mail server. The web host often also support webmail access, so you also can check your mails from any computer anywhere.

Sub domains

If you bought a domain together with your web hotel, the web host might also support sub domains, i.e. domain names like anything.your-domain.com. This is a good thing, because you then can make multiple sites on the same domain and web hotel. So you should definitely go for a web hotel that supports creation of sub domains (usually for free)

FTP access

You should always have the ability to access your web hotel from a FTP access, since this is the best and easiest way to transfer a lot of files to your web hotel.

Backup

Some web hosts offers to backup the content of your web hotel reguarly. You should always choose a web hotel that supports backup, since you can easily loose your whole website if you don’t. Your website can get hacked and deleted or a mistake in the website can destroy everything. Then a backup version will save your day. So always choose backup – and also do it yourself.

Statistics

Some web hosts offers a fully detail statistic system.  Of course you should not say no to this, if you get this for free. But don’t pay for it – it is to easy to implement statistic systems for free on your website, e.g. Google Analytics.

Support for multiple domain names

Some web hosts offers you to have more than one domain name associated with your web hotel. This is a good thing because you can then both buy the domain www.your-domain.com and www.yourdomain.com and point it to the same website.

Does the web host have 24/7 service?

You need to choose a web host that supports 24/7 service, since it is important that if your website goes down, someone is working on getting it online again. If your website is offline to long time, you can loose a lot of customers and money.

Price

Don’t pay too much for a web hotel. But price and service is related in some cases. The most important relations is often, that your website will load quicker, which also is very important for SEO (Search engine optimization).

Checklist for buying a web hotel

In the table below, you can see a conclusion on what I think is important for you to remember, when you have to choose a web hotel.

Service Important to check
Programming language Does it support your website files? I recommend choosing PHP-suites.
Webspace Start with a low amount of Mb – you can always upgrade.
Traffic Always unlimited
E-mail addresses Go for unlimited numbers
Sub domains Should be supported and free
FTP access Should be supported
Backup Should be supported
Statistics Don’t pay for it – it can easy be implemented on website for free
Multiple domains Should be supported
24/7 service Should be supported
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Andreas Andersen

Forfatter og grundlægger af IT-blogger.dk, der har blogget om IT-emner siden 2012

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