The offer of hosting services in the world is very wide. Considering only the most popular solution, which is a shared server, we can choose from several thousand proposals that differ significantly in terms of the parameters offered. No wonder that in many cases choosing the best hosting can be quite difficult. Meanwhile, it is hosting that determines whether your website will always be available, functional and attractive to the recipient – whether it will allow you to effectively promote your company and profit from your business. Here are the 6 most important things you need to check before choosing hosting.
What to look for when choosing shared hosting?
Shared hosting is the most popular form of using a server that allows you to create your website at low cost. In this case, the resources we use are shared with other users within one very efficient server. This keeps prices affordable. The server is fully administered by the hosting company, and users can conveniently use all functions via an easy-to-use panel.
If you are creating your own website for the first time, shared hosting will probably be the most suitable for you – it allows you to create a corporate website, portfolio, blog or medium-sized online store. Unless you develop complex solutions that require custom solutions, or host sites visited by hundreds of thousands of users a day, most likely shared hosting will be right for you.
When analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of individual hosting services, it is worth noting that there is no one best solution for everyone. For a photographer who wants to put all his photos and videos online, the most important aspect may be the available disk space, while an entrepreneur who runs a small business and just wants to create his “business card” online does not want to pay for unused gigabytes, while would like to use more e-mail accounts. A solution recommended by your friend may not work for you. For this reason, I cannot answer the question of which hosting is the best. Instead, we indicate issues that should always be checked before choosing.
Uptime – time trouble-free operation
This term stands for uptime, which is simply the reliability of hosting. When you set up a website, you want it to be always available. Imagine that you are starting a long-planned promotion in your online store or providing potential customers with links to your portfolio … and due to server failure the website is currently unavailable. There is no doubt that even if the breakdown is short, it can mean very serious financial losses for the entrepreneur.
Until a few years ago, interruptions in the operation of servers were commonplace, which is why the best providers introduced the concept of uptime to stand out from the competition. This value is expressed as a percentage and is often referred to as SLA. For example, an uptime / SLA of 99% means that servers are running smoothly 99% of the time. Currently, reputable hosting companies already offer uptime / SLA usually at the level of 99.7 – 99.9%. However, we do not always find this information at all – in some cases, hosting service providers are confident in the reliability of the technologies offered and prepared to pay compensation in rare emergencies.
Disk space available
One of the most important factors that we should pay attention to when choosing hosting is also the available disk space – the amount of space on the server that we will have to store all kinds of files necessary for the functioning of the website.
In case you already have your website and just want to transfer it to another server, you can easily see how much disk space you used. There should be no problem accessing historical data. However, it will be more difficult to assess your needs if you are just setting up your first website.
Remember that the place is taken by:
– graphic files, photos, videos. – a typical photo from a smartphone is 1.5 – 6 MB – due to the thumbnails, this number should be multiplied by two, a 10-minute video in the quality of 480 pixels may take up to 150 MB.
– databases – they will contain all the content that you publish on your website in text form, for example blog entries, as well as data on the configuration of themes or plugins.
– e-mail accounts – remember that each message takes up space on your server. This applies to both sent and received messages as well as unsolicited correspondence from the SPAM folder. Especially in a situation where you massively send and receive large amounts of e-mails from customers or you have many mailboxes, this can translate into a large consumption of disk space.
– logs and own backups – can also take up additional disk space.
In addition to the space for your files on disks, also pay attention to the available transfer. This is information from which we will find out what amounts of data we can download and send to the server each month. This number includes all page views by both users and bots.
In this case, too, it may be difficult to estimate future needs if we cannot rely on past information. However, there are sites that allow you to ‘weigh’ existing websites in this respect, such as tools.pingdom.com. For example, you can check a competitor’s page and try to estimate your needs by multiplying the page’s “weight” by the number of views per month.
Some hosting companies offer unlimited bandwidth with no limit. However, remember that such unlimited hosting applies only to websites and materials that are on these websites. Usually, in the regulations, you will find provisions that prohibit the abuse of unlimited transfer.
The vast majority of users leave the website if it fails to load within a few seconds. Only the most determined wait longer. For this reason, loading speed is fundamental when choosing your hosting.
Slow page loading or problems with displaying some elements will discourage potential elements. For this reason, it is worth paying attention, among others on the type of disks used.
As part of the hosting service, you can meet the following types of disks:
– standard HDD drives – Hard Disc Drive – classic disc drives,
– fast SSD drives – Solid State Drive – semiconductor drives,
– super-fast NVMe SSDs – state-of-the-art drives up to 10 times faster than SDD drives.
And you probably already know which one will be the best choice, right? Yes. It is worth to bet on SSD or SSD NVMe.
In addition, it is worth paying attention to IOPS – this abbreviation stands for the number of operations performed per second. Some hosting plans, despite using SSD (or SSD NVMe) disks, limit the speed of reading and writing to the disk (given in MB / s) or IOPS. It’s worth being careful about that. The same as avoiding companies that have SSDs, but only for some data (e.g. for MySQL databases, while all the rest is on plate, slow HDDs).
When comparing the hosting speed, you cannot forget about parameters such as the number of PHP processes that can be run simultaneously and the available CPU and RAM power. A simple rule applies here – the more, the better. A good minimum is 10 processes, 1 CPU core (1 GHz) and min. 1 GB RAM.
When looking for fast hosting, it is also worth checking what software it is running on (LiteSpeed is faster than nginx, and this one is faster than Apache). It is also worth making sure that your hosting supports the latest available PHP version and the HTTP / 2 protocol – both of these factors affect the speed of your website.
Mail and e-mail accounts
Each hosting service also offers the option of creating company mailboxes with an address in your own domain. It will be a good idea to create a separate mailbox and e-mail address for each of your colleagues / department in the company. For this reason, it is worth checking how many e-mail accounts can be set up as part of the hosting service. It is always worth being able to create additional ones in the future when the company grows and new people are hired.
It will also be a good idea to check what types of spam and phishing protection are in place in your mail service. These should be solutions such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records. It is best if they have already been implemented automatically, otherwise you should do it yourself.
Data security – backups and SSL certificate
One final point worth discussing is security issues. Of course, you will have to keep your data safe by taking care of a backup – it can save your site in the event of a breakdown or hack. Most hosting companies provide automatic data backups, but you will need to check how often it is backed up and how long your site backups are kept. Ideally, copies are made at least once a day (every 24 hours) and stored for at least 7 days.
Undoubtedly, an SSL certificate should also be implemented, which enables data encryption by users. This is an absolute must, especially when it comes to online stores. If you do not have it, the user will see a message that the site is unsecured – it will definitely scare potential customers away.
For this reason, it is worth choosing a hosting service that supports a free SSL certificate (e.g. Let’s Encrypt), which in practice is no different from paid certificates offered by many hosting companies and domain providers.