How to Choose a Website Host

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The web host is the server where your website lives. If you pick a poor web host, it doesn’t matter how well the rest of your site is designed and implemented. This doesn’t mean you need to purchase the most expensive web hosting available, but that you probably shouldn’t pick the cheapest one either. Let’s look at some things web hosts offer as part of their hosting plans.

Don’t Trust the Big Names

Time and time again, I’ve heard nothing but complaints from people who use the big names in website hosting. This includes GoDaddy, and hosting companies owned by EIG (BlueHost, HostGator, iPage, see the full list).

While these companies may offer slightly cheaper plans than others, they are rife with up-selling and installing bloat ware, providing horrible customer service, and jacking up prices after a customer makes an initial purchase. Just search the webhosting subreddit for some of these names to read horror stories associated with using them.

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Look for recommendations over price

The webhosting subreddit is a great place to look for a recommendation for a web hosting provider. The 2 that I’ve used extensively were recommended in that subreddit: Nixihost and Veerotech. Both offer great hosting platforms, free SSL certificates, shared, semi dedicated VPS and dedicated VPS while both don’t try to up-sell on useless products that you just don’t need. If you are looking at web hosting from any company, I would suggest running the company name through the subreddit search to see what kind of (honest) reviews come up.

The Importance of Customer Service and Support

I cannot stress how important customer service and support from your web hosting company is. If you are running an online business and a problem comes up with you web host, you don’t want to be stuck for days waiting for your help ticket to be responded to while your website is down and you are losing customers. Great customer service from your web host can also help you enable settings and features to keep your website loading as fast as possible.

Location, location, location

As I’ll speak to over and over again, the faster your website, the better. Location is something people don’t mention a lot, but having your website hosted on a physical server that is close to your users means slightly faster load times. If your server is located on the same geographical regions, your website will load faster and you get SEO advantages. While this won’t make a huge difference, every little bit helps. If the intended audience for your users is North America, then your physical server should really be in North America. If your website is intended specifically for a Canadian audience, then hosting your server in Canada is probably your best bet.

But hosting your website on a cheap server in Asia when your audience is primarily North American, is probably not a good idea.

Another thing to consider is privacy and data rights of the country where your server is hosted. There are certain governmental implications depending on where your server is hosted. Again, this isn’t usually a big deal, but depending on the content and users of your site, it may make a difference.

Technical Specs

Every hosting site will throw a variety of technical specifications at you describing their web hosting hardware, and it can be hard to understand it all. A few things you should understand:

  • Storage – How much data storage you have on your server. Most plans will offer unlimited storage with a caveat that if you use too much, they will throttle your speeds. I’ve yet to ever come to that amount of storage use.
  • Bandwidth – how much data can be transferred between your website and your users.
  • RAM – Processor memory for your web host. This number can be hard to decipher as there is different types of RAM (DDR3 vs DDR4) that offer different speeds. In general, you would want to start with at least 1GB, but this always depends on the number of users you expect.
  • SSD vs HDD storage – Solid State Drives vs Hard Disk Drive – always pick the SSD as it’s faster.

Shared VS. VPS Hosting

Web hosts will offer multiple options for hosting websites on their servers, the main options being Shared Hosting and Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting.

Shared Hosting involves sharing your web hosting space with other users on the server, but being securely partitioned off. You also share the hardware resources with other users. But Shared hosting also comes at a much cheaper price, as well as comes managed

VPS hosting provides you more dedicated resources for you website, but comes at a higher price, and puts the responsibility of managing the server on you as well (deploying operating system security and WordPress package updates). You can pay to have your web hosting company manage your VPS for you, but often that comes at a price.

I’ve always used Shared Hosting and have had great experiences with it. My suggestion is start with Shared Hosting, and if your website grows large enough, migrate to a VPS, which if you have a web hosting company with great customer service, they should assist you in the migration.

From my research, shared hosting environment can take around 10,000–20,000 unique users per day. Or 100,000 – 200,000 page views per day. Although that number can vary drastically depending on the shared hosting plan you pick as well as the design and content on your website.

My Web Host Recommendations

It can be hard to recommend a web host since it can depend a bit on what your goals, audience, and expected web traffic are. Again, I would very much recommend against the big name web hosting companies, as I mentioned above. Review some of the options reddit.com/r/webhosting recommends. The two companies I recommend and have used are as follows:

This website is hosted on shared hosting with Nixihost, based on the fact that I’m planning on a global audience, starting with low traffic, and hoping to build a user base. If my readership grows exponentially, then I’ll look to upgrade to semi-VPS or VPS plan, which customer service at Nixihost will assist me with.

Another company that I have used in the past and have been happy with is Veerotech. With servers in eastern USA, they’ve had great customer service when I’ve had issues in the past, and have fair and consistent prices.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve picked your webhosting, let’s look at how to sign up and connect your newly purchased domain with your newly purchased webhost.

This site contains affiliate links to products talked about. I only recommend products and tools that I use myself and that were used in the creation of this website or other websites that I’ve built.

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