To make your site available in Worldwideweb, you need a place to host it. This place is provided by the web hosting provider. The web hosting as a service incorporates the space where your website files are stored, the traffic to your website, and lots of extra services such as firewall protection, technical assistance, email services, FTP access, domain name registration etc. To make it clear, This post is all about shared hosting and small sites.
When me and few of my friends started this blog, all I did was just bought a domain. One of my friend helped me to host this on his VPS for free. I hosted there for free for many months, but eventually it turned out that he no longer needs that VPS. So I had to get a web hosting provider by my own. Being a noob in web hosting at that time and finally googling for hours, One of my friend told me about a web hosting place. I went up to there, registered, paid and got my hosting account information in 24 hours. And I was screwed.
I chose a plan that said:
- Unlimited Space
– Unlimited Bandwidth
– Unlimited no. of Domains
– Unlimited no of sub-domains
– Unlimited no of databases
However, although writing ’99.9% Uptime’ they forgot to mention ‘Unlimited Downtime’. They emphasized more on that 0.1% part. As I had paid 9$ for one month of shared hosting, and I had still 20 days remaining, all I did (or could do) was open infinite number of tickets on their customer panel. They replied to few, the rest went dead and many times invisible. Being frustrated I finally went on the quest of searching for another web host. I could not ask a refund from them as I didnt pay from Paypal. So eventually I got myself in search of another host. They were extremely cheap, 50GB bandwidth, 2 GB space, and 3 add-on domains, all for 9$, and that too the plan was for 3 months. I was happy, but then it started to suck. They lowered bandwidth to 13GB, space to 200MB, and a single domain only. Yes they sucked, and they were WebHostingIndia. And after finally starving there for 3 months, I moved to AsmallOrange and we are now running perfect. Yes, though it costs 5$ per month, but I get what I paid for. No Downtime, fast hosting, fast response and everything that was mentioned in their website. Hence I decided to write a post for my fellow blogger friends who are interested in getting their own domain and host for blog. This Posts contains 10 steps, or points that might enable you to choose a web host properly. Here it goes..
Choosing a Web Host
1) Analyze the type of site you will start, a blog, a forum, a streaming site. Try to estimate the amount of visitors you will gain in a month. This will help you to catch the amount of Bandwidth and web space you need.
2) Reliability of the host: You need to make sure that the host is reliable, they don’t cheat or provide less features then mentioned in their page. Normally you can simply put up their name in google and do some basic research about them. Google will lead you to various links where the users might have reviewed them, or complain against them. Sherlcok Homes was unlucky that he didn’t have google then.
3) Bandwidth (Data Transfer/ Traffic) : It is commonly defined as the amount of data transferred from your site (or the server you are hosting in) to the visitors visiting or browsing your site. Never trust hosts that say Unlimited Bandwidth for less costs. They too have to pay for bandwidth usage, and since they aren’t monks, they won’t simply silently pay for you. Always have a look on how much data transfer your host allows. And if your plan says unlimited, do check their policies. For the Unlimited is just another point in the word limited. I will always suggest you to go for limited ones, as they normally are trust worthy. Always do a survey on your usage for each month, and estimate what it might be next month. And then choose a plan that has at least 10GB more usage then your estimation. Make sure that you never pay for extra usage after your bandwidth is over. Also its always wiser to prevent hotlinking of images from your site by blocking it in .htaccess file. It helps to save a lot of bandwidth.
4) Disk Space: Generally disk space is not much of a concern, your blog might not even go about more then 50MB. If your website is more of image based, or videos (ex: tutorials), it won’t be of much size. If you want to use it as a place for storing files, make sure about the maximum size of a file allowed. Also do watch out about the unlimited schemes like that of bandwidth.
5) FTP,PHP,SSL,SSH,.htaccess, CronJobs: If you don’t know what these mean, I will recommend you to google, In case you want to run a business site, that includes monetary transactions, SSL is must. .htaccess will help you to setup permalinks, error pages, etc. FTP is used to transfer files, a better way over classic Cpanel. However generally shared hosts don’t allow SSH or root access, so in case you need it for your website, you can go for a VPS. Also th feature Cronjob is important as well, it will automatically perform functions for you at different intervals.
6) E-Mails: E-Mails, as you know is one of the basic requirement for your website. it helps to gain popularity easily, as well as perform as auto-responder. You should check about the no. of email accounts allowed, and storage. It will look decent if the authors of your blog use a email@example.com rather then own emails.
7) No. of Domains: I will personally recommend you to get a host that supports multiple domains, rather then one. You can simply team up with one of your friend to get a better web host and host multiple sites. However, you should always grab a look on how much $ does the packages differ by in relation to additional domains.
8) Price: The most important part of selecting a web host. Are you getting services perfectly for which you are paying? Is the host charging extra money for a service that you don’t need? Are there better packages which you can get for the same amount of money? A expensive hosting is just like a hot girl, Its not always true that an expensive service is always the best,there always something better.
9) Duration of Payment: There are various payment plans available such as monthly, half yearly, yearly. You shall always find that their are certain discounts on the longer subscription plans. But, sometimes it maybe a trap. For example, if you have bought a host for a year, and after using 3 months they started giving problems, and don’t respond to you, You might know that you are screwed. So its always better to choose a short duration for a longer time. For example you can use the monthly payment system for 3 months, and then get a subscription. Prevention is better than Cure, nuff said.
10) Onshore or Offshore hosting: Onshore is hosting located in your country (in most cases on these forums, it refers to US-based hosting providers) and offshore is hosting located in a different country. Most times, people look for offshore hosting providers if they are hosting content that may not be legal in their home country. In case you want to host just a simple blog, you can use Onshore hosting. However if you are planning to use Nulled Scipts, its always better to go for Off-Shore hosting. Its less risky, and the probability that you will get piracy related notices are less.
Extra: Since nearly all the webhosts provide cPanel these days, I thought it would be futile to write about it. Also you must check about their customer service, helpdesk and time taken to clear tickets. The response time is much needed at certain situations.
End Notes: To mention at the last, their exists nothing such as perfect host. their always exists better, and it always will. It depends upon you on how to find it. Hopefully this post will help you to gain idea about what really a webhost is, and how to get one that fulfills your needs. If you have any doubts, feel free to ask in comments.