What beginners must know about hosting
First of all, do not be scared of the term. Think of it as a host of a feast. Someone needs to know what is going on all the time so that the feast will go on as planned. This is pretty much what a web host does for your web site.
There are several types of web hosts out there – from really cheap ones to insanely expensive ones. This really depends on what you NEED in your website. Ideally, you only get what you need so that you stay within your budget. Websites may cost you a lot of money and you need to make sure that at the end of the day, you are still making money from your site.
There’s the shared web hosting type which means, the actual machine that hosts your site, also handles several others. This is not too bad since this means you are sharing the cost of maintenance and upkeep of the servers. Most basic sites don’t need so much resources to keep them running, anyway.
Then there’s the dedicated web hosting set up where you guessed it, the entire server is solely for your use. You can imagine how expensive this can get but this gives you exclusive access down to the minutest setting of your server. This is best for experts and enterprise solutions.
Then you have the newest type of webhosting, the cloud hosting solution. Cloud hosts are actually made up of several machines supporting one virtual container. You can easily upgrade or downgrade a setup and you are usually billed as to how much resources you actually consume.
Best for starters – shared hosting solutions
For beginners and newbies, we really recommend starting with a shared hosting setup. This is very cost effective and is easy to maintain. Someone else takes care of the servers and you don’t have to be overwhelmed with tinkering with lots of server settings.
You can compare this to how a mobile phone functions. Sometimes, you just need a simple phone that calls and sends messages 24/7. When you decide you need more features, that is when you upgrade your hardware. It is not cost-effective to get a really high-end and feature-rich phone if you only end up using 10% of its features.
Qualities of a good, shared web hosting setup
Now that you know what type of hosting setup you should get, here are some of the best qualities you should look for when you are shopping for that webhosting partner:
- Reliable. This is probably your number one consideration. Your website is nothing if it is down all the time.
- Affordable. The best hosting is useless if you cannot afford it. It is as simple as that.
- Easy to use. Especially for beginners, your host’s admin interface must be easy to understand and use so that you yourself can do the changes every day.
- Has a good customer support team. Naturally as a newbie, you will be asking questions about the setup, transferring of files and even why your site is not working as it should. You need to talk to a sensible, helpful and accessible customer support team for this to work.
- Has ample storage for your files. Your files need to fit into their storage – your videos, images and widgets all need to fit nicely so that you can make use of your content as planned.
There are many other considerations with regards to getting your first web host but these are the top five most important things to think about. If any of the five is not present, then you should move on and look for something else.
Useful features for website maintenance
Now let’s talk about features. This is something that excites a lot of users but at the same time, can really overwhelm you. Web hosting sites have this habit of making a really, really long list of features with checks and thumbs up signs. While this is helpful, it can also be very misleading and overwhelming because not all features are created equal.
One feature can be super important and useful but if you list it along with many other non-essentials, it gets drowned.
So what are the features that should really matter to you?
Here’s what we think you should look for:
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth. It is very difficult to keep track of your content, your videos and images and even your plugins. Having an unlimited storage setup helps you focus more on other things, instead of always counting the available space on your server.
- Site building tools, especially those who have drag and drop interfaces. Not everyone knows how to create webpages from scratch and site building tools are extremely helpful. There are tons of really cool and functional templates that you can use to build your site.
- SEO tips and tools so that you can eventually fight against the bigger sites in terms of keywords and traffic.
- Security suites that are already built in so that you don’t need to do the setup yourself. There are websites hacked every minute and you definitely do not want your site to be one of the victims today, right?
- Online store features, if possible, a shopping cart. Everyone buys something from the net and it is only practical for you to put up a store front on your website to earn money from. Shopping carts are insanely expensive and complex to build from scratch. If possible, get a hosting partner who has support for this and if possible, with PayPal support.
Again, there are many other features that you may want in your web host such as directory listing, marketing credits and even specific admin interfaces but these are the most important ones.
Oh and lastly, you should also look for a money-back guarantee. Get the longest one you can get. 30-day money back guarantees are common so go for 60, 90 or even any day money back guarantee options.
Importance of freebies
Another tendency of hosting sites is to list down all the freebies that you can get. Do not snub this section! Read carefully what they have to offer and this is where you should read the fine print.
Are the freebies available upon sign in? Is there a particular plan that you should get to be able to use the freebies? What are their terms and conditions?
Some freebies that you might want to make sure are in your package are:
- Free domain! Some domains are as cheap as less than $8 per year while others are $20 or more. If you can get a free domain, that’s a big savings on your part.
- Free marketing credits! Google Adwords, Facebook ads or even Yellowpages listings are really helpful and are guaranteed to bring in clicks and traffic to your sites. Facebook ads are relatively cheap but if you get a $50 credit for it, for example, that already goes a long way for you and your site.
- Free use of site analytics software. Usually, you need to pay for this kinds of suites to be able to interpret and record the stats regarding your site’s traffic. If you can get this for free, then you know you are saving yourself a lot of money.