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Finding The Best Web Hosting Services

When you are in the process of putting together a new website, there are many different aspects to consider. We tend to focus on things like layout and content which are certainly very important.

However, another important aspect that many people often give too little time and attention to is your web hosting service. It is important to know what web hosting services can do and why it is so important for your site to have the best web hosting.

In this short guide, we’ll cover the essential points of the topic including what web hosting is, what the best hosting sites can offer you, tips for choosing the best hosting service, and a comparison of some of the best web hosting sites out there right now.

What Is Web Hosting?

Web hosting is a kind of service that allows you to make your website accessible on the internet. A web hosting company has a server on which they will provide space for your site. Some hosting sites are free but many charge a regular fee for keeping your site on their server.

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Beyond this, there are a few different kinds of web hosting services, including:

  • Free web hosting: as the name implies, this is a free option that usually has very limited service. These are sites like wordpress or neocities that allow you to create a website on their server for free but usually come with a lot of restrictions or limitations.
  • Shared web hosting: while not free, this is an inexpensive means of webhosting where many sites are hosted on a single server. This option can be affordable since the cost of the service and maintenance is spread across all the customers. However, like free web hosting, you will deal with a lot of restrictions and limitations.
  • Reseller web hosting: this is a form of hosting in which the customer is able to buy space on a company’s server and then resell that to third party websites. In some cases, reseller hosting can be an inexpensive way to gain access to a great web hosting server. However, you have to be careful when considering this option. The best reseller hosting will provide a low cost option but does require you, as the user, to be a little more experienced as a webmaster.
  • Colocation web hosting: this is probably the most powerful (but also most expensive) option. With this, you own not just space on the server but the server itself. The hosting company provides the actual physical space for the server and provides basic maintenance services to keep the server running. You have full control with this option but that also means you are responsible for any upgrades or modifications you want made to the server.
  • Cloud web hosting: this is a newer option that has a lot of advantages. Because the cloud is made up of a cluster of servers and computers that can balance the load, your website will be more reliable because if one piece of hardware goes down, another is there to compensate for it. And it’s also less susceptible to natural disasters and other disruptions that could normally shut your website down. However, for those highly concerned with privacy or data security, having your data stored in a cloud (meaning the data is spread across a number of locations) may make it harder to secure your website.

There are many other types of web hosting that we could talk about but these are some of the more widely used options that you will find.

You Get What You Pay For: Why You Should Probably Avoid a Free Web Hosting Service

At first, the idea of free web hosting can sound appealing. After all, it’s free and it gets your site online for visitors to start browsing, right? We understand that it can be very tempting, especially when you aren’t really sure why you should even care which web hosting service you go for.

Benjamin Franklins Qute on Saving Money Next to a Jar Full of Coins

There are some upsides to free web hosting that we can’t deny but, in most cases, it is a far better idea to look for a reliable, paid service. But before we get into that, let’s look at what free web hosting offers, who might get away with using it, and what the many drawbacks are.

The advantages of free web hosting include:

  • It’s free. This is probably the biggest draw of all. You don’t have to spend money. And many are even willing to sacrifice the service and quality under the assumption that quality is not really all that important. But as you will see soon, quality is extremely important and can mean the difference between success and failure for your business.
  • No contracts. You can close your account at any time without the threat of cancellation fees.
  • It’s good for learning: if you are new to web hosting, programming, or design and want to start learning about it, a free service is a great way to learn without spending money. There are limitations that will make it impossible to learn everything there is to know but it is a good place to start. And if you’re just testing things out and learning how it all works, the lack of security or reliability won’t be a huge issue for you since site traffic or privacy aren’t much of a concern.

With that in mind, these benefits come with a lot of drawbacks. Here are a few of the key disadvantages of free web hosting:

  • Limited space and bandwidth. Hosting is an expensive service. If a company is offering to do something so expensive for free, you can guarantee that it will come with a lot of limits. Expect your site to crash and be inaccessible often. And as a consequence, expect limited traffic and a lot of dissatisfied customers (and potential customers).
  • Limited features. Many free services lack a lot of scripts, software, and other tools you would need to build a truly great website. This is also a drawback even for learners. After you’ve learned the basics, even a free hosting service will not be able to provide enough resources for you to advance your skills.
  • Unreliable customer support—or no customer support at all. It’s already expensive enough to provide the basic hosting service. It’s unlikely they will be willing to pay for quality customer support for users who aren’t paying them a dime.
  • High security risk. Your data and privacy are very vulnerable on a free hosting site. And if you’re trying to run a business, you can’t afford that kind of risk.

In short, if you are seriously building a website that you hope actually helps grow your business, improve marketing, and increase revenue, free web hosting is a terrible option. It’s really only a valid option for those who aren’t trying to build a profitable website.

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If you’re just an individual who wants to gain some beginner skills in web hosting and site building, go for a free option. If you’re starting a new business and you simply don’t have the cash for a quality service, search for free trial options at a company that meets your needs.

Why You Need The Best Web Hosting Service

Your website is one of the best ways you can engage with your existing customers and attract new customers to your business. The best web hosting services will be an asset to your website, helping it to reach a wider audience and to function more reliably.

Here are a few of the benefits of investing in a great web hosting service:

  • More traffic: a reliable web hosting service will keep your website up and running smoothly which will allow it to appear high up in SEO rankings and reach a wider audience. Slow sites that malfunction or go down completely too often cannot be accessed often enough by search engines and will be frustrating to navigate for visitors.
  • More revenue: when your website is functioning properly, it will be easy and quick for people to navigate your site, learn about you, and see what you have to offer. More traffic means more potential customers and those potential customers need an enjoyable user experience with your website in order to convert into actual paying customers.
  • More security: a good web hosting company takes care of its servers and provides a high level of security that would be difficult or expensive for you to provide yourself. This is particularly important if your website has highly sensitive data that should not end up in the hands of hackers or other cyber criminals.
  • Scalability: while a free web hosting service might seem like a fine option when you are just starting out and need to keep your costs low, that website will not be able to grow with your company as it expands. A good hosting company will be able to scale your services to meet the changing (growing) demands of your website.
  • Better communication: in many cases, a good web hosting service will also allow email to be linked through your website, meaning you can have a dedicated email for your business which establishes a direct line of communication between your customers and you as well as providing your business with a stronger image of dependability and accessability.

So with a cheap or unreliable web hosting service, you risk losing money when your site goes down or runs too slowly. You risk having too low of an SEO ranking. You are at higher risk for malware attacks and other security issues.

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There are so many risks to using a bad web hosting service and so many benefits to using a great one that it’s easy to see the extra investment in quality and reliability is not only worth it but absolutely indispensable.

Things To Consider When Searching For The Best Web Hosting Companies

Web hosting companies are not a one size fits all thing. What works best for your website may not be the best option for another. And you do not want to find yourself paying for services or space you do not actually use or even need. Furthermore, you do not want to pay for web hosting that is lacking the services and features you actually do need.

So when you are shopping around for the best web hosting company to meet your needs, take the following things into consideration to help you make the right decision:

  • How is the customer support? Many companies will claim they provide round the clock support but that support may not be the most reliable or knowledgeable. Test the response time and helpfulness of the customer support staff before you sign a contract.
  • What is the uptime? When you choose any hosting site, you are expecting your website to actually be online and running. But that’s not always the case. Don’t pay for a service unless they guarantee an uptime (the time your site is up and running) of at least 99%.
  • Will they scale your plan? As a budding new business, you may be on the smaller side now but your company will grow and with it, so will its demand on the server. Some hosting companies charge “exit fees” or cancellations fees for changing plans. Others don’t even offer different plans. You want a hosting company that will give your site room to grow. Choose one with a variety of different levels of plans and preferably, without fees for upgrading to a new plan.
  • What is their reputation? Once you’ve narrowed your list down to the few finalists, do some digging into the company’s background. Have they been in business for a long time? Are their testimonials from current customers? What are their average downtime statistics? What is their maintenance schedule?

When choosing a plan, consider the needs of your website:

  • How much storage space do you need? If you’re just starting out, you can aim for the lower end, assuming the company has larger plans that you can upgrade to later.
  • How much bandwidth do you expect your site to use? This will depend on how much traffic you expect to get.
  • How much can you afford to spend? You should be willing to spend money on the right service but you also should not assume that the most expensive plan is the best one for you. You’ll be able to grow and upgrade to a larger plan later. So if your budget is limited, prioritize what your biggest concerns are and find a plan in your price range that at least fulfills your top priorities.
  • What web programming languages are you using? Different services support different programming languages. Make sure the service you choose supports the language you’re using. Even better, find a service that supports multiple programming languages.

Web Hosting Comparison

Now that you’ve got a stronger grasp of what web hosting is and what you should be looking for to find the best hosting service for your website, let’s take a look at some of the options that many consider to be the best hosting sites today.

Comparison of Three Spheres vs One on a Teeter

Below you will find a webhosting comparison with short reviews of some of the leading services. We have also written more extensive reviews and comparisons that you can use to get a better idea of what kinds of services each hosting company is offering.

Fatcow

FatCow prides itself on simplicity and user friendliness. It’s making its claim as an alternative to the overly technical web hosting services that expect customers to be experts in the technical aspects as well.

The company provides a lot of user friendly features and a variety of monthly payment plans. It’s especially well-suited to retail businesses.

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However, despite how easy it is to use this service, there will be moments where you want to reach out for customer support and here, FatCow is a bit lacking. They have an average wait time of about 13 minutes which is certainly not the worst but it’s also not ideal.

Bluehost

Bluehost gets a lot of rave reviews. And there are some good reasons for that. It has a very reliable uptime of 99.94% which is comfortably above the average of 99.90%. It also has some very affordable introductory plans that are great for those who are just starting out and can’t afford a massive, advanced web hosting plan.

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However, there are some notable drawbacks. Pages load pretty slowly. Customer support is also slow and you can expect to wait as much as 45 minutes during peak hours. And you get locked into long contracts lasting as much as three years (unless you’re willing to pay a premium for a shorter contract).

Godaddy

Godaddy is probably one of the most widely recognized brands in the web hosting business. And it’s for good reason. They provide a variety of tiered hosting plans and no cancellation fees so you can easily scale their services to your growing needs. It also has a very easy to use control panel.

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However, the basic plan does lack backup support for your database and customer support is slow. Overall, it’s worth keeping it on your list as you research which company and which plans are best for you. But it may not end up being your top pick after you see what else is out there.

Arvixe

Where Arvixe excels is in the sheer number of plans. You have many different hosting plans to choose from so there’s almost certainly going to be something that meets your budget and your needs. They also provide a great email service and unlimited monthly data transfers.

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However, they have experienced a lot of issues with uptime and their customer support has very long wait times—a combination which is endlessly frustrating. So while the options and features are great, the actual functionality in the end is lacking.

JustHost

JustHost has a great website builder that makes creating your website a pretty easy and intuitive process. It also has surprisingly quick and helpful 24/7 customer support. Plus, there’s no extra set up fee.

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We also like that they offer both windows and linux based servers. However, there are some features missing. For example, while registering, there are multiple attempts to upsell which gets frustrating. And it’s difficult to import your existing WordPress blog.

Overall, it has a decent balance of features and price so it can be a starting place but it’s definitely not top of the line.

Hostgator

Hostgator is a leader when it comes to versatility and features. You can choose from shared web hosting, virtual private server, or dedicated web hosting plans, depending on your budget and your needs.

You also have access to very helpful and easy to use site building software, tools, and other features to help you create a professional and functional website even if you aren’t the biggest tech nerd in the world. They also provide good customer service that’s very helpful and responds relatively quickly.

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There is some room for improvement when it comes to their virtual private server packages and email security could be better. But overall, this is one of the best options out there and should definitely be on your list of companies to look into.

Final Word

Web hosting is an important but often overlooked aspect of maintaining a website. You do not want to just go with any cheap or free service but you also do not want to pay more than you need to for the services and features that would actually benefit you.

It is an important decision to make so it is worth putting the time into researching the web hosting companies that are out there and figuring out which one provides the scope of features and services that you actually need.

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