Hosting is an essential component to any website, and it is important to invest time into researching which hosting provider is best for your website. However, choosing a hosting provider can be a difficult process due to the fact that there is a general lack of knowledge about what hosting is and why it is important. Many people have no idea what hosting is or how it affects their website.
To understand what hosting is you must first understand what a server is. Many people think that servers and computers are completely different objects. While servers are much more powerful than most computers and can store much more data, at the end of the day they really are just a very big version of your laptop or desktop. And just like you store image and document files on your computer, the files for every website on the internet are stored on these really big, really powerful computers that we call servers. So basically, the internet is just a bunch of computers (whether they be servers, desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones) connected to each other with either cables or radio waves.
Companies like Bluehost, Siteground, and Hostinger (which we’ll discuss later) own warehouses full of these servers which host other companies’ websites to the internet for a yearly fee. Renting a hosting server is exactly like renting a plot of land and building a house on it, with the plot of land being the hosting server and the house being your website. As you can see from this comparison, hosting providers are foundational to your website and the internet as a whole. If you lose your hosting, you lose your website.
Whether you’re inexperienced with technology or a veteran of web design, choosing a hosting provider can be a rather overwhelming process. There are a large number of hosting companies and even more plans offered by these companies with numerous benefits tailored for specific kinds of websites. Even though it can be a somewhat confusing and frustrating process, it is nevertheless important to spend time researching which hosting provider is the best fit for your website. In this article, we’ll discuss the five most important factors to consider when buying a hosting plan, as well as list my top three recommended hosting providers for each factor.
Thanks to the large number of hosting options currently available, pricing is very competitive and it should be no problem to find a cheap hosting provider. Additionally, nearly every hosting plan provides deals where you can subscribe for a multi-year subscription at a discounted price. My top three recommended hosting providers based on price would be Hostinger, InMotion, and iPage.
Hostinger offers quite a lot of functionality for a very cheap price. Their cheapest plan costs $1.99 per month, and then bumps up to $3.99 per month after the first four years. Considering all the functionality that comes with this plan (30GB storage, up to 10,000 monthly visitors, and 24/7 customer service, just to name a few), this is likely the best of the cheap plans.
Next is Dreamhost, whose cheapest plan starts at $1.99 per month and then increases to $5.99 after three years. Even though Dreamhost offers more limited customer service than its competitors, it is still a solid option for website owners who feel confident in their tech abilities.
My last recommendation for cheap hosting is iPage. iPage’s cheapest plan starts at $1.99 per month and then renews at $7.99 per month after three years. Offering unlimited disk space and no hard limits on bandwidth, this plan is also an excellent option for customers looking to save a buck.
Lastly, the bandwidth provided by your hosting plan is also an important factor for site speed. Bandwidth determines how much data can flow out of your server, similar to how pipe size determines how much water can flow from a sink. Practically speaking, this determines how many monthly users your website can handle without slowing down or crashing. The more bandwidth you have, the more visitors your site will be able to handle, leading to faster load times for your customers.
My top three recommended hosting providers for site speed are SiteGround, Cloudways, and Kinsta. SiteGround has servers located throughout the United States and Europe. All of its servers use solid state drives. And the bandwidth for their cheapest plan allows for up to 10,000 monthly visitors. With an average loading speed of 457 milliseconds, SiteGround serves as an excellent choice for someone prioritizing a speedy website.
My third and final recommendation is Kinsta. Like Cloudways, Kinsta has spread its servers all over the world, so it should be easy to find one near your customers. Additionally, all of Kinsta’s servers use solid state drives. And lastly, their cheapest plan (which, as a side note, is a little expensive at $30 per month) can support up to 25,000 monthly visits.
Website storage space is fairly self-explanatory, essentially referring to how many pages your website can support. If you are a small business with only a few pages, most hosting plans can likely support your website with lots of room to spare. However, if you are a large e-commerce company with lots of product pages, storage is definitely a more important factor to consider. If you own one of these larger e-commerce companies and are looking for a hosting plan with ample storage space, my top three recommended hosting providers would be HostGator, BlueHost, and A2. With the one exception of A2’s cheapest plan, all three of these providers offer unlimited storage on all of their hosting plans.
The last factor we’ll discuss is website security. Every day, hackers discover more ways to compromise websites. Perhaps the most devastating form of attack is the distributed denial-of-service attack (DDOS). DDOS attacks flood your website with a multitude of requests, overwhelming the server and causing it (and your website along with it) to shut down. Thankfully, there are ways to combat this attack. Various hosting providers use a program called cPHulk, which can identify the computers causing the attack and block their data from reaching your server, thus permanently preventing those computers from attacking your site ever again.
Another common threat that many websites face is the brute force attack. This attack involves using a program to automatically enter hundreds or even thousands of passwords until the program eventually finds the right one and gains access to your site. Hosting providers protect against this attack by limiting the amount of times a person can enter an incorrect password. Once this limit is reached, the server will notify you and also place a temporary lock on your server, preventing users from attempting to log in.
A third important element of security is Secure Socket Layer (SSL). SSL secures the data going between your website and your customers by encrypting the data. If the data is intercepted by a hacker, it is much more difficult (though unfortunately not impossible) to decrypt and understand the data. SSL is especially important for companies like e-commerce websites that collect payment information. However, it’s becoming standard for all websites to use SSL regardless of whether they collect financial information. In light of this fact, it’s important that your hosting provider includes SSL in its plans.
In light of the constantly evolving threats that we face online, it’s reassuring to know that your hosting company is always working behind the scenes to keep your website safe and sound. My top three recommendations for secure hosting providers are Bluehost, Liquid Web, and GoDaddy. All three provide the cPHulk software which, as we discussed earlier, can prevent DDOS attacks. Additionally, all three providers allow you to limit the number of times a person can attempt to log into your account, thus preventing brute force attacks. And lastly, all three provide SSL, either for free or for a very low price.