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How To Choose the Right Web Host Provider: Factors To Consider

For developers, bloggers, small business owners, and others, choosing a web host for your website can be challenging — as it is an important foundation to ensure the success of your business. With the right web host, you can greatly improve and boost your website performance.

If done right, you can spend a lifetime of happiness with a reliable and high-performing host who is always available through phone, chat, or email to answer your burning late-night questions. However, rushing into a hosting relationship without doing your research could lead to feeling trapped, misled, or extorted. Choosing the wrong host often ends with headaches and unnecessary expenses.

In this post, we’re going to explore some of the factors that you need to consider when choosing the right web hosting provider for your business. Let’s get going!

What Does a Web Hosting Provider Do for You?

The main job of a web hosting provider is to get your website live on the internet so that people can access it.

For this purpose, a web hosting provider will give you three main things:

  1. Domain: The domain is your website’s address that people type in their browser to go to your website. For example, domain name people can use to access our website. Your hosting provider will let you choose a domain name for your website and let you know if it’s already taken.
  2. Server: The server is the machine which hosts your website live on the internet. It’s also responsible for supporting the traffic coming into your website. Your hosting provider will ‘host’ your website on one of their servers, so people can access it through the internet.  
  3. Storage Space: Your website will have text, images, videos and other media files along with the code. Your hosting provider will give you dedicated space, where you can store all of your website’s code and media files.

This is the basic functionality every single web hosting provider offers. A domain (which is like a street address), a server (a place where your website can live and people can come to visit), and a storage space (room for your website’s files).

In addition to these three basic functionalities, web hosting providers offer additional features as well.

It’s Vital to Identify Your Hosting Needs Upfront

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all web hosting. Every website has different needs when it comes to storage, performance, features, and price. So before you start looking at plans, you’ll want to determine your site’s hosting requirements.

By knowing what you need ahead of time, you can narrow down your choices more quickly and avoid making costly mistakes when selecting your host. Some questions you might ask include:

  • How large is your website going to be and what are its storage needs?
  • On average, how much traffic do you expect each month?
  • What’s your hosting budget?
  • What are your current website management skills? What might you need help with?
  • Apart from storing your site, what services will you need from your hosting provider?

Your answers to these questions will eliminate some hosts right away.

How to Choose a Web Host Provider

There are many aspects to consider when choosing a hosting provider, and the process can seem overwhelming at first. That’s why we’ve listed out the most important factors when evaluating a hosting provider:

1. How Reliable Are the Host’s Servers?

Performance and uptime can make or break your website. Your website’s performance influences Search Engine Optimization (SEO), bounce and conversion rates, and how trustworthy your site appears to visitors. We’re not exaggerating when we say that the reliability of your server has a direct impact on your website’s bottom line.

Any provider you consider should have an uptime guarantee of at least 99%. It’s also wise to check out what performance-related features a given host offers. This can include built-in caching, access to a Content Delivery Network (CDN), and more.

A CDN refers to a geographically distributed group of servers that work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content. A CDN allows for the quick transfer of assets needed for loading Internet content including HTML pages, javascript files, stylesheets, images, and videos.

There are a number of different ways to obtain web host uptime information. The simplest way to do so is by using Pingdom where you can monitor and tests the availability of your website, applications, and servers.

Bluehost Uptime Statistics

2. Is It Easy to Upgrade Your Plan?

If you’ve created a website with all the elements it needs to succeed, chances are it’s going to grow. With any luck, you’ll see an increase in traffic and conversion rates. This will likely mean you’ll have to upgrade your web hosting plan.

Most new sites start on Shared hosting (a low-cost plan). As your online presence expands, however, you’ll need more resources, bandwidth, and disk space to maintain your site for all its users. A host that offers easy upgrades to a Virtual Private Server (VPS)Cloud Hosting, or Dedicated Hosting plan can make this process smoother.

If you choose a host that makes it difficult to change your plan, you could find yourself migrating to a new provider just a few months after launching your site.

Shared hosting

Shared hosting is often the best choice for beginners, bloggers, and personal website owners since it’s the cheapest form of web hosting, costing around ₦600 – ₦2,800 per month.

With shared hosting plans, you’ll be sharing your server resources with other users, which means you pay less for the hosting since the cost of it is shared among other users.

Who should go with shared hosting?

Generally, if you’re getting less than 5,000 visitors per month, then it’s better to go for shared hosting. When your website grows bigger and you’re getting more visitors, you might want to move to a more powerful server.

VPS hosting

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting is similar to shared hosting in that it shares one physical server. The difference is that you have your own server resources that’s separate from other users.

With VPS hosting, it’s basically a step up from shared hosting in terms of power and speed but is still cheaper than getting your own dedicated server. Depending on the CPU and memory (RAM) that you get, VPS hosting can cost anywhere between ₦42,000 – ₦67,500 per month.

Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting combines hundreds of individual servers together to function as one giant server. The idea with cloud-based web hosting is that you can easily scale up and upgrade your server needs when necessary.

For example, if you’re suddenly faced with an unusually large amount of web traffic, you don’t have to worry about being shut down since the hosting company can easily accommodate the surge of traffic by adding more server resources.

The pricing for cloud hosting tends to vary as they normally use a form of a pay-for-what-you-use pricing structure, ₦3,300 – ₦35,000 per month.

Dedicated hosting

Dedicated server hosting is when you have an entire physical server that’s dedicated to your website. Not only do you have full control of your server resources, but you also don’t have to worry about other websites taking up your resources and slowing your website down.

For websites that are larger and have a bigger presence, a dedicated server is generally recommended in order to handle the high amount of traffic. The cost of a dedicated server is significantly higher than shared hosting and you can expect to pay from ₦115,000 – ₦190,000 per month.

Useful Tip:

Shared web hosts are powerful and usually sufficient for new users. If you expect your website to grow really fast then consider picking up a virtual private (VPS) or dedicated server for greater processing power, memory capacity, disk storage, and perhaps even enhanced security features.

3. Can You Easily Add a Domain?

As your digital brand grows, you may find that you not only want to expand your current site but start a new one as well. Alternatively, perhaps you simply like collecting domain names or you want to get into website flipping.

Whatever the reason, if you’re going to purchase additional domains, you’ll need a host that makes it simple to acquire and manage them. Choosing a provider that offers unlimited domains ensures that you won’t ever run out of space.

4. Control Panel (cPanel) Availability

cPanel is a web hosting control panel software developed by cPanel, LLC. It provides a graphical interface and automation tools designed to simplify the process of hosting a website to the website owner or the “end-user”. It enables administration through a standard web browser using a three-tier structure.

Without cPanel, you would need technical knowledge to manage your websites/server. But with cPanel, you’re able to make changes using a graphical interface – no technical knowledge is required.

As popular as cPanel is, not every host uses cPanel to help customers manage their websites, though. For instance, Kinsta uses its own custom hosting dashboard.

A user-friendly control panel with extensive functionality is very important since it’s the brain of your hosting account.

It doesn’t matter if it’s cPanel or Plesk or even a third-party control panel (like what Kinsta offers), as long as it is user-friendly and comes with all the necessary functions. Without an adequate cPanel, you will be left at the mercy of the hosting tech support staff – even if all you need is some basic service.

Read More: Breakdown of Web Design Cost in Nigeria In 2021

5. Essential Features in a Web Host

Some things like file management and site stats are almost always there in your cPanel, but also keep an eye on FTP/sFTP, one-click installer, and DNS management. Also, there should be a file manager to make sure you can edit the .htaccess file from there.

One-click installers come in various flavors, such as Softalucous or Simple Script.

One-Click Installer

6. Will Your Host Provide Email Addresses for Your Domain?

Whether you have a business site, a blog, an e-commerce store, or some other type of website, your visitors will probably need a way to get in touch. Having an email address that’s associated with your site’s domain (i.e., appears more professional and is easier for users to remember.

Checking out a potential host’s email services is a must if you want to incorporate this feature into your online presence. Choosing a host that includes this service in its web hosting packages or provides it for a low cost means you won’t have to set up custom email addresses manually.

7. What E-Commerce Features Are Included (If Any)?

All websites have the same basic needs. However, if you’re running an e-commerce site, you’ll need some unique features. For instance, you’ll probably want more frequent backups and a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to reach customers around the world, an SSL certification, dedicated IP, and one-click shopping cart software installation are some of the essential features/support you will need.

A specialized e-commerce website hosting plan can help you get the support your online store needs at an affordable rate.

8. Are SSL Certificates Included?

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates are vital for keeping your site and its users safe. SSL certificates help keep online interactions private and assure users that the website is authentic and safe to share private information with. More relevant to businesses is the fact that an SSL certificate is required for an HTTPS web address.

Adding an SSL certificate to your site is usually an additional expense. However, some hosting providers will include one in your plan at no extra cost.

9. Site Backup

Computers crash, equipment fails, we all like to think the worst will never happen to us. However, it’s best to be prepared. Accidents and attacks happen, and if you’re in a position where your site has been attacked or crashed, you’ll want a way to restore it.

If your web host does site backups regularly then there is nothing to worry about when these incidents happen. Your hosting provider should be able to restore your full site in no time at all (or at least, a big chunk of it).

On backups, here are a few key questions to ask your web host:

  • Does your web host provide full backups regularly?
  • Can you create auto backups of your site easily via cron jobs or other programs?
  • Can you restore your backup files by yourself easily so you don’t have to wait for support staff to do it for you during a period of disaster recovery?

Backups ensure that you have a way to bring your site back if it’s lost. While there are many methods available for backing up a website, one of the easiest is to do it through your web host. It’s even more convenient if your host offers automated daily backups for your site, along with one-click on-demand backups.

10. Can You Quickly Access Support 24/7?

Your relationship with your web host will hopefully be a long one. Reliable customer support is key if that relationship is going to be mutually beneficial. Making sure any host you’re considering has multiple contact methods and a 24/7 support team can guarantee that someone will be available whenever you need help.

Personally, I prefer live chat, additionally, specific support for WordPress, e-commerce or other niches can come in handy. Choosing a host with a team that is knowledgeable about the tools you use will ensure that your site has the best support possible.

Finding the Right Web Hosting Service

The thing is there is never a fixed solution to one’s web hosting needs. When it comes to choosing a web host, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. There are many factors to consider, and your decision could ultimately determine your website’s success or failure.

I wouldn’t recommend a free web host if you are starting out a huge e-commerce website. I definitely wouldn’t recommend expensive managed WordPress hosting if you are running a small hobby blog.

However, if you go into your web hosting search with your needs clearly outlined, you’ll eventually find the best provider for you. Asking careful questions about the quality of the host’s services and equipment, the additional features it offers, and its pricing will steer you in the right direction.

If you’re a WordPress user, with Shared Hosting, there’s no limit to the amount of disk space you can use for your site. Unlimited bandwidth means when your site goes viral, you don’t have to stress about storage space.

Gideon Ottah

Gideon is a website designer, developing all sorts of great content online. I enjoy the ever-changing world of web design and front-end development. I'm a true development workhorse. With over 5 years of web development experience, I have worked on projects ranging from revamping the design of single-page websites to building new complex web applications.

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