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The core factors for each and every web hosting service – shared, VPS, managed dedicated – we test for:
These three factors are the cornerstones for any meaningful web hosting comparison. It cannot be any other way because a site that loads fast and is always online trumps everything else. At the end of the day, the reason to purchase a web hosting service is to have your page easily accessible at all times.
The technical support factors in heavily because a well-trained and responsive team does not only resolve issues quickly but also prevents them from happening.
Of course, we consider the financial aspect of hosting and take into account the initial and renewal fees of the hosting packages. Very often, the two are quite different things. Tied to the price are the features offered. The best hosting companies offer a stunning variety of tools for new and experienced users alike.
We also consider the scalability, whether upgrading to a bigger plan is justified and whether the bigger packages are truly suitable for sites with greater demands for space, bandwidth and programming tools.
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Hosting companies are home for web-based projects and make them accessible on the internet. This includes setting up the hardware, ensuring a stable environment, storing client data, and many more complimentary services.
Depending on their server and network setup, web hosts can provide:
– Shared hosting
– VPS servers
– Cloud hosting
– Dedicated servers
– Colocation services
– Reseller hosting
Some hosts also offer domain names, but that is just another hosting service. There are licensed domain registrars that normally handle domain registrations.
While some hosting providers are inclined to assist with basic development and design tips, the actual website building is left in the hands of the client. As long as they don’t breach the terms of service, webmasters can manage their sites any way they please.
American hosting providers like to say:
“We are the service provider but not the service manager.”
There are a few distinct hosting niches, depending of the size and needs of your online project.
Shared hosting is for entry-level users and small-to-mid-sized businesses. Many customers share a single server.
VPS hosting has a similar setup to shared, but there are significantly fewer accounts on one machine.
Dedicated server hosting entails renting an entire server by one user. It is suitable for enterprise-level sites or other resource-demanding projects like online gaming pages, casinos, streaming services, marketplaces, etc.
Cloud hosting is a relatively new technology and includes spreading your website across multiple interconnected servers to ensure better performance and security.
Opting for Reseller hosting means you can get services from a web host and sell them as your own to end-users.
Prices for hosting services can vary greatly. Entering the industry is extremely easy so you can find all kinds of low or even free offers. But startups and small businesses have specific needs that can’t be met by just any provider. Namely:
– Fast servers
– User-friendly environment
– Ecommerce features
– Room for growth
– Helpful support
– Affordable price
The best choice for novice entrepreneurs is to find a premium provider that best balances these essential factors. New hosting clients often get lucrative discounts, so you can expect anything between $2.95 and $9.95 per month.
It’s good to also keep an eye for the renewal rates so you’re not taken by surprise once the initial deal expires.
The web server is your connection to the World Wide Web. It relies on the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to pass the user requests from the web browser to the server itself and to sand back the requested resources (web pages composed of HTML, PHP, and JS or a video stream, for example).
A server can typically store one or multiple websites and all their data, components, and applications. This makes it an essential, or rather, the most essential part of web hosting services.
Computer servers need solid hardware to function. On top of it, the web server setup typically includes operating systems, network connectivity suites, firewalls, security and performance tools.
Hosting providers can split a web server so multiple clients can utilize its resources (shared hosting), or they can rent an entire server to a single user (dedicated services).
Shared and VPS hosting have one thing in common – one server is divided into portions and split between multiple users. The key difference is that the residents of the virtual private server are much fewer compared to the clients on a shared machine. This carries a few obvious benefits.
Fewer clients grant more resources for each individual user which helps achieve better speeds and overall performance.
VPS users are isolated in a way that neighboring accounts can’t harm other projects.
Virtual servers are more scalable and offer greater control and customization options.
Still, the shared environment is often much cheaper and the majority of hosting clients use this type of service.
Choosing the right hosting package is no easy task and should not be taken lightly. Instead of rushing into a decision, you’d better figure out a few answers by yourself:
Do you need a Linux or Windows environment?
How big is your website (going to be)?
How much do you know about hosting, i.e. how much extra support you might need?
Do you need any particular add-ons or software to run your project smoothly?
How much is your monthly hosting budget?
If you have the answers to all those questions you can safely contact potential hosts and check which one best meets your website requirements.
Bandwidth is one of the key elements of web hosting. It represents the maximum data transfer rate of a network connection. The more bandwidth your host allows – the more traffic your website can handle.
While some companies put caps on this resource, many of the best web hosting providers prefer to offer unlimited or unmetered bandwidth. This might seem perfect, but in reality such hosts often limit other assets so you will run into a wall long before you exhaust your allocated traffic.
Here is a simple way to approximately determine your bandwidth needs:
Bandwidth = Average daily visitors x Average pageviews x Average page size x Days in a month x Redundant factor*
*Average redundant factor is between 1.3 and 1.8.