Website hosting: all you need to know
You have decided to create your website; you have chosen the objective, the subject and the content. However, you still have one of the most important decisions to make: for which web hosting will you opt?
This is the virtual equivalent of choosing your local business, and therefore a crucial choice in your web strategy. Hosting is a storage space dedicated to your website on a server permanently connected to the internet. It is made available by a host.
If the accommodation is not adapted to your site, the experience of your visitors will suffer. It can cost you a lot in terms of visits, reputation, conversions and ultimately in terms of turnover. When one takes a first look at the many web hosting options available on the market, the technical terms and options can be misunderstood and stressful.
In reality, just ask the right questions and check that the host offers some services. So, whether you’re in the early stages of your project or want a new web host for your site, here’s everything you need to know.
Choosing a website hosting
Before choosing your host knowingly and depending the needs of your site and your activity, you must have a first phase of reflection around your activity and the website you have built. Make sure you are able to answer the following questions:
- How many visits do you anticipate?
- Will you need to manage multiple websites?
- Does your business cause peaks in seasonal visits?
- Will your site include large photos and videos?
- What services will you need?
- What services will you need?…
Check list: the elements to check with your host
- Dedicated Hosting: This is the most upscale version because the client uses a server reserved for them. This is ideal for a site that generates a lot of traffic for example an online store. The user has complete freedom of configuration. This website hosting is expensive but totally customizable. Also the user must have knowledge of server administration or entrust this responsibility to a service provider.
- Shared hosting: this is the cheapest option. It’s about being hosted on a preconfigured server and shared with other users. This is ideal for a low-traffic site such as for the TPE or SMB presentation site and if you do not have server administration skills. Imagine that you are an accountant and want to create a showcase website to be more visible and for potential customers to get in touch with you. This type of web site hosting is the most suitable for you.
- Hosting VPS: it is a hybrid system between the dedicated and the mutualised in which several virtual servers are installed on the same physical server. The hard disk is shared, but each user has his own virtual server. This option allows more flexible settings than a shared server.
- Cloud hosting: this is an offer that offers great flexibility, the user can change the performance available to him according to his needs. It is ideal for a site whose traffic varies greatly according to the periods with peaks of visits. The user pays according to the resources he consumes rather than for a fixed price.
- The technical capacities of the host
Take a look at the technical features offered by your host. You will be able to choose between WINDOWS or LINUX operating systems. The space is important, but most places have enough space for your files. Prefer 50GB of space if you have photos and images. Depending on the traffic you expect, choose the bandwidth needed, be realistic so you do not spend too much money and do not limit the speed of loading.
- The loading speed will have a direct impact on your site’s traffic because in a world still in motion, a few seconds of a blank screen will be enough for a user to return to the results of his search. Also make sure that updates are made regularly on the servers. This is especially important for maintaining the level of security.
- The location of the servers
Finding out about the location of the servers is important for two reasons: the protection of personal data and the loading speed of your site. The regulations concerning the data of your users and customers are more and more complete and complex. They protect the users whose information you collect. That’s why the servers that store your site’s data can not be anywhere on the globe.
- In addition, the further your server is away from your user, the more pages will take time to load on their screen. You should not focus on this, but keep it in mind if you notice that most of your traffic comes from a particular geographic area.
- Server availability
If your site is regularly unavailable, it seriously affects your reputation and the loyalty of your visitors. The host must ensure you an availability rate, that is to say a server availability as a percentage of the rental period, of more than 99%. For example, if you rent a server for a month, you rent it for 720h (30 days x 24h). So if the hosting provider performs two hours of maintenance during this month, the availability rate is (720h-2h) / 720h = 99.7%.
Make sure that the host guarantees contractually a time of intervention and a time of recovery as well as penalties in case of failure.
- Customer service
Find out about the services you will have access to, especially if you are having difficulties. The reputation of the host and feedback from users on certain forums can help you in this search. What are the maintenance and support services guaranteed by your contract? What are the penalties for failure? Check the opening hours of the hotline, the cost of interventions and responsiveness in case of emergency.
- Other elements to study :
- The specialization of your host: does your host specialize in the management of the platform you use? For example, if you use WordPress to build your site, make sure your web host masters this platform perfectly.
- Email account additions: Your web host can offer you to create one or more email accounts, which he hosts on his server, with your domain name as extension which is more professional than the classic gmail.com address. For example, you will have an address like firstname.lastname@example.org
- Is the registration of your domain name included in the offer that is offered to you or do you have the possibility to transfer your existing domain name?
- Does your host provide you attendance statistics?
To conclude, it is important to dissect the offers of different hosts. There are many options on the market: this should not scare you, but, on the contrary, allow you to find the perfect setting for your internet business. Read the small lines at the bottom of the terms and conditions, it’s worth spending a little time on this choice. Pay attention to all inclusive and free accommodation. In fact, a limited space, used by many users, can lead to slow navigation as well as little or no support and backup. A good website hosting is one that allows quick and secure access to your site and responds quickly in case of problems.