How to choose a web hosting?

For many novice web project owners, choosing a hosting is a daunting task. First, the hosting service itself is not easy from a technical point of view. Secondly, there are many hosting providers positioning themselves as reliable professionals, but choosing a really decent one is not always easy. 

On the hosting market, users have five main types of hosting: 

  • virtual hosting (Shared);
  • virtual dedicated server (VPS server);
  • dedicated physical server (Dedicated);
  • cloud hosting;
  • colocation (placement of client equipment in the provider’s data center).

Before choosing between the offers of various providers, you need to decide which type of hosting is right for you. Let’s consider them in more detail.

Shared hosting (Shared)

Shared hosting is a server that hosts many sites. They use the same software and have equal opportunities. A single server can host about a thousand sites. As a rule, such hosting has small web resources that do not require large capacities and disk space. Due to its low cost and no need for server administration, shared hosting is the most common choice among users.

Virtual dedicated server (VPS server)

VPS differs from shared hosting in that the owner of such a server can install and configure any software. Basically, managing a VPS server is no different from managing a physical server. 

The site on the VPS is allocated certain resources in accordance with the tariff. This is not always possible when using Shared hosting, where server resources are evenly distributed among all sites.

Dedicated physical server (Dedicated)

The user is given a separate server in the data center for self-management with the ability to install any operating system, change the software to suit his needs. Such hosting is used for large-scale resource-intensive projects with high requirements and is well suited for large online stores with high traffic or, for example, online games.

Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting is a unified system of servers that host client sites. Thus, the capacity allocated to the client is not limited to one server, but is distributed among several servers at once. This ensures the uninterrupted operation of the resource, regardless of the failure of any one server. 

Besides the increased performance, cloud hosting attracts customers with other benefits. First, the user pays only for the resources that he used – the price of the service depends on the volume of power consumption. Secondly, on cloud hosting, when the load changes, the allocated resources increase or decrease automatically. Thanks to this distribution of capacities, the client does not need to calculate the possible volumes of resource consumption for the correct choice of the tariff.

Colocation- placement of client resources in the provider’s data center

Colocation literally translates to “collocation”, which accurately describes this type of hosting service. Your server is located at the provider’s technological site (data center), which provides it with a high-speed Internet channel and takes care of other necessary conditions of maintenance. 

Compared to other types of hosting, Colocation gives its owner the greatest freedom to implement ideas, but to work with it requires the appropriate technical knowledge. Thus, the development of a web project is limited only by your imagination and skills – any necessary technical parameters, such as the amount of disk space or new software, can be added as needed.

Paid and free hosting

If you are just starting an Internet project and have decided to opt for a shared hosting service, then the first task you will face is the choice between paid and free hosting. 

I must say right away that the second option is suitable only for small business card sites or home pages that are not designed for a wide audience. The fact is that free hosting does not provide a number of important conditions necessary for the full operation of the site. First of all, this concerns the low stability of the server, which, due to frequent failures and forced interruptions of work, deprives visitors of access to the site, and its owner – these very visitors. 

Free hosting is suitable only for small projects that are not designed for a wide audience

In addition, free hosting often lacks the necessary tools: Perl, MySQL, PHP, databases, mail, and much more. Your site will also host ads from your hosting provider, and your domain name will most likely be of the third level (eg example.hostname.com). 

In addition, when using the service for free, you are unlikely to be able to present any requirements to the hosting provider. Therefore, for medium and especially corporate and commercially oriented sites and other serious Internet projects, it is recommended to connect paid hosting. But how not to be mistaken when choosing it?

When choosing a hosting, pay attention to four nuances:

  • amount of disk space;
  • a set of technical functions and tools; 
  • level of technical support;
  • value for money hosting service.

Let’s deal with them in order.

Disk space

It is difficult for users who order hosting for the first time to calculate the amount of disk space required for a future project. Note that in most cases for small sites (landing page, business card site, etc.), 30-60 MB is enough. If in the future you plan to use graphic materials and databases, then it is better to take a disk space of 100 MB or more. 

In most cases, 100 MB of disk space is sufficient

It is more difficult to calculate the required resources for a site where users can post their content, such as videos and images. In this case, the amount of disk space must be determined based on the popularity of the resource, the number of visits per day and the average volume of posted materials. At the same time, it is desirable to introduce restrictions for downloading data by an individual user.

For high-load Internet projects that lack shared hosting resources, VIP hosting will be a good solution. But not all providers have it. Its main advantage is that no knowledge of VPS server administration is required to work with it. In addition, VIP hosting is a lot like a virtual dedicated server: personal disk space, RAM, script execution time, and more. This is possible due to the fact that the server hosts fewer sites, for example, instead of a thousand sites, only a few hundred work on one server.

A set of technical features and tools

Most often, paid hosting plans offer the ability to connect databases and use scripts. Note that not all sites require this functionality. Vivid examples of this are light business card sites and landing pages created without the use of administration systems. 

Below are the main technical hosting features to look out for depending on your needs:

  • unlimited traffic;
  • support for the technologies and scripts you need, for example: PHP, MySQL, phpMyAdmin, Zend Optimizer, Python, PERL, Parser, SSH access. The support on the hosting of the scripts depends on whether your site will function correctly. Also pay attention to MySQL database support, especially if you are creating a website not in pure HTML, but on an engine such as WordPress;
  • support for popular CMS (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, 1C-Bitrix, OpenCart and others);
  • convenient control panel: allows you to work with a web server and sites hosted on it through a graphical interface. The most popular: ISPmanager, Cpanel, Plesk Panel;
  • round-the-clock technical support;
  • access to the site via FTP: this is needed to copy, edit and delete folders and files on the server;
  • server monitoring (round-the-clock monitoring of the server status and troubleshooting);
  • protection of servers from DDoS attacks;
  • checking mail for viruses, spam and advertising;
  • at least 5 mail accounts (POP3 or IMAP), if you plan to set up a mail server on your hosting service;
  • web interface for mail: required to manage the mail server;
  • a short period of free use to get acquainted with the service, or an instant refund for the unused period of the service;
  • backup files.

Technical support level

The resource’s performance largely depends on the quality of technical support. As practice shows, sometimes you can’t get away from failures, and qualified specialists of the hosting provider will help you fix them. Therefore, make sure that the support service is available around the clock, every day. 

Value for money

Price is an important criterion for choosing a hosting. Choosing the cheapest hosting, you run the risk of stumbling on poor quality service and wasting money. 

Profitable hosting is distinguished not by low cost, but by a combination of relatively low price and good service

To ensure users are confident in the quality of services, many hosting providers give customers a free trial period of several days or guarantee a refund for the unused period. Here are some criteria by which you can determine the level of integrity of the provider:

  • information about the company on the website;
  • possibility of free site transfer from third-party hosting;
  • term of the company in the market (speaks about the experience of providing hosting services);
  • availability of our own data center or contracts with leading data centers in the respective regions;
  • service license.

Many companies resell the services of other hosting providers and are called resellers. Please note that these providers may not have the same technical support as a full-fledged hosting provider, but they may offer lower prices.

Some hosting providers give bonuses: a set of domains, an SSL certificate, as in the REG.RU company, or other additional services. 

The success of a company is determined not only by the period of its work, but also by its share in the service market. To understand which provider is more popular, you can use the statistical resource Statistia, which clearly shows what market share the provider occupies in a particular domain zone. 

Conclusions

If you just purchased a domain and want to create a small test site to understand how it all works, then take free hosting. For sites with a small amount of content and a small audience, virtual hosting is suitable. The alternative is cloud hosting, because you only pay for the resources you use.

If you run a specific site that requires certain server settings, order a VPS hosting service. And for serious resource-intensive web projects, it is better to rent a physical server or colocation.

After choosing a hosting, calculate how much disk space you will need, what technical functions are needed to implement your ideas, and whether the hosting provider provides such resources. Be sure to check the professionalism and efficiency of technical support, with which you will periodically, if not constantly, have to interact. Finally, assess whether the level of service is right for the price, compare the provider with others, and read user reviews.

 
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