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How to Select a Hosting Company Hosting company is a vital aspect f or your website. Once the day has come and you decided to do it like the big guys, you need to choose a hosting company that allows you to f ocus on creating high-quality content but not on keeping an eye on how your hosting company does its job. You want your hosting company to be reliable and as stable as possible. Sure thing, I’d like you to read the f ull post I’ve put together f or you, but if you want to run a WordPress site and you need a quick solution, which is nonetheless reliable as well, you can just go f or BlueHost.com because that’s the hosting company that WordPress recommends on their site. In case you want to really understand what you need to take into consideration when you choose a web hosting company, keep on reading.
Why Bot her? Bef ore we go any f urther, I need to point your attention to the f act that your hosting company is one of the f actors that will determine the f uture of your online business. If you select a wrong hosting company, you can just waste your time or even lose all your data when a disaster strikes. So, no monkey business here.
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Slideshow on How to Select a Hosting Company How to Pick a Hosting Company for Your Site f rom Kenneth von Rauch
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Web Space It’s sorta hard to say how much web space you’ll need. You can start with just 50 Mb and chances are it’ll be more than enough just to get you started. If you have a mind to deploy a whole lot of images, audio f iles and videos, you should be ready to buy a bigger hosting plan bef ore you know it. Even if you’re being said now that your web space and bandwidth are unlimited. You’ll see f or yourself . T hey are not. T he usual gimmick that hosting companies try to “surprise” you with is unlimited hosting space and bandwidth. Nothing comes unlimited in this world. And so are bandwidth and hosting space. T hey may seduce you with such promises bef ore you buy, but once you buy and have a spike in your website
traf f ic, you’ll be kindly prompted to switch over to a bigger plan. And that just means paying more money f or something that you’ve already paid f or. At least it sounds exactly like that. So, in case you expect to host audio or video f iles on your server, you’ll be asked to increase your hosting space. If you have a whole lot of traf f ic on your site, you’ll have the same suggestion f rom your host. Bottom line, you really need to keep it in mind and have some extra money handy and ready f or overage charges.
Features You Need You need to make sure bef ore buying a hosting plan that you’ll have f ull control over your f iles on the server. You should be able to create, delete, edit and do whatever you see f it at any time. T here should be no restrictions. You also need to be sure that your hosting company supports the technologies and coding languages your site needs, but that’s not an issue f or most web hosting companies because the majority of them supports all you need f or running a WordPress website.
In order to be able to easily manage f iles and databases on your hosting server, you’ll need a cPanel and phpMyAdmin or any alternatives to them. So, contact your hosting provider and check if they provide those tools as well.
Linux or Windows? You may be perplexed as f or what kind of hosting to use – Linux or Windows. It’s easy to be misled by the f ollowing logic. I’m on a Windows computer, so I need a Windows web hosting. If I’m on a Linux computer, then I need a Linux one, right? What if you’re on a Mac? T he thing is that all that logic is dead wrong. It’s not working like that in the web hosting server world. You just need to use a Linux hosting regardless of the platf orm you’re on – be it Windows, Linux or Mac. T hough Microsof t has released Windows server support f or WordPress as well, I would not recommend using it just because I can’t see a benef it. I mean you’ll have to learn how to do it while Linux hosting will
work just perf ectly and just about every hosting company rep can easily help you with that. But if you’re really techie and love digging deeper and investigate such sort of issues, f eel f ree.
Other than that, Linux hosting is usually cheaper and it’s the industry standard because about 70% of websites are hosted specif ically on Linux servers.
WordPress Compatibility T hough WordPress is a very lightweight script comparing to others, you still need to make sure that your hosting company is compatible with it. As of now, the of f icial requirements are as f ollows: PHP version 5.2.4 or greater MySQL version 5.0 or greater You may still be unsure or unwilling to check those requirements. In that case you can just send a similar email to your potential hosting provider: Hey guys, A quick question here. I’m interested in running the open-source WordPress blogging software and I was wondering if my account supports the following: PHP version 5.2.4 or greater MySQL version 5.0 or greater The mod_rewrite Apache module Please let me know asap.
Thanks! If you’re one of the tech savvy guys, you may have noticed that the versions of both PHP and MySQL are not up-to-date, but there’s a message right on this WordPress page that explains why it’s so. In a nutshell, they don’t want to use the most up-to-date versions because they usually cause issues with applications or as they put it they may “break applications”. Fair enough. Would you rather have a bit out of date but stable sof tware or brand new but suspicious? I think I can read you mind now.
Online Reputation You also want to check their online reputation because if there’s an issue with their services, most likely there’s some evidence somewhere on the web. You can just do a simple google search f or the company name. If they’re a really wise and prof essional company, they may have done some online reputation management and made sure that there’s nothing negative about them on the f irst 2 pages of search results. T hat’s why you need to do a more in-depth check-up and take a look as deep as page 5-6. If you can’t f ind really well-grounded negative reviews or comments, you’re good to go.
Types of Hosting Servers Chances are, you’ll be overwhelmed by the options that most hosting companies of f er in terms of hosting server types. I really suggest reading the explanations below because you’ll be totally comf ortable with those terms af ter that.
Free Host ing As you may have expected, there’s always a catch in such things. You’ll either have banners somewhere on your site or the hosting will be super unreliable. And the “best” thing is that you can’t even complain about it because you don’t actually pay f or that damn thing. Well, you don’t pay in cash but with yours and your visitors’ eyeballs. In either case, it’s not a good idea to save on your online business. Just remember that if you’re not of f ered a product then you’re the product. A f ree hosting company may sound good in the beginning, but not when you see all the pros and cons. Plus it’s really easy to start a hosting company now. So all sorts of individuals are in the business nowadays.
Shared WordPress Host ing It’s when you share the same physical server with a lot of sites. Such accounts are cheap but the
problem is that – even if your web hosting company says the whole shebang is unlimited – you’ll experience bandwidth restrictions if your site goes really viral. So, the catch is that it’s not really unlimited but in this case your hosting is more reliable, compared to the f ree hosting scenario.
WordPress VPS Host ing VPS stands f or Virtual Private Server. It’s much like shared hosting but in the case of VPS you can install separate server sof tware, which gives you more control over your site. Plus if you’re not exactly tech savvy, you can have your host manage the server (do upgrades and things like that).
WordPress Dedicat ed Server T his kind of servers mean that you’ll be using a separate physical server (without sharing it with someone else). T he advantage is that you have a complete control over your server. Your web hosting company provides you with a rep (administrator) that manages your server. Plus you’ll be able to get phone tech support if needed. You need to go f or a dedicated server only if you have huge traf f ic. Otherwise it’ll be just an overkill.
Managed WordPress Host ing You can run WordPress only on such servers. So, if you want to run a dif f erent CMS, you’ll have to buy another hosting account. In case you really need just WordPress installed on your server, you’re good to go right away. T he good news is that such servers are extremely optimized f or WordPress and you won’t have to worry about anything. Security, upgrades, updates, backups, you name it! Everything is done f or you. T he only thing that can disappoint you a bit on such a server is the price. It’s on the higher end of the scale. Duh! T his sort of solution is perf ect f or the non-techies who just want to f ocus on quality-content creation without going into all that geeky stuf f .
Tech Support Bef ore you actually make your purchase, I highly recommend testing how the customer support department of your web hosting company works. T he best hosting company must have great support. Make sure to contact specif ically their tech support department on the phone, chat and ticket system. Doing so will clearly show you what you can expect when a real issue takes place. I pointed out that you need to contact the support department because that’s going to be the place where people will transf er you to when a tech issue occurs. It’s not OK to just get in touch with billing or pre-sales because they have nothing to do with f ixing tech things when something goes wrong on your server.
Again, double-check if your hosting company has a comprehensive FAQ page, round-the-clock chat, phone, and email support. If it’s the case, you can surely move on to the next step.
Uptime T here are hosting companies that boast about their 100% uptime, which is simply … impossible. What I’m trying to say is that if they ever update their server sof tware or hardware, they just have to restart their servers. And that means your site will be unavailable f or some time. And that’s OK because it’s exactly how things are operated on the Web. T hough you’ll stumble upon a whole lot of companies that promise 100% uptime (some are really reputable ones), just remember that it’s a lie and if they lie about that, you can’t be sure that they are honest with you about the rest related to their services. So, you want to stay away f rom such companies. Or at least be really vigilant. T he standard uptime percentage is around 99.9% and that’s enough f or running your website in a reliable way. I am really starting to think that when they say 100% they actually mean 99%, because I believe I’ve heard it f rom all major hosting companies.
Security As f ar as security goes, you need to make sure that your web hosting company provides 128-bit SSL certif icate encryption. T hat’s especially important if you want to do some e-commerce on your site. Alternatively, if you don’t wanna mess around with the technicalities of SSL, you can just use a payment gateway such as PayPal or Google Checkout. Other than that, you need to double-check if their servers support SFT P.
What is SFTP, and how do I use it t o t ransf er f iles?
SFT P, or secure FT P, is a program that uses SSH to transf er f iles. Unlike standard FT P, it encrypts both commands and data, preventing passwords and sensitive inf ormation f rom being transmitted in the clear over the network. It is f unctionally similar to FT P, but because it uses a dif f erent protocol, you can’t use a standard FT P client to talk to an SFT P server, nor can you connect to an FT P server with a client that supports only SFT P. Read more You also may want to make sure that your server supports suPHP.
suPHP Hosting is more secure when you run your WordPress script with the help of your account’s username instead of the def ault shared username of the server. In our day and age, it’s usually done using suPHP . So, you may also include a question about suPHP support in your email message to the hosting company.
Access t o logs To be in the know of everything that is happening on your site, you’ll also need access to your website logs. If you use a reliable host, it’s not a problem whatsoever, but it’s always good to have access to something that explains what exactly happened, when, and what af ter. Sure thing, it’s in case you’re a tech guy and you can read logs. Otherwise you’ll need to call your techie buddy.
Speed Test Also, you may want to test your host’s network speed f or both usability and strict SEO purposes. Some SEO experts say it’s getting more and more important. If you’re on a Mac, you can do it as f ollows. Select Go, then Utilities and f ire up your Terminal. Once it’s running, just enter: ping www.yourdomainname.com You are supposed to be seeing recurring lines of code that show values in milliseconds. See the image below.
In case you’re using a Windows computer (Windows 7), it’s pretty similar. Go to Start, then enter cmd in the Search programs and f iles text f ield, and hit Enter. Now just type in the f ollowing: ping www.yourdomainname.com You should see something similar to this.
T he result should be about 80-100 ms or lower. T he values can be way higher if your host is located in a dif f erent country (like in my case). If you’re not happy with your pinging results, you may want to contact your hosting provider and ask what’s wrong.
By the way, while researching f or the post, I did a test ping f or WebDesy.com and it gave me timeouts. So, I went ahead and submitted a ticket to my hosting company, which is JustHost.com. I received the f ollowing reply f rom them: Our servers are configured to not reply to ICMP packet requests ie PINGS and Traceroutes. This is to prevent the server from being attacked by certain types of DDOS attacks that use ICMP to flood the server with fake requests.
T hat gibberish basically means the f ollowing, “Sorry, dude. We don’t allow it on our server”. So, some hosting servers don’t allow pinging f or security reasons. Update: I tried to ping my site again and it’s working now, though when I did it a week ago I was just getting timeout messages. So, it sounds that they enabled it f or me, which means it’s possible to switch it on if needed. I’m kinda not sure why they did it because I just asked why pinging won’t work on my server and they replied that they disable it f or security reasons. And that made perf ect sense. Now it looks that they just enabled it without my direct request. Is it me or it’s really kinda weird?
E-mail Now let’s move a bit to the marketing side of things. As a rule of thumb, you need to use an email address that is branded with your domain name. For example, in my particular case instead of using email@example.com I need to use firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com because it makes me look more of f icial and reliable. But I still did not take the time to take care of that, though my my hosting company does support that f eature. T hough it’s not a biggie (in my humble opinion), you still need to make sure that you’ll be able to set up an email address in this f ormat: your_name@your_domain.com .
Tips As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to f irst come up with a domain name f or your site and then buy a hosting account. But don’t hesitate with buying hosting once you’re ready with your domain name, because some say that good domain names mysteriously get occupied af ter you f ind them. I’m not exactly sure how that happens but I heard it in a podcast (not sure which one exactly) that people were talking about multiple cases as f ollows. You just go and use some online tool, you f ind a domain name to your liking. T he tool def initely says that it’s not occupied, but when you return to double-check in a week or so, the domain name turns out to be taken but there’s no site on it. And you have the option to buy it. And the problem is that it does not cost just $15 this time around but rather a f ew thousand. Plus they (the guys in that podcast) said that it happened on a very regular basis. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but just keep in mind that such things happen or at least used to happen. Again, having f ound the domain name you really love, buy it right away. Make sure to buy your domain name f or 5-10 years so that nobody buys it af ter it gets obvious that you’ll be their competitor. You really need to mark the calendar so that it reminds you to renew your domain name. It may sound ridiculous to you, but I know about such a case with a very wellknown company. T hey just f orgot to pay f or their domain name and their site was down f or a f ew hours in a row. You don’t want to shop on prices, because most cheap solutions have strings attached. And those strings are not too pleasant most of the time. Instead, you can just check recommendations and reviews of the hosting company that you consider using. Just Google f or the name of your hosting company. T hat works better because if a hosting company is more than a year old, it should have reviews out there. Just see what real people say about your f uture hosting company and do your best to understand if you can live with what those people are saying about the experience with the home of your f uture site. You also wanna check how old and legit the company is. You can easily do it with the help of the WHOIS service. If the company is younger than a year, you need to be really cautious in such cases. Not that I’m trying to say that it’ll be bad experience f or sure. It just may be or may not be tricky.
If you’re not tech savvy, you may also want Fantastico available on your hosting server. It’s an auto-installer f or cPanel services, which translates into the ability to install all sorts of CMSs at the click of a button. If you have Fantastico on your hosting, you’ll be able to install WordPress in a hassle-f ree way. I’d recommend Fantastico if you want to run a non-prof it site, because, with the simplicity, Fantastico also brings less control and more vulnerabilities, which you don’t want to have if your whole f amily relies on your website perf ormance. Plus if you install with the help of Fantastico, your version of WordPress is not gonna be the latest and greatest one.
Warnings Don’t believe the hosting companies that promise you 100% uptime. It does not exist in reality. If your hosting ever upgrades their hardware or updates the sof tware, they just have to re-start their servers. T hat’s the time when your site will be down. It may range f rom a f ew seconds to a f ew hours (if something goes wrong on the server), but such things are just inevitable if your hosting company does its best to stay up-to-date. So, every time you see or read that your site will always be up and running, it’s just a gimmick. Nothing else. If a hosting company of f ers you a f ree domain if you use their services, make sure to check the WHOIS record of your domain name. Chances are, it will be your hosting company’s name but not yours. So, make sure to do some due diligence bef ore you pay hard cash f or something that you don’t own. T he thing is that the legit owner of a domain is the one who’s in the WHOIS record. Another bad sign is when a hosting company “f orces” you to buy a yearly plan instead of a monthly one. Odds are, they are trying to hold back something f rom you and it’ll be way more dif f icult to cancel if you embark on their services f or a whole year. One more buzzword that you can hear f rom a hosting company is “unlimited”. Just like in the case with 100% uptime, unlimited disk space and data transf er just don’t exist in reality. Even if you get tempted and buy an unlimited plan, they will either restrict your data transf er speed (slowing down your site) or just kindly ask you to buy a bigger hosting plan. Be sure to always get a hard number of the RAM and CPU that you can conf idently use with a particular hosting plan. It’s just naive to believe that you’ll be able to use the same hosting plan when your site goes f rom zero to hero, because your site will just use more space and processor power than your hosting company actually provides per account. Just be ready to pull out your wallet.
Conclusion If you’re not sure whether your site will go big, just buy a moderate hosting plan. You’ll be able to build up later. Your hosting company will be just happy to help you with that. T hough you don’t want to hunt f or bargains if you run (or going to run) a prof itable online business, there’s no actual reason to overpay either. Just buy what you need now plus the amount of disk space that you’ll need f or your f irst year. Don’t buy based on the gimmicks like 100% uptime, unlimited disk space and data transf er. Especially if the prices are way too low and too good to be true. You get what you pay f or. If a hosting company you consider working with of f ers a f ree trial, don’t hesitate to take advantage of that. And the last thing. You really need to make sure that your hosting company’s tech support works as you expect. Contact them via phone, chat, and email bef ore you pay the money. Most hosting companies (and not only) are pretty ef f icient in pre-sales, but when it comes to tech support with a really buggying tech issue, the whole company can resemble apocalypsis with nobody alive who can help you. If you can get in touch with their tech support real quick, it’s a very good sign. Such a company is really worth your while. What is your experience with hosting companies? Perhaps, you’d like to add something to my tips or warnings?
What Next ? Hope you liked the post. If so, please share it among your f riends and f ollowers. You can also subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll immediately get a f ree WordPress eBook on the plugins and widgets that you def initely need on your site. Plus you get a f ree on-page SEO report of your site. Name
Kennet h I love blogging about web design, web development, and SEO. In other words, all things web. I strongly believe that WordPress combined with clever SEO is the best solution f or most site owners on the Web. More Posts – Twitter – Facebook – Pinterest – YouTube Related posts: 1. Hosting solutions f or Prof essional PHP (6.1)