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Choosing a Hosting Service for Your Website

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Everyone who has a website or is planning to start one needs to choose a hosting company. Hosting can range from free to hundreds of dollars per month, so it’s important to make an informed decision.

Free Hosting

As the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” so remember that if you opt for free hosting.

The company supplying the hosting is not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, so if you, the customer, are not paying for it, the costs are usually covered by allowing advertisers to place ads on your site. Even if you’re comfortable having ads on your site, visitors to your website may assume that you endorse the products or services being promoted, even though you have no control over the content of these ads.

Shared Hosting

Most solo entrepreneurs with a basic website can get by with an inexpensive shared hosting account.

Shared hosting is usually under $10.00 a month, even less if you pay for a full year or multiple years in advance. If price is the most important factor, shared hosting is the way to go. It’s so inexpensive because you share a server with a few hundred other small sites.

The trouble with shared hosting is that some service providers, in an effort to increase their profits, try to host too many sites on the same server. As a result, your pages may be very slow to load, and visitors might not bother to stick around. Slow load times can also have a negative effect on your search engine ranking. Furthermore, it’s frustrating to have to wait for pages to refresh when you’re working on a blog post or other update to your website!

In addition, you have no way of knowing who you’re sharing that hosting space with, and there’s a risk that your site may be flagged as a security risk due to the activities of other users.

As a general rule, I recommend staying away from any company owned by Endurance International Group, who are notorious for buying up smaller companies and running them into the ground. I had a terrible experience with them last year, which I won’t go into here, but you can read about it here if you’re interested.

Virtual Private Server

A Virtual Private Server, or VPS, is also a type of shared server, but you only share it with a few other sites, rather than hundreds. It can therefore handle higher loads of traffic, and you have more server resources and more control.

Of course, you’ll pay a bit more, probably between $20.00 and $100 per month. A VPS can handle significant traffic, but if you or one of your neighbors experiences a sudden increase in traffic, the server may run out of processing power, and your site’s performance will drop.

With a VPS, you’re responsible for your own security measures, so it’s not recommended unless you’re really tech savvy. If your site gets hacked or goes down, the support desk won’t be able to offer much assistance if you haven’t been backing up your site regularly.

VPS hosting is available through many reputable web hosting services.

Dedicated Server

Dedicated servers give you a whole server, or even several, to work with. For that reason, they’re even more expensive than a VPS.

Dedicating hosting gives you absolute control over all the technical aspects of hosting your sites, so you’ll need to have access to a highly trained tech person who knows their way around a MySQL database and how to maintain your security protocol and firewall. This is probably a lot more power than you need for a small business website.

Managed WordPress Hosting

Most web hosts can handle WordPress, some better than others. But if you want the best hosting solution for your WordPress site, it’s worth looking into Managed WordPress Hosting. This elite breed of hosting is the top of the line for speed and scalability. In addition, the hosting company automatically updates WordPress when the latest version is released – one less thing for you to worry about!

One such service is WP Engine, where this site is hosted.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Daily backups (called Restore Points), so if you accidentally mess up your site, you can easily put things back to the way they were. You can also create manual backups before you do any work on your site.
  • Staging area, where you can create a working copy of your site and test things there instead of experimenting on your live site. If all goes well, you simply click to push the changes to your live site.
  • Automated migration, which makes it easy to switch from another hosting provider.

Hosting plans with WP Engine start at $29.00 a month, so it costs quite a bit more than shared hosting, but if you can afford it, you certainly get what you pay for.

Which web hosting services have you used? What do you like and dislike about them?

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