Best Web Hosting
Best Web Hosting Services
Choosing the best web hosting service can be a challenge, especially when the Internet is full of low-cost hosting or even free web hosting services. However, you know what they say — you get what you pay for. Before you decide what service is going to host your site and/or blog, it's best to do a little research. That should include asking yourself questions such as:
- What's the purpose of your site?
- What are you looking for in a web host?
- What kind of features do you need?
- What's your budget?
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Even then, it's hard to identify a starting point: Should you establish a firm budget before looking for a web host that offers the features you can afford? Or figure out the features you need, and see if there's a host that can give you what you want and meet your budget to boot? Depending on your answers, you might just find that free web hosting services aren't the right solution after all.
Another factor to consider when searching for the best web hosting service is web host reputation. If responsive customer service is a dealbreaker for you, you'll want to look at what others are saying about that web hosting service. That's even more true if it's a free web hosting service, although there's a distinct possibility that if it's a free web hosting service, they won't actually have much in the way of customer service.
The Drawbacks of Free Web Hosting
Free web hosting sounds good in theory, but isn't always best in practice. If you're looking to host a business site, it's more than likely that a free web hosting service might not meet your needs, just in terms of the features they offer (or don't, as the case may be).
Another drawback of free web hosts is that they sometimes have a short lifespan. Not only that, but when they do shutter their services, they have been known to pull up stakes without warning, often leaving shortsighted site owners (who didn't back up their sites) with no access to their content, and no archives other than what they might find at the Wayback Machine.
The problem is really finding a quality free web host with a good reputation, that has been around awhile, and that has good long-term future prospects.
There are a lot of quality web hosts with affordable monthly or yearly plans, such as budget hosting service HostForWeb. HostForWeb offers unlimited bandwidth, disk space, and domains for as low as $3.95 per month through its shared hosting service.
Business or Pleasure?
When looking for the best web hosting service, you need to determine the purpose of the site. Is it for a business presence on the web, or a blog — and if it's a blog, is it a personal blog or a professional one?
If you need a business site, do you have the time, skills, and patience to design your own, or access to design and IT resources? What's your budget for design and development? Finding a web host is just one piece of the puzzle.
If you're low on money, skills, and resources, a free web hosting service might be very tempting for a small business. While many free web hosts come with strings attached and/or no real promise of staying power, there are some reliable, feature-rich options with design flexibility: blogging platforms. Some of the benefits include:
- Database driven
- Good for sites as well as blogging
- Easy exports to other services
- Design options
- Lots of features
- Support and documentation
- Modules, plugins and apps for everything
- Integrate well (and easily) with other social media
- Easy to submit posts, manage site
- Domain customization usually possible
What Are Your Needs?
The search for the best web hosting service really boils down to what you need balanced by what you can afford. If you have the basic features or services covered, such as guaranteed uptime and reliable customer support, then you need to consider what other kinds of services might be the best fit for your site.
Do you need a site with an ecommerce package? Do you want MySQL, PHP5, or Ruby on Rails? Can you add bandwidth and storage to your plan easily and without a huge increase in price? Does the host support Perl and CGI? Are there regular backups? Are backups included, or are does the web host charge a fee? HostGator, for instance, offers instant backups for its lowest-priced shared hosting plan. FatCow offers backups for an additional $12.95 per month.
What's Your Budget?
Many reliable web hosts offer a solid set of basic features for very minimal fees under a shared hosting option. Some consistently high-rated hosts such as FatCow and HostGator offer basic packages for under $5 per month with unlimited disk space and bandwidth. FatCow even offers unlimited domains.
For some businesses, shared hosting is not a good option and dedicated hosting is the better choice. Dedicated hosting is the best web hosting option for companies that require high performance and use more bandwidth than is considered 'normal' by most companies offering unlimited bandwidth.
Dedicated hosting also typically offers admin access to the entire server instead of control panel access to individual accounts. That means full control of installed software, server security, and other features.
With that level of of access, dedicated hosting comes at a significantly higher price: HostForWeb offers dedicated hosting for as low as $99.95 per month for the lowest tier.
Web Hosting Reviews
One of the first and easiest things you can do is look for feedback about particular hosts. There are oodles of web hosts out there, and the Internet is full of people sharing their opinions about them. There are plenty of resources for ratings and feedback. If you are interested in web hosting reviews, you won't have far to look.
If you're looking for opinions about a web host, try our web hosting reviews.
Evaluating a Web Host
If you want a business (or personal) site and have decided against the free services of web hosting services such as Tumblr, Squarespace, and Wordpress.com, then you need to think about what you want from a web hosting service. The best web hosting service will offer the features you have decided are critical at a price that is still affordable (and more importantly, competitive). More importantly, the best web hosting service will have a good reputation for reliable service and guaranteed uptimes.
Best Web Hosting Features
There are a lot of web hosting features you might decide you can't live without, such as access to Fantastico, or 1-click installs of Wordpress. There are also a number of standard features you should absolutely consider and weigh when assessing a web hosting service:
- Disk space