So during your conquest of building a website, you ventured into the world of web hosting.
And now, like every noble sojourner in this quite complicated world, you’ve been hit with the (not-so) mysterious question: what are the best hosting plans and how do I compare them so that I can make the best choice (at the cheapest price)? Or something similar.
Well, for one, comparing web hosting prices is only effective as part of a process, not as a process itself. I’ll explain.
If you’re looking for a website host, you will be comparing their pricing plans because you want the best choice for your website that falls within your budget range. But what makes a web host the top pick for your website is not just their budget range, but the value they can offer within that budget range.
So ideally, you want a web hosting plan that will afford the best features and services for your website. So I believe a really valuable question will be, what are these features and services you must watch out for when comparing these pricing plans?
Even if you’re looking to be a web host yourself and you’re only looking for a way to spy on your potential competition, you need to level the playing field and gain customer insight. Consider what your customers might be looking out for when checking for website hosts because that is something your competition would definitely have done before setting their rates.
So as part of the process of comparing web hosting plans, you need to be aware of the features and technology requirements of the website you want to build so you can know what to look for. Trust me, this is not really as complicated as it sounds.
Important Website Features and Requirements to Look out for when Comparing Website Hosting Plans
Obviously, at this point, you already know what type of website you want to build, if it’s a small blog for your hobby or an e-commerce store to sell your products.
Your type of website will play a large part in deciding the necessary features of your web host.
Here’s a list of things a web host is generally required to offer your website:
- Type of Web Hosting
- Uptime Guarantee
- Bandwidth and Storage
- Security, SSL Certificates, and Site Backups
- Customer Support
Type of Web Hosting
Because of the different types of website hosting available, the price for renting a server can range from as low as $3 per month to between $30 and $700.
Practically, the more expensive types provide more options and resources, so your price range will be determined by the resources your type of website needs.
So if you’re trying to create an online store that would inventory quite a lot of products, a budget below $20 would be unrealistic.
This is undoubtedly the most popular form of hosting on the market. It literally means what the name says, you’ll be sharing space with other users on the web host’s server. Usually, you won’t know those other users exist.
This mode of operation makes this option really cheap since it’s basically sharing rent with multiple websites on one server, usually within a range of 10 to 100. It also makes it the go-to choice for new blogs, personal websites, and startups.
But this also means it’s pretty limited. For instance, it can only allow for a low number of user traffic per website. And there’s a high possibility of websites shutting down or lagging if there’s ever an unexpected rise in traffic.
Shared hosting services have an average price range that falls between $2.91 and $3.63 per month for signing up.
Renewals can range anywhere from $3.63 to $6.21 per month.
This is like a grander version of shared hosting. It follows the same process of hosting multiple websites on one server. The difference? Websites are hosted on virtual servers this time, and adapting to accommodate surges in traffic is much easier.
A virtual server in cloud hosting is created by merging the resources of several physical servers in different locations. This means if one server goes down, the website still stays up because its virtual server is backed up by other servers.
Basically, it provides more security and uptime for websites so there’s little risk of downtime or crashes even in the face of changes to your website.
This, of course, means it’s more expensive than shared hosting but that’s only practical. This type of hosting is very ideal for businesses that are expecting to grow quickly or make changes at any time.
Cloud hosting has a volatile price range, spanning from about $4.50 to $240 per month depending on the level of resources needed.
Nowadays, there are some providers that offer the cheapest cloud hosting servers as low as $2.50 per month, such as Vultr.
Short for Virtual Private Server Hosting, this version is the next rung in the ladder as it provides even more security and performance and more importantly, control.
It allocates a private piece of a server that wouldn’t be shared with anyone else to users along with a unique IP address and more access to server functions. This means users have more control over the piece of servers they own.
It’s a great option for big businesses and e-commerce stores that need to move a lot of “weight” on their sites, so to say.
VPS hosting’s price range averages between $20 to $80 per month.
This is for the big boys, for large enterprises and websites that require the power of a whole server. If it wasn’t clear before this type of hosting dedicates an entire server to run your website.
Naturally, this gives users the control to manage all the technical and backend aspects of their server.
There’s an easier form of dedicated hosting for businesses that want entire servers but either doesn’t have the technical know-how or just do not wish to manage their technical aspects of configuration. It’s called Managed hosting.
Features like the backend security, uptime monitoring, server set-up, configuration, and maintenance are managed by the provider while the business focuses on the building and frontend of the website.
Dedicated hosting services could range from about $80 to $300 per month.
Managed hosting is like an extra service as it could be applied to VPS and Dedicated hosting. Providers would automatically charge management fees to your hosting plan if you require the service, but as a standalone, it could cost between $50 to $75 an hour.
You can get your website domain name from a domain registration service or a website host.
A domain name can typically cost between $10 and $15 per year but getting a free domain name should be a realistic option, especially as some web hosts might offer these as a bonus with their services.
That’s something you can look out for when comparing pricing plans, plans that offer free domain name registration.
This free service is usually only offered for shared and cloud hosting plans, however.
Another thing you need to have in mind are the long term plans for your website. Are you looking to scale and grow big in the near future? Will you be increasing your blog’s traffic and workload and subsequently need bigger and more convenient web hosting services over time?
If that’s the case then you need to look for plans that cover the full range of hosting types and afford the convenience for growth. There will be plans that offer dynamic services to suit website types: small blogs, e-commerce stores, large enterprises. Watch out for those.
Since websites crashing is a certain possibility, most website hosts promise that their websites will stay up for a certain percentage of the time. This is called the Uptime Guarantee.
It’s one of the things you need to check in a web host’s pricing plan. You should particularly look for guarantees that are as close to 100% as possible.
These are good because it means even if the hosts don’t keep to their promise, which is rare, you would definitely receive compensation.
Bandwidth and Storage
The amount of bandwidth and site storage you need typically depends on the amount of traffic and data load your website will receive, so make sure you have a good idea of this.
People often try to look for unlimited bandwidths but these are hard to find or usually available for more expensive plans.
Depending on the scope of your website, you might not need unlimited bandwidth. Either way, calculate the monthly total of your average daily traffic, page views, and the size of your website to determine which bandwidth plan to look out for.
Take into account how media-oriented your site is to determine your storage needs.
Security, SSL Certificate and Site Backups
A huge part of your website’s security is your own responsibility. Still, there are certain security features a good web host will offer.
These include protecting their servers with a firewall and providing upgrades for protection against DDoS, malware, and spam.
SSL certificates and backups for your site are not necessary webs hosting features since these can generally be provided by the website owner. Finding hosting plans that cover these services is a way to spot really good web hosts.
It’s pretty easy to overlook great customer support but you might be shocked at just how important it is for successfully hosting your website.
Ideally, you’re hoping for a situation free experience with your website but that’s not a total guarantee. It might eventually lag, load slowly, or even crash at certain points. You want to be sure you will indeed be responded to whenever these issues do arise.
A good web host should provide technical support that will erase your need to have to consult an expert or web developer. So, the availability of customer support is something you must check.
24/7 support is always the ideal option, but if that is not available, check that their hours meet yours.
Other Factors to Consider
Now that your eyes are sharper and you have a better idea of how to compare web hosting plans, you’re almost ready to go. Almost.
There are still a few things you need to note before you go searching for the best web hosting services and scanning their pricing plans:
Check for User Reviews
This is just a great, safe-proof way to find out if your web hosts are really all they say they are. User reviews are priceless, and often you might find out all there is to know about a service from its customers.
Alternative Hosting Platforms
You might not need a standard or stand-alone web hosting service for your business. There are different unique hosting options for specific services, like email hosting for emails and email marketing platforms.
There are website builders like Wix for blogs and even online stores that automatically integrate web hosting as part of their services.
Large e-commerce stores or enterprises can use e-commerce systems like Shopify or Magento that will automatically provide excellent e-commerce hosting.
Some content management systems like WordPress or Drupal have special hosting systems that make them optimal platforms for their websites.
That said, you will want a website hosting comparison chart or tool that clearly outlines the specific requirements mentioned above and makes it easy for you to use these to compare the web hosting services along with their price ranges.