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Posted on July 7, 2015

When most people think of creating a website, they will first buy the domain name and then wonder why they aren’t online yet the next day. Surprisingly, it is still an unknown fact to some that buying a domain name is not the final step in getting their site online. This is where web hosting comes in to play. Web hosting is the business of operating the “door” to the internet. Web Hosting companies are the gatekeepers; they are the front door to the “club,” if you will. Domain names will only get you in line. Having a web host will get you “in.”

How to choose Best web hostingIf you can imagine for a moment that the Internet is the ocean and web hosting companies are the land, what would be the most important features of that land (host)? We explore the most important features in this list of 14 essential features to look for when choosing the best web hosting provider for your website. We’d like to offer our analysis of what makes a good web host for your website and what features to look for when you’ve decided to get your business, blog or personal website online. We will be covering the essentials, and some luxury features that make web hosting companies stand out.

1. Free Domain

Free domain nameFirst thing goes first. Having a domain is essential to web hosting. A domain name is to web hosting as grapes are to wine – without them, the wine really wouldn’t exist. A lot of web hosting services will sell you on registering a domain for anywhere from $0.01 to $12/year, but that’s only if you are buying the domain alone. If you’re truly looking to start your website and not park a domain, then this is one feature that top web hosting companies offer free as part of their hosting plans. It also makes the process quicker when setting up your website with a free domain name included.

2. Programming Languages

phpProgramming languages have been specifically designed and written to communicate with a computer or server. There are popular programming languages such as Python, Ruby on Rails, PHP, and Perl that are most commonly used, but there are really hundreds of languages. When choosing a web hosting service, one important part of your decision is the amount of support offered for these languages – or at least the most popular ones. This will allow for compatibility with your web host and give you support for different applications that you may need to install, fix, or customize your website with.

3. Disc Space

This is pretty self-explanatory. This means how much data “storage” your server allows for. Unless you’re looking to purchase Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting or your own Dedicated Server, don’t worry about this too much, as a reliable web host will offer you unlimited disc space on their Shared Hosting plans.

4. Bandwidth

What is it? Well, we don’t even know! Just kidding, of course we do! Let’s assume that the Internet (data) is water in lake, and that your bandwidth is the “width” of the pipe leading from the lake to your home (website).

Bandwidth The larger your bandwidth (pipe), the more water (data) can travel through your pipe to your home (website). Make sure your web host is transparent in how much bandwidth they offer. If they aren’t telling you the bandwidth limitations, that may be a red flag. Good webhosts outline the amount of bandwidth you will have. Most of the larger web hosting companies will have unlimited bandwidth for their shared or business hosting plans, while hosting plans such as VPS, and Dedicated Servers will have a limit. Even if your website exceeds the bandwidth on these servers, you’ll likely never be shut down – unless it’s a “traffic attack” or some spam site hacks your traffic – but that is an extreme occurrence.

5. Multiple Domains and Sub-Domains

This is a great feature for those who have more than one website or are planning on having more than just one.

Multiple domain namesThe truth is, a lot of people start a website and after a month or two, they see an opportunity to capitalize on a trend by operating another website. Say you start a cooking blog about the proper etiquette of cooking – then 6 months into the blog you see that there is a need and demand for “Easy Chinese Cuisine Recipes.” Well, this is where the multiple domain and sub domains feature becomes handy. Instead of starting a brand new account with separate credentials – a good web host will offer you the option of adding on a second, third, or even unlimited websites under one account. It’s a great feature to consider, especially if you have more than one website idea.

6. Email Accounts

This feature has the same components and benefits as we mentioned above for multiple domains and sub domains. If you can find a host that allows for multiple email accounts (or even better unlimited), then you are in luck. This will allow for you to set up email accounts for multiple inboxes, e.g. such as:
info@yourdomain.com,
support@yourdomain.com,
VicePresident@yourdomain.com
(where “yourdomain.com” is the domain name you use for a website) and so on. Try to find a host that offers unlimited, but if you can’t, settle for at least 2-6.

7. Database Support

databaseHave you ever seen this symbol? A database is where information goes to get organized. Think of a filing cabinet for your internet and website data. Hosting companies usually support a wide array of databases, but the most popular and most used are usually MySQL and PostgreSQL. Make sure for a Shared Hosting plan, there are at least 2 minimum. For higher hosting plans, ‘unlimited’ is usually an option and would be great so that you can store an unlimited amount of “file cabinets.”

8. Data Backups

Websites crash all the time, as do servers. Even with the advent of the cloud hosting product, a database crash can happen and it’s out of your or the host’s control. That’s why the web hosting industry invented the backup data system to protect against their clients’ websites crashing and losing any unsaved information. A proper web hosting company will offer backups, and the better ones will offer them for free with auto-updating cycles so you never have to worry about losing your data in the event of a website crash, hack or disaster.

9. Control Panel (cPanel)

Control panelcPanel stands for “Control Panel” and it’s essentially the command center from which you can run your website administrative operations. cPanel has a large collection of tools that allow you to own, manage and operate a website from one place. You can do everything from adding email accounts, to creating auto responders, accessing your backup files and managing those files. This is also where you manage sub domains, set up new ones, and operate databases like MySQL. You can even install applications (as you’ll see in our next feature). As you can tell, this is a very important feature when looking for a web host. The good news is that cPanel has become the industry standard as far as management systems, and almost all web hosting companies offer it as their main management tool.

10. 1-Click Scripts Installer

Softaculous one click scriptsA One-Click Scripts Installer (Softaculous) is something that we love for websites as far as application hubs are concerned. Softaculous has over 350 auto-installable applications for adding functionality to your website. Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla can be auto-installed from your cPanel via Softaculous to boost the speed in which you start to operate your website. There are also applications for creating forums, wikis, social networking tools, ad management and eCommerce capabilities. It’s a great feature if you’re looking to create a web site in a weekend. Having Softaculous as a feature from your web hosting provider will save you a lot of time and make you more efficient.

11. Customer and Tech Support

A lot of things are complicated in this day and age, and to keep up with the changes that the internet industry experiences on a daily basis would be exhausting for anyone not as proficient in computer literacy as the tech support teams of said internet companies. That’s why having support is extremely important. We cannot stress this enough. Your website will undoubtedly experience problems. 404 and 301 errors, email crashes, or code going array – all things that have to do with compatibility or some software update that you didn’t even know about happening on an application you use.

Customer supportLow cost web hosting companies are unfortunately not known for their great support. It’s important to find hosting companies that don’t outsource your calls to some third party or put you on hold for hours to find a solution to your problem. The best hosting companies have in-house customer support that are rigorously trained on their hosting products and services. And beyond that, they are accessible. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve dealt with bad service that stops taking phone calls after 6pm. Do your best to find a web hosting company that offers domestic or in-house customer service with less than 24 hour turnaround time. If you’re really lucky, your host offers 24/7 customer support – but that’s rare.

12. Promotion Credits

Google ad creditIt’s not really a big deal to have a web host offer you credits, but luckily the competition is so high that web hosting companies have started to partner with the liked of Google, Bing and Yahoo to offer their customers advertisement credits. Even if the minimum credit line upon sign up is $50, it’s still a value added that will help boost your website’s traffic and help with getting your name out on the search engines. The offering of ad credits differs from a lot of web hosts, and some don’t even offer it. Anything is really a “win” for you, but we’ve found web hosts that offer $200 in ad credits, and even a few that offer $300 of ad credits for Google!

13. SSD (Solid State Drives)

If we drove a Ferrari to your house and handed you the keys, would you go back to driving your mini-van? No, probably not, because the Ferrari is a luxury sports vehicle that has higher efficiency and performance.

SSD driveWell – there is such a difference in the web hosting industry and they come in the form of Solid-State Drives (SSDs). SSDs are like a hard drive in that they manage the performance of your system. They are the engine of your server. The big difference between solid-state drives and disc drives is that SSDs offer far superior performance and reliability. Again, think of the Ferrari and the mini-van. A mini-van (disc drive) will definitely get you to your destination; but with SSDs, the question quickly becomes how fast and how efficiently? Well, your visitors and customers will notice if every page they are clicking on is taking more than 10 seconds to load.

SSDs are new to the hosting industry as far as being offered without costing an ‘arm and a leg.’ Hosting companies will offer it as an extra feature, but will usually charge a premium.

14. Money-back guarantee

Money back guaranteeWebsites are a great way to try out an idea. They are great ways to make money or gain an online presence. So when you’ve chosen a web host that is supposed to fulfill most of what we’ve listed in this article, and offer you the best support to get your idea online – and they fail at that, well then that is a failed service and you deserve your money back. It’s just like the return policy of a company that trusts their product is superior. A good host will give you a 30 day money-back guarantee. A better one will give you 60 days. The best one will give you 90 days – that’s 3 months to test out their service!

Conclusion

We’ve compiled this list in order to narrow down the key features you need look for when searching for a hosting platform that will be the home for your website. To reiterate our analogy from the start of this article, if a hosting company were land, what features would be the most important to us? We believe we’ve listed the 14 most important points when starting a relationship with a web hosting company.

Should you consider our experience, in conclusion we’d suggest you to check several web hosting companies that provide affordable services and does support all 14 mentioned above essential features to look for in a web host. We’d suggest not just take our word but contact the web host that you think meets your requirements and talk to their Reps., check reviews of web hosts submitted by visitors and make sure you choose the right home for your site.

So, today we’d suggest to check the following web hosts:

And you can also see some more affordable site hosting providers that we could recommend you to try – those are listed on our best hosting services page, that is regularly updated according the current market state.

See more Web Hosting Tips

Also check these:
» Best Free Website Builder options
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