There seem to be no end of hosts that call themselves the best, the cheapest, the fastest…But does it really matter? What sort of impact does your host have on your website success?
Why It’s Important to Choose a Great Web Host
1. Security. A hacked website is the nightmare of any business owner. Yes, there is a lot of security that you can put into place on your site itself. For WordPress websites, we highly recommend All-In-One WP Security & Firewall. But your web host also plays a huge role in making sure that your site secure. How? If a hacker is able to get onto your server or into your database, it won’t matter what security measures you have in place on a site-level. And if you have multiple website on one server, well, all of them could be hacked at once. So what should a good hosting provider have?
- Great registration policies. When you sign up for a hosting account, does your host verify that they have the right person? There should be measures of verification to prove that you own the domain name that you’re using and that you’re using a credit card that belongs to you.
- A server firewall. A firewall is extremely important. It prevents unauthorized access to your server, especially when it comes to related networks.
- Site backups. What happens if your site does get hacked, regardless of where the fault lies? If your site isn’t backed up, then you’re in deep water! Make sure your host provides automatic backup services. Some offer these for free, while others have an extra charge. Trust me; these are worth it!
- A secure control panel. A control panel gives you access to absolutely everything on your website, from applications and files to databases and emails. Your control panel should be protected, requiring secure passwords and verification. cPanel is probably the most common type of control panel; if your host uses this, then you’re good!
- Email encryption. This isn’t directly related to your website, but could impact everything that you do in your business. If you access your email through your hosting provider, make sure that it’s encrypted. If someone hacks into your email address, they can often access your accounts, from banking to hosting and more. Email encryption protects your email account and keeps unwanted hackers from getting in.
2. Speed. You want your site to run as quickly as possible. A fast website helps ensure that potential customers are able to find what they need on your website, rather than just leaving and going to someone else’s. It also plays a role in SEO. As with security, you do need to perform some speed optimization on a site level; check out our post on improving WordPress speed to find out more information.
But if you’re using a shared server hosting platform, then it’s very, very important that your host serves your website as quickly as possible. Here are some items that are an indication of good speed:
- Number of websites on each server. When you’re on a shared server, there could be essentially unlimited websites sharing the same resources. The more websites on each server, the slower each website is, especially during peak times. Compare the number of websites on each shared server while you’re doing your hosting research.
- Solid state drives. SSD is very, very fast. These drives load content in a fraction of the time that other drives do. Many hosts charge extra for these; try to find one that includes SSD at no extra cost.
- Uptime. This one isn’t exactly speed, but if your site is down completely, then you’ll definitely lose customers! Look into your host’s uptime; you want it to be as high as possible
3. Support. Honestly, the support that you receive from your hosting provider could make or break your website in many ways. Let’s say that you experience an issue with a plugin, you aren’t receiving emails, or you get the dreaded “white screen of death” and your entire site disappears! Who are you going to get in touch with? Well, your hosting support! And if it’s impossible to talk to a real person, or if they nickel and dime you for everything, then fixing your site will be that much harder. Here are some things that you should look for in a host:
- Live chat. This is my go-to support method with hosting providers. It makes it very easy to get in touch with them, and you’re not stuck waiting on hold all the time!
- Real people. You shouldn’t have to sit on hold for half an hour to talk to a real person. If you can’t reach someone within 10 minutes, I would choose another host!
- Support that speaks your language, fluently. I’m completely fine with providers from other countries. But if they’re not able to speak your language fluently, then important instructions could easily be miscommunicated, and mistakes could be made.
- 24/7 support. Yes, websites can go down in the middle of the night and you’ll want your host to be around to assist you. Make sure that they offer 24/7 support, 7 days a week for all of your 2AM panicked moments!
- Minimal extra fees. While it is reasonable for your hosting provider to charge for some extra services, they shouldn’t nickel and dime you for access to files that most hosts give you for free. Look at reviews carefully before choosing a host and see what people are saying about extra fees.
If you’re looking for someone to handle your website for you, so you won’t have to worry about any of this, feel free to get in touch! We offer affordable WordPress maintenance plans that take all the stress out of your websites.
4. The Extras. What else might a host offer that could put it over the top? These are some of our favorite features in a web host:
- Lots of disk space. As your site grows, you’ll need more and more disk space, and probably don’t want to have to worry about paying extra to increase that. Look for a good amount of disk space; some hosts even offer unlimited space!
- One-click installations of popular applications. Don’t worry about manually installing your apps! Look for a host that has one-click installations for popular applications like WordPress, Drupal, and more.
- Everything in one place. Look for a host that offers more than just hosting services! Having everything under one roof – domain name, SSL certificate, email services, etc.) can make things easy to manage and troubleshoot, if needed.
- A variety of plans. Look for a host that has everything from shared server hosting to dedicated servers. This allows you to easily upgrade – without having to deal with a complicated migration – as your site grows!
So who do we recommend?
Hands down, our favorite host, especially for small businesses, is Inmotion Hosting. As web developers, we’ve worked with every major host out there, and are the most pleased with Inmotion. They have unrivaled customer support, as well as a lot of free extras that most hosts don’t offer! And as far as out list above? Well, they meet every piece of criteria. Here are some of the things you can expect from Inmotion:
- Super fast SSD drives
- Unlimited disk space
- A free domain name for one year
- Free website backups every 24 hours
- One-click install of all your major apps
- 24/7, 365 unrivaled support via phone, email, and Internet chat
- Excellent security
- The ability to easily host multiple websites on one hosting plan
- Free transfers from your previous host
- Free Google AdWords credits
- An easy-to-use cpanel
- Email spam protection
There’s honestly nothing else out there like it. Whether you’re a beginner, looking for a host where you can build your site and not worry about it, or an expert who wants lots of customization options, Inmotion is by far the best. So what are you waiting on?
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