Technology

Thinking Bigger Than Bandwidth: The Technical Guide to Finding the Right Web Hosting

Photo from Tom Raftery via flickr

Having a well-designed website is important, but it’s nothing without a good hosting plan. Here is a brief guide to help the less technologically-acclimated among us navigate these unfamiliar waters.

How Much Bandwidth Is Enough?

Bandwidth is the first thing you should look at when considering hosting companies. In this case, more isn’t always better. Instead, finding the right fit is key. If you’re running a small personal blog, you won’t need very much. On the other hand, if you own a high-traffic eCommerce store, you’ll need quite a bit. If you’re not sure what will work for you, then start out conservatively. Most Web hosts will allow you to upgrade your bandwidth if your site needs more.

Can You Use It?

For most site owners, ease of use is everything. Not many of us know how to deal directly with programming code or databases, so having an intuitive user interface with the power to overcome these obstacles is essential. If you echo this sentiment, then your ideal Web host will support MySQL and phpMyAdmin. If you don’t know what those tools are, don’t worry. They turn building a robust website into a walk in the park. Unless you’re hiring a professional programmer to manage your website, you’re going to want to stay away from hosting companies that don’t offer these features.

Other Considerations to Keep in Mind

When looking for the right website hosting, webmasters oftentimes get caught up on the most important aspects of a hosting plan such as bandwidth. You should definitely pay close attention to those things, but they aren’t the only factors to worry about. Some hosting companies deliver great bandwidth for the price but fail to mention the low uptime, which is the percentage of time the site stays up and running. If that number is below 99 percent, then you might want to consider shopping around a little more.

Likewise, speed is a big factor. If visitors have to wait too long to load your page, then it’s likely that a good portion of them won’t stick around. On top of that, Google has begun to factor site speed into their ranking algorithm. A hosting plan with great bandwidth or low cost offers you no true advantage if it doesn’t deliver speed as well. In fact, it could cause serious damage to your business.

Kicking the Tires

Consumers should be skeptical of claims made by hosting companies. It’s not uncommon for customers to purchase a plan only to find out they didn’t receive all they were promised. Instead of relying on untested claims, verify them yourself. Look around for customer reviews. These, too, are claims coming from strangers, so they should receive a healthy dose of skepticism as well. However, they can shed a bright light on the kind of experiences you can expect to endure.

If you really want to see a Web host in action, visit one of their sites. Nothing can be more telling than that. Is it fast? How’s its uptime? What about bandwidth? You can also experience the efficiency and power of its PHP and database software firsthand. If you like how that site runs, then you might have found your new Web host.

Like many big purchases throughout life, finding the right Web host for your site is ultimately a balancing act of priorities. Site speed, uptime, bandwidth, cost, and ease of use, among other things, are all part of the equation. No plan can offer all of them, so knowing what’s most important to you and searching around carefully are the keys to success.

About the author

avatar

Marianne S. Ross

Marianne S. Ross is a freelance writer and occasional blogger, mostly writing about tech related news. Lately she’s focusing on Web development, website hosting and Web design related topics.  If her article got you interested, feel free to follow or reach out to her via G+ or Facebook.