Choosing the right Web hosting company can be a complex and daunting task. If your website is taken offline at all this can lose business, and if technical support is not available 24/7 this can become a frustrating and time-consuming problem.
In this article I want to take you through some of the main issues that I have come across and which you should consider, when deciding on the type of web hosting service you are going to use.
Best Web Hosting – for Small Businesses and Bloggers
I’m not really recommending any specific product in this article and it’s not a review. Instead I want to talk a little about my own experiences of using some of the services and share some comments and problems that people generally have encountered.
Ultimately the final decision depends on your own particular needs and of course the budget. However the checklists and questions suggested in this article will apply in nearly all situations regardless of the size of blog or budget to work from.
Hosting a WordPress Site
In a previous article that I wrote, on setting up a WordPress site, I included a brief section on web hosting. In this article however I wanted to explain in more depth what web hosting actually involves and how to get the best service for your needs.
Even if you are already using a web hosting service you will probably have noticed that many web hosting companies offer special deals when you first join, but can increase the price after 12 months or so. This means that web hosting is not a once off decision, but something that many bloggers and businesses need to review on an annual basis.
There are three elements to site hosting and different companies offer different levels of service for each of the areas.
- Site Hosting
- Domain Name Registration
- Site building
Using Multiple Web Hosting Services
There are actually several different types of web hosting available and it is important to know the differences, and which will suit your needs the most. Here are the four main groups.
- Shared servers
- Virtual Private Server (VPS)
- Dedicated server
- Cloud servers
These servers are shared by several different websites and provide a cheap option for low -medium traffic sites. They are simple to be involved with and provide the ideal starting point for new websites and blogs. The main disadvantage is that you are affected by the behaviour of other websites on the server especially if there are any sudden peaks in traffic or unusual software being used.
This operates like a shared server but has a more dedicated connection, it gives greater security especially for business sites that may not want the higher expense of a private dedicated server. It still experiences some of the problems of a shared server such as being affected by sudden traffic peaks.
This is a more expensive option because you are the only web site on the server. It is therefore not affected by the behaviour of other sites and suits larger websites that need the assurance of this additional reliability and security.
Cloud servers often need some form of software to operate them, but they can cope better with traffic spikes because of how they are configured. A cloud server has multiple websites which share a group of servers, so they can spread the load easier.
Domain Names and Sub Domains
Having decided on a company that will host your website, the next decision is to decide on a name for the site. This decision will also include considering whether to use a sub domain name or purchase your own domain name.
Domains are essentially your own piece of the internet and they provide unique information to the register organisation – ICANN, about who is using them. ICANN is the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and they monitor all registrations as well supervise the development of policies associated with internet registration.
Pick a Name
Most bloggers and businesses want to have a domain name that suits the brand or product that they are promoting. Many people choose the international domains such as .com / .org or .net. For companies and businesses looking to attract local customers a country specific domain such as co.uk or .ie are very popular.
Whatever you decide as an ending for your website name, you then have to decide whether you want to be part of someone else’s domain or to have your own.
- An example of a domain name is the web company that I use, which is siterubix.com.
- An example of a sub domain name is the original version of this website, which was
A sub domain is part of the main hosting company, but it is still seen as an independent website by search engines. Usually sub domain names are free and can be a great way to start a blog site and get it going before deciding on the exact name for the site.
I would have used siterubix as a sub domain site and they are now my current web hosting company of choice. They offer two free WordPress websites to anyone if you wish to try them out using the box below.
A Journey into Web Hosting
I have found during my time blogging that it is rare to find one service that offers everything, and so I have described in this next section how and why I moved through a number of different services in order to establish the latest two blog sites that I manage. This will hopefully give you an idea of how the different systems work together.
The first platform I joined was Blogpress.com, it is a simple straightforward platform that offers domain registration, hosting and site builder. It’s fairly cheep ($97 annual but they frequently have offers that bring the price down). For new and/or inexperienced bloggers it is certainly convenient to join a platform that offers all three components
On the down side Blogpress is fairly restricted in the advice it gives you and although they do have a training programme, which claims to get you earning money from your blog in 90 days, it is a bit basic. For social bloggers it is probably an ideal platform but for those interested in internet marketing then the training isn’t sufficient enough and there is no community support forum available.
From Blogpress I moved to Wealthy Affiliate and started my second website on this platform and also moved the first website over to them as well. WA doesn’t offer domain names but it does have a site builder and hosting service as they also own siterubix.
It also offers an in-depth training programme for affiliate and marketing bloggers and has a large and active community support forum. My site is hosted at WA but then I needed to find a separate domain registering site.
In order to register my second website I went to a company called Namecheap which is also a web hosting service. Here you can purchase a domain name relatively cheaply and easily.
After buying and registering the domain, the servers need to be re-directed to your hosting server so that they can find your website. This process should be relatively simple if your web hosting company is supportive.
Namecheap is one of many companies that offer the domain registration service including some of the other large hosting companies such as GoDaddy.com. There is relatively little difference between them they are both well established and I know many bloggers that use either or both of them for domain purchases.
Transferring servers from either company once you have purchased your domain name, and are ready to move it to another hosting company, is also relatively straightforward from either company.
There is one final company that I will mention which is Bluehost.
Bluehost is a company that I haven’t used before but which seems to be recommended by many serious bloggers. It has a well established reputation although some people have complained about its slow customer service.
It offers domain names (you can try out the domain checker below) and is a hosting service as well.
All the companies mentioned here Namecheap, GoDaddy and Bluehost offer cheaper entry schemes and then increase the price for recurring years. So this is definitely something to consider even though they are relatively cheap as a beginner option, (so long as your remember to review your options after 12 months). Starting prices are around $5-$8 per month for hosting and $10 -$12 to purchase a domain name per year.
So you have a domain name and a web hosting company does it stop there? Not quite..
One problem that you will find in your search is that there is a lot of jargon and sales talk when you are looking for a web hosting company, with everyone appearing to offer the best possible service. Therefore there are a number of critical questions that you will need to have asked the hosting company you choose.
10 Questions to Ask Potential Hosting Server
Here is a checklist of 10 key questions to ask any web hosting company that you look at for your website.
- Level of customer support and type 24/7 chat, email, phone?
- Payment plans – do you have to pay upfront for cheaper monthly options?
- What are renewal fees and what are the requirements to cancel a plan?
- Is there a free trial?
- What is specifically included in the plan – email addresses, types of domains?
- Is it on a shared server, how many other clients will be on it?
- Are they the actual hosting provider or a hosting service?
- What are their back up protocols?
- What is their uptime guarantee (it should be close to 100%)
- What are their privacy policies and data management policies (how is your privacy protected)?
This article has discussed some of the information that you will need to know about web hosting and domain name registration. Remember most of the technical side is done for you by these companies so you don’t have to worry about anything at that level, other than to check and be assured that they have a technical support system in place.
If you are interested in reading more on this topic, here are links to other articles on this site.
- Setting up a Website
- Building a WordPress Site
- Choosing A Domain Name
- How to Purchase and Register a Domain Name
In addition you can read about the training videos and talk through guides on any of the above issues, in this article on the Wealthy Affiliate University.
Finally I would love to hear about any experiences you may have had with any of the companies mentioned or other hosting services that you may have used.
* this page contains affiliate links to products that I receive a commission to promote, however they are also products that I am very familiar and happy to be associated with.