This is the most common question that our customers ask us. Choosing the right web hosting plan is a straightforward process: You decide what features you need to run your website, and then you find the web host that offers those features.
The hard part is knowing what features you will need to run your website, especially if you are a beginning webmaster. Technical terms like Active Server Pages, PHP, MySQL, and Control Panels, can be quite confusing.
A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to provide their own website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server they own for use by their clients as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center. Web hosts can also provide data center space and connectivity to the Internet for servers they do not own to be located in their data center, called colocation.
Web hosting is often provided as part of a general Internet access plan; there are many free and paid providers offering these services.
A customer needs to evaluate the requirements of the application to choose what kind of hosting to use. Such considerations include database server software, scripting software, and operating system. Most hosting providers provide Linux-based web hosting, which offers a wide range of different software.
A typical configuration for a Linux server is the LAMP platform: Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP / Perl / Python. The web hosting client may want to have other services, such as email for their business domain, databases, or multi-media services for streaming media.
A customer may also choose Windows as the hosting platform. The customer can still choose from PHP, Perl, and Python but may also use ASP .Net or Classic ASP.
Web hosting packages often include a Web Content Management System, so the end-user doesn't have to worry about the more technical aspects. These Web Content Management systems are great for the average user, but for those who want more control over their website design, this feature may not be adequate.
Most modern desktop operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X) are also capable of running webserver software and thus can be used to host basic websites.
One may also search the Internet to find the active web hosting message boards and forums that may provide feedback on what type of web hosting company may suit his/her needs. However, some of these message boards and forums will require not only registration but a paid subscription to be able to access the sections and subforums with such information.
After fruitful researches, you have finally selected the web hosting service provider that seems to meet your needs and requirements, is well known for reliability and web server uptime, and has positive feedbacks, reviews on web hosting forums and directories. Congratulations, good work.
Now we would like to give some advice on how to choose the web hosting plan that is right for you.
There are a lot of things to consider when you have to choose a web hosting plan.
Choose the web hosting plan according to the number of domain names you are going to host. If the web hosting company provides multiply domains hosting services, verify if there are any restrictions;
Ask yourself if any of your websites is going to be an online store. If the answer is yes, consider e-commerce hosting features. Check what shopping carts will be provided to you with your web hosting account, check if your web hosting service provider will give you a shared SSL certificate for secure online payment transactions. Choose a hosting web account with PHP, MySQL support as it is required by the majority of shopping carts;
Calculate the size of your web sites files in MB or GB (you can do this by placing the files of your websites into one folder and check the properties of that very folder, it will show you the total size of your web sites files). Choose the web hosting plan that has an appropriate disk space limit but a bit higher in case you would like to upload more files, pictures or add any new pages to your existing web site in the future;
Consider the amount of bandwidth (data transfer) that your websites will use. Try to decrease the amount of bandwidth by avoiding huge graphical headers, flash animation, large pictures (compress them), etc.;
Choose the web hosting services provider that allows an easy switch between the web hosting plans. Such a switch is called web hosting account upgrade or downgrade. An easy switch is very important if your web hosting requirements change and you do not need that much disk space or bandwidth anymore or if your website becomes very popular and traffic is going to expand. It will be wiser to upgrade the plan to the one that presumes a higher bandwidth limit than to pay traffic over-usage fees;
Check if your web hosting provider also offers domain name registration services. Verify if you can transfer the registration of your existing domain name to your new web hosting service provider. When you register a domain name, reassure that the domain name is registered in your name only;
Free web hosting service: is free, (sometimes) advertisement-supported web hosting and is often limited when compared to paid hosting.
Shared web hosting service: one's Web site is placed on the same server as many other sites, ranging from a few to hundreds or thousands. Typically, all domains may share a common pool of server resources, such as RAM and the CPU. A shared website may be hosted with a reseller.
Reseller web hosting: allows clients to become web hosts themselves. Resellers could function, for individual domains, under any combination of these listed types of hosting, depending on who they are affiliated with as a provider. Resellers' accounts may vary tremendously in size: they may have their own virtual dedicated server to a colocated server.
Virtual Dedicated Server: dividing a server into virtual servers, where each user feels like they're on their own dedicated server, but they're actually sharing a server with many other users. The users may have root access to their own virtual space. This is also known as a virtual private server or VPS.
Dedicated hosting service: the user gets his or her own Web server and gains full control over it (root access for Linux/administrator access for Windows); however, the user typically does not own the server. Another type of Dedicated hosting is Self-Managed or Unmanaged. This is usually the least expensive for Dedicated plans. The user has full administrative access to the box, which means the client is responsible for the security and maintenance of his own dedicated box.
Managed hosting service: the user gets his or her own Web server but is not allowed full control over it (root access for Linux/administrator access for Windows); however, they are allowed to manage their data via FTP or other remote management tools. The user is disallowed full control so that the provider can guarantee the quality of service by not allowing the user to modify the server or potentially create configuration problems. The user typically does not own the server. The server is leased to the client.
Colocation web hosting service: similar to the dedicated web hosting service, but the user owns the colo server; the hosting company provides physical space that the server takes up and takes care of the server. This is the most powerful and expensive type of web hosting service. In most cases, the colocation provider may provide little to no support directly for their client's machine, providing only the electrical, Internet access, and storage facilities for the server. In most cases, for colo, the client would have his own administrator visit the data center on-site to do any hardware upgrades or changes.
Clustered hosting: having multiple servers hosting the same content for better resource utilization. Clustered Servers are a perfect solution for high-availability dedicated hosting or creating a scalable web hosting solution.
Grid hosting: this form of distributed hosting is when a server cluster acts like a grid and is composed of multiple nodes.
Home server: usually, a single machine placed in a private residence can be used to host one or more websites from a usually consumer-grade broadband connection. These can be purpose-built machines or, more commonly, old PCs.