How to Select a Hosting Company

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This doc is about how to select a hosting company for your site.

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How to Select a Hosting Company

  1. 1. we bde sy.co m http://webdesy.co m/ho w-to -select-a-ho sting-co mpany/How to Select a Hosting CompanyHosting company is a vital aspect f or your website. Once the day has comeand you decided to do it like the big guys, you need to choose a hostingcompany that allows you to f ocus on creating high-quality content but not onkeeping an eye on how your hosting company does its job. You want yourhosting company to be reliable and as stable as possible. Sure thing, I’d likeyou to read the f ull post I’ve put together f or you, but if you want to run aWordPress site and you need a quick solution, which is nonetheless reliable aswell, you can just go f or BlueHost.com because that’s the hosting companythat WordPress recommends on their site.In case you want to really understand what you need to take into consideration when you choose a webhosting company, keep on reading.Why Bot her?Bef ore we go any f urther, I need to point your attention to the f act that your hosting company is one ofthe f actors that will determine the f uture of your online business. If you select a wrong hosting company,you can just waste your time or even lose all your data when a disaster strikes. So, no monkey businesshere.Screencast on How to Select a Hosting CompanyLike videos? I got you covered! You can either just watch the video or read the post. T he content isthe same. Just choose whichever you like most.Slideshow on How to Select a Hosting Company How to Pick a Hosting Company for Your Site f rom Kenneth von RauchSoundCloud Audio on How to Select a Hosting CompanyFancy an audio? Here you go!Web SpaceIt’s sorta hard to say how much web space you’ll need. You can start with just 50 Mb and chances are it’llbe more than enough just to get you started. If you have a mind to deploy a whole lot of images, audiof iles and videos, you should be ready to buy a bigger hosting plan bef ore you know it. Even if you’rebeing said now that your web space and bandwidth are unlimited. You’ll see f or yourself . T hey are not.T he usual gimmick that hostingcompanies try to “surprise” you with isunlimited hosting space and bandwidth.Nothing comes unlimited in this world.And so are bandwidth and hostingspace. T hey may seduce you with suchpromises bef ore you buy, but once youbuy and have a spike in your website
  2. 2. traf f ic, you’ll be kindly prompted toswitch over to a bigger plan. And thatjust means paying more money f orsomething that you’ve already paid f or.At least it sounds exactly like that. So, incase you expect to host audio or videof iles on your server, you’ll be asked toincrease your hosting space. If you havea whole lot of traf f ic on your site, you’llhave the same suggestion f rom yourhost. Bottom line, you really need to keep it in mind and have some extra money handy and ready f oroverage charges.Features You NeedYou need to make sure bef ore buying a hosting plan that you’ll have f ull control over your f iles on theserver. You should be able to create, delete, edit and do whatever you see f it at any time. T here shouldbe no restrictions. You also need to be sure that your hosting company supports the technologies andcoding languages your site needs, but that’s not an issue f or most web hosting companies because themajority of them supports all you need f or running a WordPress website.In order to be able to easily manage f iles and databases on your hosting server, you’ll need a cPanel andphpMyAdmin or any alternatives to them. So, contact your hosting provider and check if they providethose tools as well.Linux or Windows?You may be perplexed as f or what kind of hosting to use – Linux or Windows.It’s easy to be misled by the f ollowing logic. I’m on a Windows computer, so I need a Windows webhosting. If I’m on a Linux computer, then I need a Linux one, right? What if you’re on a Mac?T he thing is that all that logic is dead wrong. It’s not working like that in the web hosting server world. Youjust need to use a Linux hosting regardless of the platf orm you’re on – be it Windows, Linux or Mac.T hough Microsof t has released Windows server support f or WordPress as well, I would not recommendusing it just because I can’t see a benef it. I mean you’ll have to learn how to do it while Linux hosting will
  3. 3. work just perf ectly and just about every hosting company rep can easily help you with that. But if you’rereally techie and love digging deeper and investigate such sort of issues, f eel f ree.Other than that, Linux hosting is usually cheaper and it’s the industry standard because about 70% ofwebsites are hosted specif ically on Linux servers.WordPress CompatibilityT hough WordPress is a very lightweight script comparing to others, you still need to make sure that yourhosting company is compatible with it.As of now, the of f icial requirements are as f ollows: PHP version 5.2.4 or greater MySQL version 5.0 or greaterYou may still be unsure or unwilling to check those requirements. In that case you can just send a similaremail to your potential hosting provider:Hey guys,A quick question here.I’m interested in running the open-source WordPress blogging software and I was wondering if my accountsupports the following: PHP version 5.2.4 or greater MySQL version 5.0 or greater The mod_rewrite Apache modulePlease let me know asap.
  4. 4. Thanks!If you’re one of the tech savvy guys, you may have noticed that the versions of both PHP and MySQL arenot up-to-date, but there’s a message right on this WordPress page that explains why it’s so. In anutshell, they don’t want to use the most up-to-date versions because they usually cause issues withapplications or as they put it they may “break applications”. Fair enough. Would you rather have a bit outof date but stable sof tware or brand new but suspicious? I think I can read you mind now.Online ReputationYou also want to check their online reputation because if there’s an issue with their services, most likelythere’s some evidence somewhere on the web. You can just do a simple google search f or the companyname. If they’re a really wise and prof essional company, they may have done some online reputationmanagement and made sure that there’s nothing negative about them on the f irst 2 pages of searchresults. T hat’s why you need to do a more in-depth check-up and take a look as deep as page 5-6. If youcan’t f ind really well-grounded negative reviews or comments, you’re good to go.Types of Hosting ServersChances are, you’ll be overwhelmed by the options that most hosting companies of f er in terms ofhosting server types. I really suggest reading the explanations below because you’ll be totallycomf ortable with those terms af ter that.Free Host ingAs you may have expected, there’s always a catch in such things. You’ll either have bannerssomewhere on your site or the hosting will be super unreliable. And the “best” thing is that youcan’t even complain about it because you don’t actually pay f or that damn thing. Well, you don’tpay in cash but with yours and your visitors’ eyeballs. In either case, it’s not a good idea to saveon your online business. Just remember that if you’re not of f ered a product then you’re the product. Af ree hosting company may sound good in the beginning, but not when you see all the pros and cons.Plus it’s really easy to start a hosting company now. So all sorts of individuals are in the businessnowadays.Shared WordPress Host ingIt’s when you share the same physical server with a lot of sites. Such accounts are cheap but the
  5. 5. problem is that – even if your web hosting company says the whole shebang is unlimited – you’llexperience bandwidth restrictions if your site goes really viral. So, the catch is that it’s not reallyunlimited but in this case your hosting is more reliable, compared to the f ree hosting scenario.WordPress VPS Host ingVPS stands f or Virtual Private Server. It’s much like shared hosting but in the case of VPS youcan install separate server sof tware, which gives you more control over your site. Plus if you’renot exactly tech savvy, you can have your host manage the server (do upgrades and things likethat).WordPress Dedicat ed ServerT his kind of servers mean that you’ll be using a separate physical server (without sharing it withsomeone else). T he advantage is that you have a complete control over your server. Your webhosting company provides you with a rep (administrator) that manages your server. Plus you’ll beable to get phone tech support if needed. You need to go f or a dedicated server only if you havehuge traf f ic. Otherwise it’ll be just an overkill.Managed WordPress Host ingYou can run WordPress only on such servers. So, if you want to run a dif f erent CMS, you’ll haveto buy another hosting account. In case you really need just WordPress installed on your server,you’re good to go right away. T he good news is that such servers are extremely optimized f orWordPress and you won’t have to worry about anything. Security, upgrades, updates, backups,you name it! Everything is done f or you. T he only thing that can disappoint you a bit on such a server isthe price. It’s on the higher end of the scale. Duh! T his sort of solution is perf ect f or the non-techieswho just want to f ocus on quality-content creation without going into all that geeky stuf f .Tech SupportBef ore you actually make your purchase, I highly recommend testing how the customer supportdepartment of your web hosting company works. T he best hosting company must have great support.Make sure to contact specif ically their tech support department on the phone, chat and ticket system.Doing so will clearly show you what you can expect when a real issue takes place. I pointed out that youneed to contact the support department because that’s going to be the place where people will transf eryou to when a tech issue occurs. It’s not OK to just get in touch with billing or pre-sales because theyhave nothing to do with f ixing tech things when something goes wrong on your server.
  6. 6. Again, double-check if your hosting company has a comprehensive FAQ page, round-the-clock chat,phone, and email support. If it’s the case, you can surely move on to the next step.UptimeT here are hosting companies that boast about their 100% uptime, which is simply … impossible. What I’mtrying to say is that if they ever update their server sof tware or hardware, they just have to restart theirservers. And that means your site will be unavailable f or some time. And that’s OK because it’s exactlyhow things are operated on the Web. T hough you’ll stumble upon a whole lot of companies that promise100% uptime (some are really reputable ones), just remember that it’s a lie and if they lie about that, youcan’t be sure that they are honest with you about the rest related to their services. So, you want to stayaway f rom such companies. Or at least be really vigilant.T he standard uptime percentage is around 99.9% andthat’s enough f or running your website in a reliable way. Iam really starting to think that when they say 100% theyactually mean 99%, because I believe I’ve heard it f rom allmajor hosting companies.SecurityAs f ar as security goes, you need to make sure that yourweb hosting company provides 128-bit SSL certif icateencryption. T hat’s especially important if you want to dosome e-commerce on your site. Alternatively, if you don’twanna mess around with the technicalities of SSL, youcan just use a payment gateway such as PayPal orGoogle Checkout.Other than that, you need to double-check if theirservers support SFT P.What is SFTP, and how do I use it t o t ransf er f iles?
  7. 7. SFT P, or secure FT P, is a program that uses SSH to transf er f iles. Unlike standard FT P, it encrypts bothcommands and data, preventing passwords and sensitive inf ormation f rom being transmitted in the clearover the network. It is f unctionally similar to FT P, but because it uses a dif f erent protocol, you can’t usea standard FT P client to talk to an SFT P server, nor can you connect to an FT P server with a client thatsupports only SFT P. Read moreYou also may want to make sure that your server supports suPHP.suPHPHosting is more secure when you run your WordPress script with the help of your account’s usernameinstead of the def ault shared username of the server. In our day and age, it’s usually done using suPHP .So, you may also include a question about suPHP support in your email message to the hostingcompany.Access t o logsTo be in the know of everything that is happening on your site, you’ll also need access to your websitelogs. If you use a reliable host, it’s not a problem whatsoever, but it’s always good to have access tosomething that explains what exactly happened, when, and what af ter. Sure thing, it’s in case you’re atech guy and you can read logs. Otherwise you’ll need to call your techie buddy.Speed TestAlso, you may want to test your host’s network speed f or both usability and strict SEO purposes. SomeSEO experts say it’s getting more and more important.If you’re on a Mac, you can do it as f ollows. Select Go, then Utilities and f ire up your Terminal.Once it’s running, just enter:ping www.yourdomainname.comYou are supposed to be seeing recurring lines of code that show values in milliseconds. See the imagebelow.
  8. 8. In case you’re using a Windows computer (Windows 7), it’s pretty similar. Go to Start, then enter cmd inthe Search programs and f iles text f ield, and hit Enter.Now just type in the f ollowing:ping www.yourdomainname.comYou should see something similar to this.T he result should be about 80-100 ms or lower. T he values can be way higher if your host is located in adif f erent country (like in my case). If you’re not happy with your pinging results, you may want to contactyour hosting provider and ask what’s wrong.By the way, while researching f or the post, I did a test ping f or WebDesy.com and it gave me timeouts.So, I went ahead and submitted a ticket to my hosting company, which is JustHost.com. I received thef ollowing reply f rom them:Our servers are configured to not reply to ICMP packet requests ie PINGS and Traceroutes. This is toprevent the server from being attacked by certain types of DDOS attacks that use ICMP to flood the serverwith fake requests.
  9. 9. T hat gibberish basically means the f ollowing, “Sorry, dude. We don’t allow it on our server”. So, somehosting servers don’t allow pinging f or security reasons.Update:I tried to ping my site again and it’s working now, though when I did it a week ago I was just gettingtimeout messages. So, it sounds that they enabled it f or me, which means it’s possible to switch it on ifneeded.I’m kinda not sure why they did it because I just asked why pinging won’t work on my server and theyreplied that they disable it f or security reasons. And that made perf ect sense. Now it looks that they justenabled it without my direct request. Is it me or it’s really kinda weird?E-mailNow let’s move a bit to the marketing side of things. As a rule of thumb, you need to use an emailaddress that is branded with your domain name. For example, in my particular case instead of usingwebdesy@gmail.com I need to use ken@webdesy.com or admin@webdesy.com because it makes melook more of f icial and reliable. But I still did not take the time to take care of that, though my my hostingcompany does support that f eature.T hough it’s not a biggie (in my humble opinion), you still need to make sure that you’ll be able to set upan email address in this f ormat: your_name@your_domain.com .Tips As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to f irst come up with a domain name f or your site and then buy a hosting account. But don’t hesitate with buying hosting once you’re ready with your domain name, because some say that good domain names mysteriously get occupied af ter you f ind them. I’m not exactly sure how that happens but I heard it in a podcast (not sure which one exactly) that people were talking about multiple cases as f ollows. You just go and use some online tool, you f ind a domain name to your liking. T he tool def initely says that it’s not occupied, but when you return to double-check in a week or so, the domain name turns out to be taken but there’s no site on it. And you have the option to buy it. And the problem is that it does not cost just $15 this time around but rather a f ew thousand. Plus they (the guys in that podcast) said that it happened on a very regular basis. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but just keep in mind that such things happen or at least used to happen. Again, having f ound the domain name you really love, buy it right away. Make sure to buy your domain name f or 5-10 years so that nobody buys it af ter it gets obvious that you’ll be their competitor. You really need to mark the calendar so that it reminds you to renew your domain name. It may sound ridiculous to you, but I know about such a case with a very well- known company. T hey just f orgot to pay f or their domain name and their site was down f or a f ew hours in a row. You don’t want to shop on prices, because most cheap solutions have strings attached. And those strings are not too pleasant most of the time. Instead, you can just check recommendations and reviews of the hosting company that you consider using. Just Google f or the name of your hosting company. T hat works better because if a hosting company is more than a year old, it should have reviews out there. Just see what real people say about your f uture hosting company and do your best to understand if you can live with what those people are saying about the experience with the home of your f uture site. You also wanna check how old and legit the company is. You can easily do it with the help of the WHOIS service. If the company is younger than a year, you need to be really cautious in such cases. Not that I’m trying to say that it’ll be bad experience f or sure. It just may be or may not be tricky.
  10. 10. If you’re not tech savvy, you may also want Fantastico available on your hosting server. It’s an auto-installer f or cPanel services, which translates into the ability to install all sorts of CMSs at the click of a button. If you have Fantastico on your hosting, you’ll be able to install WordPress in a hassle-f ree way. I’d recommend Fantastico if you want to run a non-prof it site, because, with the simplicity, Fantastico also brings less control and more vulnerabilities, which you don’t want to have if your whole f amily relies on your website perf ormance. Plus if you install with the help of Fantastico, your version of WordPress is not gonna be the latest and greatest one.Warnings Don’t believe the hosting companies that promise you 100% uptime. It does not exist in reality. If your hosting ever upgrades their hardware or updates the sof tware, they just have to re-start their servers. T hat’s the time when your site will be down. It may range f rom a f ew seconds to a f ew hours (if something goes wrong on the server), but such things are just inevitable if your hosting company does its best to stay up-to-date. So, every time you see or read that your site will always be up and running, it’s just a gimmick. Nothing else. If a hosting company of f ers you a f ree domain if you use their services, make sure to check the WHOIS record of your domain name. Chances are, it will be your hosting company’s name but not yours. So, make sure to do some due diligence bef ore you pay hard cash f or something that you don’t own. T he thing is that the legit owner of a domain is the one who’s in the WHOIS record. Another bad sign is when a hosting company “f orces” you to buy a yearly plan instead of a monthly one. Odds are, they are trying to hold back something f rom you and it’ll be way more dif f icult to cancel if you embark on their services f or a whole year. One more buzzword that you can hear f rom a hosting company is “unlimited”. Just like in the case with 100% uptime, unlimited disk space and data transf er just don’t exist in reality. Even if you get tempted and buy an unlimited plan, they will either restrict your data transf er speed (slowing down your site) or just kindly ask you to buy a bigger hosting plan. Be sure to always get a hard number of the RAM and CPU that you can conf idently use with a particular hosting plan. It’s just naive to believe that you’ll be able to use the same hosting plan when your site goes f rom zero to hero, because your site will just use more space and processor power than your hosting company actually provides per account. Just be ready to pull out your wallet.ConclusionIf you’re not sure whether your site will go big, just buy a moderate hosting plan. You’ll be able to build uplater. Your hosting company will be just happy to help you with that. T hough you don’t want to hunt f orbargains if you run (or going to run) a prof itable online business, there’s no actual reason to overpayeither. Just buy what you need now plus the amount of disk space that you’ll need f or your f irst year.Don’t buy based on the gimmicks like 100% uptime, unlimited disk space and data transf er. Especially ifthe prices are way too low and too good to be true. You get what you pay f or. If a hosting company youconsider working with of f ers a f ree trial, don’t hesitate to take advantage of that.And the last thing. You really need to make sure that your hosting company’s tech support works as youexpect. Contact them via phone, chat, and email bef ore you pay the money. Most hosting companies (andnot only) are pretty ef f icient in pre-sales, but when it comes to tech support with a really buggying techissue, the whole company can resemble apocalypsis with nobody alive who can help you.If you can get in touch with their tech support real quick, it’s a very good sign. Such a company is reallyworth your while.What is your experience with hosting companies? Perhaps, you’d like to add something to my tips orwarnings?
  11. 11. What Next ?Hope you liked the post. If so, please share it among your f riends andf ollowers. You can also subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll immediatelyget a f ree WordPress eBook on the plugins and widgets that you def initelyneed on your site. Plus you get a f ree on-page SEO report of your site.NameEmail AddressKennet hI love blogging about web design, web development, and SEO. In other words, allthings web. I strongly believe that WordPress combined with clever SEO is the bestsolution f or most site owners on the Web.More Posts – Twitter – Facebook – Pinterest – YouTubeRelated posts: 1. Hosting solutions f or Prof essional PHP (6.1)

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