How to Pick the Right Web Hosting Provider

Posted on 27. Jun, 2009 by .

Web Hosting Control Panel

Photo by Tim Dorr.

Everyone who wants to start his own web site needs to have some kind of web host. Depending on what you are looking for, there are free hosting services or hosting you have to pay for.

But even if you have already decided on whether you want free or paid hosting, there are still a lot more questions that need to be answered.

What type of hosting plan should I pick? How much is it going to cost?

To find an answer to these questions I advice you to read through this article step by step.

First of all, to find a hosting plan that suit your needs, you first need to figure out your needs.

Find Your Needs

Take a minute and think about your needs concerning a web host. Is web site speed most important to you? Do you need a lot of bandwidth? Should the web host be as cheap as possible? Write your answers down.

The time invested in figuring out your needs will be worth it at the end. Through this process it will be much easier for you to find a web host that fits your needs.

Types of Hosting

Depending on your needs there are several different kinds of hosting. Read along and take a look at your list of needs. At the end of the section you should be able to decide what kind of hosting would be best for you.

Free Web Hosting

This is the cheapest form of hosting. It doesn’t cost you anything.  It’s also simple, you sign up and you can get started. I would only suggest this type of hosting when you want to look whether it would make sense for you to create a web site. But even then it would make more sense to use shared web hosting.

There are lots of problems with this type of hosting. Usually your web site will contain some sort of advertisement. The reason behind this is simple, because the hosting is free. Another problem is that you are very limited in your choices. Most of the time these web sites don’t support PHP or other dynamic web sites. Furthermore you can’t use your own domain. Your web site is usually a sub domain of the hosting web site.

In the end these web hosts are also pretty slow.

Shared Web Hosting

This is the most common type of web hosting used on the Internet. In this case, your web site is placed on a server along with hundreds or thousand of other web pages. All these domains share the same CPU and RAM.

Shared web hosting is very cheap compared to other types of hosting. Most hosting companies offer lots of features by default such as  databases, coupons for other services and sometimes even automated backup.

The drawback of shared hosting is that usually your web site will be not extremely fast. The reason being that the resources of the server are shared among other web sites.

For me though this is the best kind of hosting for beginners.

Virtual Private Server

Hosting of this type doesn’t give you your own private server. It rather divides a server into multiple virtual servers. For each virtual server resources are allocated such as RAM and usage of CPU.

Of course it has some drawbacks: This kind of service is more expensive than shared web hosting. It also requires more technical knowledge.

On the other hand you usually have full control over the server. You can switch off services to save memory and CPU which makes it easier to speed up your web site. Further the owner of a virtual private server (VPS) has direct access to his server.

Hosting Plans

There are several different hosting plans which differ extremely from host to host. Ultimately which plan you should choose totally depends on your needs.

In this table I listed several web hosts, including how much bandwidth,storage and other features they offer. It also includes the price of each hosting plan. Notice that here I only included hosting plans for shared web hosting.

Host Bandwidth Storage Database Price
Startlogic 10,000GB 10,000GB 25 $5.95*
BlueHost Unlimited Unlimited 100 $7.95*
MediaTemple 1,000GB 100GB Yes $20
JustHost Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited $5.95*
Dreamhost Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited $9.95*
GoDaddy 1,500GB 150GB 25 $6.64*
WestHost 1,000GB 50GB Unlimited $12.95*
Site5 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited $5.95*
* Prices per month for one year in advance, the longer you subscribe the cheaper the monthly payments

As you can see there are really not a lot of differences in what these web hosts offer. Web hosts generally try to get people to sign up by promising unlimited amount of bandwidth, storage and all sorts of other things. But really this is just to compete with other web hosts. The problem is that once you reach a certain amount of traffic the loading time of your web site is so high that you eventually have to upgrade your web host package. That’s when the web hosts start to make the real money.

Therefore I advise you to not only look at bandwidth and storage space. But more importantly look at their support. I myself starting using Startlogic since they are quite cheap. But they also offer great support 24 hours a day.

Research Web Hosts

Now that you have probably chosen a hosting plan it is time to do some research about this host.

One of the measures I use is to contact the host and ask a question. A good host should reply within 24 hours.

Even make distinctions between what they write and how they write it. If it’s an automated message than chances are that it is not going to help you. If it’s a friendly and human-written answer, then this just might be your host.

Another step to take is to search for hosting reviews. The only problem I have with all the review sites is that they are too commercial. It seems they are more interested in making money then in providing valuable reviews.

I would recommend visiting Web Hosting Rally and looking at their best hosts. But watch out, the reviews they offer are not from customers. Therefore dig further. Search for customer hosting reviews.

From what I’ve found Web Hosting Review Blog seems to provide some valuable information. Especially since customers can vote on the different web hosts.

Here are some more review sites that you might find useful:

What kind of web hosts have you used? Which one was the best?

2 Responses to “How to Pick the Right Web Hosting Provider”

  1. lovephileo3

    27. Jun, 2009

    Basics always comes before anything else in learning. This is very educational and informative. Starters that hunt their company of web providers should read this.

    • jules

      14. Jul, 2009

      Thanks lovephileo, I am glad this article seems useful to you.