It’s no secret that websites are essential for most brands operating in modern times. Whether starting an e-commerce store or simply marketing a brick-and-mortar company, you’re probably aware of how important it is to have a website for your business.
However, as you create your site, you’ll discover that building and operating a powerful website requires a lot of hard work behind the scenes. Storing and managing the data that makes your website operate is resource-intensive, so it’s best to outsource this task to a web hosting company.
In this article, we’ll discuss 13 things to consider when choosing a web hosting company for beginners. Before we jump into the comparisons, we’ll quickly review what a web hosting company is and what it does.
What is a Web Hosting Company?
A web hosting company is a solution that stores and manages the data required to host a website. Web hosting companies provide servers and other behind-the-scenes technology to power a website.
In addition to storing and managing the data, many web hosting companies provide domain registration, security tools, and more. And since there are a variety of features a web hosting company could provide, not all web hosting companies are created equal.
13 Things to Consider When Choosing a Web Hosting Company
If you’re new to website building and web hosting, it’s important to develop a solid understanding of what you’re looking for in a web hosting company. These range from basic elements, like pricing, to more technical elements, like security standards.
With dozens of web hosting companies to choose from, this may feel like a daunting task for a beginner. But don’t worry. We’ve done the hard part for you by compiling a list of everything you need to consider in this process.
Let’s check it out.
1. Identify Your Needs
The most important consideration when choosing web hosting as a beginner is your needs. Think about the purpose of your website and what goals you have for your business.
What features will you need to reach those goals? Take it a step further and split this into must-have and would-be-nice features. You can then use this list to guide your search for the perfect web hosting company.
2. Understand the Types of Web Hosting Companies
The next thing to consider is the type of web hosting you need. There are a few different types of web hosting companies, so let’s take a look at what options are available.
- Possible performance and security risks due to shared resources
- Multiple websites share the same server resources
- Economical option for small websites and blogs
- Limited customization options and performance
- Easy setup and user-friendly control panels
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
- Requires more technical knowledge for management and maintenance
- Better performance and stability compared to shared hosting
- Virtualized server environment with dedicated resources
- Root access for custom configurations and installations
- Offers more control and scalability than shared hosting
- Scalable and flexible hosting solution based on cloud computing
- Multiple servers work together, distributing resources as needed
- Suitable for websites with varying traffic and resource demands
- Better uptime and reliability due to decentralized architecture
- Pay-as-you-go pricing model, based on usage
- Requires advanced technical knowledge for management and maintenance
- Ideal for large websites with high traffic and resource-intensive applications
- Entire server dedicated to a single client, providing maximum performance
- Full control over server resources, configurations, and security
- More expensive than shared, VPS, and cloud hosting
- Allows users to purchase hosting resources in bulk and resell them to clients
- Ideal for web designers, developers, and agencies offering hosting services
- Includes control panel and billing software for managing client accounts
- Typically provided as a white-label service with customizable branding
- Profit potential depends on the ability to acquire and retain clients
When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a shared hosting company as a beginner.
3. Explore Costs
Budget is a major factor in choosing a web hosting company. Different web hosting options are available at different price points with different pricing structures.
Simple web hosting setups typically cost a few dollars per month for the first year, and the price typically increases from there.
More complex situations may require custom hosting packages, so if this is the case, you’ll need to contact different web hosting companies for quotes.
With that, it’s important to consider miscellaneous fees that may arise down the line. For example, check for fees to transfer data from the service. Also, be on the lookout for upgrade and renewal costs.
5. Consider Physical Server Locations
Web hosting companies make it possible for businesses and individuals to create websites without worrying about physical technology, such as servers.
Although you don’t need to worry about the setup or maintenance of these servers personally (depending on the type), it’s important that your web hosting company has physical servers that operate in the regions where your audience lives.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re trying to reach a global audience or an audience in a super remote location, it's important to choose a web hosting company that has a content delivery network with servers that are efficiently located.
6. Understand Security Options
Security is always important when it comes to web hosting. However, some businesses and organizations are legally required to maintain higher security standards than others.
For example, a government office or medical company would require much more security than your average lifestyle blog.
With that said, it’s important to ensure that your chosen web hosting company has the security features required to meet your needs.
Here are a few security protocols you need to protect your website and business from bad actors:
- Encryption for secure data transmission between the server and visitors' browsers.
- Measures to defend against Distributed Denial of Service attacks, ensuring uptime and availability.
- Advanced firewall settings block malicious traffic and protect the server from unauthorized access.
- Regular scanning of the server and website files for malware, viruses, and other security threats.
- Frequent and automated backups of website data to enable quick recovery in case of data loss or breach.
- Secure file transfer protocols (SFTP or FTPS) for safe data transfer between your computer and the hosting server.
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) to protect the hosting control panel and user accounts from unauthorized access.
- Timely updates to server software, applications, and security patches to minimize vulnerabilities.
- Continuous monitoring of the server and network to detect and mitigate potential security threats.
7. Ensure Reliability
Choosing a reliable web hosting platform is absolutely critical. A server crash on your web host’s end can leave your site down, which is extremely inconvenient and often detrimental to businesses.
In fact, an outage can cost some businesses thousands of dollars per minute. Not only is it a financial loss, but it can damage your reputation.
A good way to figure out if a web hosting platform is reliable or not is by reading reviews from other users. Obviously, a web hosting company is unlikely to advertise its defects, so diffing into reviews is crucial.
A quick Google search for “web hosting company name reviews” should yield results on tech review sites like G2, TrustPilot, and Capterra.
8. Explore the Support
Web hosting services can be complex. If you’re running a small operation without an in-house IT team, you’ll need some sort of support to fall back on with any questions or concerns that arise regarding your website.
That’s why it’s important to consider the support available from your web hosting platform. Some common support options from web hosting companies include:
- Documentation articles in a help center
- Live phone support
- Email support
- Chat support
- 24/7 support
Determine the type and level of support you’ll need for your website hosting. If the content on your site is just for sharing information with your audience, basic support will do. However, if your site is part of your service offering or acts as your digital storefront, more accessible support could be a better option.
9. Consider Areas of Specialization
Earlier, we discussed different types of web hosting companies for beginners. Even within these categories, some companies focus on specific industries or niches.
As you compare web hosting companies, it's important to ensure that your company of choice serves your specific industry.
For example, one web hosting company may focus on e-commerce, and another may focus on telehealth, so it’s important to make sure your chosen solution is suitable for your specialization.
10. Check Email Availability
Using a branded email address that’s attached to your domain is absolutely key when you’re building a brand. It comes off much more professional if you’re emailing from [email protected] as opposed to [email protected] A branded email increases credibility and trust.
Remember that to have a brandable email address, you’d need a brandable business name. Consider using a business name generator to get an idea of how your personalized email address would look to potential recipients.
With that said, it’s important to consider whether each web hosting company provides email hosting support as you conduct your comparison. Typically, email support is available for a nominal monthly or annual fee.
It’s also worth noting that some web hosting offers basic email hosting that gives you an email address with your domain and a simple email portal. This isn’t as comprehensive as a service like Google Workspace, but is typically much more cost-effective.
11. Consider Ease of SFTP Access
SFTP, which is short for “Secure File Transfer Protocol,” is an important consideration when choosing a web hosting company as a beginner. Basically, this technology makes it possible to safely transfer data off your website to wherever you need it.
Check to see if this is a built-in capability of the web hosting company you’re considering or if it is available as an integration or plugin.
12. Ensure Scalability
As a new business owner, your main focus when choosing a web hosting company is likely just getting through your launch. However, being short-sighted with your choice can lead to struggles down the road.
It may be tough but think about your one-year and five-year goals. Here are a few questions to ponder as you plan ahead:
- Are there limits on how many users or members can use/join your site?
- How do you want to grow your operations in the future?
- Would you need more storage or bandwidth?
- Will you be serving additional areas?
- Would that require another domain?
Let’s say you do, in fact, plan to add another domain or subdomain. Check how many domains are included in the web hosting plan you’re starting with and if it’s possible to upgrade if you need more domains down the line.
As you consider scalability, make sure that the web hosting company’s pricing continues to make sense for your budget as you invest in more inclusive plans.
13. Explore Integrations
One of the first considerations we reviewed in this guide was feature availability. If the web hosting company you’re considering checks all of your boxes, except one or two, check to see if they offer integrations.
If you’re not familiar, integrations are basically apps or software that connect with one another seamlessly, thanks to a partnership between two tech companies. Integrations are a great way to reap the benefits of additional tools and software without making your setup too complex.
Some integrations you could expect from a web hosting company include email hosting, content management, productivity tools, a website designer, SEO tools, and more.
It’s also worth noting that sometimes, integrations are free, and other times, you’ll need to pay a fee. This will all depend on specific software and partnerships.
Choosing a web hosting company is a huge step in launching or growing your business.
A website is basically a modern business card, so ensuring that yours is supported by the proper web hosting company is absolutely key.
As a beginner, choosing a web hosting company to get your website up and running may feel intimidating, but when you consider the factors we shared above, you’ll be on track to making a great decision for your site!