How to choose the Best Web Hosting Plan
Your web hosting plan can make a big difference when it comes to the success or failure of your website. While your web host cannot create your content for you, it is responsible for many crucial tasks, such as providing you with the servers, disk space and features that allow you to create a quality site. There are many good web hosts from which to choose.
Just as important as which web host you choose is the specific plan you select. Most web hosts offer a variety of plans. These are named a little differently by each company.
HostGator, for example, has a Hatchling, Baby and Business plan.
Bluehost offers Starter, Plus and Business Pro plans.
Other companies have slightly different choices. Then there are more advanced plans, such as VPS, cloud hosting, and dedicated hosting. How do you choose which plan is right for you?
Shared Hosting Plans
Shared hosting is sufficient for most personal and small business websites. These are the most economical plans. Most web hosts offer several different shared hosting plans. When you see an ad for very cheap web hosting, this generally refers to the company’s most basic shared hosting plan. Bluehost, for instance, charges as little as $3.95 per month for its Starter plan. Keep in mind, however, that to get the lowest rate, you usually have to pay for at least a year up front.
Should you choose the very cheapest plan offered by a web host? This depends on your needs. In some cases, you can only have a single website with the cheapest plan. If that’s all you plan to build, this may be sufficient for you. The lowest price plan may also place limitations on disk space and bandwidth.
Before choosing a plan, make sure you consider all of the features and possible limitations that come with that plan. While you can always upgrade later, it’s often easier to pay a couple of dollars per month more right from the start. With HostGator, for instance, the Baby plan, which is the middle-priced shared hosting plan, provides you with unlimited domains, bandwidth and disk space but only costs about $2 per month more than the Hatchling plan, which only allows you to host a single domain.
There may be other differences between lower and higher priced plans as well. Many web hosting companies offer bonuses such as Google AdWords or Facebook advertising coupons. They may offer larger bonuses when you sign up for a higher priced plan.
VPS, Reseller and Dedicated Hosting
In addition to shared hosting, you can also opt for a more advanced and costly type of hosting. Let’s look at a few of the choices.
This is a type of hosting to consider if you want to go into the web hosting business yourself. If you build websites for local businesses, you might also offer web hosting as an additional service. With Reseller hosting, you can market yourself as a web host while the web hosting company handles many of the technical matters. This type of plan can also be good if you are in the business of buying and selling websites. Since Reseller hosting costs several times as much as shared hosting, it is only practical if you are serious about turning this into a business.
Virtual Private Server hosting is a flexible, relatively new type of hosting that provides some of the benefits of dedicated hosting at a more reasonable cost. VPS hosting is usually available at several price points, so that you only pay for the resources you actually need. VPS hosting is good for businesses that need resources and flexibility that is not available with shared hosting. You can install specialized software and customize the features to a large extent.
This is the most advanced and expensive type of hosting. This is a solution for larger businesses and high traffic websites. Your own dedicated server provides the maximum amount of customization, allowing you to configure the servers to your own specifications. With this type of hosting, you will either need a certain amount of technical skills yourself or hire an expert to handle this for you. Another option (which may also be available for VPS hosting) is to find a company that offers a managed dedicated hosting plan.
Check out this web hosting types comparison infographic from 100Webhosting.com. This infographic illustrates the similarities and differences between each types of hosting, using housing types as a metaphor.
What to Consider When Choosing a Hosting Plan
When you consider all of your options, it can be overwhelming to decide which plan is right for you. You should research both, the plans and the companies, as you may find that one company has a more attractive plan than another at a similar price point. You should consider cost, of course, but that really shouldn’t be your main concern. You also must take into consideration things like features, bonuses, customer service and ease of use.
If you are just starting out or have low to moderate traffic, you probably only need shared hosting for now. Larger business sites, on the other hand, can benefit from the additional resources and customization offered by VPS or dedicated hosting. If you aren’t sure which plan to start with, you could call the customer service of a major web hosting company. Keep in mind, though, that their job is to sell web hosting plans. Still, they can explain the differences in plans about which you’re not clear.