If this is your first time signing up for a web hosting service, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by the sea of information out there. I know I certainly felt like a fish out of water the first time I had to stare down the plethora of options out there. Or maybe a bad experience has you looking for an alternate to your old web host, and you want to make sure you aren't disappointed the second time around. Either way, we've got you covered.
What are the indicators of a reliable and cheap web hosting service? Do you need a top-of-the-line solution, or will a budget plan suffice to get you off the ground?
For first-timers, or if you're looking to launch a new business, I would absolutely recommend going with one of the more affordable hosting providers to start off with and evaluating your growth options over time.
This quick-start guide will navigate you through the selection process and nudge you in the right direction without you getting lost in a host of technical jargon.
Here are 6 things to bear in mind for reliable web hosting that doesn't cost an arm and a leg:
The cheapest hosting service won't do you much good if the servers keep crashing and your site takes forever to load. Uptime is key for your site, after all. Repeated server outage will translate into loss of leads to your site, which will inevitably rob you of potential revenue or readership, depending on your goals.
Always verify a hosting provider's track record via online reviews or independent ratings. Examples include the following:
a) Free web host uptime monitoring service, for example netcraft.com
b) Reviews of web hosting companies, for example read our reviews here on the site
As a benchmark, let's use Bluehost and HostGator two of the more affordable web hosting providers known for their good service and reliability. Find our head-to-head comparison between the two here. By affordable, I mean under $5/month, even though there are often special deals floating around that drive the price even lower (more on that in a bit).
Both Bluehost and HostGator boast a 99.9% uptime to clients. No matter where you end, however, evaluate "uptime upfront" as a rule of thumb.
Most web hosting providers offer unlimited space and bandwidth in their plans these days, though a few of them still stipulate limitations. The truth of it is that no provider can guarantee unlimited bandwidth or disk space, as both cost money.
The good news, however, is that most websites take up very little space. If you're just getting started and don't anticipate massive volumes of traffic to your site for the foreseeable future, you have nothing to worry about. Should your needs change in the future and you find yourself needing more room to grow, you can always upgrade your plan accordingly, for a small premium.
Most hosts provide easy upgrading to larger plans if your volume exceeds your initial need/plan.
Who doesn't love a satisfaction guarantee? Always look for a company confident enough in their services to back them up with a money-back guarantee.
HostGator takes a bold stance by offering 45-day money back guarantee; a practice that surpasses the industry average of 30-day guarantees commonly offered by most hosting providers.
With Bluehost on the other hand, clients are entitled to an anytime money back guarantee. Cancelling within the first 30 days will grant clients a full refund, but they also have the added flexibility of a pro-rated refund should they decide to cancel any time after the initial 30-day period.
If you're a non-technical user, you'll appreciate having a simple, user-friendly interface that's a breeze to work with. You want to get your website up and running pronto so you can get back to business. It should be user-friendly and intuitive to your needs.
cPanel is the industry standard control panel that simplifies web hosting management, highly recommended for new users who lack the familiarity to install web scripts such as WordPress, Joomla, Magento etc.
You might like to check out the HostGator cPanel demo and the Bluehost cPanel demo to get an idea of how they work. Both cPanel versions come loaded with a whole host of functional add-on features, including WordPress themes, Weebly, and goMobi, to mention a few.
Everything you need to get your website up and running (complete with handy tutorials) is there, right at your fingertips.
You've done the research and narrowed down your top choices. You're about to hit the "pay" button. But hold on. Have you done due diligence on the best possible deal for your chosen web hosting service?
I made this mistake when I signed up for my first hosting service. In my haste to just get it over and done with, I ended up paying more than I should. Web hosting is a fiercely competitive industry, which means there are plenty of promotional deals floating around all the time; you don't want to miss out on them. Trust me on this.
One of the added perks of signing up with Bluehost: their $200 worth of free advertising offers for Google Adwords, Facebook ads, and other leading sites to take your business further.
Likewise, HostGator throws in $100 worth of Google Adwords credit when you sign up with them. What better way to get a headstart on promoting your new business? You'll also be happy to know that HostGator is a certified Green Web Hosting provider - their shared and reseller servers are 130% wind powered. Yes, you read that right!
This should give you a good idea what to look for in your search for cheap, reliable web hosting.
HostGator hosts over 9 million domains, while Bluehost powers over 2 million websites worldwide. Affordable web hosting can be just as good as premium providers. It just depends on your needs and priorities.
You've done the research and narrowed down your top choices. Now it's time to go check out and choose a web host that suits your needs and budget.