Tips on Choosing a Web Hosting Company

Digital cloud over a city.

After you register your domain name, you can begin building your website. The first thing you’ll need in getting started is a place to store your files.

The software, graphics, and other files that comprise your website must be stored on servers somewhere. You can try to host the data yourself, but it’s not recommended for websites that want to grow big. Most website owners pay hosting companies for space on their servers.

There are many web hosting companies that offer their servers for storing website files. Most do a great job of detailing what’s included in their hosting packages. You’ll often see three packages offered, from a starter package to a high-end one.

So which web hosting company and which package should you choose? Here are some things to consider when choosing a web host and plan.

  • Where are the web host’s servers located? Your web host’s servers should be in countries where your website visitors live to ensure quick delivery of your content.
  • Is a CDN offered? Some web hosts offer a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN distributes content from your website to small servers all over the world. So your content is delivered from small servers that are closer to your visitors. This speeds up your website because content doesn’t have to be called up from your host’s main servers.
  • What’s the uptime score? Your web host should operate 24/7/365. That’s a given. Web hosts sometimes guarantee the percentage of time that their servers are up and running. This is their uptime score, and it’s usually in the very high 90s. You’ll want at least a 99.5% uptime guarantee.
  • How many websites are on each server? When you’re a small website, you’ll be sharing space on a server with other websites. Ask about the number of customers sharing a server. This can impact your site speed.
  • How much disk space do you get? Your images, audio, and video files will take up disk space on the servers where they’re housed. You’ll want a bare minimum of 500MB of disk space for a very basic website. If your website will have a lot of photos, you’ll want several GB of disk space. If you’ll have a lot of videos, you’ll want 10GB or more. Disk space is also sometimes referred to as “web space” or “storage space.” Some web hosts put limits on disk space and will charge extra if you exceed them.
  • How much bandwidth do you get? Bandwidth is the amount of data transferred to and from a server in a month. Visitors use bandwidth when they browse your website and download files. A single, popular file that’s downloaded thousands of times can sap your bandwidth. Some web hosts offer unlimited bandwidth, while others put caps on bandwidth. If you exceed the caps, they’ll limit your service or ask you to pay more.
  • How often is your data backed up? You must back up the data on your website or risk losing it all if your server crashes. Many hosting companies will back up your files for you. Some run daily backups while others run weekly backups. Consider asking the host what they back up, how many copies they create, and how long they store the copies.
  • How many websites can you create? You’ll be able to create one, several, or an unlimited number of websites. It depends on the hosting package you choose. A basic package will usually allow for one website. A higher-end package will often allow an unlimited number of websites.
  • What database management system is included? The type of website you build will determine the database management system you need. For example, a popular database management system used by WordPress is MySQL. So you’ll want to confirm that MySQL is available from your hosting company if you plan to use WordPress.
  • Is an SSL certificate included? This one is key. You’ll need a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate to secure the communications to and from your web server. An SSL certificate connects visitors to your website using the https:// protocol instead of the unsecured http:// protocol. Visitors will also see a padlock in their browser. Some web hosts offer a free SSL certificate, while others charge a fee for one. You can install one yourself with the help of Let’s Encrypt, which provides free SSL certificates but requires that you self-install them.
  • Is email included? This is important if you want an email address that matches your domain name, such as Some hosting packages offer one email account while others allow you to create many accounts.
  • What’s the inode usage? Inodes are the number of files and folders you have on your hosting account. Some web hosts cap the number of inodes. A cap of less than 100K is unacceptable!
  • Is e-commerce capability included? Look for a hosting company that supports shopping cart platforms and other e-commerce software. This will allow you to sell products or services on your website.
  • Are web analytics included? Some web hosts provide web analytics software that allows you to track visitors. You’ll want to track the number of people visiting your website, how they found you, and what content is popular with them.
  • How long of a commitment do you have to make? There was a time when you’d have to make a one-year commitment to your web host. Today, monthly contracts are more the norm. However, you’ll usually get a deep discount on the price if you pay for 12 months of hosting in advance. You’ll also see offers for deep discounts if you sign a multi-year contract. We caution against this because it’s hard to predict your website needs years in advance.
  • Can you scale up and down? Look for a web host that provides a range of hosting packages that you can move between as your hosting needs change.
  • What type of support do you get? You’ll want 24/7 support and you’ll want it to be free. If you’re accustomed to using the telephone to call for support, make sure it’s available. If you prefer communicating by live chat or email, check on that as well. You can also ask for the host’s average response and resolution times.
  • Is there a satisfaction guarantee? Look for a trial period that allows you to test the service, so you can cancel if you’re unhappy and get your money back.

We hope these questions are helpful to you as you shop for web hosting. If we missed anything, please let us know in the comments. We’d like this list to be as helpful as possible.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *