The act of setting up a new domain, opening a hosting account, and getting the site off the ground is often filled with technical jargon you, as a blogger, might not be familiar with.
While it may be tempting to gloss over some of the inane technical details, choosing a good web hosting company can be an essential step towards your success as a blogger. Here are some quick tips to cut through the BS and find a good web host.
What to Look for in a Good Web Hosting Company
Reliability is hands down the most important aspect to choosing a web hosting service. When you’re comparing hosting companies, look for how they describe what’s known as “uptime.”
Uptime is basically just code for what percentage of the time their servers are actually working. So, if a company has 98% uptime, it means that their servers (and by extension, your site) is working 98% percent of the time. While that might seem good, it means that the site is down 2% of the time, which could cost you serious revenue if you have moderate or high amounts of traffic.
I expect my hosting provider to have near-perfect uptime. I want to see an advertised uptime of 99.9%, or something like it, which means that only once in a blue moon will my traffic have problems accessing my site.
The second must-have feature of any good hosting provider is what’s known in the tech world as “redundancy.”
Redundancy is simply the act of having a backup available, in the event that something does go wrong with the server.
Most often, this comes in the form of backing up your data, and the overwhelming majority of hosting providers will do this automatically (though you should also manually back up your site from time to time).
However, having a ‘redundant implementation’ can also mean that your site will automatically be run by a second server, in the event your first server fails. Adding this feature is usually an extra, not included in most basic hosting plans, and for a small to medium size blog is not essential (assuming the site has good uptime). If you have a larger site and absolutely cannot afford to miss a user, then redundancy becomes more important.
The final aspect I consider essential when I choose web hosting service is speed. Unfortunately, this is also one of the harder aspects for a non-technical person to evaluate, since hosting companies will always brag about “lightning fast” speed and then list a bunch of detailed jargon.
To complicate the matter further, most basic accounts use what’s known as shared hosting. This means that your site will be placed on the same server as several other sites, and you will be sharing the server’s speed with those sites. Sometimes, you might be placed with a site that uses more than it’s share of bandwidth, and your site speed could suffer as a result.
The only way around this predicament is to upgrade your account to dedicated hosting, under which you will be using a server that is only responsible for your site. For most bloggers, however, this is an unnecessary step.
If you’re a non-technical person, then, the best way to determine if a hosting provider has consistent, fast speeds, is to engage with the community that uses that host. Be sure to read user reviews and look for indications about whether or not the site is reliable, redundant, and fast.