Picking website hosting for your website can be a daunting task without some experience. Here’s what we at Copy & Design look for when evaluating a new client’s existing hosting or when we’re setting up hosting for a new website project.
First, here’s what to avoid
We recommend not hosting a website at the same place your domain name is registered. These companies often sell hosting as a super-cheap add-on that seems to good to be true. 100% uptime? Fast speeds? $3.99/month? Yeah, don’t count on it. Your website will end up on the same server as a hundred other websites, and when those other sites get hit with lots of traffic or go awry? Every site suffers with slow speed or worse—extended downtime. We’ve seen it happen with nearly all cheap hosting.
Do I need a dedicated server or something else?
If your website will attract a good deal of traffic or you have specific needs, then a dedicated server will be your best option, complete with lots of bandwidth, fast SSD storage, and automatic backups—all with the ability to customize the software powering the server. But what if your website only gets a few hundred or thousand visits a day like the vast majority of websites. Here, look for companies that offer hybrid approaches with scalable shared hosting for static content like HTML and images coupled with a dedicated database server to make sure content gets served up quickly.
What else should I consider?
You can usually ignore a hosting provider’s advertised storage and bandwidth—if you get anywhere close to using what’s offered you’re probably in the market for a dedicated server anyway. There are more important factors to use when comparison shopping between web hosting services. First, there's support. Can you call or email the hosting provider for immediate help when issues arise? Do they have an easy-to-use control panel for accessing your web server’s settings? Will your website be stored on fast SSDs or slower hard drives?
What else might I need?
We find uptime monitoring to be essential. Find a third-party service that can send you notifications when your site is unresponsive. This lets you proactively see how your website is performing and, if need be, lets you contact the hosting service to help resolve the issue before it begins to affect the experience of visitors.
While many hosting services will perform automatic onsite backups of your data, we highly recommend making scheduled backups of your website and database to an offsite location so you can restore the site in the event of a catastrophic failure.
What if I don’t want to deal with hosting?
Glad you asked. While many of our clients prefer to handle hosting on their end, we also provide hosting through MediaTemple using a hybrid web server with a dedicated database server. We take care of all server setup, troubleshooting, as well as offsite backups. We also monitor the uptime of clients’ sites so we can resolve infrequent issues before our clients notice them. At present, we only offer this hosting to our own clients.
If you’re working with a web designer/developer with years of experience (who also doesn’t earn any commission/referral fee for "finding" you hosting), then you should be in good hands. An experienced web designer will know your website’s technical requirements inside-out and will be able to recommend trusted hosting companies that will make for a good fit.