It will be quite overwhelming to settle on a reliable, secure, and affordable hosting service. It’s applicable either you launch a new site or about to switch your existing one to new hosting. There are so many competitive hosting providers in the market. Also, different types of hosting plans, features, and packages out there. You are in need of an ultimate web hosting checklist.
It’s hard to run through all those to find what makes them unique. And why you should stick to a particular hosting service that makes sense.
Web Hosting Checklist: How To Choose The Right Hosting?
To help you select a perfect hosting solution for your specific needs, we are compiling this web hosting checklist. Moreover, I am writing this checklist in two different perspectives. Say, one is for the beginners and another for the web designing and hosting experts.
- Web Hosting Checklist: How To Choose The Right Hosting?
- Web Hosting Checklist for Beginners & Expert Developers/Designers
- Things to consider while Beginners buying a Hosting Service
- Things to consider while buying a Hosting Service (For Expert Webmasters)
- # Basic Hosting Features
- # Developer-friendliness
- # Technical Features
- # Security Aspects
- # Cost Factors
- # Terms & Conditions
- # Support Facilities
- # Custom Needs
- Other Hosting Aspects You Might Be Looking For
- Final Take Away: Web Hosting Checklist
Web Hosting Checklist for Beginners & Expert Developers/Designers
Beginners don’t be much familiar with the core terms in web hosting. It’s better to give them a web hosting checklist with typical terms what they could understand. By the way, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be fruitful. Choosing a one that matches the criteria of this beginner’s web hosting checklist will be the best for sure.
Before getting into it, I would insist you make a note of your business hosting needs. Only, then you will be able to pick a web hosting service provider that worth. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself to set your hosting goals.
- Purpose of having a website: just for the sake or branding or to drive sales
- Size of your website and the expected visitors
- How much security do you need as you collect information like credit card details?
- Is your business targets a specific location or any particular country?
- Is it an ecommerce site selling more products online?
- How experienced are you to drive a website?
- Should you hire a designer or yourself handle the website designing?
- Do you require high-end customizations?
- What type of content do you prefer publishing: text, images, or videos, in the high ratio?
- How much domain or subdomains you need?
- What’s your budget for hosting?
Having a note on all these aspects, let’s get started now.
Things to consider while Beginners buying a Hosting Service
I believe the below terms are much simpler even for beginners to check while choosing their hosting partner. Probably, at the start, the website or blog that gets minimal traffic. Over time, the traffic will increase gradually. So, it’s smart enough to get started with little.
The operating system that runs on the server boils down to the type of the hosting server. Basically, concerning this, there are two broad classifications: Windows hosting and Linux hosting. Most of the webmasters prefer to choose Linux hosting as it allows using PHP, Python, Pearl, etc. On the other end, Windows hosting lets you use Asp or ASP.net that are a bit difficult to use. So, go with Linux hosting.
Other than this, depending on the hosting space you reserve, there are furthermore classifications. They are shared, VPS, dedicated, managed, reseller and cloud hosting, etc.
A good web hosting must ensure a promising percentage of server uptime. It is nothing but the amount of time your website is live. Probably, all the hosting services make sure to offer 99% or above (even 99.9%). As long as your website stays live, more the traffic it drives.
Few hosting affiliates monitor (in real-time) and publish some of the leading hosting server’s uptime on their blogs. Go through it and choose yours.
Maybe your site requires only 15 MB of space. Still, it’s always a good idea to have some extra space for the uninterrupted service. The hosting providers mention it as SSD storage like 15 GB, 30 GB, and so on.
Also, bandwidth is the amount of data to download from the site. In case, you are offering any study materials, e-books, software to download to your users; then you might need larger bandwidth.
These days, most of the hosts offer unmetered or unlimited storage space or memory — also, unlimited bandwidth for the seamless data downloads. So, just have a look at these factors while checking the pricing plans.
Further, in most of the initial plans, you are likely to host a single domain. Depending on your need, choose the plan to host multiple domains, if required.
Mostly, the hosting providers offer a free domain name when buying its hosting service. As long as you host your website with them, you will have your domain registered for free. Make use of it, whether you are registering a new domain name or transferring your existing domain to the newer one.
Otherwise, you can do domain registration separately with companies like GoDaddy, NameCheap, etc. And, host with different service providers.
Built-in Page Builders
Along with hosting servers, you will also get some tools to create awesome websites. Most of the hosting service providers offer built-in free website builders (with drag-drop features). Even for beginners, designing a stunning website without coding skill is made more accessible. You will feel a lack of flexibility while using the site builder features as it is a freebie.
One Click Installs
Make sure your web hosting service offers Control Panel (cPanel) for easy installations and data handling. One click installations services help you to install WordPress or any other 3rd party applications within no time.
You hosting service must have secure server capabilities to protect your website data and your customer’s information. In case you are collecting mobile number, contact email address, and credit card details from your customers, you are responsible for its privacy.
In shared hosting, like yours, there are so many sites will be hosted. It’s vulnerable towards the malware attacks, lacking proper security features. So, make sure you are hosting on a secured server.
In case of hardware fails, system crash or if any hacking occurs, you must able to protect your site from these disasters. So, your web host must be taking regular (daily or weekly) backups of your website. Taking automatic backups is a no-brainer solution to restore the full site during disaster recovery.
If your hosting provider doesn’t provide the free automatic backup option, then you will have to pay extra to demand website backup. Some of the right hosting providers like BlueHost offer automatic off-site backups.
Data Center Locations
Does your business operate in a specific location or targets audience from particular geography? Then checking out the data center locations of your web host is most crucial. Since choosing the data center that is much closer to your target location can serve data to your visitors faster.
For an instant, let’s take FastComet. It has nine global data centers across different parts of the world. You are likely to choose your desired location that is nearer to your target location.
These days, almost all the hosting providers allow your business to have unlimited email accounts. Offering full email services like POP/IMAP & SMTP protocols, autoresponder, email aliases, default webmail (Thunderbird, Squirrel Mail, etc.).
So, check whether your choice of web hosting service provider offers all these features. Unnecessarily, why to pay if the same is available for free?
It’s inevitable; you will get into some technical problems. And you are helpless by the time. The web host support must be available 24/7 by phone and email. It will be frustrating when your site is non-functional. Further, it makes a significant loss in terms of visitors and money.
Check the technical expertise of the support team by sending an email addressing a severe technical issue. See how soon you will get a response and how helpful it would be. Especially if you are beginner, then you must go with a hosting solution that offers extraordinary support and assistance from set up to anything.
Hosting industry is itself full of choices. You can be smarter only by choosing the hosting service that meets your hosting demands and budget. Realize the priorities first. If you are running a big-league website, go with the premium hosting services like WPX hosting, WPEngine, etc. Indeed, these are the costlier hosting solutions.
Otherwise, if you are launching a new website for your small scale business or a micro-niche blog, then affordable hosts like HostGator, is perfect.
I would suggest you take a list of the five best hosting services that match your hosting needs like storage, bandwidth, support, etc. Finally, compare the pricing plans and its particular features to select the one.
Money Back Guarantee
Though we break our mind in choosing the right hosting provider, we fail sometimes. In such cases, web hosts entitle you to get your money back, cancelling the account within particular days of purchase. So, you are safer-a-side in situations you made the wrong choice.
Most importantly, run through as much as review platforms to check the feedback from the real users. Individuals will have different opinions and experience with multiple hosting services they used. Reading those reviews will get you an idea and confidence to with any desired hosting services.
So far, we ran through some of the crucial aspects to consider before buying a hosting plan. Alongside, some hosts help you to choose your suitable plan if you are unsure about it.
Especially beginners must be more cautious. Anyways, you have the money back guarantee option to save your money.
Things to consider while buying a Hosting Service (For Expert Webmasters)
I don’t want to take your time discussing the support, 1-click installation, and furthermore basic features of a hosting service. You are familiar with those terms and its preferences. So, let me take you through some technical or core terms of hosting to consider before buying.
Anyways, refer to the above web hosting checklist, if you really need it. Further, get into the below web hosting checklist for experts and hosting geeks. I am categorizing the factors to make your check diligent.
# Basic Hosting Features
Set up & configuration
How expertise you are with hosting terminologies? Being an expert, this might not be your 1st hosting, anyway. Still, hosting set up and configuration should not kill your time. Any host you go with, it must offer quick and simple configuration settings for the easy kick-off.
The one-click installations, instant free account set up, etc. are some of the noticeable features when it comes to hosting set up. Especially when configuring the name servers or uploading the existing site to the new host server.
Upon finding a server is being down, instantly, the redundant server will take charge to offer uninterrupted uptime and service. While choosing your web host, check if they do have any redundancy server or how they will handle the crisis. So, your website will be live all the time nearing 100% uptime.
Control Panel is the web-based administration interface. It’s the place where the site administrator manages the application installations, email account configurations, site set up, etc. Plesk is a control panel available for both Windows and Linux, whereas cPanel s for Linux servers.
These days, most of the hosting services integrate Softaculous (script library) with Plesk or cPanel to automate the installations of open source web applications to your website. Check whether your desired hosting service has such a flexible control panel to monitor the uptime, server usage, and more.
Softaculous can save your time installing the list of tools and services like PERL, Java, PHP, JS, etc. automatically.
Generally, migration services are free when you want to transfer your site from one to another hosting. Despite, some of the hostings offers only one site migration for free. Some of the hosting leaders like WPX Hosting offer unlimited website migrations at additional cost.
If you are an agency choosing a suitable plan to host multiple sites, get it done by the host team at no cost.
If your host doesn’t offer free migration, then it’s an additional expense for you. When it is bulky, then think about the wholesome money you have to spend towards it.
In the web hosting checklist for beginners, I did talk about only the SSD storage, bandwidth, and the number of websites to host. In addition to that, there are furthermore things to look at as a serious webmaster. It includes sub-domains, parked domains, add-on domains, email accounts, and even more. If services are offering unlimited resources, why not to leverage it saving your money?
The latest significant advancement in the hosting storage technology is SSD instead of using HDD drives. Almost the whole industry shifts to SSD storage to ensure a highly durable and faster hosting experience. Make sure you host your website on the Solid State Drive servers.
Coding Language Compatibility
Being a developer, you are likely to switch between different languages and versions. So, go with a hosting that is compatible with the maximum number of coding languages and the latest versions. Among all, A2 hosting is the highly rated developer-friendly hosting service with PHP 7+ versions compatibility. Likewise, it is also compatible with PHP, ASP.net, IonCube, Python 3, Perl 5, Ruby, Node.js, Nginx, Apache, Tomcat, and even more.
Similarly, the host server must support the latest versions of databases like MySQL 5.6/Maria DB, PostgreSQL 9.6, etc. Especially with no compromise in performance and perpetual security.
3rd party Application installations
Like one-click WordPress installations, the web hosts must be flexible and fully integrate with other 3rd party application and script installations. From the cPanel or Plesk, it must be much easier to kick off with any of your necessary web applications. The Softaculous control panel comes with 1-click auto-installers and 300+ free apps to use.
For specific application installations, you can set auto updates from Softaculous. Whenever there is a new version of the software is available, it will automatically update it saving your time. Not all the hosting services offer such solutions. Few like FastComet come with these exclusive features to make developer’s chores easy.
You believe it or not, even the basic plan of WPX hosting offers you free staging area to test any application or service or website before launching. It’s a temporary storage area to favor developers to ensure their newly developed software is all set to be live. Being a blogger or web designer, you might require this to test if new themes before activating it to your site.
# Technical Features
DNS Server Response Rate
Your hosting server must have reasonable server response rate. To make your website loading faster; DNS, and how quick its response to the queries is most crucial. Make sure to have an option to set your response rate. With which, you can limit the volume of queries your server responds when attackers send a larger number of queries from victim IP addresses.
If the server is unsure about the received queries are real or malicious, sending high volume replies is likely to overload the server. So, response rate limiting is most significant though servers can understand the pattern of queries that are abused.
Time To First Byte (TTFB), with which you measure the server response rate. With poor web hosting and lack of proper caching would result in delayed response and higher TTFB. If the server takes much time to load your HTML page, then search engines will look for other pages to display. There, you are losing your chance of getting potential traffic.
Caching & speed optimization
Also, most of the hosting companies offer free CloudFlare CDN for faster caching and delivering data to the users. Go for it.
# Security Aspects
Secure Server Capabilities
One of the most crucial significant roles of online business is to create a trustworthy environment. So, customers will feel confident to share their privacy detail and make purchases. It’s enough to start with a secure shared server. But, as if your website starts generating more traffic and money, then go for a dedicated secure server. So, you can claim the security features like SSL, DDoS protection, Firewall security, malware scanning, disaster recovery, etc.
Does your web host provide an SSL certificate to highlight that your site is highly secured? It’s an essential element these days getting an SSL to build trust among the search engines and users to deal with your website. Most of the hosting companies offer Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for free. It ensures all the data transfer between the server and the browser remains private and safe. If you need more security, you may buy premium SSL separately.
There are multiple reasons for Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) to happen. Mostly, the hackers create a set of programs to disrupt the traffic flow to the specific server or network of servers. Hence, the hosting server company you choose must provide severe DDoS protection by default. Even sometimes, your competitors might do this to spoil your reputation and traffic.
The remote administration protocol that lets you access and controls the remote servers over the internet is SSH. It encrypts the data that transfers between the client and the server to ensure data security. SSH also protects networks from IP or DNS spoofing, and IP source routing.
Regarding FTP, generally, you will have access to transfer files to and from local computers and servers choosing any hosting service. Also, you may opt for public FTP access to test uploading or downloading business applications.
And, these days any hosting service offers CGI access or raw server logs to know the website statistics, scripts, and other website features. So, choose a web host that offers unrestricted access to your private server logs.
Over the internet, your website is highly susceptible to malware attacks and security threats. So, the hosting company must have proper firewall protection to scan and prevent unauthorized users from accessing your server. Mostly, hosting companies like FastComet offers network firewall and web application firewall in its starter plan itself.
Recovery against Malware Attacks
You can see WPEngine blocks around 2 million blocks every day to ensure reliable service. At any instant, you found malware attacks against your site or website hacked, backup your site files, and database. Download the backup files and examine it. Delete all the data files in the public_html folder and reinstall WordPress, themes, and plug-ins. By the way, your host’s support team must be quickly responsive to help to restore your site from malware attacks.
# Cost Factors
Hosting Sale Price
One of the most crucial factors to consider while buying hosting is its cost. Also, it depends on your hosting needs and priorities. If you want the most potent hosting like LiquidWeb for your video streaming sites, you must invest obviously more. But, just a shared hosting starter plan (for little money) will do for your fresh new blog or website.
Also, your hosting provider must offer the most for your money. It includes free domain name, SSL, migration services, backups, email accounts, and even more. You are not supposed to pay all the time for the essential features. You are accountable to get it by default.
Whether you buy basic shared hosting or dedicated servers, check the restrictions in its set of features and resource allocations. As you cross the limitations, few hosting services might send you notifications to upgrade the plan. On the other hand, some other might suspend your account until you upgrade. So, check the terms and conditions regarding the over-usage of bandwidth, storage, or crossing the visitors limit.
Most of the hosting services promote themselves as affordable and cheap hosting available in the market. It’s just to attract the first time buyers. As long as you registered and started using, the renewal charges will be high from next year onwards. You don’t have control over it.
Either you have to renew at a higher cost or cancel the account and shift to another hosting company. Hence, I always love FastComet in this case as it offers no-sneaky renewal charges. You are supposed to pay the same renewal cost lifetime.
Cost for additional services
Make sure your hosting partner isn’t charging you for every extra service like email aliases, auto-responders, IMAP, etc. These are all typical services that any hosting provider must offer. Also, don’t choose any other unwanted additional services that you will see while checking out hosting plan purchase. It includes SEO optimization, web statistics, designing tools, etc. that you don’t need paying extra.
These days, almost all companies offer free supplements to encourage users to buy their hosting services. From unlimited email accounts to SSL to domain name to site backup to CDN, you will get handy at no cost.
So, if any other hosting service is charging extra against these freebies, then it is off the point expenses.
# Terms & Conditions
Money Back Guarantee
Before buying any hosting service you choose, check its money back guarantee. Since every individual will have different expectations. If you are not comfortable with the service after using, then your money should not go waste. Except for a few hosts like LiquidWeb, most of the services offer 100% money back guarantee. Experience the risk-free hosting service. Cancel your account anytime within particular days of purchase and get your money back.
You must be the master in managing your accounts. Rendering the service, the hosting provider should not dominate and take over freedom. Whenever you would like to cancel the subscription, you must be. Instead, you should not be asked any questions. Also, you are supposed to pay money for cancelling the account. Run through the terms and conditions beforehand, to avoid unexpected problems later.
For any reason like crossing the resource limits or anything, the service provider should not suspend your account. Any hosting service you prefer to buy, make sure there is no website downtime at any cost. It will be a lousy ranking signal to the search engines, and that affects your SEO. Also, this will disturb your traffic flow and hence, sales. So, your hosting partner must value your business and provide no-interruptive services.
# Support Facilities
24*7 Customer Support
It’s inevitable. Anytime you might get dilemma in hosting or website maintenance. So, the service provider must offer 24/7 support via live chat, phone, and email. Even an hour downtime would result in considerable loss to your business. Understanding the significance, the team must be responsive and assist instantly.
Assistance to choose the right plan
Though you are expertise in managing your website hosting, at times, you might be struggling to choose the suitable hosting plan. Especially if you are handling more big-league clients and business applications, then you might need custom solutions. In such cases, hosting services will have a separate team to gather your requirements to suggest the suitable hosting plan. Go with the expert’s choice.
# Custom Needs
As if you are choosing the hosting service as a package, it’s not specially tailored for you. So, you might be lacking some essential features or resources. On the other hand, you will have excess that you don’t use much. Here comes, the web hosting provider must be flexible to scale it anything, anytime.
Consider you manage a site that offers study materials to the audience. It requires more bandwidth. Otherwise, you have a media-rich website that keeps adding more images and videos. Here, you will lack the storage space. In the hosting plan you choose, you just need additional storage space. For which, upgrading to the upper plan is non-obvious. It’s wiser to extend the storage space paying specifically instead of upgrading to the costlier plan.
Once you find your website performance lacks with insufficient resources and features. Or, if it is vulnerable to malware attacks lacking airtight security features, then you are supposed to upgrade your hosting plan.
The support team must be readily available to assist in upgrading your plan seamlessly. You should get instant access to the features of the updated plan. So, you have full control over your site and hosting server. Or even, if you want a VPS or dedicated server, your shared hosting partner must deal with a wide range of hosting servers. By the time of upgrading, you are not supposed to change the hosting partner for this reason.
Indeed, the ecommerce sites will drive massive traffic by its nature. So, the hosting server must be highly reliable and fast performing to handle such traffic. Other than that, the server uptime must be 100% or at least 99.9%. Every second of site downtime will impact your sales.
So, you must be keener while choosing the hosting server for your online shopping sites. Also, it should offer e-commerce features like merchant account support, real-time data processing, email servers for bulk mailing, etc.
3rd party Scripts compatibility
Over time, more advanced features and scripts evolved to make the websites more appealing and convertible. It includes the adding forum or premium live chat to your site, etc. However, your hosting server must be compatible with those 3rd party scripts that add more value and functionality to your site. Similarly, there are abundant scripts available like Real Audio, Shockwave, front page extensions, etc.
In case you are buying dedicated servers, you will get multiple IP’s by default. Sometimes, operating business in various locations, you might require a custom or geo-specific IP ranges. Hence, email marketing campaigns would be fruitful. For which, your web hosting partner must flexible letting you choose your specific IP range. Some of the hosting services offer it at no additional cost. But, a few will be charging you extra for the other IP addresses.
Other Hosting Aspects You Might Be Looking For
From the above web hosting checklist, you can understand every essential factor to consider while buying hosting.
If you wish to offer hosting solutions to the businesses, then there are hosting providers rendering reseller hosting services too. Buy your desired hosting and create sub-packages within the allotted storage and bandwidth. WHM enables you to distribute the shared spaces to your customers. WHM simplifies billing and customer management. cPanel allows your customers to manage their specific hosting packages.
Anyways, the host doesn’t provide direct support to your customers. You will have to get guidance from them and assist customers to resolve the issue. So, the hosting company you choose must be offering excellent customer support.
Managed Cloud Hosting
The idea behind Managed Cloud Hosting is the hosting company that shares and manages all the entire resources like databases, hardware, and software tools across the network via multiple servers from different locations.
Even a novice can excel in running your business, leaving away the hosting management tasks to the experts. For WordPress sites, go with the powerful managed WordPress hosting solutions for high performance.
Final Take Away: Web Hosting Checklist
If you want to choose a fast and reliable hosting service, then this web hosting checklist would be of more help. Since the search engine rankings, traffic flow, page loading speed, and website performance depends on the hosting server, you choose.
Out of a plethora of hosting providers, you will find most of the features and options commonly. But, the flexibility and limitations differ. You are supposed to consider the storage space, bandwidth, control panel features, customer reviews, price, money back guarantee, support, etc. to decide upon your best web hosting service.
Have this web hosting checklist alongside whenever you are about to buy a hosting or transfer your existing sites to the new hosting servers. Hence, I enclosed the web hosting checklist uncovering from fundamental features to core technical terms to understand the quality of any web hosting services.