What's in a Web Host? Several Features to Look Out for and Compare
The key to any successful online business lies with finding a web host that offers reliable, responsive and feature-packed service. Unfortunately, not every web host is up to the task and thanks to the vast amount of misinformation out there, it can be difficult to find the truth about a web host.
There are plenty of features and options to consider and compare. Before you settle on just any web hosting provider, you'll want to take the time to do your homework and see how each web host stacks up against the competition.
Dedicated or Shared?
With a shared hosting package, your website shares space on a server with other websites. Maintenance and upkeep costs are spread out among all of the users on the server, making the service less expensive than its dedicated counterpart. However, you won't get the speed, resources and support that a dedicated server offers.
On the other hand, a dedicated hosting package provides your website with its own dedicated server. Although the service costs more than shared hosting, you get a greater level of control and flexibility when it comes to resource management and support.
There's also the virtual private server, which offers many of the advantages of a dedicated hosting package, but at a lower cost. With a virtual private server, your web space exists on a virtual partition located on a physical server. Although there are several virtual spaces on a server, each space features its own protected amount of RAM and CPU resources, similar to a dedicated server.
Features to Look For and Compare:
Storage and Bandwidth
A lot of web hosting providers boast unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth, but you'll definitely want to read the fine print. It's to make sure there aren't any caveats or "gotchas" lurking within as well as to learn the provider's definition of "overuse."
Whether you prefer SQL Server, Oracle or PostgreSQL, you'll want to know what your database options are and compare each web host accordingly.
How many e-mail accounts do you get with your web host? Can you access it via third-party e-mail client via IMAP, POP3 or Exchange? Does it offer integration with Google Apps or Gmail? Don't forget that many web hosts offer e-mail accounts with an included webmail interface.
Domains and Subdomains
Does your web host offer a free domain for signing up? What about subdomains? Is there a limit to the number of domains you can use on a single account? Keep this in mind as you compare each web host.
Support for Mobile Apps
The ability to access your website administrative features can be a game changer, especially if you're on the move a lot. This is one feature you should definitely consider as you look for a web host.
Why go through the trouble of installing popular tools like WordPress or Joomla on your own when your web host can do it for you? Most web hosting providers offer one-click installation of WordPress and other popular blogging and content management frameworks, making it much easier for you to introduce content onto your website with minimal hassle.
Site Backup Tools
It doesn't take much to lose data, so it pays to have a web host that offers a multitude of backup options. Compare among several different web host providers to find the right set of backup solutions that work for your website's needs.
Advanced users will definitely appreciate the ability to access their server via command line over SSH. Having shell access gives you the ability to perform a broad range of advanced tasks quickly and securely. Any web host you consider should have this very important feature.
All of your efforts to create a successful website won't matter if your audience can't reach it. For this reason, it's paramount that your web hosting provider offers rock-solid reliability. Although many providers claim to have 99.9-percent uptime, you'll want to see for yourself exactly what this means. These are the basic features to compare when choosing a web hosting company.
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