Web hosts love bragging about the number of CPU cores and amount of memory that you’ll get. They love talking about certain metrics, and may try to bury other more expensive things. Pay attention to these 6 things when you’re looking for your next cloud hosting service:
Things crash, websites crash, and things go missing. The last thing that you want to do is notice that a file is gone or worse that all the data on your website has been wiped away. Web hosts should offer a backup service and they shouldn’t charge you for it.
There are a few things that you’re going to want to look for in a web host backup system. They should provide full backups every once in a while, maybe every week or so. Having this full backup available means that if anything goes horribly wrong you’ll still have a big portion of the site.
Additionally, smaller automatic backups of individual pages are nice. And the ability to manually backup on the control panel will be helpful. While automatic full backups are really useful every once in a while, the ability to manually backup the site immediately after a number of huge changes have been made. Also, it’s helpful if you can restore these backups by yourself. Ask your web host about the process for restoring backups. If you can’t restore them yourself, you’ll want to make sure that the host has a quick and effecient process in place to get your site back up and running.
Websites encounter speedbumps and problems. When your site goes down on a busy weekend, the last thing you want to do is call a busy tech support service that is disconnected from your servers. You need answers, and you need them quick.
There is a time to find out whether or not your web host offers great tech support, and there’s a time not to. The time to find out is before you sign up, and not in the middle of a crisis that could damage the momentum of your site. Try calling the tech support line before you’re even a customer. Send them an email. See how they respond, and the things you learn from the response. Speed, talent, and efficiency will be key here. You can even compare top hosting sites by sending the same email to a bunch of different places.
03Reasonable Pricing Structure
Web hosts may charge great starter prices, and then you’ll have to pay double or triple after 6 months when the intro runs out. They know that you’ll be used to the control panel and the service, and it’s unlikely that you’ll move everything just to save some money. Look at the full price structure before you commit to a new hosting service that way you don’t spend a bunch of extra money on the system.
Pricing structures should remain reasonable. Ideally, you want to be with your web host through the foreseeable life of your website. Pick something with a price that you can tolerate over the long haul, and not simply a great deal on cloud hosting service that won’t carry you through the non-trial days.
04Data Access (FTP, SFTP, .htaccess)
Look out for hosting companies that brag about a “file manager.” This is a method of transferring files that doesn’t have much power or security behind it. If your web hosting solution is trying to get away with only offering a file manager, it may not be quick enough to move large files at the same time.
FTP means file transfer protocol, and is a way of sharing files on the internet. SFTP is a secure file transfer protocol, basically just adding security to the normal file transfer protocol process. SFTP uses encryption to make sure that the data is protected. Usually, businesses will use an SFTP system that works through a cloud. Some hosting companies will provide a large cloud company services, using Amazon or Microsoft. Others may have their own cloud and allow you to use SFTP through it. SFTP uses encryption and a firewall for the client, and FTP does not.
Additionally, .htaccess file access is a way that you can make a bunch of changes to a website in a short amount of time. Administrative changes from the .htaccess back end will allow you to change redirects, passwords, and other critical issues.
Unless you know that you’re going to use WordPress hosting, you’ll need to have something that uses FTP, SFTP, and .htaccess. Features like these are critical to the function of your website. Most hosting companies love to brag about the speeds and amounts of data that they offer, so look for these features that may not make the front page but will still make or break the show.
Sure, you might not be running an e-commerce site right now. But you’ve got to play the long game here. Your site could gain a ton of momentum and grab visitors, and you might be in a position where you want to monetize some part of it. When most people think e-commerce, they think putting objects into boxes and shipping them across the country. But you don’t have to be running a coffee shop out of your kitchen or a book sale out of your garage to need e-commerce features. You may just want to sell an e-book, coaching sessions, photography, writing or a digital skill.
Be specific with the shopping cart solution that you’ll be using. If you’re already comfortable with Shopify or a related cart solution, then find a cloud hosting solution that will allow you to integrate that. Of course, many shopping cart solutions have similar features. While not all are created equal, you can also go with something that your hosting service provides specific support for.
If you’ll need technical support for any of these issues, you should talk to the staff to see what they are familiar with. In many cases, if the staff of a hosting service is familiar with a certain cart solution, they’ll be much more effective at helping you with that than any other kind of solution that you could find.
There are additional considerations for e-commerce solutions. You might need dedicated IP addresses, one-click cart solutions, and SSL certification. These are fairly common features but you still may want to compare.
“Data transfer” in hosting plans generally measures the amount of data that your website is allowed to transfer over a given period of time. Data transfer is generally measured in months. Bandwidth, on the other hand, is a measure of how much data can be transferred over a much shorter window, generally over a few seconds.
As with everything in hosting, you want enough to float your website but you don’t want to come out overpaying for bandwidth.
There’s a popular formula for calculating the bandwidth projection of your website:
- Multiply the daily visitors times the daily pageviews times the average size of your page. To get these totals, you can average it out over a month. But keep in mind that since bandwidth is measured in a matter of seconds, peak times can overwhelm your system.
- Next, multiply the daily file downloads times the average file size. Downloads take up a ton of bandwidth. Depending on the way that your website handles downloads, giving up a 1gb file would eat up a ton of immediate bandwidth. If people are trying to surf and download at the same time, things could get dicey.
- Now add this file download number to the page visitor number.
- Multiply this new number by a range of 25 to 35. If you think that your traffic is more clustered, multiply closer to 35, but if your traffic is fairly evenly spread, multiply by closer to 25.