Top 10 Things To Look For When Purchasing Hosting

July 01, 2020

Dark server room

1. SSD (Solid State Drive)

Having SSD storage as oppose to its much slower HDD (Hard Disk Drive) counterpart is a huge advantage. You’ll get speeds up to 3x faster. The slower HDD works by using a circular plate called a platter that is divided into billions of miniscule sections, with each one being independently magnetized to produce either a 1 or 0. The platter is then spun and a head attached to an actuator arm is used to read and write data onto the surface of the platter. An SSD storage device has no moving parts and data is stored in semiconductor cells, cells often contain between 1 and 4 bits. No moving parts means, no physical speed limitations.

2. Unlimited Visitors

Being limited to a specific quantity of visitors is a none starter. Surges in visitor numbers can happen at any time, for example let’s say you’ve just launched a new social media campaign that has turned into a huge success. Suddenly you’re trending on twitter and visitor numbers are spiking, unfortunately visitors can’t access your site as you’ve reached the maximum visitor count on your web hosting package. Not only have you wasted your money on a new fancy campaign, customers have also been left with a sour taste in their mouth and a poor impression of your business.

3. Storage

Different sites require different amount of storage, however it’s always important that you have enough. Images and website theme files usually take up the most storage, large images will often be up to a few megabytes each, this adds up. WordPress itself only takes up 30mb of space with most of the storage being taken up by themes and plugins. For example, a website specialising in 4k video will need significantly more storage than a simple text website such as a Wikipedia page.

4. Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can be transferred in a set time period. You think of bandwidth as like lanes on a road, more lanes and you can get more cars on the road at any given time (cars being data). Meaning more visitors introduces more cars on the road, eventually leading to full capacity, where there’s no space for additional cars. It’s worth noting two things must be considered, how many visitors you plan on getting and how much data each user will need to retrieve.

5. Free SSL Certificates

SSL Certificates are data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. If installed on a web server, it will activate https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. Typically, SSL is used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer and logins. You’ll recognise it from the green padlock in the top left of the browser. With an SSL certificate the green padlock will be replaced by an open red padlock or the text connection not secure (this depends on the browser). Not only does an SSL certificate make your site safer it also makes users feel more comfortable using your site and transferring personal information.

6. Support

Getting stuck is common when configuring a website and navigating your hosting control panel, it becomes even more difficult if you’ve no previous technical knowledge. Support should be readily accessible and ticket response times within 24 hours.

7. Domains

The world of domains is a confusing one at best, hosting companies offer countless offers and first year discounts. Getting a discount on the first year may sound like an amazing deal, however it’s worth noting most people own domains for 4+ years. If you want the best deal, do the maths before purchasing. You’ll want to consider how long you plan on renewing the domain and what the total cost would be over this timeframe.

8. Security Scans

Everything on the web is vulnerable to attacks and security breaches, one small security flaw can leave you exposed. Having regular security scans performed on your account is a huge plus and will save you future headaches. Your hosting provider should also perform regular backups, so in the event of a breach all data and web files associated with your account are safe.

9. FTP Accounts

A file transfer protocol account (FTP account) enables the transfer of files between networked computers by using FTP services. This allows for direct access into your directory, where you can upload, download and delete files. Most importantly FTP is used when developing a website as source files are uploaded to the directory, in fact most of your favourite websites will likely use FTP.

10. Databases

A database is a structured, organized set of data. You can think of it as a bookshelf where the books are data and the shelf are a database table. If a specific piece of data needs to be retrieved the computer accesses the relevant table and retrieves the data.

WordPress uses MySQL as its database management system. MySQL uses Structured Query Language and is also an open source software. It works best with popular open source software, such as Apache web server, PHP, Linux and of course WordPress.

Honourable Mention: Price

Many would consider price to be the most important detail when buying a web hosting package. Getting ‘good value for money’ is a saying many people live by, for good reason too. There’s no worst feeling than signing up to a yearly contract and realising you could have saved money by going with a different provider.

This in mind, always do your research before parting ways with your hard-earned cash!

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