In these testing times, many businesses across the world are looking for an affordable web hosting service to house their sites. However, all the success of your websites might be in jeopardy if you decide to pick a cheap and unreliable host provider. For this reason, you may want to think long and hard before embarking on your search for a reliable web hosting service.
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What is web hosting?
For a businessman to be able to put a website for your business online, he/she needs storage space for it. Theoretically, this could even be at home on your home PC. But since your PC is usually not online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year without the downtime and with an uninterrupted and consistently high-performance Internet connection, you rent this storage space in a server center.
These are designed with several redundant high-speed Internet access points and are primarily located near Internet hubs. These centers are excellently protected against data theft and failures through the highest security technology, optimal air conditioning, and location-independent backups.
So what really matters when it comes to choosing reliable web hosting providers for your business website? The most important decision criteria for good hosting are the following:
Lousy Neighborhood – The bad neighborhood on your server
The location is one of the most important decision criteria when you decide to open an office or shop and rent commercial space for it. Your neighbors also play a significant role. The strategy of opening a boutique fashion store in a neighborhood made up of gambling halls, tattoo parlors, pubs, and tobacconists would probably not be crowned with success.
The same applies to your website. Every server on the Internet can be located using a unique IP address. It is the unique identifier in a network. Your website is always available for access on such a server, but as a rule, not only your website is on this server, but dozens or even hundreds of other websites. Incidentally, a so-called “IP reverse lookup” can even be used to find out which websites these are. Give it a try; you’ll be amazed who shares the server with you.
Basically, this is a good thing because the operators can split the costs for such a server among many customers, which can significantly reduce the individual costs every month. But this hosting option – one speaks of the so-called shared web hosting – has not only inexpensive advantages but also some disadvantages.
More on shared resources later, but the lousy neighborhood problem describes a different issue. Since every server in the network can be assigned via an IP address, this is also done for pages that a search engine does not want to have in its search index. This could be, for example:
- Pornographic Sites
- Sites that distribute malware
- Sites that distribute spam messages
- Violent Pages
- Websites with extremist content
- Phishing sites
No search engine wants to display all of these pages to its searchers, so they are blocked as best as possible using filters. Search engines infer from one website to the other. If a website spreads spam messages, it is only logical for the search engines that all other websites on this server cannot be of good quality.
Unfortunately, this is all too often the case in practice. Web hosting services phishing websites often host not just one website but hundreds of pages of this type. For this reason, this is a proven technique. It only becomes difficult if you have good intentions with your website, but a phishing website, for example, is up to mischief on the same shared server.
As a result, your ranking often does not achieve the desired result, although you have done everything right. The big problem, in this case, is that you usually don’t notice anything from this phishing site. You can only avoid this if you choose a web host for your company who does not care about every customer and who puts quality over quantity or the lowest possible monthly price. These hosters check, for example, when an order is placed, whether it is from a real customer.
In addition, with intelligent scanners, you not only ensure that viruses and malware are found and deleted very quickly, but you also check the incoming traffic for irregularities. Due to these security aspects, some companies also use their server.
Webspace – Amount and type of storage
When it comes to storage space or web space, it is supposedly easy; the more, the better, right? But as you can probably imagine, it’s not easy and shouldn’t be. When it comes to reliable web hosting, it always depends on what you intend to do, and it is actually not uncommon for less to be more.
With typical web hosting services, you now get 10 to 100 GB of web space or storage space for your homepage and email content, even with minor contracts. It depends on what content your website provides.
If you mainly want to provide your customers with text-heavy content and work with images here and there, even a 10 GB web hosting package from web hosting services is incredibly long for your file volume. However, the situation is different if you want to offer memory-intensive files such as videos, multimedia content such as virtual tours, or larger software packages for download.
However, a lot has happened in storage in recent years. Many reliable web hosting providers can only realize these low prices because numerous customers are on one server simultaneously and share the hard drive there. This is divided into areas, which are then assigned to a respective hosting.
Unfortunately, this leads to a speed problem. As we know, hard disks with a classic rotating disk or multiple disks and a read/write head are now very cheap but also very slow in reading and write access.
Modern storage is based on so-called SSDs. These storage solutions no longer have moving parts and are therefore significantly faster because no read head has to move to a specific position but are also significantly more expensive.
The range is now enormous, from old SSD storage connected via SATA cable to modern PCI Express solutions. However, it is difficult for the user to compare here because both the extremely fast modern SSDs and the older, slower storage solutions are always called “SSDs” in the article description of the hosting. However, the difference in speed is enormous, as is the monthly price.
Web hosting services providers who want to win as many customers as possible rely on the cheapest possible hard drives for hosting the files and, due to increasing market pressure for databases (which are required for most websites), on inexpensive SSD solutions.
It is, therefore, better to opt for faster memory and save on quantity when it comes to web hosting. A classic website needs less web or storage space than you might think. Investing more in web hosting and using a fast storage solution is better than saving a few euros here and accepting slower loading times.
You can also call your reliable web hosting providers to find the storage solutions and packages you use. The descriptions on your provider’s website are often written in such a way that they are not very revealing as to the actual speed. By the way, good web hosts and hosting providers have nothing to hide here and clearly state which storage solutions are used.
Shared Web Hosting
Classic web hosting is usually a so-called “shared hosting,” where several customers share a server to reduce the monthly costs. While some resources can be shared very well because, for example, the processor can process several tasks simultaneously, other resources can only be shared very poorly. This applies, for example, to the hard disk, which cannot carry out multiple writes or read accesses simultaneously.
Therefore, pay attention to how many other customers you would share the server with when hosting. A reliable web hosting service makes no secret of this and discloses this information publicly. Logically, there are usually fewer customers on the more expensive packages, so the resources are shared among fewer customers.
In exceptional cases, such as with cloud hosting, for example, at Amazon AWS, this information is not available because, in this complex network, there are always enough resources available for any number of customers simultaneously.
However, smaller providers in particular usually still have classic web servers in their server rooms, which are then used by 100 customers at the same time, for example. These 100 customers share all resources of the shared server and thus enable the operator to.
When choosing your reliable web hosting service, ensure that there are as few customers as possible on your web server. In the ideal case, you are alone on your web server. If this information is not included in the description of the web hosting, please ask your provider.
You can check this point relatively quickly, but unfortunately, it is neglected by many when comparing hosting. The term “traffic” is used in web hosting to describe the total amount of data traffic that runs through your package.
So all the sum of all data that customers download or that you as a company or your customers upload to the website. In times of Internet flat rates, this is almost always a flat rate for hosting as well.
If your tariff still has a traffic limit, please check critically whether this tariff is still up-to-date. The exceptions are scalable cloud hosting solutions such as Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure. These scalable solutions are often calculated according to your actual consumption, and the total traffic is an important feature.
Registration And Maintenance Costs
When considering reliable web hosting services, it’s important to consider the registration and maintenance costs. Many web hosting services require a monthly subscription fee, while others may require you to pay for each month of use.
Additionally, some hosting services may require you to maintain your account in good standing in order to continue using the service. Furthermore, some hosting services may have additional fees, such as bandwidth or storage space requirements. It’s important to review the hosting service’s terms and conditions before signing up to avoid any surprises.
As a rule, you not only rent storage space for your website from a web host, but you also get e-mail boxes and many email forwarding options that you can use as you wish. These mailboxes can be called up traditionally via IMAP or POP3.
However, this article does not want to deal with these possibilities in more detail. What you should bear in mind with email hosting is that you can send your emails in encrypted form and your reliable web hosting offers the option of storing so-called DKIM and SPF records. These entries offer the possibility of verifying the authenticity of emails.
In this way, you can significantly increase the delivery rates of newsletters or e-mails that are sent, for example, via your website or online shop.
Security provided by your reliable web hosting service
Let’s get to a crucial point about your reliable web hosting. The security of your website always depends in part on your web host. The free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate should now be standard and can be ordered directly from the web host. This certificate ensures that all data transmitted between your server and your customers’ browsers are encrypted. As a result, the data, in particular personal data or payment data, are much better protected against unauthorized access.
Other protective mechanisms should also be standard with reliable web hosting. This includes, for example, defending against attacks in which hundreds of computers automatically call up your website simultaneously to overload them in a targeted manner. Good web hosts recognize such attacks and specifically block the repeated calls.
The virus protection should also constantly scan all data on the server in real-time.
The server availability of your web hosting
There are also big differences in terms of availability. Anyone who has ever experienced how their company is virtually unable to act due to an Internet connection failure knows what economic consequences such a failure can have.
Therefore, save a few dollars by not underestimating this effect on your website development. Please convert the theoretical downtime into hours or even days. An uptime of 99% means that the website can theoretically be offline for almost four days. It becomes clear how serious a four-day downtime can be if you imagine the turnover generated in a web shop in four days, for example, in the run-up to Christmas.
But it is not only the loss of sales that weighs heavily but also the loss of trust that your customers suffer, which causes displeasure in your customers. Therefore, make sure you have an annual average availability of at least 99.9%. This reduces the theoretical downtime to a few hours. Incidentally, good web hosting services also guarantee this availability in their terms and conditions. You can also use search engines to find information about the availability of significant providers very quickly.
Incidentally, the low-cost mass suppliers, in particular, are committed to a maximum of 99% on an annual average. It’s best to stay away from this. The difference to 99.9% hosting is usually in the single-digit euro range per month.
By the way, there are many reasons for downtime, and times when a website is not available. In addition to a classic hardware defect, power failures, fires, or server overload can always occur. Good providers are therefore always equipped with redundant systems and have developed processes to prevent the server from being overloaded. Of course, this redundancy costs money and is always reflected in the final price. Therefore, always be aware that a low hosting price is almost always associated with availability restrictions.
A web server is basically nothing more than a computer that can be accessed via the Internet. Appropriate software is installed on it, making it possible for the user to see a website when calling this computer.
Again, there are big differences in web hosting. Regular websites usually run on PHP. The development language, invented in 1994 and is more than 25 years old, is still the language par excellence on the web. Almost 80% of all websites worldwide are implemented with PHP. This is not the least because most of the most common CMS systems on the market, such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Contao, and Typo3, are based on PHP.
When choosing your hosting, you should therefore attach great importance to the reliable web hosting providers quickly supporting new PHP versions. New versions of the development language are not only associated with new functions for programmers but mostly with performance improvement.
Services and support
The service and support from your reliable web hosting provider can make a big difference to your business. Inexpensive mass web hosting services, in particular, rely on call centers with poorly trained employees for first-level support, the employees who answer the phone first if you have a problem. Although this lowers the costs, it often leads to frustration and more comprehensive solutions on your part, especially regarding real hosting problems.
A reliable web hosting service already has trained technicians and specialists in first-level support who can often solve problems with the first call and, if not, at least know which department to forward the call to. This saves you time-consuming poking around in the dark. Please do not underestimate the topic because for a website that is visited often; there are inevitable cases where support is needed. The more flexible and experienced they can react, the better.
An example from our day-to-day work is the flexibility needed when there is a television report on a company. In this case, you have to reckon with very high numbers of visits to the website and plan for them in advance if possible. Good support helps here and flexibly provides an upgrade for the broadcast period.
Another case that you don’t want to experience, but which still happens, again and again, is, for example, finding a malicious file on the server. In such a case, you need support that reacts quickly and can also say how the file got on the server and what potential damage it could have caused.
The non-functioning of website functions is a common reason you must contact support. You cannot often make all the settings on a web server yourself, but you need an administrator who does this for you. A sound supporting system can play a significant role in decoding a problem fast.
There are also big differences in the setting options among the reliable web hosting providers. FTP access or databases can be created very quickly with almost all providers. However, pay more attention to the more professional features here. These are, for example:
- Create and manage SSH access
- Enable two-factor authentication
- Store DNS settings
- Manage backups
- Manage cron jobs
- Migration assistants
- Transitional domains
- SSL certificates
These setting options are used frequently, especially in more professional use, and should therefore be standard with every good web host. If these examples are only available via the hotline or email support, it is best to stay away from such a provider.
Location of hosting (GDPR)
Also, when choosing your reliable web hosting, always keep an eye on the exact location of the hosting. This is important for two reasons. The server location should be as close as possible to the location of your customers, as this allows for shorter loading and response times for the website.
On the other hand, this is also due to the fact that the GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, applies within the EU. All providers within European borders have to adhere to this, which increases data security enormously. There are also some legal pitfalls when hosting outside of the EU. With the Privacy Shield, there is an agreement under which the USA guarantees the protection of personal data, but this too, like the “Safe Harbor” agreement, can be overturned in court.
If you thought that choosing a reliable web hosting service was a dry topic, then you were probably right, but it is definitely important and, unfortunately, an often underestimated topic. In this area, in particular, every dollar invested can make a big difference in terms of reliability and performance. Do not save at the wrong end here, but as a business customer, always opt for professional web hosting for your company.