Last time we looked at whether you or your designer should host your website (Missed it? Check it here.) And if you’ve decided to host it yourself, now you need to choose the right website hosting package. Today I’ll share my tips for finding a suitable package, along with some recommended companies you can check out.
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Let’s get started!
Do I get my domain and hosting from the same company?
Nope. You totally don’t have to. Some people actually prefer to get them from different companies, as if you spread all your website-related services around different companies, if there’s a problem with one aspect, the others will be unaffected.
But it can sometimes be easier to get them from the same company – like if you want to manage everything in the same place with only one password to remember. Sometimes you can also get your domain name free for the first year when you buy hosting, so it’s usually worth shopping around.
Tip: Getting a free domain name is a good way to save money, and using a cashback site is another one. Search for hosting companies through sites like TopCashback* and you can end up saving even more.
But there are times that I do definitely recommend using different providers – like when a client comes to me and has already bought a domain name from GoDaddy, for example. Different companies have different server setups (think of the server as a big-ass computer that your hosting account is stored on) and this means you can get some quirks, like some plugins not working the way you expect them to.
In the past I’ve found these kind of quirks on GoDaddy so I don’t recommend using them for hosting. Same goes for Namesco. They’re both absolutely fine for domain names though.
Which company should I use?
Not all hosting companies are created equal. When you’re checking out a hosting company, as well as looking at the specifics of each hosting package, look at things like support options.
Do they offer 24/7 support? How about Live Chat help? And if they don’t offer 24/7 support, where are they based? If they’re in a different time zone than you, you’ll need to wait until they’re open to get help, which may be outside your normal working hours.
Also check out reviews, testimonials and search for what their customers are saying about them. If their Facebook or Twitter profiles are full of frustrated messages from customers that aren’t getting help, that’s generally a red flag.
And when you’re comparing prices, is that package a bargain because it’s on special offer? Offering a really low introductory rate is common, then when renewal time comes, the price shoots up horribly. Unless you’re happy to move your website every year to take advantage of cheap introductory offers, check you’ll be happy with the renewal costs.
Are there any technical requirements for my site?
WordPress has some technical requirements to run properly, which are:
- PHP version 7.2 or greater.
- MySQL version 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB version 10.0 or greater.
- HTTPS support
Note that WordPress will run on older versions of PHP, like 5.7+, but you may run into problems with some plugins if they stop supporting the older versions. It’s also better for the security of your site to be using up to date software, and you should also benefit from faster loading times with versions 7+.
See the full details of WordPress’ requirements here.
When comparing hosting packages, read through the technical specs and you’ll usually find things like PHP and MySQL listed as features that a package does or doesn’t have.
WordPress also runs better on Linux servers, so make sure you don’t sign up for a package on a Windows server.
To make things easier though, most decent hosting companies offer the easy 1-click install options for WordPress. In the features, that’ll be listed as things like:
- OneClick App Installer,
- 1-click WordPress installer,
- Or WordPress may be specifically listed as a feature.
If you see that, the package should be WordPress-ready.
What kind of hosting package should I get?
There are different types of hosting accounts, which offer different benefits. The two you’re most likely to be considering at this point are:
This is the most popular type of hosting as it’s super affordable. With Shared Hosting, your account is on the same server as a whole load of other accounts, which means the hosting company can offer the service for a better price.
While many of these accounts offer unlimited resources, there’s usually a fair use policy in place. So if your site starts to use up too many resources, like if you have a massive surge in visitors, this can affect the performance of not only your site, but the other sites hosted on the same server. If this becomes a problem, your hosting company may ask you to upgrade your account.
But as this isn’t going to happen overnight, Shared Hosting is a great place to start for small businesses and bloggers.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress Hosting is usually more expensive than Shared Hosting. This is because the hosting company is more hands-on with your site – so, more work for them means higher bills for you.
Your hosting company will manage the more technical parts of running WordPress, such as updates, backups, security, and you’ll also have access to a support department with WordPress specialists.
While all that is fab, the price can be a barrier. And sometimes your hosting company can block you installing specific plugins if, for example, they feel they might slow down your site. Plus, if you want to handle the backups, updates etc yourself, Managed Hosting probably isn’t for you.
Do I need an SSL certificate?
It used to be only sites that handled sensitive data needed an SSL certificate (like ecommerce sites, forums, etc) but these days it’s a good idea for every site to use one. Google wants us all to move towards a more secure internet experience and presumably the other search engines will follow suit soon.
In the Chrome browser, sites without an SSL are now showing as ‘Not Secure’, which may put off some users, while the green ‘Secure’ padlock not only creates a good first impression of your site and business, it also gives you an SEO boost as Google likes secure sites.
Which means that even if you’re only creating a simple brochure-style site or a blog, getting an SSL certificate is a good idea.
Many hosting packages come with free basic SSL certificates. However, not all hosts offer it, so check to see if SSL is an added extra, or included in the package.
What about email?
Getting a branded email address to go with your site is important. It means you can stop using your Gmail/Yahoo one and get one that looks like ‘email@example.com’, and let’s face it, it just looks so much more professional.
Hosting packages generally include at least one email address, but some do limit the features you can use or the number of email addresses you can create. So check to see what’s included and if it will cover your needs.
What if I want to have more than one website?
Basic hosting packages will usually let you host one website. Which is perfect if you have simple needs.
But if you have more than one site, or you think you might later, you don’t necessarily need to buy a separate hosting package for each site. Look past the basic, cheapest options to the more advanced hosting packages. You’ll often find that by paying a little extra for a bigger package, you can run multiple sites on it.
Recommended hosting companies
Over the years I’ve worked on a lot of websites, using quite a few different hosting companies. These are all ones that have worked for me and my clients:
I’ve also heard great things about:
- EcoHosting.co.uk (carbon neutral web hosting – how cool is that?!)
- WPEngine (if you fancy managed hosting, these guys are super-popular)
Let’s build you a site
Now that you’ve got your hosting package sorted, it’s time to get crackin’ on building your site. If you’d like to work together, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch for a chat about how we can create an awesome new site for your business.
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