When you first set out on the path to designing, developing and ultimately launching your new website, there are a few critical decisions that need to be made if you’re to make that entire journey as smooth, cost-effective and hassle-free as possible.
Of course, there’s the fundamental details of your website to consider:
How is it’s going to look?
How will you (or the professional web designer you hire) build it?
How will you create your content?
What is your web address going to be?
Yet before you can even begin all that building and designing and making your new website as awesome as posible, there’s one vital thing you’re going to need to decide on first:
Your web hosting.
The good news is that no matter what kind of site you’re developing, there’s a whole manner of different plans out there to suit your needs.
The bad news, however, is that making sense of all those plans and deciding which is the best web hosting plan for you isn’t always easy.
To help you out then, here’s a few things you might need to know.
You’ll likely see promises of free web hosting plans crop up any time you use Google or another search engine to do your research, before you go jumping right in and using one for your new site, however, we should warn you that with free web hosting, you really do get what you pay for.
In other words, not much.
Often times, free plans come with heavy restrictions on the amount of storage space and bandwidth you’ll have access to.
They also make it pretty difficult to attach your own domain name to your site (unless you upgrade).
Worst of all, many free web hosting companies litter that professional design you invested so much in with third-party advertising, making your whole website looked cluttered, messy and unprofessional.
If you only need something quick and cheap to launch a very basic personal or community site, then going for free hosting might well be enough.
If you’re in business, or otherwise need a professional image for your site, this is one option you should seriously avoid.
As the most low cost kind of paid hosting around, it’s no surprise that shared web hosting is the most widely used type.
With this kind of hosting plan, you basically pay a small fee each month to rent part of a physical server owned by your hosting company.
On that server, there’ll be lots of other websites all on similar plans, and whilst this approach does make it the most affordable option for solid hosting, the shared nature can cause problems if one of your server neighbours suddenly experiences high volume web traffic, reducing that sever’s ability to deliver all the bandwidth resources that your site needs.
If you’re going to go with a shared plan then -and for many small and medium sites this is the one we recommend- you might be better off investigated unlimited plans such as those offered by the likes of iPage and 1&1.
Virtual Private Servers
More commonly referred to simply as VPS hosting, this again involves renting a partition of a server, though in most cases, that partition will be much larger (and your server shared with few other websites) than with shared hosting.
Often acting as a middle ground between shared and dedicated options, with a Virtual Private Server you’ll often get the same kind of affordable pricing and resources of the former with all the flexibility of the latter.
This of course, brings us right onto our last kind of hosting, an entire physical webserver dedicated to you and your website alone.
As with a VPS, this provides greater control so that you can manage your hosting space however you please, along with greatly increased storage, bandwidth and other resources.
Both plans are ideal for those websites that host lots of large files or which receive high traffic volumes on a regular basis, though if cost is a concern, we recommend going for a VPS first, as dedicated hosting is the most expensive kind mentioned here.
What’s your preferrred type of web hosting? Let us know on Twitter @WebDesignDIY or join in the conversation on Facebook. Alternatively, send us your burning questions about web hosting and we’ll aim to answer them in an upcoming post here on Web Design DIY.