What is hosting? A hosting company usually has their data center filled with computers called servers. Servers, similarly to your home computer, run their own operating systems and connect to the Internet. When paying for hosting, you’re paying to rent space on their servers – the company allows public access to the servers which is how people find your website online.
So what should you consider when choosing a hosting service?
You should evaluate the security of their service to ensure it aligns with your needs. Some things to consider when looking at security are:
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – You will be able to identify which sites have SSL by the locked padlock in the URL (often green colored) and with the use of HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://. SSL encrypts the path between the browser and server. If you run an e-commerce website or collect any user information on your website you'll want to have SSL. Learn more about it in our previous blog post!
Backups – To protect your website, you’ll want to routinely backup your site in case of accidents, hackers, a computer crash or other problems. Most hosting companies allow you to easily backup your website in the control panels. Backing up your data is critical in the event your computer is hacked or it does crash – you can still retain your important files and documents.
Server Maintenance – Conducting server maintenance is a standard practice for hosting companies. Check to see if your hosting company has a blog or published protocol of when/how they conduct maintenance. For example, PSPInc has a blog which we use to update our clients when we are conducting maintenance.
Types of Hosting
There are a few different types of hosting you need to know about. The first is “shared hosting,” which is the most popular option. Resources on one server are shared among multiple accounts. There may be a maximum amount of space you can use upon shared hosting but this is a more economical choice for most.
A “dedicated server” is a type of Internet hosting that allows clients to pay for their own server, which is not shared with anyone. This gives you full control over the server, and depending on the company, you may be able to decide which operating system and hardware are used. This is mainly used for websites with high volume traffic who need more hosting space.
And finally, “virtual private server (VPS) hosting” is a bit of a grey area that’s in-between shared and dedicated hosting. Although virtual private servers share physical hardware – they function more like dedicated servers. This will bring the cost of hosting down and allow you to control how much RAM (data storage) you are given without having to share that RAM with other accounts.
Support is something that can often be overlooked, but if an issue arises, you’ll want an experienced team behind you. People can visit your website at any time so you’ll want a company with 24/7 customer support for their servers. Most companies will offer phone, email, or chat support.