I am using this website as an example of how to host your own website. In this way, you can walk in my footsteps and see how I examined the features offered in various hosting packages, to find the best low-cost web hosting plan for my website.
Choosing a web hosting services company
The first decision you will have to make regarding hosting your website is to find a web hosting service provider. The main factors I used for choosing a web host company was cost, reliability, reputation and customer service.
Web hosting is a very competitive business. As a result, you will find there is little difference in cost when you compare the major companies that provide web hosting. Therefore, when it came down to making my choice for a web hosting provider, I made that decision based on I thought would give me the best service for the money.
When I chose a web hosting services company, I decided on Bluehost. Therefore, I will use Bluehost hosting packages as examples to explain the features you need to consider when choosing a hosting plan.
Why did I choose Bluehost to host this website?
The following is a list of the reasons why I choose Bluehost to host my website:
§ 2Competitive pricing. You can obtain hosting services for as little as $3.49 a month for the basic sharing plan.” I am currently using the “Plus” shared hosting package to host ForPassiveIncome.com. This hosting package costs a couple of dollars more than the basic plan. I suspect my next step will be to either upgrade to the Business Pro sharing package or one of the WordPress hosting plan options.
§ Bluehost has a reputation for providing excellent customer service and support.
§ Bluehost offers 24/7 customer support. You can get support via phone, live chat, or email. They also have a self-help page that offers large variety of articles about issues relating to creating, maintaining and hosting a website
§ Bluehost makes it very easy to scale up and scale down my hosting services depending on my hosting needs.
§ Bluehost offers an anytime money-back guarantee. Most hosting sites only offer refunds during the first thirty days of service; please note that Bluehost refunds are pro-rated for the amount of service not yet used. Also, if you sign up for a free domain, the fee for obtaining the domain name is deducted from a refund if you cancel service after three days of getting the domain name. The reason Bluehost does this is because they cannot unregister the domain name after three days.
§ Bluehost lets you choose how you will renew your hosting. Most hosting sites only offer automatic renewal and make it very difficult to cancel.
General guidelines for choosing the best hosting plan for your website
Choosing a hosting package can be very confusing. What exactly is a Global CDN? Why would I need that feature? Why should I want items such as SSL protocol, or a dedicated IP address? What is the difference between standard and high performance? They all sound very impressive, but do I need them?
In many cases, a website does not need all of the extra bells and whistles offered in higher placed website hosting packages. The following are some general recommendations for choosing the best hosting plan that will solve your hosting needs and not break the bank.
It does not pay to overestimate your hosting needs.
In many ways choosing a hosting plan is much like purchasing a computer. When you purchase a computer, you need to consider how much RAM, memory and processing speed you’ll need to accomplish whatever you plan to use it for. If you are not a gamer, and you are not editing movies, you probably don’t need the top of the line model. It is the same thing with hosting.
For most beginning website owners, the lowest or second lowest shared hosting plans will be more than adequate.
Many people are tempted to upgrade to an expensive hosting package because they are confident that their website is going to be a huge success within a short amount of time. Resist this temptation. You need to be generating serious amounts of web traffic before you need to pay $15 to $60 a month for hosting on a virtual private server, or up to $125 for dedicated web server hosting. If your website runs fine on a $3.95 or $5.95 a month shared hosting plan, don’t change it!
It is very easy to add features or upgrade your hosting plan, as your site grows and becomes more popular.
The good thing about a hosting provider like BlueHost is that they make it very easy to scale up your hosting service as your site gets more and more traffic. In most cases, all it takes is a few mouse clicks or a phone call to upgrade your hosting plan.
Your web hosting services provider will usually give sufficient notice if you need to upgrade your hosting plan.
Unfortunately, there are some hosting service providers that will suspend your website without even a warning if you exceed the amount of resources allowed by your hosting plan. That is why it is so important to use a hosting provider that has a good reputation for customer service. It is also one of the reasons I choose Bluehost for hosting my website.
Hosting services providers, such as Bluehost, continually monitoring the activity of all the websites they are hosting. If they notice your site is about to go over the maximum amount of storage space allowed in your plan, don’t worry, they’ll contact you.
Bluehost will send you an email and give you 48 hours’ notice if they find your site is exceeding the memory space or bandwidth provided in your plan. If you are, that’s good news, not bad news. It means your website is getting lots of traffic. Fortunately, upgrading to the next plan is usually only a couple extra dollars a month.
A comparison of the features offered in the sharing plan options offered by Bluehost
Bluehost’s shared hosting basic plan is more than adequate for many beginning websites.
If you are starting out with a single website or a blog, Bluehost’s shared hosting basic package might be a perfect choice. Even with the basic plan, you will get a free domain name, five email accounts, nightly backups and Bluehost’s famous 24/7 customer support.
Verify that you will have enough website storage.
Probably the biggest disadvantages of the basic shared option are the 50 GB of website storage and standard performance. If your website has many pages, lots of blog posts and tons of embedded pictures or movies, 50 GB of storage space may not be enough.
The best way to tell how much storage you need is to load up your website and check disk space usage on your website’s C-panel. If you have not yet loaded up your web pages, you can right-click on the folder containing your website files, pictures and movies and select “Properties” to view the size of these files.
Another way to get a rough estimate your storage needs is to multiply the number of pages you have in your website by two. According to a 2014 report from the HTTP Archive, the average size of a webpage was 1,935K. Keep in mind that you also need storage space for your database software. Email storage, plugins, and numerous other things.
If you are close to your website storage limit, you may need to upgrade. Bluehost’s next highest tier in shared hosting plans is the “Plus” plan. With this option, you get 150 GB of storage. If you upgrade to Bluehost’s most advanced shared hosting option called “Business Pro,” you get unlimited website storage.
Verify that your web page loading speed is adequate.
Your web page load times will affect your SEO and page ranking.
You need to be especially concerned about page loading speed if your website contains large pages or web pages with lots of embedded pictures and movies. The following is a good article that discusses how to measure your website load times.
Google strongly recommends that your website delivers and renders the above the fold (ATF) content in under one second. This allows your user to begin interacting with the page as soon as possible.
Research using Microsoft’s Bing search engine, found that a two-second delay in page loading speed reduced click-through rates by more than 4%.
You can decrease web page load times by hosting your site on a Global CDN network.
One way to upgrade your page loading speed is to get a hosting plan that has your content stored and delivered by a global Content Delivery Network (CDN). Bluehost offers Global CDN in their Plus, and Business Pro shared hosting packages.
When you host your website on a global CDN, your content is loaded on a network of servers all over the world. This decreases the geographic distance between the server and the user, which increases your page loading speed.
Another advantage of a CDN is that they provide your website with a certain degree of protection from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. When a hacker initiates a DDoS attack, they overwhelm your host server’s ability to download pages to other users. This shutdowns your site because your server is being hit by an overwhelming amount of traffic from multiple sources.
You can increase your page loading speed 5x on Bluehost by getting a high performance shared hosting plan.
The Business Pro Package provides “high-performance” by having 80% fewer accounts per server. This provides more resources to each account. Because of this, a high-performance website will deliver pages to users 5X faster than a website with standard performance.
You can get even higher page uploading with virtual private server (VPS) hosting packages
If you want blazing upload speeds, hosting your site on a VPS server is the way to go.
The performance of VPS servers is faster compared to shared hosting plan because your website is not competing for resources on the server with other sites. On a virtual private server, your site is allocated its own disk space, RAM, bandwidth, and CPUs.
Keep in mind that you don’t really need VPS hosting unless you are getting major web traffic. We are talking about numbers like 100 million to 600 million visits per month. The maximum, number of visits allowed for the lowest shared WordPress VPS package tops out at 100 million.
Do you need a dedicated IP and SSL?
The primary reason you get a dedicated IP address and Secure Layered (SSL) protocol is for processing financial transactions on your website. Personally, I never want to process financial transactions on my website. I do not want the hassle or the responsibility. Target’s and Home Depot’s hacking disasters are still fresh in my mind. As a result, I’ll gladly give major third-party payment processors like PayPal a couple of points to process financial transactions for my website. It avoids liability, and it decreases your customers’ anxiety about going ahead with the transaction.
There are other web hosting providers you may want to consider for getting the best low-cost web hosting for your website.
I used this website and Bluehost to illustrate how to host your own website. There are many other good web hosting providers. Two other good hosting providers that you may want to consider are GoDaddy.
When you examine other hosting providers, you will discover that they provide very similar hosting packages as Bluehost. As a result, the above discussion of the features offered in various hosting packages is pertinent even if you are considering another hosting provider.
The following are links to pages that will provide information about finding and registering your domain name with a hosting provider.
- Choosing a Domain Name for Creating an Ideal Website Address
- How to Find a Keyword-Rich Domain Name to Increase SEO