After buying your domain name from a registrar, your next step is to look for a host which will store all your blog files for you. This is more for bloggers who opt to have their blogs run on WordPress.org instead of Blogger.
Just like choosing a domain registrar, it’s important that you also carefully evaluate your hosting options. Choosing the wrong host can be catastrophic for your site. Examples of issues or problems that can stem from bad hosts are:
- frequent hacking incidents due to poor server security
- loss of site files with no option to recover them
- poor to no customer support especially after a serious server problem
- poor uptime
Of course, no host is 100% perfect and immune to problems, but a one host can mean a world of difference to another and good hosts usually weather technical issues better than others. To choose a web host, here are some basic considerations that you should have in mind:
Uptime / Reliability
A host should be able to guarantee that it’ll be up for close to 100% of the time. The reason for this should be obvious. If you’ve got a popular site with a steady stream of visitors, you’d want your site to be around when they get there. Uptime rate is even more important if your site offers a service or sells a product.
You should want to be with a host that will quickly reply to your tickets or have a working live chat service. HostGator is one of those services that has such a feature so you get instant access to a customer service representative when there’s a problem. Ideally, customer support should also not just help you resolve possible issues but be able to address technical questions for you as well.
How do you find out if a host has a good support system if you’ve never tried them before? You can search for reviews on your host options. You can’t miss mentions of bad customer support. Customers are bad to complain a lot about this in forums, blogs and review sites.
Hosts with servers that aren’t secure are always vulnerable to hackers. You’d be lucky if you get hacked but retain your core files and databases. A severe attack on a badly protected server can easily result in the loss of everything on your blog.
If you’re not a techie, it’s not easy to figure out if a host has secure servers or not. Again it would be a good idea to conduct a thorough Google search on your host prospects.
Ease of Use
Different hosts offer different ways for users to setup sites and manage databases, emails and files. If you’re not a tech expert and you’re new to blogging, go for a host that offers cPanel. This is perhaps one of the most user friendly options.
In some quarters this is called bandwidth, although experts point out that this is not an accurate term. To make things simple, it’s best to understand the concept by remembering that this is related to the amount of traffic and downloads allowed for your site. The more visitors and downloads you expect to get on your site, the more bandwidth you need.
Some hosts offer unlimited bandwidth but there is no host that can truly provide this. Those that advertise unlimited offers have assessed that it’s safe to offer “unlimited” because most site owners never really consume a lot of bandwidth. Once your site grows in popularity and hits a certain ceiling though, they’ll let you know you’re already consuming too much of the so called unlimited bandwidth.
If you don’t plan to amass hundreds of thousands of followers, it’s okay to go for reputable hosts that offer “unlimited” bandwidth. Or you can go for a host with a limited bandwidth package and then just upgrade or move on to one that offers more when your visitors have increased. Just keep in mind though that moving from a small host to a bigger one can be technically difficult if you’re not naturally good with technical details.
Just like bandwidth, some hosts offer unlimited storage. Again this isn’t entirely true. Hosts bank on the idea that most site owners don’t consume a lot of space. When you do however reach whatever the limit of unlimited is, you will find yourself unable to store more files or publish posts.
Again, you can start with a small storage space plan and then upgrade later or move to a host that offers more.
These are only some of the basic points to think about when choosing a host. The more technically oriented bloggers however might also want to consider such factors as access to .htaccess, secure servers and permission to install scripts. For now however, you can just focus on the factors mentioned above to choose your first host.