Choosing web hosting is one of the most important steps on your way to a profitable web business but it can also be one of the most confusing.
The good news is that with a little research you can make sure you’re only paying for the features you need and not paying extra for things you don’t need. That’s the secret to finding yourself affordable web hosting.
Hosting packages come in many variations but for 99% of new startups, sites and blogs Shared Hosting makes the most sense. It’s the least expensive and will give you all the hard disk space and bandwidth you’ll need at launch and for a long time to come.
What About Dedicated Hosting? Won’t I Need That? My Site’s Going to be Huge.
Dedicated server hosting is one of those things that unless you know you need it, you almost certainly don’t. Advances in server technology over the last few years mean shared hosting on a reliable hosting company is a rock solid solution.
For example, the network of site I run get close to a million hits a month but they’re still only using about half the alloted server power on the shared hosting system I use (Media Temple’s Grid Server).
Dedicated servers are generally only needed if you have a site with millions of hits a month or need specialist or complex technical operations to run your site.
Even if you eventually do have millions of visitors a month – and you don’t necessarily need to aim for that to make a good income online – your hosting company can upgrade you to dedicated hosting at the time you need it. Until then, you’ll be saving quite a bit of cash each money by sticking with shared hosting.
Going the dedicated route also means you will be responsible for the boring but vital task like keeping web server software up to date. On shared hosting your provider takes care of that and you have one less thing to worry about.
Very Important Tip
Remember that with shared hosting you’re sharing resources with other users. That means it’s crucial to stick with one of the bigger hosting companies. Although there are many smaller outfits out there, they rarely have the computing power to run a network of shared servers as efficiently as the big companies. That translates to slower loading websites, periods offline and slow-running features and admin panels. So my advice is to stick with the big guys.
Who are the Big Guys in Shared Hosting?
Among the biggest right now are Dreamhost, GoDaddy and Media Temple. These are the companies that are used most by small / medium size businesses and many online entrepreneurs and startups.
Just so you know, I’ve hosted my sites on Dreamhost, GoDaddy and Media Temple and currently use Media Temple.
All three are well-established companies and offer comparable features but there are some differences so let’s compare them in the three most important areas.
There’s not much to choose between here. All the big providers have a similar set of features including a web control panel where you can admin your site, access to databases and one-touch installation of a number of helpful publishing programs like WordPress.
Whichever web hosting company you choose you’ll get access to a web control panel that allows you do things like create email address, access webmail, create databases and check site statistics. Personally, I find the control panel supplied by Dreamhost and Media Temple to be the easiest to use. The GoDaddy control panel always feel a bit a clunky and they have a habit of changing it around every now and then, which used to confuse the hell out of me.
The faster your hosting works the less time your website will take to load. That keeps both your site users happy and search engines who increasingly use site loading time as a factor when ranking sites in search results. Between Dreamhost, GoDaddy and Media Temple I’ve found Media Temple to be the fastest loading with Dreamhost a close second.
Another aspect of performance is site uptime, which means the amount if time your website is online without a break. All web hosts flicker offline every now and again, that can’t be helped, so a certain amount of downtime is inevitable. But obviously we want that to be a minimum. My experience has been that uptime with all three hosting companies has very good to been excellent. That said, I’ve found sites on GoDaddy’s shared hosting plans can be slower loading during peak times.
Having great support is vital. Things go wrong sometimes and when they do you need to know that you can call, email or chat to a support team that cares, will help and is contactable 24 hours a day. Many web publishers wouldn’t consider using using a host that doesn’t have a support phone line. That’s a pretty good rule – a phone call is usually the quickest way to solve a problem or get help.
Support is Dreamhost’s weakest point. Over the last couple of years I’ve found their “support” to be increasingly slow and unhelpful. The exact opposite of what you need , in fact. It’s a shame because I used to happily recommend Dreamhost based largely on excellent support. I can’t do that any more.
GoDaddy support is pretty good – in particular their online guide and knowledge base – but I can’t praise the support team at Media Temple enough. They’re quick, helpful and will often help you fix something that’s not strictly their problem just to get you on the right track again.
GoDaddy, Media Temple, & Dreamhost Compared
You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m going to recommend Media Temple. At $20 a month they’re more expensive than Dreamhost or GoDaddy (who are both around the $8 mark) but for support and reliability I think they’re worth it and after ten years with Dreamhost I’ve now transferred all my sites to Media Temple.
Where to find out more
All these companies have great support and offer a substantial money-back guarantee so you can test drive their services for the first month or two before committing yourself.
*** Using the link above and the coupon code mtaffiliate will get 10% off all MT hosting services ( gs, dv, and ve) every month.
What you get: 100GB Storage Space, 1TB network transfer, up to 100 domains and 1000 email inboxes per account, WordPress one-click install.
GoDaddy Shared Hosting
What you get: 10 GB Storage Space, unlimited bandwidth, 100 email accounts, 10 MySQL databases, 20% discount if you pay for one year in advance, $50 of Facebook Advertising credits, WordPress one-click install.
What you get: unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth, WordPress one-click install.