Amidst the plethora of web hosting services, how does one choose a domain hosting service that not only offers value for money, but is also dependable?
The biggest dilemma for many people setting up their first web site is to choose a hosting service. For some, their Internet Service Provider might seem obvious. Most people, however, realise, or come to realise, that a dedicated hosting service offers a more professional solution. One of the major concerns, for example, is that of the domain naming convention. The ISP tends to provide a restricted domain name, while a dedicated hosting service offers a name of your choice, restricted only by the requirement for uniqueness.
Put ‘web hosting’ into your favourite search engine and prepared to be blinded by thousands of hits. Which do you choose?
When there are so many to choose from, you might first look to those that appear as adverts on search engines like Google. They often quote prices. There are also comparison sites that offer their considered Top 10 hosting services with reviews. Even so, how do you know that they have included and marked all offerings? How do you know that they are being totally independent? After all, they have to fund their website costs somehow.
As you visit each provider’s website and view their offerings, you start to assimilate the major differences. Some services offer unlimited web space or perhaps unlimited bandwidth. Others might offer megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB) of one or the other, or both. Each plan has a price. What does all this mean and what is value for money?
Most websites can operate on less than 100MB of web space. The SilkLink site is testament to this fact. At the time of writing this article, SilkLink.co.uk was using just 15% of its allotted 250MB of web space. It has a blog, a database or two, plus all of its marketing web pages, which is probably more than most websites. While some might laugh in the face of such a lowly limit, the more sensible majority might consider anything more than 250MB a complete waste, especially if you are paying for it. Web hosts, of course, know this. While they offer 100GB or unlimited space, they seriously do not expect everyone to use it all. Can you imagine the storage space, plus the backup storage space that it would require to support 1000 customers?
For most websites, bandwidth is not an issue. If you are a shop or local business, the amount of traffic being generated by your website, even if it is eCommerce enabled, is unlikely to put a sizeable dent into the monthly quotas of most web host offerings. Let’s quantify that statement.
You have a website that has a few pages that serve up images of what you have to sell. Assume that each visitor, on average, views three of your pages and thirty thumb images and five larger images.
3 web pages at 10KB each = 30KB
Stylesheet files (hidden but necessary) = 10KB
30 thumb images at 10KB each = 100KB
5 large format images at 50KB each = 250KB
Total = 390KB – let’s call it 500KB for nice round conservative figures
For a monthly quota of 1GB, that’s 1,000,000 kilobytes (KB), you could serve 2,000 average visitors each month. Most website owners would be happy with a fraction of that. In fact, from statistics we have seen, as many as 10,000 monthly visitors generate less than 500MB of data on websites that serve up lots of information, as opposed to marketing or even eCommerce sites. Only larger eCommerce sites akin to Amazon and eBay that have hundreds of lines to choose between need to get serious about bandwidth.
So, what does all this mean? In short, it is about matching a hosting plan to the near-future needs of your website. Anything more than this is simply throwing good money into the ether. You could pay £4 per month, which is considered a good price, for 1GB of web space. Alternatively, you could pay £2 per month for 500MB and still have lots more space than you actually need. The same can be said for bandwidth.
It is also important to choose a hosting service that can grow with your needs. Many service providers offer just one solution, which is often a great priced, unlimited space and bandwidth package. Prices tend to start from as low as £3.50. If you are a heavy user, this is a great deal.
What if you could get a basic plan for just £1 per month? Well, Compila offers such a plan. For £12 plus VAT per year, you get a free new or transferred domain name, 100MB of web space and unlimited bandwidth. Pay £19 plus VAT and get MySQL databases, unlimited email accounts and 500MB of web space. And so it grows. Pay a bit more and get a bit more.
Compila is good news for web masters. If you are starting out, it can take months for your site to get noticed and even more months for the hit count to grow. Why pay premium prices for junior websites?
Of course it isn’t just about bandwidth and web space. What about the service? We need to consider ‘up-time’, normally measured as a percentage. Compila has a 99.9% up-time guarantee.
Think about support and what might happen if you need help or if things go wrong. Like many hostingservices, Compila offer 24-hour support with its ticket service. Issues are logged on-line and then someone will get back to you with an email response within a few hours.
There are few host services that match up to Compila. Even if you try them and then wish to move away, they don’t charge.