12 FAQs About The Best Web Hosting Services
Whether you’re setting up an online business or personal blog, everyone wants to have the best web hosting to support their web experience. Your choice of web hosting provider influences all the internal operations of your online presence that lead to success, including page-loading speed and site availability. Essentially, your hosting plan is the backbone of your website.
Finding a hosting service that best suits your needs is crucial. But the search isn’t always easy and may even feel overwhelming, especially when you don’t know what you’re looking for or lack the decision-making details.
If you’re having trouble differentiating or choosing plans, let us answer some of the most asked questions about web hosting to help you get started.
What Is Web Hosting?
Before you identify the best hosting service for your next project, you must first understand the basics of web hosting.
Surely, no one wants to make a purchase without knowing how the product or service will serve them. So let us give you the breakdown on web hosting.
Defined simply, web hosting is a service that stores and maintains files that make up a website. A web host provides users with the necessary hardware, storage, and bandwidth to publish webpages and maintain an online presence. Without web hosting, a website cannot be accessible on the internet.
Web hosting is powered by servers (read: computers). When purchasing a hosting plan, you rent space on a server, leveraging its computing power and disk space to store your website files and data. The server then transfers the files needed to load your website when someone clicks on it.
- Shared hosting means you rent a portion of a server, which is shared with other customers. Much like renting an apartment rather than purchasing a house, you enjoy a much lower annual cost, but you run the risk of “noisy neighbors” influencing your environment. Security, storage, and bandwidth are limited to match the lower price point.
- Dedicated hosting means you rent or purchase an entire server, as you would buy a single-family home, dedicated to serving your web project needs. The hardware performance and bandwidth options are limitless, and the price will follow suit.
- VPS hosting means a physical machine or server is partitioned into a virtual private server (VPS). This is the happy medium between shared and dedicated server hosting. You’re shielded from the security risks and performance limitations of a shared hosting environment, but you’re not saddled with the full weight of a dedicated server and its associated costs.
Using hosting services allows you to access their resources to power and secure your website operations. A web hosting company also simplifies the hosting process by providing physical server maintenance, backup power supply, stable connection, technical support, and static IP addresses.
Regardless of the hosting type you choose, you’ll see the same feature sets and key phrases in the plan breakdowns. A hosting provider includes these general resources:
- Random Access Memory (RAM): RAM is the short-term memory a computer uses to process multiple requests. It holds the necessary data to upload a website.
- Central Processing Units (CPUs): CPUs handle the processing of a website and carry out the various functions to make a website available to users. A typical CPU has two cores. Additional cores boost the processing power, helping your server handle more requests with faster speed.
- Storage Space: The storage space can determine how much a website can grow. Maximum storage capacity for websites is usually measured in Gigabytes.
Your project needs, including the RAM, CPU, and disk space requirements, will help you determine whether to go with dedicated, VPS, or shared hosting. Each web hosting type brings its own flavor and strengths to meet different needs. Below we break down the advantages and disadvantages of each hosting type.
What Features Should I Look for in a Web Hosting Plan?
Web hosting plans offer an abundance of features included, from SSD storage to unlimited bandwidth. When choosing a hosting provider, it comes down to prioritizing what meets your needs. For instance, an up-and-coming blogger won’t need the same features as a mature small business that offers multiple products or services.
A user with limited coding skills may require an extensive site builder application. A small bakery owner might use eCommerce hosting and plugins to display the bakery’s catalog properly. A larger business with many customers will need high-level data protection to secure its operations.
But before selecting the customer-specific features, all online ventures need the absolute essentials. Without the basics, a website can’t run efficiently. Every user should look for dependable uptime, security and protection, ample or unlimited storage, bandwidth, and memory.
If you’re a first-time hosting customer, shared hosting is probably your best bet. When browsing plans, keep an eye out for these hosting feature staples:
- Free domain name registration (at least for the first year)
- Free SSL certificate
- Built-in website builder that supports drag-and-drop editing
- Easy integration with popular apps such as WordPress or Magento
- The ability to host unlimited domains and email accounts
- Ample storage space: minimum 50GB (many hosts offer unlimited disk space)
- Free trial or 30-day money-back guarantee
These essentials can also come in levels with different plans such as lower storage and memory on a cheaper hosting plan. If a hosting plan lacks basic features, it may not be the best web hosting choice because you’ll probably have to pay additional fees to get add-ons usually included for no cost from another hosting platform.
Just as some restaurant menus will whet your appetite more than others, some web hosts make juicy bonus features available. If you see any of these options on the menu, you’re on the right track:
- Complimentary website migration or transfer done by experts
- Host unlimited websites on a single account
- Automatic software updates for WordPress users (WordPress Core and plugins)
- Routine website backups
- Expert support for triaging technical difficulties
- 24/7/365 customer support via live chat, phone, and email
Above all, users should look for the best features to drive their business or online web presence.
What is the Difference Between a Shared Hosting Plan and a Dedicated Server?
Shared hosting and dedicated hosting are true opposites in nature. People use them for various purposes, but they’re usually used to solve the problem the other can’t accommodate.
Shared hosting is precisely what it sounds like. So don’t worry about remembering its meaning. The shared web hosting process consists of running more than one website on one server. In other words, multiple users or websites share that singular server space.
A dedicated server lies on the opposite side of the spectrum. Dedicated hosting allows users to access a whole server for their individual use. So no sharing of a server for them.
Each of these hosting plans comes with its benefits and drawbacks. Dedicated servers require more technical expertise to maintain and manage, but users can leverage better performance because they have the whole server to themselves.
Shared hosting users are more likely to endure latency because of the noisy neighbor syndrome. The noisy neighbor effect occurs when an account uses a majority of a server’s resources and reduces network performance for the other accounts on the shared infrastructure. A lack of bandwidth is often the culprit of the noisy neighbor syndrome.
The main factors in deciding between these two hosting types comes down to budget size and use case. If you have a business that thrives off incoming traffic, you will probably want to invest in a dedicated server to sustain security and uptime. A user with a lower budget who can rely on fewer resources, including RAM, data, and CPU, will benefit from a shared hosting plan.
What’s the Difference Between a Site Builder and a Web Hosting Service?
A site builder and a web hosting service are both essential to the success of a website. Without them, no website would exist. Although they often come in a package deal, they serve entirely different functions.
A website builder helps create the external view of a site, while the hosting service handles the technical aspects that you usually don’t see. The service takes the responsibility of powering websites, so you can have a website to display and design with a site builder.
A few popular examples of a site builder are Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly. These companies provide users with the tools to build professional websites with tons of features and templates to simplify the web design process. Site builders help you display your personalized touch even if you have no coding or design skills.
But website builders also deliver a hosting experience. Although their hosting may not be the most efficient, it is much more simplified and streamlined than hosting from actual providers. No need to worry about managing any server process.
Web hosting solutions from standalone providers are usually more affordable and allow you to have more control over the technical components. Users can also create and host multiple websites and transfer their sites to a new host if needed, rather than be bound to the website builder.
Some web hosting providers, including GoDaddy and HostGator, offer a site builder application with their hosting services. In contrast, others may offer third-party sourced builders as a complimentary add-on to their packages.
Is a Domain Name Included With Web Hosting?
Domain names are a significant pillar of a website’s branding. They help distinguish a site from the rest of the pack, and selecting the right one can make a huge difference. Choosing a memorable domain name can contribute to better traffic and word-of-mouth referrals, building your brand, and increasing sales. Similar to hosting, a domain name is vital to website creation.
For instance, people are more inclined to click on a .com web extension over other variants, such as .net and .xyz, in a web search because it is more familiar, according to Talkroute. The .com extension makes up 75% of all domain extensions. You can follow a few strategies to help you succeed at choosing a valuable domain name.
Here are some best web hosting rules for domains:
- Use a .com extension,
- Avoid numbers or dashes,
- Stay clear of trademarks,
- Select a brandable or discoverable name.
Most web hosting companies provide domain name registration with their packages. Web hosting providers will either have their own registrar or provide one through a third-party source.
As for how domain registration works, it’s pretty simple. You can either retrieve a domain name through your hosting provider (which can also be a registrar) or an ICANN-accredited domain registrar. But it is usually much easier to register through your hosting company to manage everything under one account.
When you pick a web address, your registrar will send your information to the registry for the domain. The registry is the organization that manages top-level domain names and works with registrars to sell domain names. Once the registry completes the request, it will store the domain information in its database.
Domain names typically cost $14.99 per year. But some web hosts offer the value-add of free domain name registration for a year or more, depending on the hosting plan. And if you switch hosting providers, you can usually keep your domain name, though there may be a non-refundable domain fee. Companies, including Bluehost and InMotion Hosting, provide a free domain name when you sign up with them.
The domain name owner or registrant is responsible for renewing the domain registration, managing the domain name’s settings, and communicating updates to the registrar. The registrar will then send any changes to the registry for a database update.
What is VPS Hosting, and Who Needs It?
Narrowing down a hosting option from an abundance of choices can be challenging. But knowing your priorities can make the choice a lot simpler. If privacy ranks high on your list, you should definitely look into VPS hosting.
VPS hosting is a balance between shared hosting and a dedicated server. VPS stands for “virtual private server.” It allows users to gain an isolated portion of a physical server with their own resources. This way, VPS hosting provides better reliability, security, and performance than does shared hosting but with a lower cost than dedicated hosting.
Users also don’t have to worry about server neighbors. VPS hosting allows you to have independence, install applications, and fully control your server environment.
VPS hosting usually aligns best with specific use cases. Because it provides greater flexibility and customization, VPS hosting works best for software engineers and web designers who need to install custom modules, frameworks, and applications. Being technically apt usually allows you to leverage and manage the best of VPS capabilities and customizations.
But you can use the services of your web hosting company if you don’t have the technical expertise or time to handle your dedicated server space.
For those looking for scalability, VPS hosting also allows you to scale your resources up or down as needed without switching servers. So this feature can benefit a business as it goes through massive growth or even operations downsizing.
VPS hosting is also more secure than shared hosting because it gives you root access for advanced security integration while allowing you to access the underlying operating system.
What is the Difference Between Cloud Hosting and Traditional Hosting?
Cloud hosting is a form of hosting that makes websites accessible through cloud resources. Instead of a single server infrastructure, cloud hosting leverages a network of connected virtual and physical servers to deploy solutions and host applications and websites.
Your hosting environment isn’t limited to on-premises server management with cloud hosting. The flexibility of the cloud allows users to scale to their needs easily without worrying about hardware upgrades.
Many companies have migrated to the cloud over the years as cloud hosting gains dominance globally. Cloud adoption has increased for several reasons. It responds to needs that traditional hosting can’t provide.
The benefits cloud hosting offers include:
- No hardware maintenance: Cloud hosting doesn’t require on-premise servers. Also, as technology evolves, users won’t have to upgrade servers or replace outdated hardware.
- Reduced costs: Companies don’t have to make sizable hardware investments, which relieves them of infrastructure costs. They also don’t have to pay for staff to maintain those servers. Users also only pay for resources they use with a pay-as-you-go model.
- Security: Mega cloud providers, such as Google Cloud, deliver top-level cybersecurity for their datacenters. Data restoration and protection are also more likely with cloud hosting since data isn’t stored on local infrastructure or in one place.
- Disaster recovery: Local servers are more vulnerable to weather disasters because of their in-house location. Companies can restore their data through cloud backups, with little to no downtime, in the event of a disaster.
- Increased collaboration: Cloud hosting gives companies more flexibility because their workflow isn’t bound to an on-premise server environment. Employees can leverage the cloud’s accessibility to share and update files in real time, no matter their location.
- Elastic Scalability: No need to buy additional hardware to accommodate your business growth. The cloud expands as you scale up. This flexibility allows users to handle traffic increases or seasonal demands without bandwidth limitations from traditional hosting.
Many companies have taken a hybrid approach to cloud hosting and local infrastructure to balance out their operations. Although cloud hosting has tons of upsides, it also has its drawbacks, including latency, knowledge gaps, and sensitive data issues. Going for a hybrid approach can sometimes offset some of those problems because of the server proximity and familiarity that local infrastructure provides.
When choosing between cloud and traditional hosting, users should consider what will best fit their needs going forward.
What is WordPress Hosting?
WordPress remains one of the most popular open-source CMS in the world, and it currently powers 43% of the web. So it’s no surprise that many people choose it to power their blogs and websites. Users without coding experience can easily build a presentable website with streamlined features and plugin architecture, making it perfect for beginners.
Though WordPress provides hosting (see also: WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com), it is limited in resources, and the software system serves best as a publishing platform and CMS. But you can self-host WordPress by purchasing hosting from a web provider that already has a WordPress installation. This hosting option may require more work, depending on the plan, since you will have to perform backups and maintenance yourself.
But, you can also use your web provider’s managed WordPress hosting services. This way, the hosting company will take care of your server maintenance duties. Managed WordPress platforms also provide easy-to-use dashboards and automate low-value tasks such as daily backups and malware scanning, which helps simplify your workflow.
WordPress hosting, at its core, is a shared hosting service optimized for the WordPress experience. Your web hosting provider will usually offer WordPress-specific features and automatically install the CMS on your hosting plan.
So if you would like to use WordPress for your website, it would be best to purchase a hosting service with an optimized WordPress solution. This way, you can have an environment specifically tailored to run WordPress smoothly with an easier setup than a traditional hosting plan.
But it is good to know that WordPress web hosting won’t allow you to set up a non-WordPress website. So if you have plans to create various website types, you should consider using a shared hosting, dedicated hosting, or VPS hosting plan.
WordPress hosting is typically just as affordable as shared hosting plans, but pricing can increase with more add-ons. The best WordPress hosting plan should provide unlimited monthly data transfers, email, storage, and 24/7 customer support.
What is Reseller Hosting Used For?
Reseller hosting is the ability to provide hosting to one’s own clients. Unless they want to open a reseller hosting business, most users won’t need it.
Reseller hosting consists of selling hosting solutions from third-party sources to clients. If you’re getting started as a web host or want to sell hosting as an additional service, you can leverage reseller hosting to do so. Developers and web designers also tend to use this hosting type to expand their digital offerings for customers.
Reseller hosting is a business opportunity at its core, and you don’t have to be a hosting expert to become a web host either. The third-party web provider handles the server’s technical aspects, including network infrastructure, hardware setup, maintenance, security, and updates. This way, you as the web host only have to manage the operations side of the business.
Choosing a robust reseller package is essential to a successful reseller hosting operation. Web hosts should look for providers who offer professional-level support and a comprehensive set of solutions.
These are the general features the best web host should offer:
- Easy-to-use cPanel
- Fully managed services
- 99.999% uptime guarantee
- Site builder
- Premium technical support
- Domain hosting
The best web hosting provider should also meet your business objectives. If you know your goals and target audience, choosing and partnering with a hosting company will be much easier.
How Much Should I Pay for Web Hosting?
Web hosting comes in various packages, and the prices vary based on certain needs. Whether it’s managed hosting or dedicated servers, any user can find the hosting solutions that align with their business or personal objectives.
Shared hosting is the cheapest form of hosting. The shared distribution of resources makes it more affordable than other hosting types. The rates usually start at $2.49 a month and go up to $15 a month. The low end is for the most basic features, but you can upgrade for additional resources and pay more.
Although cheap hosting is an excellent resource for users, it may not deliver on all the criteria for those with more complex needs. Cheap hosting is ideal for beginners, WordPress users, small business owners, and developers managing multiple web projects for clients.
Dedicated hosting is the most expensive because it provides the most real estate. Users pay around $80 to $730 a month on the high end to access its resources. But you get what you pay for as dedicated hosting delivers a complete hosting environment without any sharing.
VPS hosting lands in the middle of the pack. As traffic begins to increase, many people switch to VPS hosting to meet the demand without breaking the bank by deploying dedicated servers. You can purchase this hosting option starting at $18 to $90 per month from the best web hosting companies.
For the most part, cloud hosting is relatively inexpensive. It is a reliable hosting form and suitable for users looking for an optimized solution to downtime. Most cloud hosting plans range from $4.50 to $240 per month.
Users searching for WordPress hosting need not worry about the price tag because it is pretty affordable as well. WordPress hosting plans typically range from $2.95 a month to $228 a month. You get what you pay for. For example, InMotion Hosting’s lowest plan starts at $2.99 per month, with prices going up for managed WordPress hosting.
Hosting providers often give new customers impressive discounts when they first sign up: We’ve even secured a few exclusive deals and coupons at various price points from some of our favorites.
The best web hosting service will be the one that aligns with your objectives and budget. When choosing a web host, make sure you look at the different tier prices associated with each year term. Some web hosts offer specific discounts and better deals if you subscribe for a longer term. If you’re not sure about your web hosting journey, it would probably be best to start with a one-year term and renewal before paying for a longer term upfront.
Is Free Web Hosting Worth It?
Most of the time, free products are a steal. When we get a complimentary item, it usually sweetens the deal and brings a smile to our faces. But there are some free things we should avoid.
Free hosting may seem like a great offer at face value, but it doesn’t truly deliver an exceptional hosting experience. Free web hosting offers a limited range of resources, making it challenging to set up a unique online website.
Here are the four types of free hosting:
- Free trials: A hosting provider can offer a limited-time deal that allows users to try out its hosting solutions for up to a month before settling.
- Website builders: Many website builders allow users to create template-driven websites for eCommerce or portfolios.
- Subdomain hosting: Companies such as WordPress limit users to web accounts with username.subdomain.com only. Users don’t have access to custom domain names with standard extensions unless they sign up for an upgraded plan.
- Custom domain support: Users can apply custom DNS settings to host their domains for free.
Free hosting platforms usually lack resources, including disk space, bandwidth, security, performance, database options, and cPanel administration. These platforms are also less likely to engage in 24/7 customer support and offer only community forums instead of technical assistance.
An affordable shared hosting service will provide more bang for your buck in the long run and will scale your website as your vision evolves, allowing better flexibility. Opting for a free hosting plan works best for developers who are testing a project or feature before entering the production phase. It may also work for users who are unsure about website hosting and whether they want to run an online site.
If you really want to give free hosting a try, we typically recommend the website builder platforms from Wix and GoDaddy. For more advanced users, Kamatera offers new customers one free month of cloud hosting.
How Does Unlimited Bandwidth Affect the Hosting Experience?
Everyone wants to have a successful online presence. Success may look different for different people, but most of us would like to see some form of high traffic for our websites. The key to high traffic is high performance.
Your website has to have the capacity to take large waves of visitors without crumbling from overload, or those visitors most likely won’t return. So how does unlimited bandwidth tie into this whole talk of efficient performance?
Bandwidth is the rate at which a server can transfer data and is measured by bits per second (bps). The larger the bandwidth, the quicker a website can display content to incoming traffic. The bandwidth level should be able to accommodate your site, or the site’s performance will suffer.
Unlimited bandwidth allows users to upload, download, and stream with little to no interruption unless the downtime issue comes from another source within the hosting environment. Factors such as clunky coding, excess plugins, and a large number of high-resolution images can affect bandwidth speed.
Bandwidth affects three essential components: network, connection, and systems. The speed of these three components relies, in part, on the bandwidth’s efficiency. Most web hosting providers will provide unlimited bandwidth in tiered plans to ensure better performance and loading speed.
What is SSD Storage?
Storage holds our most prized possessions, whether they’re photo book memories on a smartphone or a baby blanket in an upstairs attic. As in the real world, a website needs storage to store its files. Web hosting providers usually include SSD storage in their plans to answer that need.
SSDs versus HDDs: SSD storage stands for solid-state drive storage, and it has essentially replaced the traditional mechanical hard disk. SSD uses flash memory to read, write, and store information. The storage device plays a significant role in a website’s growth. All servers have this hardware built into their infrastructure, so expect to see it on most hosting options. SSD storage also plays a factor in website speed.
If you have a goal for scalable growth, your website will need optimal storage to cover that increase. Many web hosting companies provide unlimited storage in their premium options. The most basic plan will probably have a baseline of 100GB, depending on the web hosting provider.
Some web hosting companies, including A2 Hosting, provide even higher levels of SSD storage. A2 Hosting goes above and beyond by offering SSDs that perform thousands of input/output operations per second, unlike standard SSDs that only do hundreds per second. This factor helps eliminate bottlenecks and boost speed.
Why Does Customer Support Matter?
Many people often overlook the significance of customer service in business, but its role in customer satisfaction and company operations is certainly unmatched. Customer service drives engagement, boosts retention rates, and influences word-of-mouth. Without it, many customers won’t find the help they need to make the right purchase or operational decision.
Customer support matters because it demonstrates whether a hosting provider is genuinely reliable through every step of the process. When users run into a problem, they need the assurance that their web host will assist them through it.
Running a website can come with plenty of complications, such as unexpected downtime, advanced PHP hosting support, and plugin issues. And if you don’t have much technical expertise, hosting problems can seem foreign. That is why quality customer support is such a vital consideration when choosing the best web hosting.
Well-run customer support will provide users with the answers to their questions and deliver on software repair requests. Support that runs around the clock is usually best so the staff can address your requests no matter where you are, and many hosting services offer 24/7 support and live chat.
A2 Hosting, for example, has a very well-received customer service team that handles its face-to-face engagements. Customers can leverage 24/7/365 support via live chat, phone, or email ticketing. Although A2 Hosting already promises reliable servers, it also goes a step further by deploying 24/7 network monitoring and a team of professionals equipped to help with any hosting conundrum.
Liquid Web also has a standout customer support staff called Heroic Support, with designated teams for Linux and Windows hosting users and more than 250 technicians certified in Windows, Linux, Cisco, and Red Hat. The well-trained and knowledgeable technicians guarantee a response within 59 seconds for phone and live chat responses.
Should I Upgrade to Managed Hosting?
Hosting can be tricky, and managing the tasks that come with it is often time-consuming, especially if you don’t have much hosting experience. If you spend hours researching how to fix a problem or doing menial operational tasks, you can opt for managed hosting.
This form of hosting takes the burden of IT infrastructure management off the users’ shoulders. Business owners that can’t afford an IT team or seek to help their understaffed IT staff focus on more valuable projects will find managed hosting most beneficial.
Managed hosting involves outsourcing hardware management and administration duties to a managed service provider (MSP) that also leases the hardware. MSPs allow companies to prioritize their business operations while they handle the technical components. MSPs perform day-to-day management services that may include security, monitoring, network and infrastructure maintenance.
Companies that rely on fully managed hosting don’t have to worry about server and administration work. Managed hosting tackles all the issues remotely and maintains uptime without the concerns of extended systems downtime or network interruptions. Liquid Web, a hosting provider, offers fully managed plans that include a service-level agreement (SLA) of 100% uptime guaranteed.
If you’re experiencing digital disruption or migrating to the cloud, upgrading to managed hosting will be the best web hosting option. You can access all the necessary hosting solutions under one roof and leverage IT assistance that keeps you agile in an ever-evolving IT environment. This way, even without in-house technical support or expertise, your company can run a seamless hosting environment.
There are also several managed hosting specialties users can leverage. Whether it’s managed WordPress hosting or database management, you can find an MSP tailored to your specific hosting needs.
Here are additional benefits of managed hosting:
- Lower technology costs: Many companies can save money by offloading time-consuming operational tasks and increasing their staff production through economies of scale.
- Experienced and specialized talent team: Businesses gain an expert technical group that meets their needs and streamlines their workflow with an optimal hosting experience.
- Flexibility and scalability: Managed service providers allow companies to scale up or down seamlessly without obstacles.
- Application knowledge: Hosting providers have an exceptional understanding of emerging trends and technologies. This factor enables clients to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in a changing IT landscape.
- Future assessment: MSPs usually have visibility into future trends as well.
But, managed hosting is not for everyone. It tends to be pricier because of the services you’re getting in the plan. Most plans start well above $50 a month. Users should stay away from managed hosting plans that charge less than $50 because they are most likely to be a scam and include wonky server systems or low-trained and outsourced support teams.
If you’re not running a small business or a large website, it’s probably not worth signing up for a managed hosting plan. A shared hosting plan will best fit your needs.