While there are loads of website hosting options and sometimes very substantial differences in costs, be careful when choosing a hosting plan – you will get what you pay for.

Here are some of the basics you should know about web hosting.

While there are loads of website hosting options and sometimes very substantial differences in costs, be careful when choosing a hosting plan – you will get what you pay for.

Here are some of the basics you should know about web hosting.

Your website is only as good as your web hosting package

Here are some of the basics to consider when selecting a web hosting plan…

Website traffic or bandwidth limits

Bandwidth is the volume of data that can be exchanged between the website, its visitors and the server on which it is hosted. The server may download data to website browsers (like Chrome or FireFox) to enable users to view the website, while site visitors may also upload data from their computers when completing online forms, for example.

Most web hosting companies offer unlimited traffic, but this may sometimes be subject to a Fair Use Policy (FUP). Check whether an FUP is applicable and, if so, read it carefully to ensure that you know what additional fees may be payable should you exceed your traffic allocation.

Pro tip:  Ask your website developer to properly optimise media resources like animations, videos and downloadable materials to conserve bandwidth and enhance website performance.

Disc space allocation

Disk space is the amount of storage space allocated to your website on the hosting server. Web hosting packages will typically specify the allocated disc space. Should you exceed the disc space provision, your host may levy a surcharge or ask you to upgrade to a ‘bigger’ (and more expensive) web hosting package.

Web hosts will typically list their website hosting package options and what each includes on their websites, together with pricing, terms and conditions. This makes it easy to compare packages.

Pro tip:  Keep an eye on your email. If you’re running a business with multiple email accounts and send or receive emails with large attachments, storing these on the hosting server may quickly deplete disc storage space.

Server storage drives

Like computers, hosting servers may use either hard-disc drives (HDDs) or new-generation solid-state drives (SSDs) for storage. SSDs use flash storage memory and are a LOT faster and also more reliable that traditional hard-disc drives.

Your website will perform a lot better, both in terms of speed and stability, on a web hosting server using SSD storage.

Pro tip:  When comparing one hosting package to another, always print out the basic specs, for ease of comparison. If you don’t find the information you require, it may be well worth asking your host to ‘fill in the blanks’ before you sign up.

Website back-ups

Websites may fail or be maliciously hacked, in which case having a full back-up of the website could save you untold frustration, as well as the cost of having it restored or rebuilt.

While some web hosts run daily back-ups by default, others require you to elect the option on your hosting dashboard. Always check who is responsible for ensuring that the necessary back-ups are being run.

Pro tip:  Like computers, web hosting servers may also fail, in which case you could lose both your website and the related server side back-ups. Ask your web developer to configure your website to generate remote-storage (off-server) back-ups in addition to your host’s server-based back-ups.

Server uptime

Server uptime for web hosting services is exactly that – the percentage of time that the server is fully operational and your website is up and running.

Most web hosting services providers guarantee 99.9% uptime and will have a mechanism in place to inform their clients of any planned maintenance or upgrades to their servers and related infrastructure.

Pro tip:  If you visit the host’s website and click on the ‘Network Status’ or ‘Network Notices’ tab, you should find a tell-tale history of recent server outages and both scheduled (routine) maintenance and unscheduled maintenance sessions.

Hosting options

There are 3 main hosting options, namely Shared hosting, Virtual Private Server hosting and Dedicated hosting. Shared hosting is typically the least expensive and Dedicated hosting the most expensive.

1. Shared hosting services

With Shared hosting services, your website is hosted on a server with a number of other websites. This means that that server’s resources (like disc space, memory, processing speed) are shared across all the websites hosted on that server.

Shared hosting is typically the cheapest web hosting option, but it also comes with strict limits and caps to protect server resources. Be sure to check the specs and ensure that they’re adequate to run your website smoothly and efficiently.

2. Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting services

VPS web hosting services is also a form of shared hosting, but the server is ‘partitioned’ to provide for guaranteed baseline resources. An additional benefit is that provision is also made for ‘reserve’ resources to be made available in the event of a traffic spike, for example.

VPS hosting is more robust and flexible than standard shared web hosting, but it is also more expensive.

3. Dedicated hosting services

With Dedicated web hosting services, your website will be hosted on a dedicated hosting server, which is available for your exclusive use. Neither the hosting server nor its resources are shared with any other website and the server may be configured to your exact requirements, within certain parameters.

While dedicated hosting is the most expensive of the hosting options, it provides for higher performance and greater security than other web hosting options.

SSL certificates and data encryption

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates are digital code snippets that verify or authenticate a website’s identity and allow for an encrypted connection between the website visitor’s browser and the server on which the website resides.

Using an SSL certificate, and configuring your website accordingly, will prevent criminals from reading or modifying information being exchanged between site visitors and the website. Websites using SSL feature a green padlock icon in the URL or website address bar.

Pro tip:  While there are various types of SSL certificates available for purchase, some hosting providers offer free SSL certificates as part of their commitment to making the internet a safer place for all. Ask your host to confirm whether your hosting package will include a free SSL certificate.

The bottom line…

When it comes to web hosting services – you get what you pay for. While it may be tempting to take the cheapest option, you should keep in mind that over 40% of website visitors will wait no longer than 2 seconds for a website to load, before moving on to the next one. It’s therefore critical that your hosting package allows for your website to perform at its very best!

In the same way as a luxury vehicle will always perform best when using the right grade of fuel, your website will always perform best when running on the right web hosting package.

Post penned by the Cadiz Digital team.


Step up your marketing game with a well-crafted mission plan that leverages the best of web, SEO and digital marketing.

× Chat to us