So, you have a great idea for a website and have already even nailed down its design. To bring it to life, so to speak, you’ll need web hosting. Many sites offer free hosting, but you get what you pay for under those circumstances. Unless you plan to do next to nothing with your new site, you’re going to need to line up hosting. The good news is that you shouldn’t have to pay much. The bad news is that if you’ve never used it before, you could easily end up with the wrong thing. Learn the basics of the best web hosting plans to ensure that you hit the ground running with your new site.

Six Things to Consider when Comparing Web Hosting Plans

With so many web hosting plans out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to select one. Compare plans based on the following criteria to more easily find one that suits your needs:

  1. Disk Space – A website is made up of numerous files. The right hosting plan will offer enough disk space to accommodate your site. Unlimited disk space is increasingly common, but more affordable plans still often put limits on how much storage space you’ll enjoy. You can estimate the size of your website by considering how large a typical page is and multiplying that by the total number of pages. Disk space is typically measured in MB or GB. Common options include 100 GB, 500 GB and unlimited disk space.
  2. Bandwidth – Also known as data transfer allowance, bandwidth refers to the total amount of data that can be uploaded and downloaded to and from your site over the course of a month. Data includes all of the files that are accessed on your site. Again, unlimited bandwidth is quite common among today’s web hosting plans. However, some do place caps on the amount of bandwidth that may be used. Many plans offer 10 GB of bandwidth per month. Will that accommodate your site? Calculate the amount of bandwidth you’ll likely need with this equation: the average number of visitors per day x the total number of pages viewed x the average number of pages x 31 because there are 31 days in a month.
  3. Processing Power – Having enough disk space and bandwidth is important, but if you want your site to work reliably, you need to make sure there’s enough processing power. When comparing web hosting plans, consider how many CPUs are available from the servers on which your site will be hosted. Also, consider how much RAM is allotted from those servers. Without enough processing power, your site will load slowly and may even crash when traffic gets too heavy.
  4. Hosting Type – There are many types of hosting, but plans fall into three main categories: shared, VPN and dedicated. Shared hosting is the most affordable. As the name implies, it means sharing all of the resources on a server with other users. Theoretically, one user could “hog” those resources, leaving little left for others. For this reason, some people prefer virtual private network, or VPN, hosting. This type involves sharing a single server with others but having a specific amount of resources allocated for your use only. Finally, if your site will be especially large or will receive a lot of traffic, you may not want to share resources with anyone. In that case, dedicated hosting, which means having the dedicated use of an entire server, may be the way to go.
  5. Service – If you are fairly tech savvy, you can probably manage and maintain your site without too much trouble. However, if you don’t have the time or know-how to maintain your website, managed hosting is probably the best option. With managed hosting, the hosting provider provides support for all problems and tasks, including both routine and emergency situations. They update everything from the operating system to pre-installed apps, and they often perform automated backups and monitoring. The alternative, non-managed hosting, means that you are solely responsible for maintaining your site. Oftentimes, you won’t even get a control panel but must provide it yourself.
  6. Pricing – Tempting though it may be, don’t make pricing your top concern when comparing hosting plans. A rock-bottom price may be enticing, but once you take the preceding points into consideration, you’ll likely discover that you are getting the short end of the stick. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with a few plans, you will have a better feel for how much you can expect to pay for various features.

There’s no way around it: Choosing the right hosting plan takes a bit of work. However, the research and comparing that you do will pay off when you get a hosting plan that suits your needs and your budget, so take your time to find the right one.

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