A Guide to Changing Web Host
We have been hosting websites for many years and have seen first hand the hosting market become saturated by low quality reseller companies, as well as some very good competitors. You should spend some time reviewing your options when changing web host. You will find moving again later time consuming and in some cases difficult.
Changing web hosts can seem like an uphill struggle. There are many poor quality web hosting review sites which you should be wary of. They are normally bias towards or even funded by one company in an attempt to raise their profile. In actual fact what to look for when you’re changing web host can be broken down into a hand full of subjects including uptime, available resources and security. This article will help take some of the stress out of choosing and changing web hosts.
In today’s post we will be covering many of the key factors in low and high quality hosting. We will help you see through the bedroom reseller companies and choose quality hosting that you’ll never need to move from again.
What type of hosting do you require?
- Shared – Shared hosting is where a single server hosts multiple accounts with one or more websites. As you are sharing the server resources with other customers, the cost of hosting on a shared environment is low. This may suit most people, but if you require a non-standard configuration this may not be the best option as any server config changes would be server wide. Most hosting companies wouldn’t normally accommodate these types of requests, but would instead offer you VPS hosting.
- Reseller – Very similar to shared hosting but it allows the customers to resell hosting under their own name and set their own resource limits (within the total resources allocated to the reseller account). An example would be a website designer buying a 10GB reseller hosting package and splitting this up into ten 1GB packages for his customers. He would have access to all of the sub-accounts and have the potential to make a profit on the hosting.
- VPS/Cloud – VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. This type of hosting is very similar to dedicated hosting, with the only difference being the physical server is split up into a hand full of smaller VPS’s. The user will have the same control over configuration and installed software as a dedicated customer. Resources are guaranteed for your use only and are not shared with only customers on that server. Security is also improved as the services are separated as they run under each VPS. If one customer’s VPS fails the other VPS’s are not affected, the only common link is the physical hardware of the server. In recent years cloud VPS hosting has become popular. This uses the same principles as standard VPS hosting but instead of one server being split into lots of smaller virtual server, a cluster of servers is split into smaller VPS servers. This provides redundancy against hardware failure and often allows customers to quickly add more CPU cores or RAM to their VPS.
- Dedicated – All resources are dedicated for your use only and you are the only person using the physical server hardware. You have complete control over everything running on the server but you will be paying a high price for this type of hosting. Most service providers allow for hardware upgrade to be installed e.g. more RAM or larger hard drives.
Once you decide on the type of hosting you require, you need to check what level of support is included with your hosting.
Most shared and reseller hosting packages are fully managed. This means that any issues you encounter with your hosting are covered by your web host via their support channels. This normally only includes the server and the server configuration but not your website code or configuration (this is called third party support). Raid Host only provides fully managed support for all customers which includes best efforts support for website code and configuration.
VPS and dedicated servers often have two support levels; managed or unmanaged. Managed covers server hardware and software configuration but you need to check if this includes third party support. Unmanaged normally covers hardware only but sometimes includes core OS support. Raid Host only provide fully managed support including best efforts third party cover for all VPS and dedicated server customers.
It is very important that you can backup and download complete account backups yourself. Most hosting providers take a daily backup but not many allow the customers to have easy access to these backups. Raid Host take a daily backup of your account and allow the user to access the backup for up to a month after from within their cPanel account.
Website uptime is one of the most important factors when choosing or changing web host. A reliable hosting provider will meet or exceed the industry standard of 99.9%. What this means is no more than around 40 minutes of downtime per month. If your site is offline for more than this period of time the company is liable and should compensate you for any time over this amount. You can setup your own free uptime monitor for free using Pingdom.
The Unlimited Trick
Don’t be drawn into this simple sales tactic. Every server no matter how many processors or amount of RAM has limits. All quality hosting companies will have limits setup to ensure resources are being used fairly between all customers on that server. Any company that has unlimited disk space will not set a limit but will have a fair usage policy and will suspend your account when you go over a few gigabytes and have this stated in their terms of service.
Like with your computer, disk space is used up when you store files on your web hosting account. This can be the HTML or pictures that make up your website. Keep in mind that even a 20,000 post blog would only be around 3GB-5GB. Do you really need a 20GB plan for just a one person blog?
Bandwidth is normally measured in gigabytes and references how much data you are transferring between your web hosting account/server and visitors to your site. Bandwidth is normally cheap and most people will not need more than 10-20GB for a busy personal blog. If you allow users to view video files on your website or high quality images you may find you are using a lot of bandwidth. Check that your host allows you to purchase bandwidth addons when you need it, otherwise you may find yourself having to upgrade your account unnecessarily.
When choosing or changing web hosts review their upgrade options. If your blog or business grows can the website host accommodate the growth?
Ask the website host a few simple questions:
- Can you buy more disk space or bandwidth?
- Can you upgrade to a VPS or Dedicated server?
- Will they migrate and setup your hosting account on a VPS or Dedicated hardware?
- Are upgrades affordable?
At Raid Host we provide customers with many upgrade options. Customers are able to add extra disk space or bandwidth without having to upgrade to a new package, you only pay for what you need. If you out grow our shared hosting platform or require better control over the server configuration, we can migrate your whole hosting account to a VPS or Dedicated server for free!
We recommend performing a whois lookup on the web host’s domain name. This can give a good indication if a hosting company is actually just a small reseller by showing you approximately how many websites are pointing to their nameservers. Buying a resold account is not the end of the world, but the support staff will not have direct control over the server configuration or how many customers are on each server.
Location is less important when choosing your next website host, but worth mentioning. Most search engines like Google will automatically link your TLD to the target country. For example a domain name with a TLD of .co.uk will default your target audience to the UK, but this can be overridden in Google’s Web Master Tools. When choosing or changing web hosts make sure their location is within the same time zone, unless they offer 24/7 support. If you encounter a problem you do not want to be offline for six hours before their support office opens.
If you require any type of web hosting from shared to dedicated, Contact us today for a quote.