Almost all web hosting companies claim to be the #1 in the business. When buying web hosting, there are some essential points to consider. Often somebody decides to buy a web hosting, he looks to buy a plan with everything unlimited.
All companies guarantee to provide unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited emails, and so on. But is that really the case? Or should you look for everything unlimited in a web hosting plan? Let’s talk about this one-by-one.
Storage capacity should never be the #1 factor when buying a web hosting plan for a normal website. Most providers claim to provide unlimited storage in their “Recommended plans” aka. “Most popular plans”. We will talk about the reality of unlimited storage in a bit.
Obviously the amount of storage your website needs depends upon the content you’re going to host on your website. If you are hosting a simple WordPress blog, do not worry about the storage capacity as you will have plenty of storage for images, and smaller videos on the basic plan.
Only times when you need more storage is when hosting videos or large files on your server. In that case, you will not want to buy a shared hosting. You will need to go for either VPS or a dedicated server. VPS and dedicated servers are the best for storage & data processing as you can upgrade server anytime.
Also, in shared hosting, unlimited storage feature is like the zeros in 1.000000. There are six zeros in the number but worth nothing. Shared hosting plans may feature unlimited storage but they set a cap on Inode.
An Inode is a file on your server. It could be a text file, html page, image, video, etc. Inode limit cancels out the unlimited storage feature. Most companies set Inode limit from 100,000 to 250,000 which means you can not save more than the set Inode limit on your server.
After the Inode limit is reached, your website will start to suffer. It will not be able to create cache files, server logs will not be saved and the server will throw errors. Host frequently checks for accounts using more than the threshold limit and suspend such accounts if necessary.
So when you need more storage, go for VPS or a dedicated server as there is no Inode limit there. You can also upgrade your storage anytime you need it.
Unlimited bandwidth & emails
Unlimited bandwidth & emails are highlighted features in almost all web hosting plans. Bandwidth is the amount of data transferred from your server to the user. Like unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth is also not included in basic plans.
Like unlimited storage isn’t truly unlimited, unlimited bandwidth is also not unlimited. There is a limit that they consider normal and only allow the bandwidth in that limit. It may sound strange but it’s the reality. Anyway, for your specific case, if your website is not a special application that requires too much data to pull from the internet or send it to the user, you can go with the basic plan.
While looking for web hosting for a normal blog, you can ignore the bandwidth option. Just go with the basic one and later on you can upgrade to a higher plan. For now, save money for your new business.
Most companies provide a few free email accounts with the basic plan. If you have multiple webmasters, you may need to buy more email accounts. Here you can choose if you need more emails and then go with the plan that provides enough email accounts for you. Also, do not forget the storage they provide for emails. In free accounts, some hosting companies only provide 50MB space for each email account.
Also, make sure that the hosting provider has tools to protect you from spam emails. They frequently scan emails for any malicious attachment and properly move spam to the spam folder.
Most web hosting providers support MySQL database. This database is different from the disk storage(though it is saved on the same disk). Database is where your website saves posts, products, and other website content. For each website, you need at least one database. If you are hosting one website, you will need one database.
Unlimited website is also one of the most attractive features. Most hosting companies include unlimited website in advanced plan. Only go for this feature if you want to host multiple websites.
Cons of unlimited website
Unlimited website feature comes at a cost. It does not matter which plan you buy, as I said above most web hosting companies put limits on all the services they provide. If you cross the limit, your account will be flagged for review and may even be suspended. Hosting multiple websites on one server is both performance and security risk. If one of your websites is compromised, others are also at risk.
Focus on your needs
All the features I mentioned above are important for some type of users but not all. If any of the features you like, go with it but bear in mind that it is not unlimited.
Analyze your website’s needs. Do not fall into the “unlimited trap”. If you need 10GB storage, just go for the basic plan and save money. You can always upgrade your hosting if you need more storage, more bandwidth, and more websites.
How to select hosting provider?
Live customer support
All the features I mentioned and those did not mention are provided by every hosting provider. So what hosting company should you go with?
First thing first. Make sure there is a live support system. Live support is the most important feature that you should be looking for. When your website goes down or runs into any other type of error, your host should help you fix the problem immediately.
Secondly, check the server uptime. You can do that by reading existing customer reviews and service reviews by other bloggers.
Latest technologies + easy to use cPanel
Double check that the hosting company has all the latest versions of the tools available in the repository. For example, if you are hosting a WordPress blog, the latest version of PHP should be available.
cPanel is the dashboard of your hosting. Make sure that cPanel is easy to use by asking them for a demo.
Many web hosting cost you the earth for their basic plans. So view each service’s plan carefully and find the one that has enough features for your needs and also affordable.
Tools to migrate your existing site
If you are migrating the existing website to another host, then make sure that the host provides tools to make the migration process easier and secure. Usually, the migration process is not difficult but any tiny mistake can corrupt the entire website database.
To conclude this, just think of buying web hosting as buying a house. The bigger the house the costlier it is. You do not want to buy a house that is bigger than your needs plus you’ll have to spend a ton of money on that.
Also do not forget the unlimited terms that I have just talked about in the article. Users love to see unlimited in the plan so companies have worked around it. They have included unlimited terms without actually implementing it into the services.
Read our web server setup series for setting up your own server from scratch.