It seems like everyone has a blog these days, so when I decided to get one I thought it would be simple to set up. Boy, was I wrong. Turns out that there is a lot more that goes into it than one might think. The first thing you have to do is come up with a domain name. If you are like me, you will end up changing your name AT LEAST 4 times. After that you need to decide on a hosting company. This is where things get tricky. The problem with this is there are so many different hosting companies, that it is so hard deciding on one. If you are a newbie like I was, chances are you will have no clue what to look for in a hosting company.
Pilar Torres Wahlberg from Pick a Web took some time to answer some of the most pressing questions regarding choosing a web host for your blog. Pick a Web compares different web hosting companies for rates and services, and helps you choose what's best for your blog.
In your experience, what is the biggest struggle new website owners run into when choosing a hosting company?
Probably the biggest struggle is just dealing with the sheer number of options available. Of course, choice is a good thing and it offers the customer plenty of choice.
But once they've started to narrow down the search to several suppliers they need to consider the options for them such as Shared Hosting, Reseller Hosting, VPS etc.. For most new businesses the choice is pretty clear that it's Shared Hosting but it's worth being aware of the options as sometimes these can be a better choice (especially if you're hosting multiple websites) or at least offer a clear upgrade path.
We explain the different options & give a handy graphic to help new website owners make an informed choice at https://www.pickaweb.co.uk/blog/which-web-hosting/
What do you think are the most important things to consider when choosing a hosting company?
When choosing a host there are 4 critical factors that you must consider and these are infrastructure, uptime, server configuration and support. Get these right and you're 90% of the way there.
When it comes to infrastructure you need to make sure that they operate from at least a Tier 3 Datacenter. The Datacenter is the home of hosting and this is the bedrock for your website and email.
Having a Tier 3 Datacenter means high levels of physical security to restrict who can enter the premises as well as fire detection and prevention systems with backup systems in place.
It also means that the facility has redundancy (i.e. backup systems) for electricity and network connectivity through multiple providers.
Uptime refers to the amount of time that a server is operational and is expressed as a percentage. A 100% uptime means that a server is up 100% of the time. Many hosts will claim that they offer 99.x% uptime but you should ask them to get their uptime independently verified.
In terms of server configuration you should ensure that you are hosted on a powerful server with redundancy built in. An example would be a server with:
•Dual multi Core Processors (CPU)
•Multiple hot swap hard drives - they can be replaced 'hot' without the need to power down the server
•Fast hard drives - avoid slower 7.2K SATA and choose faster 10K SAS or Solid State Drives
•RAID10 configuration (RAID means data is stored on several disks to avoid data loss due to one faulty hard drive - RAID10 is best balance of performance and security)
•Dual (hot swap) Power Supply (PSU)
Being hosted on a server such as this would be a good choice because it would be fast and offer high uptime due to the redundancy built into it especially dual, hot swap components.
In terms of support, the minimum is free 24 x 7 support via live chat, phone and email. We all need help from time to time and it's really important that someone is there for you instantly when you need them.
Also check that your host uses an independent 3rd party hosting review service such as Trustpilot so that you can see what their customers think of them.
What services are must-haves for most websites that a hosting company provides?
Once you've satisfied yourself that you've chosen a reputable host with good infrastructure, high uptime, solid servers and excellent support you can start to look at some of the other key features.
First and foremost you need an easy way to manage your hosting. One of the best tools out there is cPanel which is a hosting admin tool which acts like Mission Control for your website.
Obviously email is a key tool these days so you need to make sure that you're hosting with a company that can offer high deliverability rates.
Also, you need to have a full range of free tools to help you build and maintain your online presence. Many hosts will offer an entry level Website Builder tool.
However, if you want something more powerful you should check that they offer free software such as WordPress for blogging and Prestashop or Magento for Ecommerce. Ideally these should be easily installed using a one click tool like Softaculous.
What are the most common complaints regarding host companies?
One of the most common complaints is that there is too much jargon involved. Of course we'll never escape that to some extent and the best way to deal with it is to explain as much as you can in your Knowledgebase and blog as well as being on hand 24 x 7 with friendly, expert technical support.
How has your site helped new bloggers and business owners?
We understand that ultimately new bloggers and business owners are getting online for one reason: to grow their business, whether that's a traditional bricks and mortar business or a 100% online Ecommerce business.
So apart from offering a full range of services with free tools like WordPress, we wrote our book 'The Lazy Website Syndrome' and which we offer all new customers for free. It gets 5 star reviews in Amazon and we get great feedback from our clients.
The book lays out a simple 3 step approach that any business owner can apply to their business. We also provide regular expert advice via the Pickaweb Blog.