How do I find web hosting?
I've written before about user experience and how good experiences contribute hugely to how successful your website is but deciding where to keep your website once it's ready to go live is equally important.
Do a quick Google search for ‘web hosting’ and the results will show various big boys of the web hosting world but because they’re top of the list doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right choice for you and your site. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the best. Not all hosting or domain registration companies are the same or provide the right services for the kind of site you want to launch. So, how do you best choose the right one? Well, like anything, you get what you pay for and the most important thing is service. There are a few things you can do to see what you’re likely to get.
Make an enquiry
Email the company with a few questions and see how quickly you get a response and if your questions are answered. The internet is fabulous because it enables anyone to launch a website irrespective of technical skill so ask a few questions that someone with no web knowledge would ask. Do you get satisfactory answers in layman’s speak? Worst of all, do you get an automatic reply directing you to a webpage of their website?
Make a phone enquiry with similar questions. Firstly, do you have to go through a phone option menu tree the depth of the Amazon rainforest before you can speak to someone, were you kept on hold with muzak and ‘your call is important to us’ messages or are you connected straightaway? When you do get through, does the person you’re speaking to appear to know what they’re talking about? Do they go that little bit further to help with your enquiry? Is it a massive call centre (UK based?) and how many times are you passed on to another department? After you have finished your call rate the level of satisfaction from the service you received and then do the same exercise with a few other companies. This level of satisfaction is vital because what happens if there is an issue with your account or hosting and you need it resolving quickly? Are you confident that it will be addressed promptly and to your satisfaction?
Domains for £1.99 and hosting from £8.99 a month. Pretty tempting. Sounds cheap. You can get domains for this price but will you own it? You need to check. What happens if you want to move it in 12 months and then you realise that it’s the company who owns it but will sell it to you for an inflated price? Ask how much the renewal cost is when it’s due to expire. In the UK, domains from a reputable registrar typically cost £6 per year for a .co.uk and £12 per year for a .com including VAT. And you will own it forever for that price. And £8.99 a month is over £100 per year which certainly is not cheap and may not provide the hosting capabilities you need. If you’re going to be hosting a WordPress site or Magento or any other database reliant website can it handle it? Not all hosting packages can. Again, will it be £8.99 next year? How long are you tied in for? Is there a cancellation fee? And be wary of ‘unlimited’ deals as most are not unlimited as fair-use policies often apply buried in small print.
Test it out
Find out about cancellation and money-back guarantees before you do this. Upload your site to their servers to see how it performs. Is it fast to load or does it seem sluggish? A site that takes ages to download could mean your visitors will become frustrated and leave your site in preference for another. Make an enquiry saying that your not satisfied, your within the evaluation grace period and would like to cancel and see how cooperative they are. Are they true to their word? Do they ask for reasons or offer any genuine persuasive arguments for you to stay? It’s also worth asking where the servers are, i.e. where your website files are actually and physically kept. Ideally, if you’re in the UK the servers should be too. Your site will perform faster, it could help with SEO and there’s a greater possibility of it being fixed more quickly if there are any issues as most of the sites stored and maintained on it will be UK in origin.
These are great for getting a site up and running quickly but consider if it something you may outgrow in 12 months’ time. Having a website built professionally can be a bit of a sting so many people go for this option. A fair proportion of my clients start out with one of these but find they become restricted and unsatisfactory and ‘won’t do what I want it to do’ pretty soon. DIY sites are designed to be bullet-proof for the non-techy, and as a result are pretty restrictive, but as you become more confident and adventurous with its maintenance you’ll eventually exceed its limitations. Try and think on and imagine where you’d like your site to be in a couple of years. Is a DIY site going to let you do this? If not, consider having it done properly from the get go ( I do instalments BTW!) as in the long run you could save a fair bit of money.
So, which hosting do I use?
I use two UK based companies one based in Devon and the other in Preston. The support is second to none, they are not multinational faceless corporates and they are small dedicated businesses whose emphases are excellent service and customer support. I’ve used them for hosting and domain services for Cyberfrog Design for years now and know the guys who work there by name. When I provide hosting for my clients these guys get my business because they’re brilliant. So, here are the questions:
How much can you register a domain name for? Cost price which is £6 per year for a .co.uk and £12 per year for a .com. If you want a transfer I’ll add a bob or two for time.
How much will it cost to renew the domain? Same as what you paid for it in the first place.
How much is hosting with Cyberfrog Design? Between £40 and £70 per year depending on how big your site is (that’s between £3.30 and £5.80 per month).
If something goes wrong how quickly can it be fixed? I’ve never had any downtime. Issues are responded to pretty much immediately and resolved almost as quickly (a quick response is a very good indicator that there are few technical issues with the servers).
Where are the servers? In the UK.
Are you confident that the companies and technicians know their stuff? I have dozens and dozens of clients’ websites being looked after by these companies. Imagine the carnage if something went wrong. I’m totally confident.
Can your hosting support any type of website? For my usual client base and the vast majority of websites, yes.
Are there any hidden costs? No. The prices above are what you pay. And, you’re not tied in.
Can I register my domain somewhere else but have Cyberfrog Design handle the hosting? Yes.
If I decide to have my hosting and domain somewhere else will you still build my site? Yes, of course. But if there are any hosting or domain account issues then you will have to resolve them with your provider yourself.
I already have a website. Can you just provide the hosting for me? Yes.
In conclusion . . .
It’s a bit of a minefield and finding the right hosting package is tricky. Ascertaining what you need is complicated and riddled with jargon. Hopefully the above tips may help you somewhat. If in doubt, just contact me and I’m happy to give more advice without obligation and I’ll be able to tell you exactly what type of hosting you need for your site.
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