If you’ve never bought web hosting before, it can be pretty overwhelming. You’ll need to consider what kind of hosting you want, whether that’s shared, dedicated or VPS hosting. Then you’ll need to think about which hosting company you’re going to choose. And should you choose a UK web hosting company, or is it all right to find one that’s based outside the UK? Also, free hosting sounds like a great idea, so why does everyone keep telling you to stay away from it?
It’s confusing to sift through this monstrous pile of information, so in this guide, we’ll talk about what to look for in a hosting package, how to choose the right hosting company, and what’s so bad about free hosting.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
We’ll start with the most obvious question:
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What’s web hosting, and why is it important?
You probably already know that if you want to create a website, you’re going to need web hosting. But what you might not know is what web hosting is.
The first thing to know is that every website you’ve ever seen on the internet is stored on a server. A server isn’t just some nebulous, intangible part of cyberspace. It’s a physical machine, which means it requires electricity and manpower to maintain and operate. These bills can quickly add up, especially if you don’t own a massive business that can absorb the costs. Enter: web hosting.
When you buy web hosting, you’re paying for a company to store your website on their servers, in exchange for a much lower monthly fee than you’d spend on salaries for your IT staff, the initial cost of buying your own server, and the ongoing expense of storing it in an air-conditioned room.
What kind of web hosting do you need?
There are three main kinds of web hosting, and the one you’ll need will depend on your goals for your website and the size of your budget.
Shared web hosting is right for you if you have a smaller website and you’re not anticipating much web traffic. With shared hosting, your website shares a server with other websites, which drives down the cost that each website owner pays per month. This is great for small blogs, portfolios, and people who are creating their very first website.
Dedicated hosting is a premium hosting package, because it means your website will be the only website stored on a server. That means that your website will always have the full resources of the server, and that you won’t have to worry about any other website having a huge spike in traffic that brings your website screeching to a halt. Choose dedicated hosting if you have a massive website, or if you have a smaller website that needs high security, and if you have the budget that allows you to spend a bit more for the extra storage and security you get with dedicated hosting.
VPS hosting is right for you if you want the privacy, security, and speed of dedicated hosting, but you don’t quite have the budget for it. With VPS hosting, your website shares a server with other websites, but each website is partitioned from the other websites, using virtualisation technology. This turns each section of the server into a Virtual Private Server, which you’re free to customise as you wish.
Do you need UK web hosting?
If you anticipate that most visitors to your website will be based in and around the UK, then you absolutely should get UK web hosting. Here’s why: Server location matters.
The closer you are to a website’s server, the faster that website will load on your device.
So, if most of your visitors will come from the UK, having a UK web hosting service will ensure that your website loads at lightning speed. That’s important, because page load speed is one factor that determines how long a visitor to your website is likely to stay on your website.
Think about it: When’s the last time you waited more than ten seconds for a website to load? Nowadays, there are so many similar websites that if one website isn’t loading very quickly, you’re likely to click away, so you can find a website that doesn’t take absolute ages to load its landing page.
If you want lots of web traffic (And you do!), then you’ll need UK web hosting. (If you want to know more about what UK web hosting can do for your business, check out our lovely guide here!)
How to choose UK web hosting
To choose the best UK web hosting for your website, follow these tips:
1. Stay away from free hosting services
Free web hosting comes with a catch. Sure, you can store your website on the hosting company’s server at no cost to you. However, in exchange, the hosting company will be able to run ads on your website. Imagine creating a website for your business, only for your web hosting company to use your sidebar to run ads for your competitor.
And here’s another thing: When you get free web hosting, there’s very little you can do if the server is experiencing downtime or if the head of the web hosting company decides that what he’d really like to do is to open a bakery instead, and he shuts down his servers, causing your website to disappear from existence. You didn’t pay for anything, so whom exactly will you complain to?
2. Choose a UK web hosting company with great tech support
Anything can go wrong when you’re running a website. You’ll have a much more pleasant experience if you choose a hosting company like ours, that offers 24/7 customer support (even on bank holidays).
3. Choose secure web hosting
It’s difficult to tell, from the outside, whether a hosting company will be secure, but here are a few things you can look for, especially when you’re trying to choose a hosting plan for your business:
- Check their testimonials: See what other customers have to say about their service. People are unlikely to rave about a hosting company that’s constantly getting hacked, so this will be a good way to tell.
- Look at their uptime: A company that promises 99% uptime will need to conduct constant server maintenance. If they’re running constant checks on their servers, your website will be more secure.
- Check for backup options: Sometimes, even without malice, your website’s data might be lost or corrupted. This can even happen through an accident of your own To guard against the heartbreak of having to construct your entire website from scratch, choose a web hosting company that offers a backup solution, so you always have a copy of your website ready to be deployed.
Good UK web hosting is hard to find. But now that you know what to look for, it will be a breeze for you to find the right hosting package for your needs and budget, and you’ll have no trouble at all weeding out dodgy hosting companies that promise you free service only to take a giant cricket bat to the shins of your website. Good luck!