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How to Choose the Best Web Hosting Provider for Your New Website

Being able to create your first website is like getting your driver's license for the first time. There is a vast freedom to venture out, explore, and map out your next adventure. But with freedom comes responsibility, and along with the freedom to drive comes the maintenance, repairs, and other not-so-fun responsibilities of being a car owner. 

And while it might not seem so fun to think about, choosing a web hosting provider is a huge part of owning a new website. Before you close your eyes and choose a provider randomly, here is a quick guide to help you choose the best web hosting provider for your new website.

While there are many important factors that determine a good web host, I’ve compiled a list of 7 of the most important qualities you should look out for when choosing the best web hosting provider for your website:

  1. Security
  2. Backup & Restoration
  3. Excellent Tech Support
  4. Speed & Uptime
  5. Storage & Bandwidth
  6. Specific WordPress Support
  7. Staging

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1. Web Host Security

I put this at the top of the list because it is easily the most important. Hands down, bar none! Granted, I did a bit of time in a Cyber Security Unit in my previous career, so I’m overly cautious (some may call it paranoid) about security. Getting hacked sucks. Period. It could bring your site down temporarily or it could bring the whole thing offline permanently. You’ve worked so freaking hard on your website, so it just doesn’t make sense to leave yourself vulnerable. 

What level of security does your host provide, and how vigilant are they about protecting your website from malicious attacks? WordPress is widely known as the most hacked platform on the internet, meaning it is specifically targeted by intruders.

Hosting Security Examples 

  1. A client came to me asking for a complete re-design and re-build because their original website was hacked and the hosting provider didn’t act quick enough to deal with the threat (because they didn’t have the right systems in place to regularly check for malicious files). Low and behold, the host ended up deleting the ENTIRE cPanel because it was so infected. Had the client and/or host known about the attack in the early stages, it could have been dealt with and cleaned up; instead, it was missed and all the time and money that went into designing/building the site is gone forever. PS – the host was Bluehost
  2. Another client was migrating from one host to another. Once they got their files moved across, the new host noted a number of malicious files that had to be dealt with before the site could go live. The original host (Web Hosting Hub) didn’t catch the malicious files, but the new host (SiteGround) did. Her site was on a shared server with Web Hosting Hub, meaning all the other sites on that shared server could have been infected.
  3. Then there are times that you just have to call in the professionals – I was referred by a client to help someone with their hacked site. First, we tried a couple of troubleshooting steps together (I’m a big proponent of guiding people on how to fix issues themselves, rather than just taking over and charging for it), but to no avail. I got her login detail and had a look around, quickly realizing it was a pretty serious attack. After doing some research on the malicious code and digging around in the file manager, it became apparent all of her .js files had been corrupted. When I say all….I mean thousands of files. This certainly wasn’t a manual job, so I referred this to the professionals. Incredibly, her host actually knew about the hack (they ran a security scan and added a malware.txt file to the file manager), but didn’t take the site offline! This should shock the bejesus outta you! Similar to example #2, she was also on a shared server, so all the other sites on that server would be highly susceptible to the attack. Shame on her hosting company!

What do all those examples have in common? Bad hosting providers who aren’t doing security scans and even if they do, they aren’t being proactive to deal with the issue! Don’t become my example #4 and be sure to choose the best web hosting provider who takes security seriously!

My top picks for excellent security: Flywheel and SiteGround

2. Website Backups & Restoration 

Another sign of a good web host is that they offer free backups and restore capabilities for your site. If your site does get hacked, you want to have a full backup and restore option so you can get back online almost immediately with minimal disruption. Your website is your storefront and you’ll lose customers, clients, and money if your store is shut down.

Backing up your site without this backup and restore option with a host is possible but it can become costly and the restoration of your backup is not as seamless of a process compared to the service provided by a fully managed hosting provider.

My top pick for excellent backup and restore features is Flywheel. With Flywheel, your peace of mind is secured with automated nightly backups, regular WordPress updates, and 24/7 support with WordPress experts. Flywheel also offers auto-healing technology, meaning your website will experience less downtime and more reliable performance.

3. Tech Support

Even the most knowledgeable web developers need help from time to time. Coding can be frustrating, and so can glitches in your website. In worst-case scenarios, tech support is crucial to help recover your website and preserve your content. Tech support is a vital part of your WordPress hosting, and you will want a reliable source of help in the long run. 

My top picks for WordPress hosting with outstanding tech support is SiteGround and FlyWheel. SiteGround offers top-rated 24/7 tech support with WordPress experts. Similar to Flywheel, SiteGround also offers daily backups and routine WordPress updates so your website will remain as secure as possible. 

4. Website Speed & Uptime 

Did you know your site speed and uptime play a crucial role in search engine optimization (SEO)? Both Flywheel and SiteGround offer many security and optimization features in their WordPress hosting plans that increase your site’s performance and maximize your uptime. 

Aside from SEO purposes, uptime and site speed are vital to keeping your audience from clicking off your website and onto another. If your audience is frustrated with waiting on your site to load, you’ll lose potential clients, customers, or readers before you’ve even had a chance to get their attention.  

5. Storage & Bandwidth

What kind of content will you want on your new WordPress website? If it’s a website that will host media of any kind, you will want a web hosting plan with plenty of storage that offers room to grow. Storage is the amount of space your web hosting provider allows you to have. Media takes up a large portion of space, so if you are uploading pictures, videos, or music, be sure to choose a hosting plan with a minimum of 10GB. 

Another factor to consider when choosing a hosting plan is bandwidth. This is the amount of traffic your website can handle. Like a freeway to your website, bandwidth regulates how many people can access your website per month. While you might not need bandwidth to support hundreds of thousands of visitors in the beginning, you will want the room to grow your website. Don’t choose a plan that offers too little bandwidth. Remember, content on the internet goes viral in a matter of hours, and you don’t want your website to experience any downtime in the event that you experience a sudden spike in traffic.

6. Specific WordPress Support

More than likely you’ve decided to build your website using WordPress; after all, it is awesome! In that case, shouldn’t you choose a website hosting provider that specializes in WordPress? Personally, I have opted for Fully Managed WordPress hosting for my websites and my clients’ websites. Here’s why:

  • Everything is taken care of for you! This includes upgrades, security, migrations, everything. In the long run, this will save you time, money, IT resources, and more!
  • Your site gets its own dedicated resources! When your website is on a dedicated VPS (virtual private server), you don’t have to share resources with other sites that could be dealing with malware, performance issues, and more.
  • Managed hosting is really fast! Don’t spend your time worrying about the speed of your website. Fully managed WordPress servers are fine-tuned for optimal performance and configured to meet your individual needs.
  • Top-Notch Security! Fully managed servers are up to date on all of the latest security issues and reduce the chances that your website will be compromised. If for some reason you do come across an issue, it’s fixed for free! How incredible is that?!
  • They’ve got your back! No more dealing with a robot. When you reach out for help, a real-life human being is there to answer the phone! If you have technical questions, they will find the answer.

A lot of other web hosting providers offer WordPress-specific support, so you probably won’t go wrong, but it’s an important factor to consider nonetheless.

My top picks for WordPress support: Flywheel and SiteGround

7. Staging

The internet never sleeps -- so how do you perform updates to your website without anyone experiencing downtime? Staging is a feature offered by both Flywheel and SiteGround that allows you to create a copy of your current website, and make changes and test things before pushing those changes to the live site. A staging area helps you to debug your code, make any and all necessary edits, all without the hassle of taking your website down for maintenance. When you’re done, simply upload your changes with a click of a button.

With so many web hosting services on the internet, it can feel overwhelming to make such a big decision. Try to find a supportive community you can trust and ask for advice if you are still on the fence about a web hosting provider. Join our FREE Facebook community, Screw the Commute, and ask about others’ experiences with web hosting. 

Always remember -- you get what you pay for. While there are many cheaper web hosting services on the internet, don’t save all of your budget cuts for your web hosting plan. Spend your budget wisely, and always remember that without a solid, reliable web hosting provider, no one will see the content you’ve been working so hard on. 

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About the Author:
Some people look at the sky and see stars; others see constellations. Some people look at lines of code and see a website; Julia saw a path to empower women in building their dreams. As a (former) military wife, self-taught web developer, and lover of location independence, Julia has taught over 3,600 women to say “YES” to any WordPress request, but not only that, “YES” to themselves, and “YES” to creating life on their own terms. Empowering women and seeing others succeed is the biggest motivator for Julia. And so, she created a program to teach others the skills that allowed her to take back control of her life and start living on her own terms.
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