Web hosting. Image Credit: DigiHomeBusiness
Web hosting. Image Credit: DigiHomeBusiness
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There are a lot of features and options to consider when you’re trying to choose the best web hosting provider. With all the items to compare, how do you know if a web hosting service is any good? What features are the most important when you’re trying to choose a home for your website?

A lot of services offer very similar features and it can be time consuming trying to compare them all side by side. Here are the ones you should pay closest attention to:

1. Cron Jobs, Auto Scripts, .htaccess and SSI
You’d be surprised how many web hosting companies still don’t offer these basic (and necessary) hosting features.  Some don’t offer them at all, others make them limited to higher tier pricing.

Cron is needed for regular operations of your host while automated script installers help with easy installation of web applications and updates. .htaccess is something that every web admin should have access to in order to handle site security,  page redirects and a variety of other tasks.

SSI (server side include) is something you want to be able to use for easier site maintenance (especially if you’re building a static site over a dynamic one).

Unless you’re looking for a specialty host these are must have features that you want to come bundled in your hosting package.

2. Storage and bandwidth
When you’re just getting started you don’t need to worry too much about data storage and bandwidth. These are often the numbers being pushed by hosting providers to make it seem like you’re getting a lot but truthfully you won’t max your bandwidth or data right away.

It shouldn’t be a key decision factor, but keep it in the back of your mind for scalability reasons as you grow your site traffic.

3. Ecommerce functionality
If you plan to do any kind of selling through your website then you want to choose a host with sufficient ecommerce features and support. This includes the ability to have a dedicated IP address, SSL certification is a must, and it’s helpful if they have one-click cart installations.

4. Blogability
You might not plan to blog now, but if you hire a content marketer to help stand out from your competition you want it to be easy to setup a blog later. Make sure your hosting provider offers one-click installs of content management systems like WordPress or Drupal. Likewise, you also want to make sure that the provider you choose offers MySQL hosting – a MySQL database is necessary to run WordPress as this is where page and post information is stored.

5. Shared or Dedicated?
A shared hosting account means you share the same server with other users/websites. While it’s an affordable way to start there is a small risk factor. If there’s a problem with another site, or another site receives a huge traffic load, it can bog down your site or take the entire server offline.

With an uptime guarantee you don’t have to worry about this as much, but it never hurts to consider a virtual private server or getting your own dedicated hosting server.

Wrapping it Up
Always look to the options that directly impact site security, control and scalability. Choose the hosting provider that will grow with you, give you the most control and provide you with the ability to customize and best manage the security of your website.

  • Great article!
    Cron jobs and especially .htaccess is some of the most overlooked features of web hosting.
    .htaccess is so powerful regarding controlling access, redirects etc. and it’s a very useful guide you linked to, thanks.