There are hundreds of web hosts to choose from. Every cheap domain hosting company offers some type of package, a monthly deal, and affordable registration fees. What good is cheap domain hosting if you don’t get the tools and services you need to create and support a successful website? There are some obvious requirements such as server hardware, software, and bandwidth. Here are some additional tips for finding the right hosting.
What Type of Database Do You Get?
There are two major players in the website database platform game: MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server. MySQL is open-source and free, so it’s inherently cheaper for hosts to offer it to customers. However, if you run a Microsoft .NET website, SQL Server integrates easily with ASP.NET. If you’re hosting a site such as Joomla or WordPress, these out-of-the-box applications work well with MySQL. In most cases, you’ll want to use MySQL because it’s the most affordable.
You also want to check for the number of databases you get. If you want to run more than one website, you’ll need more than one database. Many packages that use Microsoft SQL Server only offer one database per site. Hosts that offer MySQL platforms usually give you dozens of databases, so you can add a database at-will without worrying about extra costs. Read the terms of the contract to ensure you get plenty of databases to work with your current site and any future sites.
Domains and Subdomains
Did you know that the www part of your domain name is not the same as when you remove the www (also known as the non-www form)? You probably don’t realize that a host might only support one form (either the www or the non-www) and not the other. This becomes an issue for visitors and search engines. If the host doesn’t support the non-www form, people who type this version into the browser will get a broken site. A broken site is the ultimate way to lose traffic.
What’s the answer? Look for a host that offers better DNS management. DNS is the translation service of the Internet. Your browser does a lookup for the IP address that matches the friendly domain name typed into a browser. After the IP address is found for your web server, the browser connects to the server and opens your website. The www and non-www version of your site need DNS entries, so ensure that your hoster offers support for both versions.
Some cheap domain hosting companies offer subdomains. Subdomains let you organize your information better. For instance, put a blog on “blog.yourdomain.com” to help visitors easily find your industry articles and news. The “blog” part of the URL is the subdomain, and it lets you basically create “a site within a site” or a “sub-site.” It’s also a good way to organize content for search engines. Some cheap web hosting companies also let you have aliases, so you can point multiple domain names to one URL.
To summarize, make sure your hosting company offers support for www and non-www, and you have options for subdomains.
What Happens When Your Website Crashes?
Whether it’s an application failure or hardware crash, there will be a time you need support from your host. What type of support does the host offer? Does the host back up your files? What happens when the site gets attacked? What security does the host offer? These are just a few security questions you should be concerned with. If you don’t back up your files (don’t forget the database!), you’re dead in the water if the host’s server crashes. Make sure there is some kind of backup solution.
Most webmasters experience some kind of hacker attack, whether it’s from SQL injection or a denial-of-service. SQL injection is the process of “tricking” the database server into running malicious statements. These statements insert links, content, or embedded code without your knowledge. A denial-of-service attack floods the server with requests, which eventually overload the server’s resources and crash it. Your host should have some type of mitigation techniques at the firewall level for DoS protection. SQL injection is the result of poor code, but this is where the backups help you if you are the victim of SQL injection.
To summarize, after you complete the domain name registration process, it’s time to think about hosting. Cheap domain hosting is affordable and convenient for those people just starting out, but it’s not worth it if you don’t get some benefits and scalability to grow the business. If you’re still not sure how to choose a domain hosting company, here is a handy list of questions you should ask yourself as you’re shopping around.
|What type of security does the host have?||Denial-of-Sevice (DoS) or other hacks can crash your website. Ensure the host is able to handle mitigation of these attacks.|
|What happens after data loss?||Check for a host that has backups.|
|If my website is down, who do I call?||Find a host that offers 24/7 support either online or though a support line.|
|What do I need for a dynamic site?||Make sure your hosting plan gives you at least 1 database.|
|What if I want to create a subdomain?||You can use subdomains for test servers or just to organize your content. Check that your host offers subdomains.|
|Windows or Linux?||Sites such as Joomla and WordPress run off of PHP, so Linux is the more natural hosting OS. ASP.NET sites work with Microsoft Windows.|
|MySQL or SQL Server database?||SQL Server works naturally with .NET applications. MySQL is more affordable and works inherently with Linux/PHP sites.|
|Do I get email?||A professional business uses an email address that uses the website domain. The host should give you a number of email inboxes you can setup.|
|How do I upload files?||FTP is the easiest way to upload your site. Some cheap web hosting companies don’t offer it, but they should give you some solution instead.|
|How do I renew my domain?||When you register a domain with a host, make sure the host has an auto-renew process, so the system automatically purchases the domain again without your intervention.|