Once the domain of the über geeky or forward-thinking business owner, having your own website is a very wise move for many of us. You can use that website as a springboard for a burgeoning freelance career in your chosen field, to advertise homemade wares, to provide directions for your wedding, or simply to write down your thoughts and feelings as part of a blog. Having your own web space is wonderfully open ended like that, and a great way to get your name out there in whatever way you wish to be seen.
That's why there are hundreds of different web hosting companies out there, keen to grab your attention and provide a quicker way of setting you up than the last web hosting site. So, where do you begin with knowing what you need from your web hosting provider? Well, there are some key things to consider before we delve into suggestions of the best hosting firms out there.
SEE ALSO: How to start your own blog
First of all, what do you actually need? Do you know your way around website design or are you planning on hiring someone to develop a website for you? In which case, you don't need to worry about web hosting packages that include a website builder. Alternatively, if you're doing it all yourself and you're a novice, a web hosting site that offers quick Wordpress installations along with extensive customer support is important for you.
Shared web hosting is one cost effective way of launching your site because it has your site hosted alongside other people's businesses or blogs. By sharing resources, you save money but it can also slow down the performance of your site. People are used to sites loading near instantly nowadays and if your site is sluggish, it may put them off waiting around or clicking through links. Shared web hosting is fine if you're running a personal blog, but a bad idea if you have a growing business to develop online. First impressions count.
Another thing to consider is bandwidth and storage constraints. If you're launching a business site and expecting it to grow quickly, you want a package that offers a substantial amount of bandwidth. Oftentimes, storage isn't as big a concern though, unless you're uploading many high resolution images to advertise your products. Don't get enticed by a service that offers more than you could ever possibly need. It might be false economy.
Similarly, keep an eye on pricing. Many sites offer attractive introductory offers for the first year, but the price can ramp up significantly in later years. You can move your website over to a different web hosting company but this can be awkward to do if you're not overly experienced with website development. Sometimes, it's easier to stick with what you know so you want a balanced price - one that doesn't have any sneaky loopholes or caveats.
Now that you've had time to think about what exactly you need from your web hosting plan, we've taken a look at some key scenarios and determined the best web hosting sites for every situation.