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The Importance of Choosing a Reliable Web Hosting Provider

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Your web hosting can make or break your website. The quality of your web host determines your site’s speed, performance and reliability. It’s therefore crucial that you choose a hosting provider who can meet the demands of your website. Read on for more information on how your hosting affects your website:

What is Web Hosting?

Before we explain the importance of choosing a good hosting provider, it helps to have a basic understanding of what web hosting is. To provide a clear idea of how it works, we’ve created the following analogy:

House: The Website

Just like houses, websites range from high-end to budget-friendly. They can be small and simple, or large and ornate.

Land: The Hosting

Your hosting is where your website is stored. It’s your very own ‘plot of land’ on the internet where your website sits.

Fence: The SSL

SSL encryption makes your hosting secure, giving you protection from hackers and viruses. SSL is highly recommended for all websites.

Sign: The Domain Name

The domain name (URL) identifies your website and shows people where to go. It’s unique to your website and links to your hosting.

Web hosting is essentially renting space on a server to store your website so that it can be accessed online. You can purchase it from a range of different providers including Krystal, SiteGround & WP Engine. We even offer our own web hosting for our web design clients.

The price varies between providers and depending on the package you choose. For example, the bigger your website, the more storage space you’ll need. Some web hosts include SSL and/or a domain name in their price (psstt.. we do!), but often these are extra charges.

Why is my choice of provider so important?

As with most things, Web Hosting Providers vary in speed, quality and security. The more complex your website is, the more powerful your hosting will need to be. Here are some things to consider:

Bandwidth

This dictates how much data can be transferred between the hosting server and any site visitors. The more visitors you get to your website, the more bandwidth you need. You'll also need a lot of bandwidth if your site has a lot of downloadable content (eg. PDF files) or media (eg. video and photos). Reaching your monthly bandwidth limit can cause your website to go down or it will incur extra fees. Unmetered or Unlimited Bandwidth is best.

Storage (Disk Space)

Your website files, databases and email accounts will all take up storage space on your web hosting server. The bigger your website is, the more files you will have and therefore the more storage space you'll need. It's important to remember that if you decide to have email accounts associated with your website's domain (eg. info@yourdomain.com), then the emails you send and receive will also be stored on your hosting server and count towards your storage use. The more storage you have, the better.

Memory (RAM)

Just like the memory capacity of your computer, RAM is the memory responsible for running your website's scripts and processes. When a website is accessed, a number of scripts are run (including CSS, Javascript, PHP) to enable the website to load. The more scripts your website uses, the more memory you will need. RAM is a very important factor when it comes to determining the speed of your website as not having enough memory can slow your website down or bring it down entirely with a 500 server error. Aim for at least 512 MB of RAM.

Uptime Guarantee

Sometimes your web hosting provider will encounter a problem and your website will experience downtime (this means that it will be inaccessible and unable to load). Usually this will happen very infrequently and won't last very long, but some poor quality hosting providers can experience downtime very often. The best hosting providers offer uptime guarantees to reassure you that your website will experience minimal problems. Make sure you use a hosting provider with a 99.9% uptime guarantee.

Having tight limitations on your bandwidth and memory can have a detrimental effect on your website, affecting your site’s loading time and availability. It’s also important to choose a reliable and trustworthy provider who can guarantee the uptime of your site. A host who can offer you unlimited bandwidth, plenty of storage space, a high memory capacity and an uptime guarantee is unlikely to incur any problems or error codes. 

WordPress Hosting

Seeing as 30% of all websites on the net use WordPress, many hosting providers now offer specific WordPress Hosting. This is faster and more powerful than regular hosting to meet the demands of a sizeable WordPress site. It’s not essential for a WordPress website to use WordPress Hosting, but it will likely make a positive difference to your load speed and uptime.

What can I expect to see if my website is down?

Most of the time, if your website is unavailable, you’ll see an error code. Here are some common error codes and what they mean:

Hosting Errors

These are related to your web hosting and not your actual website

  • 408 (Request Timeout): The server is running too slowly
  • 500 (Internal Server Error): The server is overloaded
  • 502 (Bad Gateway): The server can't be reached
  • 503 (Service Unavailable): The server is not available
  • 504 (Gateway Timeout): The server is responding too slowly

Website Errors

These errors indicate a problem with your website, not the host

  • 404 (Page Not Found): The requested page can't be located
  • 500 (Internal Server Error): Your website is misconfigured

Most of the time, if your website won’t load or shows an error code, the problem is down to your web hosting and not the website itself. Often, the issue is only temporary and resolves itself in no time. If the problem persists, contact your web host. If your website is unavailable often, consider moving to a different host.

Just a note to say...

All of the websites we design have downtime monitoring, meaning we get notified every time a site is down or taking too long to respond. We’ve found that sites hosted with unreliable providers experience a considerable amount of downtime compared to more reliable providers such as Krystal, SiteGround or our own CRJ Design Hosting. In fact, we have yet to experience any downtime on any of our self-hosted websites!

We’ve also noticed a considerable difference between the load time of websites hosted with unreliable providers and those hosted with more respectable companies. 

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