Ultimate Guide To Web Hosting Plans

Why I Wrote This Post

R ecently I had to buy a few domain names with hosting plans as I planned for  separate Domains and websites for my e-learning website (Xero To Millions – ), my upcoming book and a few other additional sites which I are to be launched in the first quarter of 2016.

I had been researching Hosting plans, pricing and specifications of the top Hosting Providers for a long time and wasn’t able to decide. So I made my own key points list of Specifications I needed and the price I was willing to pay. For my websites, I finalized Namecheap as the best hosting provider. At last,  I decided to take advantage of the discounts offered on Black Friday and it was greatly rewarding.  I was able to buy a good chunk of plans on their Black Friday Flash Sales and has been my best purchase for this year.

Web Hosting Companies Used For Comparing Plans and Services

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What To Expect.

This is a Three part post (as it was getting too lengthy) wherein I’ve detailed into every aspect of Hosting plans offered by some of the Top Web Hosting Companies. I’ve screened offers from eight Web Hosting service providers i.e.  A Small Orange, NameCheap, SiteGround, InMotion, Godaddy, Hostgator, Blue Host and Dream Host. But not all of them could find a place to be in this post. It was either the price, transparency or the value for money which keeps the out of the race.

In this post, I’m sharing a few key points that I considered while finalizing the Hosting Service and Plans. I know every website has different resource requirements,  I’ve tried to be as comprehensive as possible so that you can use this post to screen your Web Hosting Provider before finalizing a Hosting Service and Plan.

I’ve already posted about how to Select the Right Domain Name using the Four R’s which is very much important for the success of your Website/Blog.

The first two parts of this article will guide you through the basics of selecting a Web Hosting company and the right plan while the third plan digs deeper into things you should know before making the buying decision. It’s a deep dive into the fine print of Hosting Plans.

Types Of Hosting Plans

Selecting the right Hosting type is the key decision to avoid most problems that arise in the longer term. Most people miscalculate or completely ignore this part and go for the cheapest Hosting available. I would always advise – Do Not Ignore This Part (if you want a seamlessly fast running website).

Most Hosting Plans advertise Unlimited Storage, Unlimited Bandwidth etc. but are these resources are governed by a FAIR USAGE POLICY, which is covered in detail in the third part of this post.

There are four types of Hosting Server plans sold by providers – Shared Hosing (most common and cheapest), WordPress Hosting, VPS and Dedicated Server. Each of these types is designed for specific users with specific resource requirements. Before you select the server type, take your time to understand each of these and select the right one that shall fit the requirements of your website.

  • Shared Hosting

    This is the most common type of Hosting sold by Hosting providers. In this type of plans, one physical server is shared by multiple users to host their websites. There are limitations on resource usage such as the number of processes, storage, the number of users, the number of websites, etc. Every hosting provider has multiple plans in the shared hosting server category with different resource limitations.   If you’re just starting a new Blog or a standalone Website, a basic shared hosting plan is sufficient to meet your needs. But if you plan to use some premium themes, premium plugins,  host multiple sites or an App, then go for the Pro Plans which have more server resources at your Disposal.

    Most companies advertise Unlimited usage plans but are actually never unlimited. These plans are governed by  Fair Usage Policy – Here are the Things To Look For Before Buying A Hosting Plan.

    Tip: For most Starters, I would suggest the Basic plan with Namecheap (Offers free Domain Name), Tiny or Small Plan From A Small Orange, or the Hatchling Plan from Hostgator (somewhat costly – look for HostGator monthly flash sales here). If you want more firepower, go for the PRO or Ultimate Plan Offered By NameCheap or the Large Plan From A Small Orange

Read Complete Review Of Namecheap Hosting and Domain Services.

 

  • WordPress Hosting

    Good for technically novice individuals who don’t want to get into the nitty gritty’s of setting up WordPress, it’s security, cache, and backups etc. With WordPress Hosting plan you don’t have to worry about most of the things as your Hosting provider will set up everything for you. It’s a bit costly than the shared hosting plans, but a great solution for non-technical people. But it has its own limitation. You may not be able to install some plugins and have limitations on direct access to the server files.

    Most companies advertise Unlimited usage plans but are actually never unlimited. These plans are governed by  Fair Usage Policy – Here are the Things To Look For Before Buying A Hosting Plan.

    Tip: Go for WordPress Hosting If you’re technically novice and want to leave the security and other important aspects to the experts. There will be some constraints on what you can do with the internal working of your WordPress, but won’t be a problem if you’re hosting a simple blog or website. Do not opt for WordPress Hosting plans if you want to host Apps, E-commerce sites or heavy premium plugins. The best Hosting plans for WordPress Hosting are offered by Hostgator, GoDaddy, Ipage Hosting, and Bluehost.

  • Virtual Private Server

    VPS Hosting or Virtual Private Server is somewhat comparable to the Shared Web hosting plans. With a VPS Web hosting Plan, you virtually get an entire server environment with complete autonomy on a shared physical server. Though the physical server is shared by other users, you get complete control on the virtual server acting like a complete machine at your disposal. You can install, uninstall and modify any element or host whatever OS, App you wish in this virtual environment. Most Web Hosting companies use high-end equipment and the best of resources for VPS environments, offering the best in network speed and processing power.

    VPS Plans are priced according to resources like Processor cores, Memory, Bandwidth, Software’s, Platform, and Management. Most Web Hosting companies provide semi managed and fully managed VPS Hosting plans, wherein most of the Tasks are undertaken by the Hosting companies Technical staff on your instructions.

    Tip: VPS Hosting is best for professional Bloggers, Podcasters, App Creators, and Websites with heavy traffic (approx 200,000 page views and more) or media hosting requirements.

    For Hosting my upcoming Online Education Platform Xero To Millions I did lots of research on the various aspects of VPS hosting like hardware, bandwidth, price etc. After looking at all the various options, I finalized on Namecheap as they have the latest hardware, good security, bandwidth, and the least pricing. The second on the list was A Small Orange, InMotion Hosting, and SiteGround but both seemed a bit costly.

Read Complete Review Of Namecheap Hosting and Domain Services.

  • Dedicated Server

    Dedicated Server Plans mean a complete physical machine at your disposal. With all it’s resources and bandwidth this the fastest and most efficient solution for large websites or blogs. You can host Videos, Audio or anything you please, there are no restrictions other than inappropriate content like porn or hate material. But also, you’re at your own risk of managing and securing your Server against malicious attack. Most Hosting Companies like NameCheap, A Small Orange, offer semi-managed Dedicated Sever Hosting plans, wherein the company manages the security and installation part.

    Pricing of Dedicated Servers depends on the Hardware and Bandwidth you choose. Always look for what servers. Hard Disk (SSD Storage is the latest) and processors are being used. Look for network Bandwidth and the provider of this bandwidth. Also, look for the location of your Dedicated server and try to keep it closer to the target Audience geographically.

    Tip: Look for support quality in this segment, as you would require them at almost every step of configuration. I recommend  Namecheap as they have the most modern Hardware with a superb support staff that is willing to go out of the way to help you. You can also try InMotion Hosting and A Small Orange for Dedicated Server offerings they have great Hardware and support, but the plans are pricey. Other providers like Site Ground, GoDaddy are also good, but lack support.

Read Complete Review Of Namecheap Hosting and Domain Services.

Web Hosting Platforms or Server Types

Web Hosting companies offer two types of Server platforms to choose your Hosting Plans from – Linux Based Servers or  Windows Based Servers.

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Choosing a Linux OS based server is the best and cheaper option compared to Windows. Linux is an open source operating system enabling you to choose from loads of Apps developed by Open Source Developers worldwide. On the contrary, Microsoft does not give much leeway to developers by keeping its source code secret. This limits the number of software’s available. Going with the Linux based system also helps in case you have to move your website to another Web Hosting service as almost all Hosting providers use Linux based systems.

Domain Name Registration, Privacy and Trasfers

Not all Web Hosting companies offer Domain Name Registration and Transfer services. It’s always better to go for Web Hosting companies who offer Domain Name related services. Having your Domain and Hosting with a single company helps in having a single point of management. Having a different Domain name provider and Hosting companies can lead to finger pointing to the other while resolving support issues.

Hosting Companies like Bluehost, Site Ground do not offer domain name services. The best Web Hosting companies that also provide Domain Name related services are NameCheap, A Small OrangeGoDaddy, DreamHost and HostGator.

Domain Privacy

Domain Privacy is one of the most essential features for Domain Name owners. It masks the original Domain name owners personal info like Name, Address, email address, and phone number from public search. This prevents any kind of malicious activity like Domain grabbing, stalking or letting your information in the hands of spammers. GoDaddy and Host Gator offer Domain privacy to their customers, but at an add-on price.

NameCheap is the only provider that offers FREE Domain privacy features using WhoIsGaurd Domain privacy.

Domain Name Transfers

If you already own a Domain name and wish to transfer it to the new Hosting Company look for Domain Transfer services and assistance offered, as this can bring down your Website/Blog if done wrong.

I recently transferred a few of my domain names to Name Cheap and was very much pleased with the way they handled the transfers. NameCheap also offers a Free Domain Name when you buy a Hosting Plan and offer superb assistance in Domain Name Transfers minimizing any downtime of your Website.  Even GoDaddy offers a free domain name with a Hosting account, but I’ve no experience regarding transfers with them. Also, do check out A Small Orange – offers a free domain and two extra months of Hosting when you buy an annual plan.

Dedicated IP Address and SSL Securtiy

If you plan to Host an eCommerce website and will be processing payments on your site, you will require a Dedicated IP address and an SSL Certificate. Check whether your prospective Web Hosting Company offers you a Dedicated IP Address, on what plan and at what price.Whatever plan you decide to buy do check availability and pricing for these two services. Also, check for the management tools offered for managing your SSL certificates.

The second most important thing to look for is SSL Encryption. Check whether the Web Hosting Company offers SSL, what are the Brands, Types of SSL  Certificates provided and at what price. Also, check for the management and installation tools offered for managing your SSL certificates as managing your SSL isn’t an easy task.

I just bought a Comodo SSL from Namecheap for my E-Learning website Xero To Millions at a real bargain on the Black Friday sale. They also offer SSL certificates from Thawte, Geo Trust and Symantec with plans starting at as low as $9. Another good provider for SSL is Godaddy, but the plans are a way bit costly and offer very few options.

Tip: One thing I learned while implementing SSL on my E-learning website – Look for how much support and integration tools the provider is offering to help you. Activating SSL Certificates isn’t that tough, but getting the Green Lock and securing the Transaction pages requires a lot of editing to your .htaccess, php.ini and other PHP files in your WordPress installation. I’m pretty happy with NameCheap Support as they help me implement the whole thing in a few hours – they have a great tool in the C-panel for implementing and activating SSL on the desired installation. Their support team helped me in editing the necessary files within minutes of my request. Read Complete Review Of Namecheap Hosting and Domain Services.

Plan Pricing

I’ve spent nights comparing Plan pricings and the value for money offered by each of the Top Hosting providers. I compared them on all of the key points in the various segments like Shared Hosting, WordPress Hosting, VPS Hosting and Dedicated servers. Throughout my research one more important aspect I would like to point out is, don’t just look at the promotional price offered for the first year or first month. Look at the long term costs. How much would renewal cost after the first year or after the promo period? How much do additional services and upgrades cost?

I was astonished to find “Costly Doesn’t Mean Better” in the Web Hosting space. After a thorough revision lasting over a month, Namecheap and A Small Orange are the only Hosting providers offering you the cheapest price and the best value for money without degrading the services. They are transparent over what servers they use, what networks they are using and also additional services like upgrades, transfers, SSL and the Fair Usage Policy. Another option worth checking is InMotion Hosting but are on the higher side of the price scale.

Godaddy, Blue Host, SiteGround and Hostgator offer promo prices that seem pretty lucrative. But when you reach the checkout page and start adding some basic addon’s, the Cart starts to get a bit costly. Also, the prices for renewals and additional services like Domain Name, Domain Privacy, Upgrades etc are on the higher side. There is no mention about what Hardware and network being used.

Example: GoDaddy sells WordPress hosting but hosts the site with WPEngine (another Hosting provider). This comes to notice only when you start installing some plugins and are not allowed to do so because they conflict with the services provided by WPEngine.

So if you’re looking for Web Hosting at the  Cheapest price with the Best of ServicesName Cheap and A Small Orange easily beat the rest.

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