If you want your website to be successful, it’s important to choose the right web hosting company. Naturally, you also have to do your part in creating great content and a professional design. However, your web host plays a crucial role when it comes to providing you with vital resources and support. Without reliable hosting, your site is vulnerable to down time, attacks by hackers and poor performance. The following are the eight most important things to consider when choosing a web host.

1. Plans and Features

Many web hosts offer a variety of shared hosting plans. There may be three or four distinct plans, each with its own cost and features. Before making a choice, you should decide exactly what you need. For example, if you only have one website, you might choose a bargain plan that only includes a single website. If you have multiple websites, you should choose a plan that includes multiple or unlimited websites. Plans may offer different amounts of disk space, bonus coupons or levels of support. You want to be sure to get the features you need. On the other hand, there’s no point in paying for resources you’re not going to be using.

2. Price of Hosting

You have to consider the cost when choosing a web host. When looking at prices, you have to be careful to read all of the fine print. When comparing different web hosts, be sure you’re comparing similar plans. For example, some plans include unlimited websites while others only allow you a single website. You should also make sure you note the renewal rate, which is often higher than the price for the first year.

Many web hosts tempt you with a very low first-year rate, which rises dramatically after that. Finally, you should look at the length of time for which you must sign up to get the advertised rate. In some cases, you have to pay up front for two or three years to get the lowest rate. Other web hosts let you sign up for only one year or even pay month to month.

3. Customer Reviews

You can learn a great deal about web hosting companies by reading reviews. You’ll find both professional and customer reviews for all large web hosts. Both are worth reading. Professional reviews, written on tech and industry blogs, are often more objective and based on thorough research. Customer reviews, on the other hand, give you firsthand accounts of individuals’ experience with different hosts.

It’s best to read multiple reviews and look for patterns. A few bad reviews don’t necessarily mean a web host is bad. Every large company will attract a certain number of complaints. If, however, many people are making the same complaint, it may have some validity.

4. Customer Support

You definitely want to choose a web host that offers reliable support. You never know when you’re going to have a question or problem. You should look for 24/7 support, preferably by phone, email and chat. This ensures you’ll be able to reach someone at any time and by whatever method is most convenient for you. Another factor to consider is whether the company has in-house or outsourced support. Many web hosts outsource support to other countries. This can lead to language difficulties if you have a question. The level of support is one of the things to look for when you read reviews.

5. Control Panel

The control panel is important to consider whether you’re tech-savvy or not. It’s nice to have a dashboard from which you can easily manage all of your site’s features. Most of the larger web hosts provide Plesk or cPanel, which are both quite user-friendly. There are icons for tasks such as setting up FTP, installing scripts, setting up email and much more. Many web hosts offer demos that give you a chance to take a look and try out the control panel before making a commitment.

6. Installations and Scripts

One feature offered by web hosts is support for various scripts. The best-known scripts include WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, but there are many others. Some web hosts offer a wide variety of scripts for shopping carts, membership sites, photo galleries and content management systems. These provide a convenient way to install platforms without having to do any coding. If you want to install such scripts, make sure that the company you choose supports these. Otherwise, you’ll have to install them manually. Or, worse, you might be stuck with a web host that limits the number of databases you can create.

7. Linux or Windows?

Most websites are supported by either Linux or Windows. Almost all web hosts offer Linux hosting, which is the most popular kind. Some, however, also offer Windows. This distinction is mainly relevant if you need to run a certain tool that requires Windows. This includes development tools such as MySQL and ASP.NET. For most purposes, Linux is the better choice. Linux supports popular web applications such as WordPress. If you’re not going to be doing any coding for your site, you are most likely better off with Linux hosting. If you have a programmer or team that handles this, you should ask their advice.

8. Upgrading Options

Most websites are supported by shared hosting. As mentioned, companies may offer several different shared hosting plans. Many hosts, however, also offer more advanced options, such as VPS or dedicated hosting. These are useful for larger sites that get a great deal of traffic. Even if you don’t require such resources today, you might at some point. It’s good to have a web host that offers such plans in case you grow and want to upgrade. It’s a lot easier to upgrade within one company than to have to migrate your site to another host later on.

You should do plenty of research before choosing a web hosting company. You want to find a company that will reliably support our website for many years. This means finding a host that’s reliable, offers great support and has all of the features that you need to make your website a success.