Hosting Guide – How to choose best web hosting

In New Zealand, about thirty companies offer web hosting services. Each one provides additional services such us security SSL certificates, backup options, bandwitdh and much more. We will try to explain everything you need to know when choosing best web hosting for your project.

 

Basic (must have) options for every modern hosting providers are

  • Multiple domain and subdomain name support
  • DNS management
  • Email services
  • SSH access

 

Multiple domains mean that you can use your main domain for example dock.co.nz and add additional subdomain for your crm, forum or any other service on address such a forum.dock.co.nz or crm.dock.co.nz etc.

DNS management needed to add technical records for your domain, some of these records are required by Google for website owner confirmation (TXT records). For example MX, SPF, DKIM, DMARC records needed to protect your project from spam and fishing (more information about it in upcoming articles, so please subscribe).

Email services allows you to create your own brand email, for example info@dock.co.nz, and most providers these days should include such service free of charge.

SSH (Secure Shell) access used not so often as domains or emails and still note every company in New Zealand provides SSH access, but it’s very useful and secure way to work with files then ftp access (file transfer protocol). Secure Shell could be used to connect to your files via terminal (utilites such us Putty or X-Shell) and it’s allows you to make incredible job with text and files such as ‘search and replace’, sorting, analyzing and scan for malware and viruses inside your website files. But these requires more technical skills.

 

Storage and bandwidth limitations

 

Try to avoid “Unlimited” plans.

Each company has their terms and limitations, and avoiding them will entail blocking your site. Each website require some use of CPU and memory resources and too high overload will result in request denial (when website return an error instead of required page). Most unlimited plans, if you read the terms of use, suppose fair use of resource and blocking here depends only on the mood of hosting provider. Of course they will contact you first and ask for upgrading to more expensive plan.

Don’t be lazy, try to learn and understand resource usage of your website. Monitoring your website health status, will help you to avoid possible troubles in future, to understand the cause of increase in average load. Good hosting company must provide you professional explanation of resource usage.

Storage

I am still see some providers in New Zealand offers less then 1Gb (~1000 Megabytes) of storage space for website. This is ridiculous these days. Just think how much space you get on gmail, facebook, youtube, instagram and it’s all free of charge. 1Gb of storage space should be at the lowest price possible for web hosting services.

Bandwidth

Your website has some “weight”. For example, average page with images and scripts takes 1 megabyte. If you have 200 daily visitors and each one open 5 pages, you’ll get 1Gb traffic daily and it’s equals 30Gb monthly. To reduce traffic, you need to reduce page’s weight. Compress image and scripts, use cdn, enable cache. And in results you’ll get 1 hit about 50-100kilobytes and 3Gb montly traffic.

Here is traffic example of past year.

 

Uptime or availability

Sometimes, servers (comptuters, where you website are hosted) needs reload due to errors or updates. When web server working a whole month, it has 100% monthly availability. If it was down for couple hours. It could have 99% of uptime. The higher value of availability is better. Avoid companies with number less then 99%. You can setup website monitoring to get notifications to email when your server isn’t available. The best server fault tolerance you can get from data centers Tier 3 certification level.

Security and Backups

 

Website build with popular content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Prestashop and many others are often get hacked. It’s good to find hosting providers with anti malware check and backups up to month or more. It’s also good practice to download backups from hosting and store them localy or in cloud storage, in case you’ll need backup for couple months ago.

Some commercial or political web sites, could be attacked by hackers by sending a lot of traffic, which cause server overload. It’s called DDoS attack and often blocked immediately by hosting provider. Some of them offer DDoS protection services. Those attacks have a lot of variations and protection of your website worth another good article.

 

Support and Ease of use

Once you got into hosting and websites you’ll need help almost in every situation and require fast answer to all questions you only could have. Unfortunately in New Zealand hard to find 24/7 support with average answer less then 10 minutes or phone support. Many companies doesn’t provide support on weekends and holidays. It may affect your business if you have problems, your website doesn’t working and you need urgent support.

We suggest you to look for hosting provider who provides comfortable and easy to understand control panel. With handy tutorial and documentation, where you can quickly find needed information without reading a ton of useless text. Great if documentation contains screenshots or video tutorials.

 

 

Price

Now, after we learned about most important services that could be included in hosting plan we can talk about price.

 

Price range: 3 to 5 NZD

You get web hosting that just works. With little space, limitations, not guaranteed uptime and lack of security. Also be ready to wait for answers from support, and don’t expect to get professional advices.

Price range: 5 to 10 NZD

More resources, better availability, backups, better support.

Price range: 10 to 25 NZD

This price should provide you best of all services. Most important is support, because at this price, technician department should work 24/7 for such client. Live chat or phone support is mandatory.

 

High load projects

 

In case you have high load project with a thousands of daily visitors or you have project with important transactions, microservices you need more reliable and secure solution such as VPS (Virtual Private Server also known as VDS – Virual Dedicated Server), or Dedicated server. It could be managed or unmanaged too. Which includes administration service of personal monitoring and troubleshooting 24/7.

For high load project you’ll require better Hardware, such as SSD disk instead HDD (for storage). Modern CPU, DDR3 or DDR4 and higher resource limits configuration with allowed peak usage (maximum burst size of requests).

 

Server location affect on network connection. This parameter is critical for banking services, with may transactions, that require shortest response time.

Dedicated IP address for your project could protect you from other clients on shared server if they’ve were spamming, or were attacked. (That’s mean your IP won’t be blackholed on hosting provider routers or IP won’t be marked as spam by services as SPAMCOP).

 

Thanks for reading, don’t hesitate to comment šŸ˜‰

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