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Shared hosting is by far one of the most popular web hosting solutions in the market. Affordable and easy to set up, hosting providers offer a variety of plans under shared hosting, specifically designed to address the diversified needs of independent webmasters, designers, or IT service providers. Given the wide range of schemes, choosing the best shared hosting plan can be a challenge.

You are not only required to weigh the specific needs of your business/website/web application but also analyze them against the benefits offered by the hosting provider.  To help you reach an informed decision, here are some useful tips:

Tip #1  Assess your business requirements

A clear picture of your own business requirements is the first step towards finding the perfect shared hosting environment for your website or web application. Begin this exercise by analyzing the following questions.

  • Are you looking for a basic WordPress Website/Blog?

If yes, a basic shared web hosting plan may be a feasible option for you. Conversely, if your requirements are complex, involving periodic video content publishing or high resolution image uploading, you may have to upgrade to a dedicated hosting plan. This will ensure your website’s stability and high performance.

  • Is traffic to your website likely to grow significantly in the future?

If you are working on a new marketing strategy to increase web traffic or intending to create a buzz around an upcoming event or holiday season, it’s imperative that your portal be backed by a reliable web hosting plan that can absorb high traffic. Consult your hosting provider, share your business goal and ask for the best shared hosting plan that is in line with your needs.

  • How critical is website’s load time to your business?

In case of an e-commerce set up, website’s loading time becomes critical for customer retention. Websites hosted on shared web servers at a datacenter which is half-way across the world from your audience may experience slow load time because of the bandwidth, CPU time and other server resources being shared among multiple sites. A slow loading website can be detrimental to your business. Therefore, an analysis of this requirement is important.

  • Does your website deal with confidential information?

If your website carries confidential information about your client’s (credit card details, health history, etc.) frequent software changes are necessary for security reasons. Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal, Magento, etc. push updates with security fixes on a regular basis. To prevent security breaches, upgrading these platforms is imperative. However, in a shared hosting environment there is no guarantee for regular software upgrades.

Tip #2  Make sure the shared hosting package includes access to cPanel or Plesk

A Management interface such as cPanel or Plesk is the backbone of a shared web hosting plan. Many web host providers include these as part of the offering to facilitate better management of the website.  On Linux shared Hosting, cPanel is the most popular option while Plesk rules the Windows market. Both these simplify tasks like email authentication, file uploading, Sub domain, add-on domain and backup management, etc. much better than most other interfaces. Thanks to this, business owners with little to no technical expertise can manage the website independently.

Tip #3  Be Wary of Low Pricing

You have managed to crack an amazing deal on your shared web hosting plan. But, is the pricing too good to be true? Many business owners fall for shared plans because they are quite affordable. However, affordability is just one aspect. The plan should be robust enough to satisfy the current needs of your business and to some extent future requirements as well. Therefore, dig into a plan that includes the following metrics –

  • Total number of domains– For instance, single Plan is designed for independent business owners whose needs span to just one domain. On the other hand, if you opt for a multi/business plan, it would enable you to host multiple domains on behalf of your clients
  • Disk Space & Email – Opt for a plan that offers unlimited disk space and Email
  • Software Compatibility- The software environment of the hosting plan should be compatible with popular CMSs like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Moodle, etc.

Tip #4  Check the location of the shared server

When selecting a shared hosting plan, do check with your web host provider on the location of the shared server.  The load time and speed of the website are determined by where the server is located. For instance, if your primary market is the US, the location of the server must be local. A locally located server will enable faster loading of the website, thus offering a better user interface for the target audience.

Tip #5  Dig into the reputation of the web hosting provider

Finally, with so many hosting providers in the market, the parameters to choose one can be quite confusing. The Web hosting industry is a very competitive field, so finding similar plans offering similar features at an affordable price point is not difficult. So, how does one narrow down the choices of a hosting provider? Dig into the reputation of the provider.  Go for hosting companies that are experts in the field. This is what you must do-

  • Conduct a preliminary search on Google and prepare a list of hosting providers
  • Scan the company’s website, read the blog, FAQ and the customer review section of each provider
  • Check if the company has a social media presence and read direct customer reviews.
  • Find out the uptime score and the customer support system of the hosting provider etc.
  • Besides online research, talks to peers and find out the reputation of the company. You could also post your query on Quora or similar discussion forums.

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