Choosing the right company to host your website shouldn't be a whimsical choice one afternoon. If you're planning on making a lot of money with your website then the company you choose will eventually be the cornerstone of your online business.
You can hire and fire web programmers whenever you like, you could even outsource the programming and design of your website instead of having a dedicated programmer. What you can't change overnight is your web hosting environment. Once chosen, it takes days or weeks to get your software running 100% correctly at a website host.
Before you can choose a website hosting company you need to know some basics about your website. These are:
1. The type of software you will be using.
2. The level of security you will need.
3. The physical hardware requirements needed to handle the software
4. The expected amount of traffic you will have to the website.
Choosing the type of software will depend on your budget and ultimate expectations. Some software makes it easy to set up a website, and some software requires a website programmer, but they all have minimum system requirements just like the software you use on your personal computer.
You might have heard of these popular software systems: WordPress, Joomla, Magento, ZenCart, and Drupal. Each of these requires certain versions of MySQL, PHP, Apache, and specific configurations on your website hosting hardware.
Website software will need programming, but if that doesn't interest you then the alternative is to use a service that allows you to drag and drop your website design. Services like Wix, BaseKit, MoonFruit, and Weebly will make your life a breeze. If you go with a service like this you won't need to choose a hosting service since they include it for you.
Once you've chosen your software you need to look for a website hosting company with the right hardware. Hosting options will include "Shared Hosting," "Virtual Private Servers," and "Dedicated Servers."
"Shared Hosting" is a common option for new website owners because it's the least expensive. Other websites will share the hardware with you, which will keep costs down for everyone. There could be hundreds of other websites hosted on the same machine, all using the same hardware resources. Some website hosting companies will fit 100 small websites comfortably on a single shared hosting environment.
One of the common benefits of shared hosting is the pre-installed free website software provided by the hosting company. Normally the website company would tune their equipment to properly use the software they offer, which commonly includes WordPress.
Although I disagreed with the practice, I did meet one jewelry manufacturer that was hosting as many as 276 jewelry sites in the same shared hosting hardware. This was a jewelry vendor that offered jewelry stores free websites along with their initial inventory buy-in.
The overall problem with Shared Hosting is that any one of the websites on the server could cause a malfunction that breaks your website, or even causes security breaches. Once you reach about 400 visitors per day to your website you should consider the Virtual Private Hosting explained next.
"Virtual Private Hosting" is commonly referred to as "VPS." Larger, more sophisticated servers allow for segmented usage of hardware and memory. With a VPS you are paying for a specific amount of hard drive space and RAM. You can install any software you'd like, but you have to do it yourself. You would need a System Administrator to set this up for you if your web programmer/designer doesn't know how. A VPS is a good choice for e-commerce websites, and the cost is still relatively reasonable. The VPS has better security since no other website could interfere with your site.
If you expect thousands of visitors per day, or if your hard drive storage is very high, you will need to look at a Dedicated Server for your web hosting. Dedicated servers could cost as much as the monthly payments on your car and you would also need a System Administrator to set it up and monitor it for you.
Dedicated servers are the best choice for those who custom program their own website software. With custom software there's no way to know what your final hard drive, RAM, or daily visitor count will be, so you should just expect it to be high. Besides, the cost of the hosting will be small compared to the ongoing cost of programming and tweaking your custom software.
In conclusion, do a Google search for website hosting and look for companies that can meet the needs you've outlined for yourself.