Everyone knows the basic details to look out for when choosing a hosting provider – storage capacity, scripting languages, database access, dedicated servers (if necessary), and so on.
But there is more to a good relationship with a hosting company beyond these points, and it’s important to familiarize yourself with the way the market works as closely as possible before picking any specific company.
You’ll find that a few features that often receive less attention tend to be just as important in the long run as the major ones and knowing what to look for can make all the difference in how satisfied you’ll be in the end.
Easy Application Installation
One of the most important features you’ll probably be interested in if you want to set up multiple websites quickly and without any hassle, is the ability to quickly deploy various applications in a few clicks.
From control panel solutions like cPanel to messaging boards like phpBB and others, and of course popular content management systems like WordPress, there are many things that you can easily deploy without needing any specialized knowledge in the area.
This is a particularly useful feature for those who plan on running multiple e-commerce sites, in which case you’ll be able to benefit from one-click installs quite well.
You will not always need shell access, and if the words don’t ring any bells for you, chances are that you won’t in the end. But if you do need to tweak things from the command line in a more precise manner, you should look for a host that will specifically allow you to do that.
Many people find it surprising that this is not the case for a large number of hosting providers out there and finding one that will actually let you have the full range of control you may be looking for can prove to be quite the challenge.
If that’s the case, you may want to try setting up a more special custom deal with the provider(s) of your choice, but of course be prepared to pay accordingly more for the whole ordeal in the end.
If you’re doing something that you expect to net you nice profits though, then this is certainly not a bad idea, and you should make sure to explore all your options.
On the same page as shell access, you should also look for hosting providers that give you access to cron jobs. Scheduling processes to run at a specific time can optimize your resource usage quite nicely, and it will allow you to have better control over the way your sites are running. It can also be useful for data processing and other similar activities that may require you to execute a number of processes in the background, but just make sure that you don’t go overboard with this.
A common mistake among beginners who learn about cron jobs for the first time is to start relying on them too heavily for various kinds of processing tasks, quickly overloading their systems as a result. Remember that your resources are not infinite, and you’ll have to make careful use of things like processing power and memory. Especially if you are going to have multiple sites running on the same server, some of them critical for your operations.
And if you have any sites that are truly critical for what you’re doing, it might make sense to go for a hosting provider that can give you some reassurance about how much they’ll be up on average. There are various ways to specify this in the conditions of the deal that you’ll end up signing for, so make sure you read the fine print. If you find any of the language confusing, it might be worthwhile to go online and get read up on what experiences other people have with the same company. That should often be enough to figure out if their words about their uptime actually mean anything, or if they’re just carefully trying to avoid telling you that you can’t rely on them.
Also keep in mind that no matter how good a company is, they can never guarantee you perfect 100% availability of your servers. It’s a good idea to have backup solutions available and look into what options you have for spreading the load between your different sites/servers in a reliable way. You’ll often find that there is actually quite a bit you can do on your end to keep things running smoothly without having to rely on the uptime guarantee of your host, but at the same time, it’s also never a bad idea to go for a host that will have your back in case something goes wrong. It may take a while to find the right one, but it will be worth it in the long run.