Web hosting is complicated. With many offerings to choose from, it can be difficult to determine what qualities make the best web hosting for Drupal sites. If you’re in the market for a good server to run your website, here are some of the top mistakes to avoid when making your selection.
Choosing the Wrong Hosting Type
There are many technologies and servers that are advertised as being capable of web hosting. While almost every server can host a Drupal website, the effort and complexity necessary to do so varies widely, and picking the wrong type of hosting might require hiring additional staff or spending extra time maintaining a simple website.
For instance, some web hosts require that you set up a web server manually. You must then configure it to meet the technical requirements necessary to host a Drupal site, as well as continue applying updates and security patches. Additionally, Drupal itself must be manually installed and upgraded. While this certainly gets the job done, it is likely beyond the reach of the average webmaster wishing to run a Drupal site, and takes away resources from running a business or managing a blog.
For best results, choose a shared hosting company with cPanel or another web-based administration panel. Such hosts often include one-click installation methods that set up and deploy all the requirements necessary to run a Drupal site. Additionally, upgrades are often automatic or easy to perform manually, and security features alert webmasters to problems with their website.
Hosting With Unproven Companies
The barrier to entry for starting an Internet-based company is lower than it has ever been. Anyone with the necessary skills and funds can go from an idea to a working prototype in a matter of hours. While this is convenient for business owners launching their ideas, it makes consumers’ jobs more difficult as they sort through crowded markets to find good solutions.
An Internet-based business’ hosting provider is like its foundation. A strong foundation can weather many storms, while a weaker one will crumble quickly. Web hosting for Drupal should take this into account, and support a business as it grows and stumbles.
Good hosting should provide reliable backups to defend against data loss. Solid support is also key, as many organizations cannot afford the personnel necessary to build resilient information technology infrastructures. Additionally, as websites become more popular, a hosting company should provide the necessary infrastructure to scale and respond to security threats.
Choosing Free Hosting
Web hosts sometimes offer free hosting plans, and choosing one of these can be tempting for the blog or business in its early days. However, the claim that you get what you pay for is definitely true in these situations, and it is almost always better to pay for hosting than to get it for free.
Many free hosts subsidize sites by selling ads which webmasters have no control over. As such, businesses may find themselves advertising for competitors, or for causes for which they do not agree. Additionally, support for free plans is often absent, and the terms of service often provide no recourse for sites that are accidentally or purposefully removed.
Any web-based entity should pay for its hosting. For businesses, web hosting is as essential as physical space, or any other infrastructure necessary to selling products or advertising services. Individuals benefit by paying for a platform that will protect their data and enhance their audience. Free hosting is little more than a means for companies to gain access to content for advertising and other monetization strategies that only benefit themselves.
Choosing More Time
Web hosts often offer significant discounts for purchasing services well in advance. On the surface, these seem like great deals. However, advanced purchases lock customers into services they may not need, or cause them to accept substandard customer service that might otherwise encourage switching providers.
Say a business purchases a year of Drupal hosting. Three months in, they discover that customer service leaves lots to be desired, or that the host is not upgrading Drupal in a timely manner. With a year-long contract, it may be difficult or impossible to get a refund, or to switch hosts without losing lots of valuable money and time. With a month-to-month agreement, customers can switch immediately and with minimal downtime.
Long-term contracts are great if the company is proven and the customer relationship is solid. But, when purchasing new hosting, it is better to go month-to-month while testing things out. Once the hosting provider has demonstrated a commitment to good customer service and security practices, purchasing larger blocks of time may be worth considering.
Not Understanding Restrictions
Web hosts often restrict sites in how much bandwidth they can use or disk space they occupy. Still others claim to be unlimited, but place restrictions on resource use that may be obscured in the terms of service. Exceeding a web host’s limits may lead to surprising overage charges, or other restrictions that negatively impact site performance.
It is impossible to set an accurate figure on how many resources a given site will use without a deep understanding of its purpose. Simple blogs or brochure sites have modest requirements, while podcasts and media distribution can vary widely based on popularity. Picking a web host involves understanding your use case, and ensuring that the host’s offerings fit within a site’s projected resource use.
Many factors are involved in choosing the best web hosting provider for a given site, and no single provider is best for all circumstances. However, by keeping the above mistakes in mind, it is vastly easier to narrow down the list of potential hosts, and to select one that will best support a new web-based enterprise.