How to decide which hosting plan is best for you

If you are hosting a website for the first time, you may wonder which package is best for you. Here, we’ll have a look at how you can arrive at a decision on which hosting plan suits your needs best by examining the hosting metrics that matter against what we expect for our site. The method we’ll use to arrive at the right plan will be useful too, for those who already have growing web sites.

Before we get started, you may want to look at our article on the 3 types of web hosting to understand their pros and cons.

Otherwise, starting with the basics, we’ll look at some 5 properties of hosting that can help us make a decision. For this example, I’ll use features available in cPanel interface to make the descriptions. I chose cPanel because its the most popular web hosting control panel and other than their exorbitant increase in prices, I have not heard any other complain about them.

Important Metrics

  • CPU allotment

CPU is the brain of a computer. A computers CPU does the processing of everything the computer does. When deciding your website’s or application’s hosting, you need to understand what amount of hosting CPU is enough for your needs.

  • Memory allotment

Memory, also called RAM is s very fast storage space used to temporarily hold data as its being worked on by the CPU. Generally, more RAM means you can host more visitors on your site concurrently and your site also performs faster.

  • Entry Processes

Entry Processes simply refers to the number of scripts that can run at the same time. Assume you have a php page called login.php, when its accessed, the server executes what is written in that script. That is typically is an entry process. If the login.php script runs another php file, that other task being run is also an entry process. Each script that runs is an entry process.

When your host says the number of entry processes in your account are 20, they mean you can have at most 20 such scripts running at the same time. Now, if accessing a file means 1 entry process runs, then this means at most 20 users can access your site at the exact same time.

But keep in mind that, each entry process may exist only for a fraction of a millisecond then its completed. Poorly coded scripts are the ones that will have entry processes running for many seconds hence causing resources to be held for nothing.

  • Bandwidth

When you want to access the internet, you must have some data bundles on your internet device. Without data bundles, you can’t access a page on the internet. Similarly, for the page to be displayed for you to view it, the server hosting that website page needs to have ‘data bundles’. This ‘server side data bundles’ is what we call bandwidth. Look for a host that provided unmetered bandwidth

  • Disk Quota

Disk quota refers to 2 things:

  1. The disk space provided for your account. This is normally measured in Gigabytes (Gbs) or sometimes Megabytes(MBs) or Terabytes(TBs)
  2. The number of files you can have within your disk space, called inodes.

You need to have enough of both to run your website.

Making the decision

A decision on which package suits your needs should to take into consideration the above metrics. Then going forward, you need to ask your self the following questions:

  • What traffic do I anticipate?

When hosting for the first time, you may project a few users to visit your site. Say 100 users a week. For this kind of traffic, shared hosting packages will comfortably handle. A package with 10 Entry Processes(EP), 256MB RAM and 50% of a 1 CPU will work for you.

However, there are some first time web hosting cases that this won’t work. Consider a popular movement that has been started and has organized an event that require people to register online. Obviously, you expect many users to register all through the event and especially during the first and last days. This means, the scenario above of gradual growth starting from smal traffic wont apply for you and you have to go for high resources right from the start. For very high traffic sites, a VPS is recommended and for very high traffic, you need a dedicated server.

It all boils down to how accurately you access the traffic anticipated.

  • What amount of storage space do I want to use?

There are two types of websites you need to know of: Static sites and dynamic ones. Static sites are sites that will remain the same as they were deployed. People will not upload content or details, hence making the site change. A dynamic site is one that will change from what was initially deployed. You upload a site with a database that is empty and by the end of the day, 200 users have uploaded their profiles and registered their emails. That’s a growing site. If you have a static site, you dont need much space to host site. You may find that even 1gb is enough for your site.

However, if your site is dynamic, you need to have enough space for your site to grow. Depending on how many uploads you expect your users to have you need to select several Gbs of storage. Most blogs start well with 10GB then upgrade if need be. If you are running an enterprise level application, you need dedicated server infrastructure with Terabytes of space.

  • How important is the data being hosted?

Well, when you host a website online, obviously, the data you have is important. Imagine loosing all your blog posts from 5 years ago. Auch! Nonetheless, there’s data that’s more important than other data. You get me? I mean, there are systems that are very critical and companies that are very big. Depending on how relevant and busy your website is, you need to choose your hosting plan wisely. For mission critical data, forget about shared hosting plans. Use dedicated servers preferably, or VPS. If you are hosting a company as big as Cocacola, even if they were to use a static site, you can’t host this site on a shared platform. This is because of the security concerns and control. You need these aspects at their best and configurable.

There are other factors to consider when hosting a website or web application, but the basics are highlighted here. For enterprise level hosting, there are more aspects that need to be examined e.g types of storage media I.e SSD or HDD, type of RAM and CPU power which are beyond the scope of this article. But when you need to host these kind of applications, you need to get in touch with your selected server provider. They normally have a specialist who would advice on the needs and set up needed for high availability applications.

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