by David Murton on 14/04/11 at 10:09 am
Before starting a blogging business, it’s important to select a high quality web hosting services provider. This allows for dedicated bandwidth and storage space, which may be necessary depending on the traffic you expect for your blog. Other considerations, including your chosen blogging platform, desired security levels and web hosting costs, are important as well.
What Blogging Platform Do You Want to Use?
Before choosing a web hosting service for your blog, it’s important to determine which blogging platform you’d like to utilize. Some of the most popular blogging platforms such as Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress and Posterous, are browser-based applications that you may use indefinitely, free of charge. In addition to a blogging platform’s features and functionalities, it’s crucial to examine the hosting requirements it meets and its supported services, such as PHP, MySQL and Java Script.
Tumblr, for example, supports XML, HTML, and Java Script outputs as well as blogs optimized for mobile devices such as the iPhone. WordPress, on the other hand, supports MySQL 4.1.2 and higher, PHP 4.3 and higher, nginx and Apache. WordPress also support suPHP, which utilizes your account username as opposed to your server’s shared username. This enhances security, and it’s offered by many of the best web hosting services.
If you already have a web hosting company in mind, check its site to see whether they allow you to manually install a blogging platform from their panel. It’s important to verify that the latest version of the blogging software is offered, as out-of-date blogging platforms can pose problems.
Expectations in Terms of Traffic and Bandwidth
The amount of bandwidth required by your blog depends largely on the amount of traffic you expect. If this will be your first blog, starting with a small package from a web hosting service may be ideal. For around $25 per year, you can access shared web hosting with approximately 150 MB of space and 4.5 GB of bandwidth each month. Prices tend to escalate on a fairly straight scale, with 5 GB of space and 100 GB of monthly bandwidth for $20 per month.
Dedicated business hosting is preferable to shared hosting for large-volume, high traffic blogs. Business hosting is advantageous because fewer accounts are placed on each server and your blog will receive a dedicated IP address. Business hosting costs around $40 per month for 3.5 GB of space and 90 GB of bandwidth, or $60 per month for 6.5 GB of space and 150 GB of bandwidth.
For a small monthly fee, many hosting services allow you to resell web hosting. This allows you to split your account into smaller accounts and resell the accounts you don’t need for whatever price you’d like, allowing you to significantly offset your normal monthly web hosting bill.
If you plan to use a lot of plugins for your blog (which may be necessary for posting video or photo galleries, integrating Google Analytics, managing style sheets, tracking ads, etc.), this can drastically increase your need for additional speed and bandwidth. Blogs with too many plugins and slow web hosting get bogged down very quickly, driving away traffic due to poor usability.
As your blog becomes more popular, it may become a target for hackers looking to profit or create mischief. The best web hosting companies prioritize security through state-of-the-art encryption methods, including SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). Seek a web hosting service that offers both of these services with 128-bit or higher encryption, which is the government standard.
SFTP encryption is perhaps more important for blogs than SSL encryption, as SSL is primarily utilized by e-commerce sites that need to protect sensitive data, such as credit card and bank account information, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. Since most blogs don’t deal with this sort of information, many bloggers prioritize SFTP encryption, which prevents hackers from intercepting, viewing and manipulating files as they’re transferred. This is an updated, more secure version of FTP, or File Transfer Protocol.
A web hosting company that offers these security services isn’t automatically secure, as the services require enforcement and compliance on the part of the company itself. A simple Google search for “[hosting company] security” should reveal any potential security leaks as described by users.
If you decide to register a domain name with your web hosting company, determine whether they allow you to mask Who.is domain data. This prevents other individuals from seeing your domain’s IP address and ownership details, along with other potentially sensitive information.
Where Should the Hosting Company be Based?
Many bloggers assume that it’s ideal to choose a hosting company that’s based near their blogging business geographically. While this may be incidentally true, it’s best to choose a hosting company that’s based where you expect most of your traffic to originate from. If you’re an American blogger that caters mostly to Europeans, then the ideal location for web hosting company is in Europe.
Of course, major hosting companies often maintain servers in several regions of the world in order to maximize speed and efficiency. Before registering with any hosting company, ask for a list of where their available IP addresses are located.
Backups and Technical Support
As with any company, web hosting services regularly perform maintenance. This maintenance can directly lead to downtime for your blog. Any good web hosting company offers a clear, guaranteed policy on downtime, with a percentage value representing minimum guaranteed uptime.
By asking your potential web hosting provider some important questions, you can learn more about their policies for tech support, backups and maintenance:
Does the hosting company backup its data regularly? Is there a fee for backing up your blog database more frequently? Is any interaction required on your part to initiate a backup?
What technical support avenues does the hosting service provide? Is it available during normal business hours (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) only, or on evenings and weekends as well? Is there a fee for “premium” tech support, or is all support free? Popular support channels include:
- Live chat
In the case of an emergency, can a ticket be filed directly to the hosting company’s technicians? A high quality web hosting service will handle these tickets within 12 hours.
David Murton has been helping companies build and maintain their online relationships with customers since 2006. He is also a professional writer and blogger, with a particular interest in the open source Drupal platform. On a more personal note, David is an avid piano and accordion player, drawn especially to music of the classical and romantic periods. View more articles by David Murton.