Choosing a hosting
This article is focused on the most common version of hosting services: PHP + MySQL.
First of all, you need to establish whether the new hosting (if you already have one), or rather the selected tariff plan, allows you to host and ensure effective reliable operation of the site in a new location.
Right off the bat, or immediately about the non-obvious
Nowadays it is fashionable among hosting companies to write about providing unlimited disk space (and other unlimited ones). It is clear that this should not be an outright deception, but there must be some other restrictive mechanisms, well, because you simply cannot give away a non-fixed resource for a fixed amount. And, of course, there are such nuances.
To begin with, it is worth noting that hosting provides its service specifically for hosting a website, and not for storing, for example, your home photo-video archives (such “abuse” is easily detected and stopped).
A modern website, from the point of view of the file system, is, as a rule, an engine + plugins + graphic resources, documents for downloading, etc. This is a very large number of small files. Even in large quantities, they do not take up much space, but by installing several CMS engines, you can easily exceed the hosting limit on the number of so-called inodes. Simply put, this is the total number of folders and files on the account.
Modern hosting companies do not indicate this parameter on the pages of their tariff plans, but it is easy to find by googling on forums, in the hosting help sections, or by directly asking their support team about it. Those. It’s not that it’s a secret, but this information is not advertised. As a rule, if we are not talking about dedicated servers, the figure fluctuates around 200-300 thousand, with a maximum of 600 thousand.
In addition, installing a caching system, due to the specifics of its operation, significantly, sometimes many times, increases the number of these same inodes. And without caching, your site will be much inferior to competitors in speed, and, as a result, in indexing and promotion by search engines.
Example. You have hosting with unlimited disk space, or with a fairly large limit, say 100 GB. And you have two sites on Prestashop, each with 10,000 products, the caching system is enabled. Without going into details, we can say with confidence that you will not immediately, but quickly exceed the average inodes limit, and your service will be cut off. At the same time, physically you will probably take up a maximum of 5 GB of space, and even then, if you uploaded unoptimized photos from your iPhone to the site, 5-10 MB each (which is very, very bad, but this is a topic for another article). So, as a result, you have taken up 5% of the disk space, but at the same time you have exhausted the limit on the number of files. That’s all unlimited for you!
By the way, about the pictures. You must keep in mind that each photo or image you upload to the site is processed in modern engines during loading and, in addition to the main file, a number of thumbnails are created – from 2 to 7, depending on the engine and the purpose of the graphics. Thus, the number of inodes when adding products or galleries to a blog grows quickly, and it becomes obvious that because of this limitation, you will not be able to host an online store with a large number of products on a regular shared hosting.
Let’s just do the math: an online store engine on WordPress+Woocommerce with the necessary set of plugins (not a very sophisticated option) will immediately take from 30-40 thousand inodes, then each product needs an image, for which, as mentioned above, will be created on average when loading 3-4 miniatures. What if you have more than one picture for your product, but a gallery? Just count, 30 – 40 thousand products and images for them – that’s all, the file limit has been selected. And we haven’t considered caching yet, but 100 thousand inodes can be allocated for it, depending on the size of the database, i.e. if we want to use caching, then we reduce the number of products from the above number by three times.
In addition, there are cases (from not very conscientious companies) when hosting includes archived copies of the site created on the account in the calculation of the disk space limit.
Another parameter that is often not indicated in tariff plans, but it is no less important, is the maximum database size. Not the total size of all databases, but rather the size limit of one database. Sometimes there really is no such limit, and it is simply determined by the overall disk space limit. And sometimes there is, and it can be quite small, for example, 1-2 GB. And here a situation arises when you still have a wagonload of disk space and a small cart, and the database, without which a modern site cannot work, which stores mainly all the text content of the site, has reached the limit – and that’s it, the site cannot grow further.
This must be known in advance, otherwise, in the case of a rapidly growing online store or forum, you will easily exceed this limit and you will have to switch to a different tariff. And here again a surprise may await you: the discount that you often have on your first purchase no longer works when you switch to an increased tariff and you will have to pay the new tariff in full. Well, or spend money on moving the site again, then you have to look at what is more profitable.
It’s like in life here. Theoretically, the globe (like a hosting for hosting your life) is unlimited for you in terms of space and possibilities, but you constantly run up against the limits of specific financial resources, time, health, etc.
And now about more obvious, but no less important things
We will simply list them here. This list can be considered as a kind of checklist on the topic – what tools and what additional capabilities does hosting provide for working with the sites hosted on it.
Here is a list of the main points to pay attention to. The order of the items does not reflect their importance.
- Convenience of the admin panel, intuitiveness and accessibility of important sections, so that you do not have to waste precious time studying the help and communicating with the support team when solving standard problems.
- Methods of contacting support, their response time and quality of service. Availability of a history of requests and the ability to give an assessment.
- Does the hosting provide SSH access? For large sites this is not just important, but critically important. Without this, for example, you simply will not archive and/or deploy a large database. It will also be difficult to work with large file archives and do many other standard operations.
- Does hosting provide the service of attaching an SSL certificate to the site (for https://) There are possible options: there is no service (this practically does not happen anymore) / the service is provided free of charge / one-time payment / annual payment.
- Postal service limits. This is generally forgotten when hosting a website. But if you use corporate email or, more simply put, have or plan to have emails like email@example.com, then this aspect is important for you.
- Availability, convenience and quality of a file manager and database management system through appropriate web interfaces, i.e. through the hosting admin panel.
- Possibility and convenience of editing DNS records. Even if you don’t know what it is, just check that there is such an option in the hosting admin panel.
- Ability to select PHP version. It is desirable to be able to choose different versions for different sites. Memory limits allocated for scripts. Limit on the size of downloading and deploying the database archive (dump) through the hosting web interface.
- Limits on the number of hosted sites, and whether these limits take into account sites hosted on subdomains. Ease of adding and setting up websites on subdomains.
- Methods and convenience of payment, the presence of a refund period without specifying reasons, conditions for switching between tariffs, the possibility of returning unused funds in case of early cancellation of services.
- Availability of an automatic archiving and recovery system: periods, customization options.
- The ability to select the location (country) where the server on which the site will be located is located, as well as the ability to transfer the site between servers in the future.
- Availability of our own analytics systems, caching, SEO tools, anti-virus protection systems, automatic installation systems for standard engines and other standard tools.
- Availability of additional services that distinguish the hosting company from its competitors.
This list is far from exhaustive, but quite sufficient for an initial assessment when choosing hosting. In addition, on the Internet you can find a number of independent sites that specialize in monitoring hosting providers, their evaluation and ranking.
However, there is nothing more valuable than personal experience when working with a specific hosting provider. And we have it, and a lot of it 🙂