A church or ministry needs to have an online presence! There are many ways to be online – social media accounts, forums, listing in online directories, to name a few. But I believe that it is crucial for a church or ministry to have its’ own online “home” – a domain name and website. Of course, the website and the social media accounts will be linked and used together coherently. But there should be that “home” website to drive traffic toward on a regular basis. The website can be the hub from which you can link to the other places where your church has an online presence.
A website needs a host to host it. This often means signing up for a hosting service. If you do an internet search for website hosting, you will receive an almost overwhelming list of results. How do you know what you are even looking for regarding a web hosting company? How much should you be looking to spend?
What Should I Be Looking For?
I have had experience with several web hosting companies through the years. There are several features that I like to find in a web hosting service:
- Affordability – If you are just starting out with a website or blogging, or maybe even a small business, you do not need some sort of dedicated server corporate level hosting plan. Look at the basic shared hosting plans offered by various companies. The cheapest or second cheapest plan will probably be totally adequate for you for awhile (if not forever). If your website really takes off, you can always upgrade to a higher level plan in the future.
- cPanel – I am partial to cPanel. It seems to be the most common web hosting control panel. I would tend to stay away from hosting companies who don’t offer cPanel as their backend control panel. With cPanel, you can know that you are getting a pretty standard set of options and features – plus, if you have questions about how to do something, cPanel is so common that you should be able to easily find information in a Google or YouTube search about how to use it.
- SSD Storage – Many web hosting companies now offer some form of SSD (Solid State Drive) storage for their customers. SSD storage is theoretically faster than the old-school spinning hard drives. Some hosting companies offer pure SSD storage, others offer a hybrid between SSD and spinning hard drive storage. At this point, there is really no reason not to go with at least a hybrid solution – although a pure SSD solution would certainly be preferable.
- SSL Email Encryption – Many (maybe most) web hosting companies offer SSL Email Encryption for the email accounts set up through their service. If you find a hosting company that does not offer this, I would suggest looking elsewhere.
- Included Limits – Different hosting companies and different plans include different limits. Make sure to take a look at how much the plan allows: the number of domains, how much storage, how much monthly bandwidth, how many email accounts, how much email storage space, etc. While you may not need unlimited allowances, make sure that you have some room to grow.
- Data Centre Location(s) – Where does the company host their websites? This may not be a big deal to you unless you are dealing with data that might be subject to privacy laws that govern which country you can legally store the data in.
- Customer Support – Make sure that whatever company you decide to go with offers 24/7/365 support. Some companies offer phone support, while others only offer online support.
- Free Domain Name – Some hosting companies offer a free domain registration with your hosting account. This could save you a little bit of money per year, but I wouldn’t let this be the deciding factor for you. In fact, I think there could be some good reasons to have your domain registration taken care of by a different company. For one, it might simplify the process if you ever decide to transfer to a different website hosting company.
- Miscellaneous – Some hosting companies advertise that they are “green.” While taking care of the environment is certainly a noble endeavor, this may or may not be a selling point for you.
I hope that these tips give you some helpful direction when it comes to choosing a web hosting company from the myriad of options out there. If you have questions about web hosting that aren’t answered in this post, please feel free to ask them in the comment section below.
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[Post last updated on February 22, 2019]