It’s as complex to choose a hosting provider as developing an app or website. Additionally, it’s of paramount importance that you pick the perfect hosting provider. The reason being: you can’t switch from one hosting service to another without incurring the necessary cost and time, which might affect your customers too.
That being said, it’s not easy to pick a Hosting Provider since there are numerous hosting service providers that offer different features and packages. That’s why you must learn the crucial features and their impact on the performance and security of your app or website. And then, you can choose the right provider.
However, if you understand these features, it’s still a tedious process to browse through every hosting provider, read their features, compare them, and then pick the right provider for your project. So, what’s the solution? I’ll suggest a potential solution after discussing some essential features. Let’s get started.
Significant Features of Web Hosting
First of all, let’s check out the important aspects you must consider while choosing a hosting provider. The provider may offer one of these natively, or it may integrate or support it using a third-party solution. Nevertheless, you must confirm that it implements the below features — either native or third-party.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network — aka Content Distribution Network — is a geographically distributed network of data centers and proxy servers. A CDN usually serves static content to the users including but not limited to web pages, images, live or non-live streaming videos, and software and scripts.
How does it work?
A CDN usually helps you to cut short latency for your users. The latency is the time taken for a packet of data to transfer from its source to its destination.
Let’s take an example. If your server is located in New York, US and if your user is located in Mumbai, India, the packets have to travel all the distance from the US to India, meaning, latency will be high. Then, let’s say you opt for a server in Delhi, India, then the packets have to travel less — from Delhi to Mumbai.
That’s why CDNs have become so popular in the last decade; CDNs help you to decrease latency and boost load times of your app or website affordably.
How does it help?
According to Google, page load times are super crucial because “53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. Our data shows that while more than half of overall web traffic comes from mobile, mobile conversion rates are lower than desktop. In short, speed equals revenue.”
CDNs help you to speed up your app’s or website’s load times, i.e., it helps you drive more traffic and generate more revenue. That’s why you must look for a hosting provider with a CDN. If it doesn’t include a CDN, then it must support the popular CDNs such as Cloudflare, StackPath, CloudFront, and KeyCDN.
For instance, all of SiteGround’s web hosting plans offer you built-in support for Cloudflare CDN. If you’re a developer looking for app-hosting solutions, Spaces on DigitalOcean includes a built-in CDN to deliver content at faster speeds. Also, you can check web hosting reviews on HostAdvice to know more about them.
Solid-State Drive (SSD)
A Solid-State Drive — aka Solid-State Device and Solid-State Disk — is a storage device that uses electronic solid-state memory to store persistent data. It’s a next-gen storage technology that supersedes the traditional electromechanical storage — like Hard Disk Drive (HDD) — in terms of performance and speed.
How does it work?
SSDs replace HDDs because they are far superior over the latter since they don’t have any magnetic spinning disks or mechanical read-write heads. They access the data electronically, so they offer superior read-write speeds and mechanical endurance, but they offer lesser capacity for the same price.
In fact, “a standard SSD can read sequential data at a speed of about 550 megabytes per second (MBps) and write it at 520 MBps. In contrast, a fast HDD may carry out sequential reads and writes at just 125MBps,” according to Enterprise Storage. But, there are even faster SSDs like Samsung’s latest SSDs feature sequential reads and writes of up to 8,000 MBps and 3,800 MBps.
How does it help?
An SSD provides faster speed and better latency, meaning, it’s much faster when accessing data — as much as 50 to 100 times faster than an HDD. So, your apps or websites run faster, serving the content quicker to the impatient visitors.
“If you are rendering graphics or processing video, SSD drives provide a critical time-saving in the overall delivery of that data. If analyzing significant amounts of info, SSD’s provide a drastic reduction in processing time and in server load. … an SSD will provide the speed, endurance, and stability,” according to Liquid Web.
Web Application Firewall (WAF)
A Web Application Firewall is an app-specific firewall that monitors, filters, and blocks the incoming traffic of your web application. It acts as a shield — like any firewall — between your application and the web with all the malicious actors trying to hijack your application or website for their malicious activities.
How does it work?
A Web Application Firewall is a defense mechanism for the application layer per the OSI Model. It’s usually the part of a set of security tools that form a holistic defense against a variety of attack vectors. Its goal is to detect and filter or block any malicious traffic that may try to compromise the application. Then, a WAF may also be customized to protect a specific app per its weaknesses.
A WAF “operates through a set of rules often called policies. These policies aim to protect against vulnerabilities in the application by filtering out malicious traffic. The value of a WAF comes in part from the speed and ease with which policy modification can be implemented, allowing for faster response to varying attack vectors; during a DDoS attack, rate limiting can be quickly implemented by modifying WAF policies,” according to Cloudflare — an industry leader.
How does it help?
Whether you’re hosting an e-commerce store or a data-sensitive application that handles the personal data of your customers, your app is a potential target for attackers. Then, these attacks mostly target new app-specific vulnerabilities that usually go unnoticed by traditional security products like a network firewall or Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS).
A Web Application Firewall helps to protect your application against these new, undetected vulnerabilities with as little effort and time as possible. Since it’s a challenging task given the complex nature of modern infrastructures, WAFs help secure an existing application that’s already running in the production.
“A WAF is particularly important in securing productive web applications which themselves in turn consist of multiple components and which cannot be quickly changed by the operator; e.g. in the case of poorly documented applications or regarding third-party products without sufficient maintenance cycles. A WAF is the only option for promptly closing external vulnerabilities,” tells OWASP.
Moreover, it’s helpful to meet the industry’s security standards. In fact, PCI DSS — Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard v.1.1 — requires you to go for periodic source code reviews or opt for a Web Application Firewall.
Introducing HostAdvice as a Solution
Since there are tons of hosting providers offering numerous types of hosting plans and infrastructure offerings, it’s hard to pick one. Then, you never know if they provide the said features, i.e., do they stand by their promises? So, it brings us to the million-dollar question: how can one truly confirm it?
HostAdvice — a web-hosting information center — is the solution. It collects and compiles hosting reviews from web hosting experts and thousands of genuine users, making it a go-to place for finding honest reviews and ratings from skilled users. That’s not all, it offers a lot more than just reviews and ratings.
HostAdvice is a community that helps you find the top hosting services, a set of interesting hosting deals, discount coupons, and more. You’ll always find the perfect hosting provider to fit your budget and site requirements, thanks to its vast, regularly updated database of hosting reviews. It helps you compare prices, money-back policies, support features, and overall scores of hosting services.
Moreover, HostAdvice offers easy and quick navigation too. You can check out the categories to find relevant hosting reviews, then filter and refine the results by the service’s control panel, disk type, price, server locations, and more. Last but important, you can compare multiple hosting providers in just a few clicks.
What’s more interesting? “The fact you could get someone on the chat to get a real recommendations from your requirements,” wrote Jeoff on Trustpilot while giving 5-star ratings to HostAdvice. “I asked for a solution about multiple hosting plans for 5 web applications and they came up with the same idea that I’ve already had after researching myself, and it was the best confirmation!” reviewed Francesco.
That said, HostAdvice helps you to find the perfect hosting provider depending on your overall requirements. You can also verify the various promises made by a hosting provider, i.e., if their prices, support, or uptime is as great as advertised.