Web Hosting Cost Matrix

It's no secret that Web hosting is a very nuanced and involved industry. For those with a limited background in the actual workings of the Web, it can be downright confusing.

Thankfully, in the day-to-day operations of most online businesses, critical issues related to hosting rarely, if ever, come into play. But business owners still need to have some idea of what to look for when it comes to choosing the right hosting company and package.

Making these decisions can be difficult, especially with limited information. Some website owners may be swayed by low prices while others will be enticed by specific features. Still others might be more interested in companies and packages that offer optimal service and support.

The trick, of course, is to find the best balance of cost, service, availability and features within your business' budget. This is why creating and utilizing a Web hosting cost matrix can be an indispensible strategy.

The first step is to determine which providers offer the highest and lowest prices within a specific budget, the best and worst array of support options, the highest and lowest availability guarantees and the strongest and weakest feature sets. Think of it in terms of a cost-benefit analysis that compares the aspects that these different packages offer in relation to the investment you are willing and able to make.

Using the matrix, business owners can properly evaluate how these hosting companies stack up against one another. The creator of the matrix can organize this information in any way they choose, but the most effective method is a color-coded chart or bar graph so that all of the data can be easily separated and compared.

What the researcher is striving for is a system that will help them determine which offering most closely meets or exceeds their specific needs for the lowest price. The Web hosting cost matrix can be applied to all types of hosting services, but business owners will need to make special considerations when looking at different options such as the following.

Shared Hosting
When selecting a shared hosting platform, cost is less of a factor than it is with other services because they tend to be very similar across the board. The real test is in finding a package that comes with a high-availability guarantee and can stick to it. Downtime is the biggest downside to shared hosting solutions, which is why it is the cheapest option, so availability is the biggest factor you'll want to consider when seeking out a provider.

Dedicated Hosting
Cost is directly related to the features that your website requires from a dedicated hosting provider, so the more extensive your requirements, the more you are going to spend. But perhaps the most important factor to consider is the amount of support you will receive.

If you cannot manage the server alone, it's crucial to make sure that you find a provider that offers managed dedicated hosting. Regardless of what direction you take (managed or unmanaged), it is important to select a service that provides around-the-clock support in case of potential crises, and the less familiar you are with server management, the more comprehensive the service and support features should be.

Cloud Hosting
The cloud can be the most convenient hosting solution in many ways, but trying to select the optimal provider is often anything but simple. Cloud providers have to offer high availability, which isn't too much of a concern because the cloud is often able to provide as much as 99.9 percent uptime. However, when availability issues do arise, cloud-hosting providers must offer top-flight, rapid support.

When looking at different options, make sure that you consider those who have a 24/7 dedicated support team to immediately address any issues that may present themselves. Also ensure that the provider has protocols in place to secure any data in the cloud in the event of an emergency.

Look for providers that are upfront about who will have access to your data and regularly subject themselves to third-party audits and security certifications. Other important features to look out for are a user-friendly, Web-based dashboard or interface through which you can easily access and manipulate your data, the ability to assign and modify administrative privileges (especially for medium-sized to larger businesses) and scalability, with bonus points for those companies that offer pay-as-you-go pricing so that you're only charged for the amount of data and bandwidth you use.

A lot goes into finding the perfect hosting provider, but the best way to start is by analyzing your Web business and determining what is most essential to your operations, and what type of hosting provider can offer that for the lowest cost. Then the Web hosting cost matrix can help you define your own limits and subsequently narrow down your options to determine which one will fulfill the considerations you find most important for the lowest price.