What hosting should you choose for your online shop? Options, features, and price comparison

Choosing the hosting for your online shop is one of the first and most important decisions that you have to make.

Free?

Shared?

Specifically geared toward WordPress or PrestaShop?

The sheer number of options can be overwhelming and a bad decision could lead to several problems in the future. We wrote this post in order to shed some light on the matter and to clear up some of your doubts.

All the information about what webhost you should use for your e-commerce shop is right here. Start reading!

Types of hosting for your online shop

The first few doubts revolve around what they are, what they come with, and the different options that exist.

1. Shared hosting

In order to understand what web hosting is and how it can be shared, think about a computer. Inside that computer is some space on the hard disc where you can store files, software, etc.

Web hosting is just some available space on their hard disc. That space can then be divided and shared so that each website gets a small part of it.

When you rent one of these, you will be sharing the same server with other many websites, which means you’ll also be sharing the IP (in other words, your site’s ID number).

Is it worth it? Let’s analyze the pros and cons.

Advantages of shared hosting for e-commerce

Points in favor:

  • It’s cheap: For a couple of euros per month you can host your website with some guarantees.
  • It is easy to manage: These services are thought up so that anyone, with or without any technical knowledge, can manage their website.

There is also the option of multiple domain hosting, which allows you to host several websites using the same space.

Disadvantages

Why we don’t recommend it:

  • Performance: Bear in mind that you will be sharing resources with many other websites. The space is limited and you won’t be able to exceed that limit without suffering from crashes. You are dependent on how the other websites behave—if one of them goes beyond the limit, all of them crash.
  • Unknown neighbors: All of the websites with which you share the hosting have the same IP. Let’s say that you are all neighbors living in the same building. The content or links of one of them may sully your website’s reputation.
  • SEO: Though unconfirmed by Google, the use of shared hosting may be a negative point toward web positioning.

Contrary to what you may think when reading this, the majority of websites are hosted using shared hosting. If your project is just starting out and your budget isn’t very high, you can start with a shared host, but you should start thinking about one of the following options as soon as you start to grow.

2. VPS

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. It’s a way of sharing a server where each partition works independently on a virtual machine.

Each VPS has its own operating system and they can be reset individually.

The server space depends on the service that you contract. To give you an idea, most hosting companies typically offer a minimum of 20-25 GB, which should be more than enough for any normal online shop.

A. Managed VPS vs Self-managed VPS

There are two options for this type of hosting:

  • Self-managed: You’ll be the one in charge of managing the server. They are way cheaper, but you will either need to have more advanced technical knowledge or hire a SysAdmin.
  • Managed: As for the shared hosting, the service provider company is the one in charge of the VPS management. This is the most advisable option in most cases.

You will also find different options in terms of server control panels, of which the two main options are:

  • Plesk
  • Cpanel

You don’t need to worry too much about this aspect since they are both quite easy to manage and, apart from their interface, have quite similar features.

B. Price

You will find managed VPS from €15 per month and self-managed ones from €2-3 per month, thought the latter can end up being more expensive.

3. Dedicated server

The third option that we are going to show you is a dedicated hosting server for your e-commerce shop.

This means that all the space is just for you and you don’t share with anybody else. You have all the bandwidth and all of the resources to yourself.

The price is much higher at more than €100 per month for even the simplest options.

This is the option used by the big online shops with large volumes of traffic that consume many resources. Think of projects such as Magento, for example, that move tons of megabytes each month.

So, now that we have seen different options, how do we choose between them?

What should you take into account before contracting web hosting?

Do you have doubts about which hosting you should get? Here are the factors that you should think about before making your choice:

1. Disk space

Shared hosting may be a problem if you are going to add videos or heavy images to your website. The 3, 5, 10, or 15 GB that they offer may not be enough.

Our advice is to choose at least 10 GB if you are going to use shared hosting—better safe than sorry.

2. Features

Here we are going to group several functions that providers will offer:

  • Transfer: This is the amount of data that you are going to move each month. The main source will traffic to your site. The more visits you get, the more information you are transferring. Our advice is to get at least 200 GB per month or for it to be unlimited, if possible.
  • Number of domains: Some shared hosting services offer the possibility of hosting more than one domain. If you only have one online shop, you only need one.
  • E-mail addresses: Hosting companies use this as a decoy. They offer 20 or 30 email accounts, but the reality is that you probably won’t need them.

In any case, we always recommend buying the domain and the hosting separately. This way, if you want to change hosts, you won’t depend on the previous one to manage your domain.

3. Performance

Keep this in mind to make sure you have a fast website.

  • SSD: Make sure that the hosting uses SSD. There aren’t many providers offering mechanical disks (HDD), but just in case, make sure you get one using the latest generation of hard drives.
  • RAM: The more RAM, the better performance for your shop. Our advice is to avoid anything below 2-3 GB for a VPS.
  • Bandwidth: Nothing below 100 Mbps.

Hosting of at least decent quality will help you avoid problems with traffic peaks and will make your website load cleaner and faster.

4. Support

Although it comes fourth on the list, it is no less important. Hosting companies are making efforts to improve in this area since it’s a key factor when it comes to choosing a host.

At the beginning, it’s easy to overlook, but at some point you’ll run into a technical problem. That’s the day when you’ll start valuing the level of involvement your provider has with its clients.

You should check if they only answer by email or if they also provide customer service by phone.

Be careful when hiring American providers if you don’t speak English very well.

5. Security

Your website’s integrity can be endangered by spam, malware, or negative SEO. Good hosting should not only be strong and reliable, but it should also help protect your online shop in the case of an attack.

Without a doubt, a safe website is life insurance.

  • Back-ups: You’ll sleep better knowing that your hosting provider can restore your e-commerce in the case of a problem.
  • SSL: Your website needs to have an SSL certificate. They had to be purchased in the past, but now the company Let´s Encrypt offers an open-source option. Make sure that your host supports the option of your website having the beloved https—it’s essential for most payment methods.

There are also other factors that may be important in your case, most of which are related to performance, such as the CDN used to managed images or if they offer the option for other optimizations, such as the cache management.

Don’t skimp on hosting because for a minimal difference in price, you can avoid a lot of headaches. Just value the needs of your e-commerce and contract the right host accordingly.

Why you shouldn’t choose free hosting

Nothing more than a quick Google search will reveal that the first hosting options you see are those that are free of charge.

We all know that there is no such a thing as a free lunch, don’t we?

Any online shop that wants to show even a minimum level of professionalism cannot use free hosting.

You will have problems with the space, you won’t have management options, and they will try to sell you the paid version at the very first chance they get.

We only recommend free hosting for learning purposes.

Start a trial shop on a free server, add plugins, and play around with all the options. But after that, get paid hosting to create the real website. You already know the options.

Is specific hosting necessary for my CMS?

You will find many providers who offer specific plans for WordPress, PrestaShop, or Magento.

The truth is that the machines are the same—the different services are what makes the difference:

  • Auto installation: They offer direct installation of the CMS.
  • User guides: Provided so you can learn to use the app that you chose.
  • Plugins and extensions: Specific to each software.
  • Specialized support: This could include forums and customer support for each CMS.

Is it worth it? Assess your own knowledge of the CMS you want to use to determine if it’s worth paying for these extra hosting services.

Conclusion

Contracting web hosting that doesn’t meet your project’s needs is a mistake, but you don’t need overkill either.

If your project is just getting off the ground, you won’t need a dedicated server—it will be enough to use shared hosting or a VPS. In addition to that, providers usually offer the possibility of easily migrating to a more advanced plan when the time comes.

Analyze your needs, compare the different options available, and choose the one that best suits you and your shop.

Were we of some help? If you think this post could help other people too, don’t forget to share it!