Selecting a Blog Host

The following is part of Frugal Dad’s weekly series, “So You Want to Be a Blogger?” which chronicles the development and optimization of a blog’s lifecycle.

So where were we before that interruption caused by last week’s surge in traffic? Oh, that’s right. We had identified a topic, audience and registered our domain. Now it is time to select a hosting service to serve as the all important back end for our blog. Think of a host as the one that serves up all the content behind the pages of your blog. The following is a list of things to consider when selecting a host.

  • Cost. Like anything else you can pay as much or as little for hosting depending on a variety of factors. Bandwidth, storage space, domains allowed, email accounts, and database features are all examples of the features offered by most typical blog hosting services.
  • Bandwidth. The amount of bandwidth allowed by most hosts ranges from 3,000GB to 6,000GB monthly for beginner plans. Other hosts allow unlimited bandwidth for a higher price. Think of bandwidth as fuel in your car’s tank. Once you’ve used up all the gas your car can’t go any further. Same with your blog. Once you have maximized your monthly allocated bandwidth your host will not allow your blog to be accessed, and visitors will see an ugly message indicating your site has exceeded its bandwidth limits. It isn’t likely you will have to contend with this problem early on, but plan on having a little more than you think you will ever need to avoid any temporary interruption in your site’s uptime.
  • Storage Space (disk space). Similar to bandwidth, storage space limits fluctuate depending on your selected plan. The more disk space you have the more files, pages, and emails you will be able to store on your host’s server.

After much deliberation I decided to go with HostGator, primarily because I knew someone hosting a blog there, and their introductory price was tough to beat. Setup was fairly intuitive with a one-click WordPress installation on the server. I downloaded a WordPress template and was up and blogging in less than an hour (from the time I received my account information from HostGator).

Be sure you understand the host’s backup plan, and create a backup schedule yourself to create a second layer of redundancy. I learned this lesson the hard way when I did something to corrupt my site’s files on the server. Now would be a good time to discourage messing around with template code, MySQL installations, etc. if you aren’t completely comfortable with what you are doing. Fortunately, my host backs up their servers once a week, so I was able to ask for a recovery back to their latest restore point. Unfortunately, I lost a few days of posts and template changes. Tip: Subscribe to your blog’s email subscription service and hang on to the emails. I was able to “recreate” my posts not included in the database restoration from my emailed articles.

Ask the Readers: Feel free to share your hosting experience in the comments section. I was hoping to include a list of hosts and some short reviews, but honestly I just don’t know that much about many of the other hosts out there.

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