Everybody tells you the same things about what to look for when buying web hosting.
I’m going to tell you something different.
Here are all the little things you might not know to look out for.
What the heck is an inode?
Inodes may be ‘technically’ different than a ‘file’, but for our purposes its pretty much the same thing.
Many hosting companies tell you about their ‘unlimited’ account, but don’t mention that they have an inode (file) limit.
Of course it all depends on the plan that you sign up for, but it helps to know if there are inode limits.
For instance, here is a picture of one of my hosting accounts and you can see that the Inode limitation is 600,000.
In other words, 600,000 is the maximum number of files I’m allowed in my hosting plan.
That actually is better than most hosting companies, which generally offer up to about 400,000 – 450,000 file limitations.
The screenshot above is from one of my hosting plans that call it ‘File Usage’ instead of inodes.
Here are some of the best known hosting provider’s inode limits:
There is currently an limit of 100k/250k inodes on our shared accounts.
We only allow 50,000 inodes per cPanel account (shared accounts).
Startup plan – they offer 150,000 inodes per account
Gogeek plan – 450,000 inodes per account
Turbo Plan – 600,000 inodes per account
Business Hosting (shared hosting) – no stated limit
“Your entire hosting account cannot hold more than 500,000 files and folders (Windows) or 250,000 inodes (Linux). File name lengths between 1 and 16 characters count as 1 inode, 17 and 32 characters count as 2, 33 and 48 characters count as 3, and so on.”
Stellar/Stellar Plus plans – 300 000
Stellar Business plan – 600 000
inode limit – 200,000
Accounts are limited to 262,144 files
For most of us, these inode limitations are more than enough.
You will most likely never even come close.
I think they put in these limitations to prevent people from using their hosting account as a backup storage place for all kinds of files, not just website files.
The site I have in the image above that is using 385,000 files out of 600,000 allowed is an e-Commerce site with over 11,000 products, almost all with many variations. Its a huge site. If you’re just beginning the inode limitation is not something to worry about.
2. Disk Space Usage
I think most hosting companies limit inodes, but not disk space usage.
However, there are some companies that do limit the amount of disk space you can consume.
My account at Siteground has a limit of 30.7 gig.
Again, the chance of you using up a limit on diskspace is really unlikely. Also, as with inodes, the companies do this so that you will not use their servers as a place to store non-website files.
3. Running Processes
“Processes are the execution of a command within the server that completes a specific task. An example would be accessing your email account and responding to a letter. This action is achieved through a series of processes that normally complete within moments of each other. The process limitation depends on the account hosting type.”
This is a quote from a well known hosting provider.
I’m including ‘running processes’ in this list because almost ALL hosting companies limit the amount of processes you can run at the same time.
This is most likely not something you’ll need to worry about. If you exceed the number of running processes allowed then what will happen is your site will probably slow down.
Also the processes that exceed the limitation will just wait until the currently running processes finish.
Running processes are always temporary and brief.
One common reason people exceed their limitation is due to their site being hacked. This isn’t always the reason. It could be something innocent such as your email client (Microsoft Outlook, Mac Mail etc…) making continual calls to the server to check for or send mail.
Anyway, its something to keep an eye on, but I wouldn’t be too concerned if your limitation is 20 or so. Its unlikely you’ll ever exceed that, and even if you do, it’ll probably only last for a few seconds.
4. CPU Usage
CPU Usage tells you how much of the CPU you are currently using. Every hosting company only provides a certain percentage of the CPU to any given account.
Why is this important?
Because you’ll see it on your cpanel and wonder what the 100 means.
If you reach 100, that means your account is using ALL of the CPU thats been allocated to your account.
Any processes that might be running will be executed once the current processes finish running.
Keep in mind that its a temporary condition of your site depending on processes, visitors and anything running on your site at any given moment.
(see the image above where you see CPU Usage 2/100)
5. Physical Memory Usage Limits
Physical memory is just that. Every hosting company allocates you some memory and none will give you infinite memory. Memory is most commonly used by applications and php used on your website. Wordpress is a php based system (so is Joomla).
Of course the bigger the number you are alloted the better, but you’ll also pay more for it too. Every hosting company offers different amounts based on their plans. If your site isn’t going to do a lot of processing, then don’t worry too much about the number.
(see the image above where it says Physical Memory Usage 244.82 MB/2 GB. My plan has 2 GB allotment and it works fine for me.)
Are there more things to look out for when buying hosting?
But most everything else the hosting companies will tell you on their sales page.
Here is a quick list of what you should look for:
How many Add-on domains?
How many MySql databases?
Do they use SSD drives? (you want Yes on this one).
Will they do site transfers (if you’re coming from another hosting account)?
Do they give you a Cpanel? (you want Yes on this one).
Do they provide a free SSL Certificate? (you want Yes on this one).
Money back guarantee? (you want Yes on this one).
Do they have Chat sessions for support? (you want Yes on this one).
Do they have servers somewhere close to your audience? (you want Yes on this one).
Many hosting companies have ‘unlimited’, and for a beginner that’s good.
That way you know you won’t exceed whatever limit it could be.
The hosting you choose should really depend on what your goals are. A person who just wants to create one or two simple sites will not have the same requirements as the person who intends to create 300 websites for all their clients.
One final piece of advice. You don’t really have to worry now, as a beginner, about the distant future. Almost every hosting company has the ability to scale your account up should you grow to the point where you need better hosting.