There are numerous secure web hosting options, ranging from reliable budget options with few features, to expensive choices that may not be worth considering. Selecting high-security web hosting is a good idea, especially if you’re working with sensitive payment or personal information.
But not all hosts are transparent about their security practices, which can make your selection process difficult. To help you out, we’ve created a short step-by-step guide to help you choose the best secure hosting provider for your needs.
How to choose secure web hosting: Preparation
There are a few important things you should consider before you begin to research different hosting providers.
First, think about the type of hosting you want. Most small websites use shared hosting, but this is generally the worst-performing on the security front. Virtual private server (VPS) and cloud hosting solutions offer more advanced security options, but they typically require a decent level of experience to use them to their fullest potential.
High-end dedicated servers are used by large websites and online stores. Read more about the different types of web hosting (opens in new tab) to learn which is best suited to your needs.
Next, set a budget. This will help you narrow your choices when you’ve shortlisted a few secure web hosting options. It will also help ensure you don’t spend more than you can afford.
You should also keep your tech experience and skill level top of mind. Most shared hosts are quite beginner-friendly and easy to use, but some higher-end solutions demand significantly more user knowledge.
Step 1: Check each provider’s basic security features
To begin with, you should understand the basic security features all hosts (should) offer. Malware scanning is crucial, for example, as is proactive server monitoring and a built-in firewall. Many hosts provide proactive monitoring designed to identify problems or anomalies with your server, such as the presence of a hacker or malicious third party.
Let’s take Hostinger (opens in new tab), one of the most secure hosts around, as an example. Hostinger offers budget hosting solutions, but every plan comes with great protection. This includes a free SSL/TLS certificate to encrypt data transmissions, as well as automatic updates, proactive server monitoring, and a powerful proprietary firewall.
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are common, and can impair your website if you don’t have appropriate protection. Hackers or other malicious third parties flood your server with bots in an attempt to overwhelm it, and make it unavailable to normal users.
Any web host worth using should implement DDoS attack prevention measures. Most DDoS attacks can be blocked with a powerful web access firewall, though some hackers will still be able to get through these.
As a bare minimum, you should select a host that uses the Cloudflare (opens in new tab) content delivery network (CDN) and its included DDoS prevention tools.
Step 3: Ensure reliable backup options are available
Another crucial feature to protect your website is automatic backup. This function enables you to schedule regular backups of your website, taking snapshots of your files and data, and storing them in a secure, separate location.
Having restore points is also useful, so you always have a clean backup if necessary. So, if you’re hit by malware, ransomware, or another type of attack that breaks your website or makes it inaccessible, you’ll be able to restore a recent backup. This feature is also useful if you make a mistake when you’re editing your site, as it enables you to quickly and easily undo major mistakes.
Just offering automatic backups isn’t enough. Ensure you can schedule them to run on at least a daily basis, and pay attention to how long backups are retained. At least 30-days of retention is a good starting point.
Step 4: Create a shortlist and make your choice
Now that you have the knowledge to select the right secure web hosting provider for your next website, we suggest you research the top hosting providers that offer the type of hosting you require:
Make a shortlist of providers that offer an appropriate level of security, and use this to focus your decision-making process.
There are a few other things to consider that may impact your selection. For example, you should check what freebies are on offer, as many hosts offer a free domain or SSL/TLS certificate. Ensure that you’ll have enough bandwidth and storage, and check what third-party apps are available for one-click installation.
Bonus step: Check online reviews
If you’re still unsure and can’t settle on a secure host, check online reviews. Reliable review sites such as Trustpilot and the BBB are great resources, but be wary of fake reviews, as they can artificially inflate a hosting provider’s rating.
Selecting the most appropriate web hosting for your project is difficult at the best of times, and it can be overwhelming when security considerations are thrown into the mix. Here, we’ve outlined a clear process to help you select the best secure web hosting for your needs.
To get started, pay attention to the general security features the provider offers. Ensure it offers DDoS protection, a strong firewall, and malware scanning, and check for reliable backup tools. Pay attention to past customer experiences, and ensure you keep other tools and features in mind, too.
Our guide to the best web hosting of 2022 (opens in new tab) is a great place to kickstart your search.