How to Choose a Hosting Provider?
As with any big decision, determining which web hosting company is best for you can be difficult.
Everybody promises indefinite server uptime, limitless resources and well-versed support. But how do you look past the flashy advertisements and make an informed decision? Well, there are a few aspects you need to thrown into the equasion before you can figure out which package will best meet all your hosting needs.
Let’s face it – the price is what all of us look at first. Not going beyond that, however, is a very bad idea, since “what you pay for is what you get”. Do not jump on the cheapest offer available, especially if your site is going to be a source of income. Good hardware and quality technical support do not cost $1.99 per month, so don’t look for them in this package.
What you should do instead, is list all the features that you are going to need, and then compare the prices of packages that offer them.
What’s their Focus?
Not all hosts can work for all websites. They might offer great plans but fail to consider the needs of growing businesses. Or they provide bang-on enterprise-size solutions but have nothing to offer to that guy with the fishing blog.
Make sure you look at the hosting provider’s expertise before you buy their plan and verify they will understand your specific needs as a customer. Check out some extra tips on how to decide on a hosting provider here.
Look at your site and do an honest account of what you expect it to do. If you’re hoping to keep a blog, run an e-commerce site, publish rich content and videos, then you should definitely forget about getting the cheapest hosting package you can find.
Cheap means they will definitely cut down on RAM and disk space, performance lags will be common, and you can expect a lot of downtime and performance issues.
Check carefully what features are included in the cost, if they charge for additional domains, support, whether backup is provided, etc. Call. Ask questions. Share the vision you have of your site and its subsequent needs. Don’t expect them to take your site as seriously as you do.
Check the Support Guys
Most people believe that this is the big one. When my site happens to go down, can I call them and get through to a real, live person on the phone? And, what’s more important, can they track down the cause and fix it, or at least tell me what measures I need to take to get my site back up?
Before choosing a host look at their reputation for customer support. Check the ways in which you can contact them when you need support – email, toll-free phone, chat, and so on. Are they reachable 24/7? Do they outsource?
Attractive Features to take Advantage of
The more research you do, the more you will find that not all hosts are equal. What you have to do is try to find that extra feature that will tip the scales towards a particular host. Do they offer more RAM? Regular backup? Free domain privacy?
Whatever it is, remember that companies rarely offer nothing more than storage space. If you see a provider that offers something that is important for you, maybe you should look into using them for web site hosting. Check out Colocation Services by PhoenixNAP.
What Hardware do they Use?
You might need to hunt down information about this or ask the company itself, but hardware speaks a lot for itself. Are the machines new and at the top of their game, or do they look like they have been assembled in somebody’s garage out of spare parts?
If the company withhold information about what servers they are using, this should raise a red flag for you. Why? Because hardware impacts performance seriously, and that might reflect on how your website subsequently behaves.
What Others Are Saying
Try to be creative in finding out what the hosting provider’s former or current customers are saying. Are they easy to reach? How long does it take them to resolve any issues that have come up? What do they do about problematic sites when they stumble upon one?
The User Interface
Even those who can hardly call themselves technically savvy should be able to do some things on their own, without calling support.
Is installing WordPress, setting up e-mail and the FTP accounts an achievable mission for the novice? Does the provider use a well known Admin panel to make updates and changes easy, or a crazy interface that you can’t figure out? Because if the latter is true, that will definitely become a problem.