How can you decide whether web host is good? What kind of hosting service you should look for? If you’re looking for a quick answer, you won’t get it here. But, if you would like to get some good guidelines to help you choose web hosting service for your website, I’m ready and willing to help you!
Know Your Hosting Requirements
No matter if you’re in the process of picking a web host for a new project or an existing website, you need to be clear on your own requirements. Without knowing what exactly you need, you’ll never be able to choose the right web host. So, take your time to ask yourself some questions and think thoroughly your needs.
- What type of website are you planning to build?
- What platform will you be using? Do you want a WordPress blog, for example?
- Is a special version of software necessary for your website?
- How many visitors do you receive or expect in the foreseeable future?
- What support channels do you need?
- Does your website generate income?
- Are you changing current provider? Try to figure out what made you do that.
These are, of course, some of the basic questions that should give you a clue on what you should ask yourself. For example, if you have an adult content on your website, most services won’t accept to host it. In that case, look for Adult Hosting options and choose the one that suits you best.
Bonus tip: If you’re newbie, opt for a good shared hosting account; it’s sufficient for almost any new site, easy to maintain and affordable. Once your site grows bigger, you’ll be able to upgrade to dedicated or VPS hosting.
Server Uptime, Reliability and Upgrade Options
It’s very important to have a 24/7 operating web host with stable network connections and a powerful server. You need it to be reliable, especially if your website generates income. Uptime below 99% is completely unacceptable, while 99.5% and above is something I highly recommend. If you don’t know how to obtain information on a web host uptime, make sure you read (honest) hosting reviews where experts publish uptime records based on their real websites from time to time. Also, there are server monitor tools (most of them offer free trial period) that enable users to track web hosts.
When it comes to upgrade options, if you hope your website will grow really big in next couple of years, it’s recommended to pick up web hosting service with room to grow. Although shared web hosts are rather powerful nowadays, bigger websites with more than 50,000 monthly visitors need to be upgraded from shared hosting to dedicated or virtual private server. This upgrade provides more disk storage, memory capacity, processing power, as well as advanced security features.
Bonus Tip: If you own more than one domain, look for a web hosting account which allows users adding multiple domains. In any case, make sure to check the domain capacity before making a final decision on web hosting service.
Signup/Renewal Prices, Subscription and Refund Policy
Although it shouldn’t be the most important factor when choosing web host, price does matter. Make a shortlist of potential hosts and compare how much they charge their service. Signup prices are very cheap, but renewals are more expensive. Unfortunately, it’s an industry norm you should be aware of. So, you’ll hardly avoid the costly renewal prices unless you consider hooping between several hosts every couple of years. So, before signing up, make sure you’re OK with the renewal costs.
Also, some web hosts force their clients to take up very long contracts (for example, a 5-year long) in order to enjoy the cheaper deal. Is it wise to commit to such a long term hosting contract? I think not. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend signing up web host with more than 2 years upfront, especially if they don’t provide clear money back guarantees.
When it comes to refund policy, there are some basic questions to ask before you sign up.
- If you cancel hosting service within the trial period, will you get all your money back?
- What is refund policy for cancellations after the trial period? Are there any charges?
Some hosting companies may charge enormous cancellation fees even if their client cancels an account during the trial session. Steer clear of these hosting providers at all cost.
Backup and 24/7 Live Chat Support
Websites do crash, we all know it: there are hackers, the server can have a severe hard disk failure, website’s entire database can get nuked. But, in case your web hosting service provides website backups on a regular basis, you wouldn’t have to worry about these unpleasant incidents. A good hosting provider has to be able to restore back your full (or almost full) website as soon as possible. So, ask whether the web host you’re considering provides full backups on a regular basis. Could the backup be done via the control panel, for example? Is it allowed to use Cron Jobs or similar program to create auto backup? It would be the best if you could restore your backup files on your own, without waiting for the support staff to do it.
It’s crucial to have someone to help you immediately after you press that S.O.S. button, right? It doesn’t matter if you prefer e-mail or telephone communication, web hosting company should provide 24/7 Live Support for their clients. I prefer well done FAQ section where I can read about the ways to solve any issue myself. But, when you simply cannot find the right solution (or you just don’t know what’s going on with your website), 24/7 Live Chat Support is necessary!
If you take all the above into account, first of all to be specific about your own needs and requirements, you should be closer to that final decision about hosting your website. The truth is, picking a web host can be as simple and as complex as you want to make it! Nevertheless, it’s a very important decision to make, so be sure to do your homework before signing up. Also, I suggest making a plan B, in case you start seeing your web host becoming a mediocre service.