Make a Google search for online reviews of the web hosting provider you’re considering for your website and you’ll realize one thing before even making your website live for the first time- There is no single web host with unanimously positive reviews out there. Not even those who charge humongous price for their services. Ask any three customers who have used the same Web hosting company and chances are very high that you’ll get extremely different opinions. Why?
Because there is no such thing as a ‘Perfect Webhost’. Every web host has it’s own pluses and minuses; what matters is how good it is for you-and that totally depends on the kind of website you want to host and the kind of services you need. To help you find the right web hosting provider for your website here are some of the most vital features you should look for.
Know yourself. Decide what you want.
There are a gazillion web hosts out there and each one of them has their own characteristics. So to take the first step, think of your requirements- what do you want from a web host? What is your budget? What can you afford- a high, medium , or low price hosting? What kind of support do you need from the web host? Do you want a website only to have fun and share ideas with your family/friends or you want one for your business? Free web hosts will be fine to have fun, but if you want a website for business, you need quality, and for quality, you need money. After all, you cannot expect top-notched support if you only pay around 7$ a month.
If you’ve a small businesses which attracts relatively light traffic and sales , you should go for shared web hosting. If you run an ecommerce business, you may want to check out a Virtual Private Server. And if you’ve a high traffic ecommerce site that gets heavy traffic and does thousands of dollars of business per month, dedicated hosting is the way to go. This infographic will give you a better idea on the type of web hosing service that is best suitable for you.
Also, don’t forget to weigh your wallet before making a final decision. If your purse strings are drawn tight, go for the most economical option, because expensive doesn’t necessary mean good.
As I said before, all web hosting companies are more or less the same- their real litmus test is their ability to put things back in place when they go haywire. An ideal Web hosting company provides good, fast, reliable customer service, 24/7, via email, telephone and live chat.
But then again, every company will say it does. So how do you know which one to trust? Take them for a test drive. Call their help desk and see how long you’re kept on hold, what’s the quality of online chat, how knowledgeable and friendly their staff is and how much their response time is for emails. Go for a web hosting provider you can call at 3 in the night and expect to have your problems rectified.
How is their interface?
You don’t want to find yourself your host every time you want to add/change something on your website. You should be able to manage all the facets of your site at a single place, and for that, you need a good online management system. Every single company out there offers at least a month of trial period (if they don’t, it’s a red flag). So before you buy, see how comfortable you feel with their user interface, control panel etc. And as I said before, you cannot expect to make changes to your website yourself if you wish to pay only 6-7 $ a month.
Uptime and backup
A decent web hosting company should promise a certain level of uptime- the minimum being 99.5% . And incase it fails to deliver it, there should be some sort of refund. This puts at least a little onus on the company to make sure that their servers are up and running.
You should also check how often the Web hosting company performs backups. In case your website gets hacked, you want your data safe at least till 2-3 days back. Ask the company about their disaster recovery plan too- if there is a fire, earthquake, flood or any other natural disaster-what’s their backup plan?
You business may be small right now thus making you go for shared hosting, but you might need VPS hosting soon once your business grows. Make sure that the hosting company allows an ease of upgrade to a different plan.
That said, also stay few feet away from companies who push to sell you more services than you need in order to mint some easy cash. As I said in the first step, know exactly what your needs are.
Is there a limit on the number of FTP accounts and MySQL databases or the number of files that can be stored? How many email accounts are allowed with each plan, and what is the amount of email storage? How many add-on and sub-domains does the Web hosting company provide — and are they free? If not, how much does it cost to add a domain or sub-domain? Are features like backup, shopping cart and other ecommerce applications like SSL certification, merchant accounts and PCI compliance included in the Web hosting plan or will they be charged extra?
Don’t be shy on asking these questions. I’m sure you don’t want an additional surprise bill at the end of the month.
Wrapping things up!
In addition to the points listed above, always check the reputation of your provider online. As I said, be prepared for a wide range of opinions and weigh them on basis of your need. There are plenty of quality web hosting forums who allow only genuine reviews to be submitted and who is in a better position to comment on the quality of a web host’s services than people who’ve had first-hand experience of working with them?