One of the most crucial decisions you will make for your website is selecting your web host. It’s essential to choose the right host or all your hard work could be wasted or even worse, lost.
How do you choose from the plethora of web hosts available today? Will they hold your files to ransom when you come to transfer away? Can you be in full control of your account at all times?
With so many hosting businesses out there how can you ensure you choose one of the more reputable ones? Here are a few pointers that should help steer you in the right direction:
- Test a host’s support before joining by calling in. You’ll be surprised how many hosts with a toll free number never answer their phones, or have long hold times. Make sure you call the technical or support department. It’s not unusual for a web host to have incredible response times for their sales department but lousy response times for their technical or support department.
- Most popular domain names have already been taken. Before purchasing web hosting it would be wise to use a domain availability tool to help you find a domain name.
- The cheaper the plan and the more space/bandwidth included, the more sites per server the host will have to pack in to make their money back. Don’t shop for a host based on their plans! Shop based on recommendations and experience!
- Look closely at how your guarantee is defined and if your host will honor it. Most guarantees are prorated and are often worthless.
- Check out how legit the web hosting company is by doing a WHOIS on their domain name. Also look for the creation date of the domain name. If the domain name was created less then a year ago, it’s more of a risk to join that hosting company.
- Using the company’s name, search Google for honest reviews. If they have been around a year, you should find many real reviews of people who use their hosting. The web hosting company’s forum is another good place to check but be warned as they may delete negative posts and ban the user.
- There are a wide variety of websites that present comparisons of web hosting services. These can be helpful if you don’t want to spend so much time conducting these comparisons yourself.
- Look for a host with an uptime guarantee of a 99.9%. No hosting company can guarantee 100% uptime. Beware of anyone who does, they are lying. Read the terms of the uptime guarantee to find out what types of downtime are not included in the guarantee. Most hosting companies exclude maintenance and other items which makes the 99.9% uptime less meaningful.
- Be wary of hosts that include a free domain name with their hosting package unless you are certain they will be putting your information in the WHOIS. Whoever has their information in the WHOIS is the owner, not the one who paid for it.
- Think twice about web hosts with a more competitive yearly rate, forcing you to pay for a year up front. If you have paid yearly and are dissatisfied with their service, you are less likely to swap. It’s always best to only pay monthly!
- Hosting companies that offer unlimited disk space and data transfer for shared hosting accounts will restrict the amount of memory (RAM) and processor (CPU) you can use. If you can’t get a hard number for how much memory or CPU you are entitled to, be prepared for unpleasant surprises.