There are an absolute ton of web hosting services available on the internet. Don’t just rush into buying a web hosting plan without looking into these vital aspects that will allow you to make an educated decision. Below are the things you should consider before purchasing any web hosting plan.
1. Features. In order to choose the right web hosting company for your needs you’re going to have to take a quick look at their features. Do they offer a website builder? Do they have lots of other bells and whistles that other companies fail to offer? If they do make sure their included in your web hosting plan. Everyone hates signing up for a service and then later learn they need to pay more for the features they really wanted. A lot of people will look for eCommerce, photo gallery, blogging, forum, a ticket system, and open-source support. You can always use “SiteScripts” or some “easy to install” application that will make it a breeze to install your desired applications.
2. Upgrades/Flexibility. Since websites grow as they get more establish there needs to be an easy way to upgrade your service with a minimal amount of work. This could mean migrating your data over to a server that has more RAM, a better CPU, and, more storage. Simply put, if you’re web hosting provider only offers a shared plan and your site is allocating all the resources at some time you’re going to have to move your site to a VPS (virtual private server) or dedicated server. A lot of people get really stressed out about moving all their files from one host to another. If the web hosting company can grow with your website it’s always a plus.
3. Hardware. Are they using the latest hardware? Sure, they might claim to be using the latest hardware, but do your research and make sure what they say is really the “latest and greatest”. This can be a big mistake in choosing a company that doesn’t use the latest hardware in their datacenters. A web hosting company that has outdated hardware will cause your website to run slow, compromise the stability of your site, and be susceptible to security breaches.
4. Uptime. No one likes to go to a site and see an error message stating a website is down. This will cause you to lose a lot of targeted clients. A lot of these issues could actually be caused by your web hosting provider. When datacenters are not configured correctly they can cause websites to be unstable. They should have a backup server that all your files are stored on, incase one of them has issues and they have to run maintenance on it. One common way which web hosting companies will control the stability of your servers are by using “server redundancy” by balancing the workload on your server.
5. Performance. A web hosting companies servers shouldn’t be slow. Look for servers that respond in under .45 milliseconds. A lot of web host actually try to jam pack thousands of websites on each “shared” server. This is bad because it causes your website to load extremely slow. Look for the words “load balancing” before purchasing any web hosting plan. You can also check with Pingdom tools to test out their response rate.
6. Ease of Use. A lot of people considering web hosting are complete newbies. Things need to be as simple as possible especially for those webmasters that are new to running an maintaining a website. Your company of interest should let you toy with the backend settings on a demo site before signing up with them.
7. Email Accounts. You should be able to setup multiple email accounts. They should have software that prevents spam from cluttering your inbox. You should no the limitations of the server. Some servers do not support hundreds of emails per month. This could ultimately cause your server to get suspended.
8. Customer Support. Customer support is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of web hosting. Their customer support needs to be available 24/7. They should not be outsourced to India and should have certifications which make them qualified to answer your questions and concerns. They need to have “live chat”, telephone support, email support, and possibly a ticket system to assist you. Make sure they handle issues in a matter of hours, so you’re site isn’t on standstill until you hear back from your provider. A good customer support team can either make or break a web hosting company.
9. Cost. Their prices need to be competitive with other hosting companies. Clearly, paying a little extra for a reputable service would be better than paying the lowest price for sub-par service. Nothing is worse than signing up for a web hosting company that is dirt cheap, but horrible to work with. At the end of the day you might end of migrating away from them if they’re a constant headache. Make sure their are no extra fees for services you want.
10. Feedback. Checking with the Better Business Bureau is an excellent way to check what others are saying about their service. If you see several thousand claims against them you might want to reconsider doing business with them. Make sure you use Google to find out if others are commonly complaining about a web hosting company to insure that you don’t fall into the same trap.
11. Money Back Guarantee. A Money back guarantee is a failsafe way to make sure your satisfied with your web hosting provider. For any reason that you feel the service does not work for you, you should be able to get a prorated refund. Often times these companies will offer a 30, 60 and 90 day money back guarantee.
12. Language Support. Make sure that your web hosting supports PHP or ASP.Net. Notice, that PHP is for Linux based servers. ASP.Net is used on Windows servers. If you fail to take note of the language that your server can support this will cause you to have to revamp your website.
13. Operating System. Depending on what your goals are for your website, it’s going to determine whether or not you need a Linux or Windows operating system. Generally, the OS is included with your purchase of web hosting, but this isn’t always the case. Windows web hosting is a little bit more expensive than Linux. Do your homework to see which one will suit you best.
14. Backups. From time to time your servers could be infected with Malware or you completely mess something up. Some web hosting providers actually offer backups every 12 hours or weekly backups. This can be a failsafe way to insure that all your data does not get corrupt. Just like Windows 8, you can create a “restore point” incase something goes haywire on your computer and you have to restore to an earlier point. This can be a big plus when choosing a web hosting company.
15. Domain Names. A lot of times web hosting companies will also allow you to purchase a domain name from them. This saves you the trouble of switching your DNS records to point to your nameservers. Furthermore, lots of hosting companies will allow you a free domain as long as you host with their company.
16. Control Panel. The control panel should be very easy to use. Meaning, you should be able to update your billing, install subdomains, add-on domains, setup emails, redirect URLs, modify your MX records, etc. Some companies even allow you to take their control panel on a test drive before you purchase any web hosting plan. Make sure you test it out before you buy anything.
17. Contracts. Always read the fine print. There can always be tiny print that locks you into something you really don’t want. There are a lot of hosting companies that lock you into a contract when you buy any plan with them. For instance, you could be locked into a 2 year contract without knowing you have to stay with them for 2 years. There might even be fine print that states that if you do such and such your web hosting account will be suspended.
Clearly, it pays to do your research before signing up with any web hosting provider. I hope the above tips have helped you in considering what to look into before purchasing any web hosting plan.
This article was written by tbwhs.com. Garen Arnold runs one of the top web hosting review sites on the net. You can follow him on Twitter and find out what he has to say about all the top web hosting companies.