How to Choose a Web Host

By Daniel Scocco

Choosing a good web host straight from the beginning is very important for the success of a blog. The web host plays a major role on the overall user experience on your site. Secondly, should your hosting provider turn out to be inefficient you might have some trouble to move your blog down the road. Below you will find 5 steps to guide your web hosting choice:

1. Reliability is the main requisite: when choosing a web host many people base their decision on the offered disk space and bandwidth. Unless you already have a very popular blog you will hardly use even 10% the bandwidth on most hosting plans. The main factor on your decision, therefore, should be the reliability of the host (i.e. the speed of the servers and the uptime).

2. Research online: in order to verify the reliability of the different web hosts you will need to research online. Use search engines to gather customer reviews and check the online forums dedicated to web hosting.

3. Stay away from oversellers: it is very tempting to sign up with a web host that offers many Gigabytes of disk space, Terabytes of monthly bandwidth and unlimited domains. Specially if they charge $3,95 monthly for those specifications The only problem is that those hosting providers are clearly overselling, and thus they are not able to guarantee service quality. When choosing a web host look for a company that offers reasonable specifications.

4. Test the support service: before signing up make sure that you send some emails to the sales support. Check how fast they answer, how friendly they are and what degree of technical knowledge the operators have. If a company has a poor customer care department to begin with its very likely that other parts of the business will have the same performance.

5. Don’t be cheap: if you are serious about your website or blog you should invest some money into a good web hosting solution. I am not saying that you will need a dedicated server right from the start, but consider that if you want a reliable and fast provider you will need to spend around $10 monthly.

If you are looking for a hosting company that meets all the criteria above, try Hostgator. I use them to host several of my sites, and have been a client for over one year without any problems at all.



Share

63 Responses to “How to Choose a Web Host”

  • Mike Panic

    In the last 7 years or so, I’ve learned the hard way that customer service is the most important thing out there, right next to uptime. Go with an established host, one that has been up for several years. I’ve used webhostingtalk.com to help do my research, but it can be a crapshoot there too. I did find a site to track a web hosts uptime once you are with them though – found out from them that my site was down for 4 hours the other day, I would have never known without it.

    Spend the extra couple bucks and go with an established company with great 24 hour customer support.

  • Daniel

    Mike, monitoring uptime is definitely a good tip.

    Established hosts are not all the same though, previously I had been hosting my blog with an established host, they had been operating since 1997, but the service was poor due to overselling.

    As you said, spending a couple of extra bucks is the best idea.

  • Broc

    i went with an offer over at bluefur for $100 for a year which doesnt seem to be too bad
    the support seems to be where most of these deals vary
    therefore i think that the biggest factor for most of these mediocre hosting providers is how good the support is but i did not think to go ahead and email the support prior to signing up
    all i did was do online research as you say in number two

  • Jennifer

    I did all the research possible. I used a few mess up hosts companies. I am positive that one of the best hosts available anywhere is Bluehost.

  • Bes Z

    Another way to choose a webhost is to talk to other customers. Many hosts prominently display testimonials, and some hosts even have online forums where all customers can participate.

    If you are looking for a host, simply setup an account on such forums if they exist and ask existing customers politely what they think of the service and why. Those customers are usually going to respond briefly and let you know both the good and the bad things, if any, that they have experienced.

  • jamjammo

    I have gone through no less than 5 hosts and about 2 registrars since I launched my first site in 1999.
    I agree that uptime monitoring is essential.

    Perhaps the greatest thing a hosting provider can do is to provide a forum for their members, and NON-members, where they can get a great idea of the support and server issues.

    I’ve heard many things about DreamHost and some ‘inability’ to do certain things? Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but I’ve read on some forum/blog that somethings have to be specially configured to work on their servers.
    Can someone verify/confirm this for me?

    I’ve seen many of their deals and many top designers are using them: http://simplebits.com/ , http://www.snook.ca/ and a handful of others.

  • Anthony

    I completely agree with everything you say, except your last point. It is not always necessary to spend $10 – 20 per month in order to find a good host.

    I would like to add:

    ALWAYS pick a host who offers a money back guarantee. Don’t feel shy about using it. I think I signed up for and canceled about 5 different hosts before settling on one. Don’t be shy, upload all “junk” to the server, test it extensively. If it doesn’t satisfy your needs, cancel the account and try another. The money back guarantee is there for a reason, USE IT.

  • Daniel

    Anthony, absoluteny the money back guarantee can be a life saver sometimes.

    Jennifer, I have never used Blue Host, but I have friends who did, and they are moving out of it. In my opinion they oversell also, although they keep quality higher then other oversellers. Uptime is pretty good I heard, but the server does not hold if you blog go on Digg first page.

  • Daniel

    Jamjammo, I am have an account on Dreamhost (currently just hosting small sites there) and this blog was hosted there before I transfered it to a new host.

    My opinion, if you have a small site that you do not care if go down sometimes or if it loads slowly, then Dreamhost could be an option because you cant beat their price ($27 for the first year).

    Other than that, stay way from Dreamhost! Servers are slow, they don’t use cPanl as you mentioned and it might cause problems with some configurations, and there is downtime guaranteed.

  • Reggie

    Here are some useful websites that can help in monitoring your host or domain, or in choosing a hosting account:

    domaintools.com

    uptime.netcraft.com

    alexa.com

    dnsreport.com

    pingdom.com

    I have put in the references to dailyblogtips.com where they were available.

  • Daniel

    Reggie, thanks for sharing that list, very useful.

  • Webbster

    6. Get recommendations. Find a forum populated by other webbie’s (.net magazine for example) and ask them who they would recommend.

  • jamjammo

    Thanks for all the advice fellas.
    I have been with Site5 for a few years now. In fact, I have 3 sites with them.
    Never had a problem. I thoroughly tested their support prior to purchase. And I love their member community.
    Recommended!

  • Amanda

    this is a huge point I try to stress this to my readers aite my site tbw.net
    about overselling
    i recommend several hosts for that reason because i’ve used them and i’m blunt and honest about their service .pleases that give you too much space and not enough money for it is just ridiculous.
    surpass hostings 1$ plan.. i’m sorry but you’d have to sell over 250 of those plans to pay for a server.

  • vatu

    Gr8 Tips

    Thansk, This one help me so much to Choose the bet web Host Company

    VATU
    http://technobuzz.net/

  • Stubbe

    It’s so true, I’ve had so much trouble with bluefur aka monsterhosting’s customer service. The techs were rude to me and took as many as 12 days to reply to customer service enquiries. If I could take it all back I would.

  • Jack

    You make some good points, but there are so many hosting companies popping up and hardware is so cheap now, I think it’s tough to compete in this industry. I look for services and flexibility and ability to upgrade, and what updated versions on php mySQL and phpMyAdmin (services I use) are available. It’s a lot of work to change hosting companies and I hope I never have to do it again.

  • Jacqui

    LOL @ mention of Bluefur hosting – I used them back when they were called MonsterHosting.ca and had the proprietor Gary Jones (also the only admin, salesman and support tech) call me a “F&*CKER” on the phone. SOOOOO funny to see other people dealt with the same type of weirdness from that joke hosting company! Guess we all make mistakes, eh?

  • zelcoli

    boctaallidar

  • Morris Rozen

    Bluefur – not a host that I would recommend. Their hosting package & tech support are average. It’s the customer service that I have issues with. I became dissatisfied with their service & informed them that I would be moving my services elsewhere. The next day my hosting accounts were shut down. No notice and no legal reason for doing so. The manager/owner has made a number of false claims in regards to my situation, but I have documented my history with them.

  • Zack Ilkersen

    Don’t ever pick a free hosting plan, because people need to make money or they’re not going to be around for very long. Nothing is worse than trying to figure out what to do when your current web host suddenly disappears. I found some other good articles here on Choosing a web host

  • Crazy Penguin

    My experience with Bluehost has been nothing short of a disaster.

    Read about my nightmare with Bluehost at Bluehost Blues

  • Neelesh

    This part is the most tricky one, Which one to chose? I am sticking to blogspot for the time being. I will soon move on to my own host

    http://neel-ug.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-to-choose-webhost.html

  • Website Design Lincolnshire

    I have used a few web hosting companies and I must say customer service is the most important feature. I look for a company that offers 24/7 support, that I can get on the phone to if I have a problem.

    Many web hosting reviews are online, however, I find people are more likely to slate poor customer service rather than praise a company for an excellent job.

  • Bhavesh

    BlueHost is the best for beginers and basic bloggers. it can manage 30K-40K Pageviews per day.

  • webhosting

    I’m missing kind off an important point here; make sure you choose a local host. At least one in your country or continent. Dont choose an american host if you live in India. Your site will be slowed down by the huge distance, and if your target public is indian thats not what you want!!

  • webhosting

    @Bhavesh : 30K or 40k isn’t much. normal webhosters can manage over 500k / site each day.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @webhosting, I dont agree with your point. You should not select a host where YOU are located, but rather where YOUR visitors are located.

    I am located in Brazil, but 50% of my visitors come from the US, so my host is in Chicago.

  • webhosting

    Nearly in 90% of the cases are visitors located at the location of the poster/webmaster. Like in Europe most sites are in their mother language and users search te local google. But its indeed different for big international sites. I agree its important to have a host near your visitors.

    Kr

  • Vitor Pinho

    HostJury.com is a good site for research. The rating is based on user reviews, not critics.

  • Smart Domainers

    Thank your your very nice info about how to chose a hot. Yes, the most important thing is:

    “Reliability is the main requisite”

    Some companies with good supports/ price but not good for “Reliability is the main requisite”. This is the key!!! If your site host with LOW reliable ==> sometime you can not access the site. It is event worse with search engine spiders.
    I have played arround for year before I found two companies:
    Apollo Hosting and domain service
    – LuckyRegister cheap domain registration hosting service

  • Hussein

    No need to think. Hostgator is the best web hosting 😀

  • Model dlya sborki

    I am in Russian audio books business. Do you have folks interested in them?

    “Модель для сборки” (МДС, аудиокнига), английском языку ( на сайте представлен большой выбор материалов в помощь изучающим английский язык – аудиокниги, различные учебные пособия и Ñ‚.п.). – возможна запись коллекции передач “Модель для сборки” (на сегодняшний день в моей коллекции МДС 13 DVD) и аудиокниг на английском языке на DVD диски.

  • ChrisS

    For the last 6 years I have been using 1and1. While setting up my first website I had to call technical support at 2:30 in the morning. The tech person was professional and got the issue resolved in about 15 minutes. This sold me on there hosting and I have never looked back.

    Best regards,
    Chris

  • Hosting Review

    Over selling is not a good thing for sure but I don’t see it a problem if the web hosting keep their performance by ensuring the uptime. Because to me overselling is a marketing strategy and it is a bit unfair to ask people to stay away from them. I suggest instead of get away, potential subscribers are suppose to be more careful when judging overselling hosting company by carefully review them.

  • Rohan

    @ comment 26
    I agree with you, but from my experience, there are numerous drawbacks of hosting in a Indian datacenter.

    The cost of bandwidth in India is too high
    The support is not good enough. You have to go through a series of ‘customter support executives’ who can hardly be of any help.
    They dont update their software regularly. I was given phpMyadmin version 2.1 when the latest was 2.9 or something. PHP 5 and MySQL 5 were also not available

    Even the cheapest and over-seller host in US updates his softwares regularly.

    IMHO, hosting at India is not optimal until you are willing to employ yourself experienced technicians.

  • Bang Kritikus

    good but cheaper

  • firma rehberi

    Thanks For You !!!

  • TomL

    I have used Hostgator for several years now and am currently running several web sites with no problems. I find that their reliability is improving, especially in the past 6-12 months.

    They use cPanel and I have unlimited domains and month to month service.

    In previous years their email servers crashed briefly on me, but now all seems to be working fine.

    Before they got so big I used to be able to get better customer service over the phone, but their email customer service is OK. All problems have been resolved.

    One technique I learned a couple of years ago to test the speed of any hosting service was to ping them. Just go to DOS command screen and type in >ping.hostingservice.com, substituting the name of any service for hostingservice.com. For example, to ping hostgator type in >ping hostgator.com, for yahoo type in >ping yahoo.com, etc. The ping result in ms tells you something about the speed of their service.

  • Ev

    Some excellent points here guys.
    I am trying to point together a small guide on how to choose a webhost and i found this post really helpful.

    Could i just also add that a green web host should also be a high consideration when choosing a host.

    Call me a greenie but if i were tossing up between a handle full of companies that have similar plans and one of the companies is green, i would definently choose the green web host.

  • Aromalar

    thanks you very mach

  • prefabrik

    Thanks For You Wonderful

  • webhosting review

    I think those your advices are very good. I will consider about this when I need pick one web host for my domain.

  • Pat Shaughnessy

    Deamhost is pretty good. I have been using for a few years, some downtime, but service is very good. also allows pretty good geek-level access to LINUX shell, etc.
    pat

  • marc

    You should set up a tthird party monitring service to check the uptime. Some hostgator servers have very bad uptime. But i am the owner of a hosting company myself, and as far as i am concerned, customer satisfaction is a top priority.

  • Aneesh Bhatnagar

    Thanks a lot for this post.

  • Damir

    Great review! I think that you have mentioned most important things.

  • Morris

    Great posting! Still amazed at the number of people who fail to research before signing up with a host. I see the number of complaints online about Bluefur increasing and all about similar customer service issues. You would think that people would learn. I have been very happy with using a number of hosts depending on my client needs. I have been plased with the following ; Blacksun.ca, Dreamhost.com, IXwebhosting.com, and Hostgator.com

  • blogboy

    Mike, monitoring uptime is definitely a good tip.

    Established hosts are not all the same though, previously I had been hosting my blog with an established host, they had been operating since 1997, but the service was poor due to overselling.

    As you said, spending a couple of extra bucks is the best idea.

  • Bryan Hee

    Hostgator hosting is the best hosting provider i ever used! I want to give five star rating for their 24/7 365 days online customer service. They will solve our problem with patiently.

    To your success,
    Bryan Hee

  • Maxence

    The first point is so true. It is sad to see how people get hooked by simple marketing techniques such as *unlimited*. Especially for a website, you’ll hardly use few Gb of space. Reliability is much more important that unlimited space.

Comments are closed.