It was earlier this morning I got an email form one web hosting company asking me to recommend their company for my blog readers. But the first thing that cut through my mind is, are they truly reliable as what they claim to be in the email? What if I recommend them and they fail, won't I blame for recommending such company? I need to be sure of the product am recommending. Then I step further in making research about the hosting company and later found out that, they are just a new up-coming company trying to market their service and they are not as reliable as what they claim.
Their marketing officer even go to an extent of increasing the benefits they are offering by 80%, but does the benefits have more value than RealcomBiz readers safety? Absolutely not.
Every business owner who needs an online presence for their business needs to be very careful when selecting a web hosting company. Finding a reliable host might be a daunty task, just type "web host" in any search engine and watch millions of results that will appear. Luckily the top hosts in the search results might be a reliable one, but how sure are you?
If one of the leading blogs recommend any host, product or service, that doesn't guaranty that the product worth it, because they are paid for what they advertised. It's now upto you to do your homework, research and find out more about the recommended host or product before you go for it. Without an excellent hosting company to make sure your online presence is always there for all to be seen, you undoubtedly be missing out on all sorts of contact, marketing and sales opportunities.
There are literally thousands of web hosting companies available in the market, all with different plans and goals. So how do you cut through the jargon and make an informed decision?
Understanding the web host that will fit your business
If you plan to run a personal blog or your site is just representing your existing offline business, you don't really need to spend big bucks on hosting. But if your business is depending on the internet and if your revenue is directly linked to the number of visitors your website gets, your website needs to stay on the premium servers.
Most good web host will offer different packages depending on what you intend to use your site for. The requirement for a personal blog is less than that of a blog that sell multiple product online. There will be option for a personal blog or small scale business having title like "personal plan" or "expert plan." Likewise, there will be option for larger businesses, commercial blogs or content based site, which are dependent on online advertising revenue, those ones might have titles like "unlimited pro" or "business plan."
After detecting a web host that offer a plan that fit your site requirement, then you should research if there is any lapses by following the below guidelines.
1. How Good, Fast and Reliable is Their Technical Support?
When my site, for some unknown reason, goes down, can I call up and get a real live person on the phone? Can they find out what’s wrong and fix it, or at least tell me what I need to do to get my site back online? Does its technical support offers different support mediums like email, telephone or livechat and does it function 24/7? These are questions you need to ask yourself before selecting any web host.
Just because a host advertises that it has 24/7 support does not necessarily mean that it really has that kind of support. Test them out at midnight, weekends, and during holidays. You shouldn't accept any excuses if they failed to render support during this inconvenient time, because that's what they advertised. Find out the structure of their support department, how fast do they reply your ticket, how lengthy you continued on hold or awaiting help over the telephone, and assess the understanding degree of the support staff. Am sure you wouldn't want to sign up for a host that is run by a bunch of salesmen who only know how to sell and not fix problems.
2. Don't Make Price Your Only Priority
You want the best deal at the best price. Sounds good, but don't let price dictate the entire decision. It’s always tempting to pick the least expensive thing. However, when it comes to choosing your web hosting package, choosing free or low cost web host isn’t always the best deal for you. if you suddenly find that you need support or new hardware, and your hosting doesn't cover it. You'll end up paying more money down this road. Remember the old adage "you get what you pay for."
When you over-prioritize price, you run the risk of ending up with a host that will provide you with a connection to the internet and little else in terms of support.
3. Make Sure The Host Can Offer Redundant Bandwidth
This is the amount of actual data that can be transferred from the web server that hold your website, to the browser of people who visit your website. If your site is receiving a huge some of traffic that your purchased bandwidth cannot handle, then either your site is unavailable or you are charge for an extra fee.
Bandwidth is always stated as a monthly limit in either MB or GB. In order to be able to choose the most comprehensive hosting package for your website, you need to consider exactly what you are going to be using your site for, and to what extent. Most average site like personal blogs, text-based websites, small business sites, affiliate sales sites and many more will be using less than 2GB per month. While high-level site like user-submitted content site, social networking site, large forums, video or audio site and flash gaming site will require a hefty amount of bandwidth, maybe 50-100GB.
In addition, most, if not all of the larger web hosting companies claim to offer "unlimited" disk space and bandwidth. But remember, everything under the sky is limited.
These unlimited promises are based on the assumption that the websites hosted on any of their server will not use more than a stipulated percentage of the resources. I personally always stay clear of any host that advertises "unlimited transfer", even if the exact amount is specified somewhere else (sometimes buried in their policy statements). you will find that they redefine "unlimited" to be limited in some way.
4. How Much Diskspace?
After bandwidth, the next factor you should consider is diskspace. This is the amount of actual space available to you for storing your website files on the web server harddrive.
You should always search for a web host that provides you with optimum amount of disk space. But you shouldn't over-buy and don't be trick with all these "unlimited diskspace" or "unlimited bandwidth" scheme. The hosting companies are also aware that you won't be using too much space, so they will be so eager to offer a lot of space on their server.
An average site will be using less than 20MB, while an e-commerce site that is going to have hundreds of product pages, including quality images and video content to really sell what they have to offer will require a plenty of disk space.
The more diskspace and bandwidth your site has from its hosting, the less time you're going to have trying to figure out why your site is down or why the pages are slow as hell to load.
5. User-friendly Interface/Control Panel
A user-friendly interface will allow quick and easy access to a wide variety of features your host supports. It’s therefore, important that you find a service provider that have a simple, flexible, and user-friendly interface. Every good web host company has a video of its control panel readily available on its site. Test-drive the demo CP to see if it’s easy to use.
Many control panels are now a GUI (graphical user interface) that grants access to email management, web site statistics, database administration and more. There are different
control panels available for different website, among the best are:
- cPanel: This is the most widely used control panel. It's suitable for users with limited web hosting experience because of the easy to use interface. It lets you create or delete new accounts, tweak site and user settings, check the server status and resource usages, reboot the server, and perform dozens of other functions. Don't ever sign-up for a host that you have to go through their support system before you make minor changes like changing password or deleting an email account.
- Plesk: This is another budget solution for webmasters to try out. Plesk has a history of being very stable. It runs on Linux and Windows-based servers - it's also popular especially with web hosts that run their servers on Windows.
6. Find Out What Their Former/Current Clients Say About Them
When you compare a couple of hosting providers that meet your budget and tech requirements, go and check for customer feedback. But when i say check for customer feedback, i don't mean any web host with a negative review is bad. You have to be aware that not everyone will have the same experience with each web host. One person may have a horror story with a host, and another may have a glowing report. There are many factors that come into play. If you happen to get placed on a very overcrowded server, you might have a horrible experience (with a slow site, frequent outages, and more reasons to contact customer support). But if you get placed on a fairly empty server, you might not ever have any problems.
Unfortunately, some dishonorable hosts have a bad practice by writing rave reviews for themselves – or worse, write negative reviews against their biggest competitors. That’s the truth. But please be aware that a host with a great amount of negative reviews may be a bad one. So, try to deal with a host by someone’s honest recommendation or after your own accurate checkup.
7. Server Uptime and Downtime
Another key factor that are to be considered while selecting a web host is the service uptime. You need to search for a web host that can keep your site up and running. Every minute of downtime means you are loosing lots of business opportunities. Your site needs to be accessible to your customers at all times if you need that edge over the competition. But the simple fact is that server downtime cannot be avoided completely.
If there should be any downtime the host should provide some sort of refund or discount if it falls below the promised uptime. Without a guarantee, the web host will have little incentive to ensure that its servers are running all the time.
Basically, most web host promises 99.9% uptime, but 99.99% is perfect. Here is a chart:
- 99.99% uptime - 52.33 minutes per year of downtime
- 99.97% uptime - 2.63 hours per year of downtime
- 99.95% uptime - 4.38 hours per year of downtime
- 99.9% uptime - 8.76 hours per year of downtime
- 99.7% uptime - 26.30 hours per year of downtime
- 99.5% uptime - 43.8 hours per year of downtime
- 99% uptime - 87.6 hours per year of downtime
8. Make Sure The Host Has Fully Redundant Data Center
The main goal of any good web hosting data center is to provide continuous service. Likewise the goal of every website owner is to keep their site up and running 24/7 with no downtime. To achieve this, every single component of a hosting facility must be redundant, eliminating every single points of failure entirely.
For example, a web hosting data center requires routers on the edge of the network to enable connection to the Internet. If a router breaks down, there is no way your visitors can connect to your website. In a redundant data center, this is not an issue, since additional routers step into action when primary hardware fails.
There are many reasons for an hardware devices in a network server to stop working. Sometimes, primary hardware needs to be taken offline for updates, patches, and general maintenance. Do they have enough reserved hardware that can spring into action without interrupting the server?
Also, there are some people who attempt to breach server security. Some people are looking for confidential data, while others simply want to cause trouble with malicious attack. What sort of security measures do the host have in place for the network?
For every power source, switch, router and firewall, there should be another identical piece of equipment sitting idle within the host facility. Now find out if the host have:
- Top-quality server hardware
- Dependable connections to the Internet
- Suitable power and adequate cooling.
9. If Your Site Gets Really Big, Can The Host Accommodate It?
If your site is using more bandwidth than you've been contracted for - you'll assuredly get an immediate email from the hosting company. In these cases, you'll have to either ignore the issue (which is usually impossible to do), or be forced to upgrade your hosting plan to the next tier.
As a website owner you should always have your eye on growth, so if a hosting company might have difficulty accommodating that growth, it could pose an issue. Does the host have VPS or Dedicated Server solutions? Will they be able to easily upgrade your account? And how much does it cost? These are questions you need to ask yourself. Compare the price of each hosting plan, find out it they include extra charges for upgrading and see if you will be able to afford it when you have to. While it is possible to transfer your site to another provider, it is often time consuming and requires additional effort from you.
With all been said, getting a reliable hosting for your next project shouldn't be difficult, and in most cases, choosing a web host will depend on your hosting requirement, you can select from unlimited web hosting options available online.
Personally, i doubt that there are any perfect web hosting companies around. Even if you are prepared to pay a huge price for your hosting needs, it does not guarantee that your host is any good. But one thing you can probably be sure of is that you will not get top-notched support if you only pay less than $5 a month. At that price, which company can afford to hire enough good help to cater to all its users? Now it's up to you.
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