Whether you’re new to web hosting or a complete veteran, choosing the right web host for your business is not easy. There are now over 193 million results on Google for ‘web hosting’. The number of web hosts will continue to increase as high demand for web related services continues. Below I have listed some unique tips to assist you with choosing a new host.
1) Website Look And Usability
Would you trust a web host with a poorly designed website? I certainly wouldn’t and nor should you because first impressions are everything. A web hosting provider‘s job is to provide the tools and space required to create a website, blog or forum. If their own website doesn’t look professional it could mean they:
– are still relatively new to the hosting business thus do not have enough clients to justify investing in a professional website design
– they are a ‘fly by night’ and are only in the business for the short term
On the other hand if a company takes care of their website design it shows:
– there is a high chance they also look after their customers very well due to their commitment to detail
– the staff behind the company have really good HTML/CSS skills meaning that if you run into trouble with your own website they are likely to assist you with that also
– they are not afraid to invest capital where it’s needed. This also increases the chance that the company utilizes new technology & software on their servers
2) Legal Documents
This certainly deserves to be second on the list. Every web hosting company should have the following legal documents:
– Terms Of Service
– Acceptable Usage Policy
The purpose of these documents is not only to protect the company but also the their users. Make sure you read these documents before choosing a web host because every host will have different policies on email limits, CPU usage, acceptable content, payment etc
Some companies will try and hide their Terms Of Service and Acceptable Usage Policy. If this is the case I recommend looking for another host. There should be a clearly visible link to these documents in the footer of the companies website.
Good support is vital when choosing a web host. No matter how much experience you have with building/maintaining websites from time to time something will go wrong. At this point it’s very important to have access to a good support team. Most of the time a good support team will be able to resolve your issue in less than 30 minutes. But if you choose a web host with poor support you could be waiting up to 24 hours for a response. For those who own personal websites this might not be a problem but if you run an online business such as a DVD store it’s vital that your website is up and running as soon as possible. When looking at a particular web host test their support by submitting a support ticket or sending an email. This will show you how their support handles requests and how quickly support react.
4) Web Hosting Features
Features should certainly be considered when choosing a web host. Generally when looking for a web host you will come across the same features from host to host but with varying Disk Space and Bandwidth limits. The Disk Space you need will depend on the size of your website. For example a video hosting website will need much more Disk Space than a static HTML site. In simple terms every time someone visits your website they will use your bandwidth. The amount of bandwidth you need greatly depends on the nature of your site and how many visitors you receive. A couple of popular features you should look for are:
cPanel – cPanel is the best website control panel in the hosting industry today. Using cPanel you can control and maintain your website with ease using this user-friendly control panel. All of our hosting accounts use cPanel because it is the best in the industry.
Fantastico – Fantastico is a powerful script installer we include with our hosting accounts. Installing scripts manually can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour but with Fantastico it takes 2 minutes. Using Fantastico you can have your forum, blog or website online promptly without any knowledge of installing scripts needed!
5) Uptime Guarantee
I can’t stress enough how important uptime is. Uptime is the word used in web hosting for the percentage of time a server has been online for. For example if a web host has 99.9% uptime that means their server/servers have been online 99.9% of the time they have been monitored for. While looking for web hosting an uptime guarantee may be the deciding factor for you. At MonsterMegs we have a 99.9% uptime guarantee on all of our hosting accounts.
Have you ever heard the saying:
“You get what you pay for” or
“If it seems to good to be true it is”?
This is certainly true 90% of the time. You should look at the price in comparison with the features offered to get an idea for how realistic each plan is. You will save a lot of time/money in the long run by paying the right price for the right service rather than looking for the cheapest web-hosting plan you can find.
7) Trial Accounts
Taking advantage of a web hosting trial offer is a great way to test a hosts service, support, features and server speed without making any commitments. Make sure you read the terms of the trial carefully because sometimes the offer can be very misleading. For example I have seen offers like:
“Try our hosting for free for a month when you pay for a year in advance.”
We actually offer a very popular 10 day free web hosting trial. Unlike the majority of trials today we do not require any long term commitment or payment details. Every trial account is set-up instantly and allows access to every feature you will find with our paid hosting plans.
8) Money Back Guarantee
Many web-hosting companies offer a money back guarantee of 7-30 days. This is a win, win situation for both you and the web host. You will be able to try their service without risking your money and the web host has the opportunity to impress you with their services/support. Before signing up with a web host make sure you read their money back guarantee terms because sometimes it isn’t as simple as asking for your money back. If a web host is offering a money back guarantee they are showing confidence in the service they provide. This is certainly a worthy factor to consider when deciding on the right web host for you.
Reading testimonials will make your life much easier when looking for a web hosting company to use. They will give you a good idea of how each company handles certain situations. When looking through testimonials you need to be careful because some companies do display fake testimonials. Testimonials without a link to the customers website have a high chance of being fake. I hope with the new FTC guidelines fake testimonials will be a thing of the past.
10) Hosting Awards
Web hosting awards are a fantastic way to judge a web hosts service and support. Although they look like they can be easily faked the majority of website that provide these awards have a large visitor base who vote for the award winners. A couple of highly regarded awards from:
A blog are you kidding me? I know this one seems a bit strange but it is actually a huge factor to take into consideration. Web hosts do not have to have a blog to provide web hosting services but if they do it will show you:
– they have a passion for web hosting
– they have knowledge when it comes to website building and hosting
– they like to connect with their readers
A blog will also allow you to see how popular they are by checking the responses on each post.
12) News And Announcements
A company with news to tell is a company that’s growing and striving to improve the services they provide. Not only will this show you the company is growing but it will also allow you to estimate where they will be in the future. You will be able to see how far the company has come by going through their announcements. Generally if a web hosting company has announcements there is less chance of them being a ‘fly by night’ host who is looking to make quick money.
13) Jobs Section
I have seen all to many web hosts go under in the past month alone. If a web hosting company is advertising for jobs it’s more than likely they growing thus being a safe company to try.
The reason why I put reviews as number 14 on the list is due to the amount of fake, false and inaccurate reviews on the Internet. If I were to guess I would say as many as 60% of web hosting reviews are either fake or inaccurate to some extent. If every web hosting review were real I would put this as number 5 on the list. It’s unfortunate this isn’t the case. Here are some tips to make sure you do not fall victim to choosing an un-reliable host due to a fake review:
– Does the review have keywords as anchor links? For example ‘web Hosting’. If you see this the best thing to do is find another review because its most likely spam used to gain more backlinks.
– Does the reviewer also provide the domain he hosts with this company? You can use tools such as ‘whois’ to check the name servers of a domain. This will give you a good indication as to if the reviewer really uses the company they are reviewing. If the reviewer does not contain a link to their website there is a huge chance it’s fake. Some forums such as Web Hosting Talk remove any reviews that fail to provide a domain they are using with the company.
– If this review is on a forum check to see the users other posts. If the majority of them recommend the same web host do not take their reviews seriously.
– Can you notice any affiliate links? Affiliate marketers are using new ways to hide affiliate links such as using ‘tiny URL’ services and even 301 redirects on their site links so keep your eyes open.