Choosing the best web hosting service is one of the most important things you can do for your online business. Choose a poor web host, and you’ll have to deal with the constant headaches of your sites constantly being down, non-existent or un-helpful support, and a myriad of other issues. So before you pick the best web host for you, you need to do your research first.
There are three main things I look for in a great web host.
- Reliability & Uptime
Web Host Reliability & Uptime
Reliability and Uptime is THE key feature I look for when choosing a web host. Web host downtime can cost your business a lot of money. Of course every web hosting company advertises 99.9% uptime. So how do you figure out which web hosts perform as they say? I think the easiest way is to check various forums.
The first thing I would do, is visit the forum of the web hosting company you’re checking out. For example HostGator has it’s forums over at http://forums.hostgator.com. Check out existing threads and see what people are saying about the web host currently. If people’s sites have been down recently, then they will certainly be posting on their web host forum.
You can also check out some popular web hosting forums to see what they have to say about your specific web host. Webhostingtalk.com is one of the most popular and I encourage you to check it out. Finally, I like to look at some general internet marketing forums like WarriorForum and WickedFire to see if anyone has an opinion. Good web hosting is the lifeblood for most internet marketers, so you can get some strong opinions about what’s good and what’s not.
Hopefully, you won’t need to contact your web hosting support to often, but when you do, it’s important that they are timely and knowledgeable. There’s nothing worse than waiting several days for an answer to your question, and once you get your answer, finding out that it’s completely unhelpful. At a minimum, any web host should offer 24/7 customer support via phone, email and live chat. If your web host doesn’t offer this, look elsewhere.
When picking a web host, a good way to test their support is to contact them initially. Call them on the phone and see how long you have to wait on hold. Send them and email and see how long it takes to reply. And ask them some basic questions to see how knowledgable and helpful they are.
Lastly, I make sure that the web host I’m picking offers the features I need. If you need to run Ruby and Rails scripts for example, then make sure they support it. If you need to be able to run ASP, then make sure your host uses Windows servers for example.
One thing I like to see, is that my chosen web host uses cPanel. Sure, there are some cool custom control panels, but cPanel is pretty standard in the web hosting industry. It also makes it easier to transfer my sites from one web host to another if they both use cPanel. Also, make sure that your web host has a good script installer like Fantastico or Simple Scripts. These make it easier to install popular web software like WordPress, phpBB, and scripts like that.
As you can see, there’s a lot to look for when picking the best web hosting for you. So do your research and make the right web hosting choice. You’ll thank yourself later.