How do I choose a web host?
Selecting the right web hosting service for your web site is as important as choosing a house for your family or an office for your business. A good web host can do wonders to your web site and a bad one can play havoc with it.
Though picking up a web hosting service seems pretty straightforward, it’s not! The sheer amount of competition in this market and the various options presented to the consumer confuses not only beginners but also seasoned web developers. And this confusion is caused because we don’t want to be taken in – We want the best features and service at the best price!
Like I said, when you consider that a web host houses your web site very much like your residence (which houses you and your family), you should take a little time to research and choose a good web host for your site.
So let me save you some time and help you in your research – How to choose the right web host for your web site.
How to choose the best host for your web site?
When you have hundreds (if not thousands) of companies offering web hosting it can become very confusing; especially when all of them offer great features and promise unparallel customer service. Hence, whenever I look at a web hosting company I pay attention to only two things – the Web Server Uptime Guarantee and the Support. These two important aspects are common for both virtual hosting and a dedicated web host.
The web host uptime guarantee
In my opinion, the single most important thing in choosing a web host is the uptime guarantee. The uptime guarantee is usually stated as a percentage and refers to the amount of time your web site will be available for all to see on the web. So a 99.9% uptime guarantee means that your site would be on the net 99.9% of the time. If we convert the percentages into actual time, a 99.9% uptime means that the web site would be down or offline for 8.76 hours (0.365 days) in a year. For most of us, this is just fine.
If a web host company offers anything less than 99% uptime – move on.
Customer support for web hosting
Determining the quality of technical support is actually a Catch-22. I mean, you can only come to know of the support once you purchase hosting from that company… right?
NO! There are other ways to find out how far a web hosting company goes to serve its customers.
The simplest, though, time consuming way, is to read about that company on web forums and message boards. Beware of messages posted by representatives of the companies which you can quickly make out because they are self-laudatory. Go to popular online forums to read other people’s reviews and experiences with hosting companies.
A quicker way to know about the quality of customer service from a company can be gauged from its web site. Does the company provide direct phone lines? Is there a toll-free number? Are the phones continually busy when you try to call the company? Is there an online chat feature and can you successfully chat with a company representative? Does the company provide direct email address for technical queries and technical support? Does the web site offer a ‘Support ticketing’ system? How quickly does the company respond to your requests over email… etc?
Most web hosting companies also offer a trial period or a money-back guarantee. You can, thus, put your web site on their servers for 30 days and see how things works out. If your site is slow to load in a browser or is often offline, you know that you need to run away from this service as quickly as possible.