I know, you’re stuck on how to choose a web hosting company. There are thousands of web hosts to choose from. It can make the entire decision a very tough one.
Believe it or not you should be able to ask your web host these 12 questions prior to signing up with them. After you ask them these questions you should have a better understanding on whether or not they will work for you.
1. Operating System
Do they support Linux or Windows? Both? Linux is more popular. Personally, I use Linux. See these facts on the most used operating system for web hosting. Tradionally, Windows hosting is going to be a little more expensive than Linux hosting. Tradionally, Windows will use Plesk as their control panel. Linux will use cPanel.
2. How Long Have They Been In Business
Have the web hosts been in business for 5-10 years at least? Are they new to the industry? Reading web hosting reviews on them can tell you a lot about how happy people are with them. Have they changed their name or been bought out by another web hosting company? A lot of web hosts are actually owned by EIG. The answers to these questions should be answered on the web host’s “about us” or “FAQ” page.
The company needs to be a trusted web hosting company. Your online business heavily relies on it. A lot of hassles can be avoided just by doing a little extra research. I have talked to hundreds of webmasters that didn’t know GoDaddy and 1and1 (for example) have received lots of negative feedback.
What is their BBB (Better Business Bureau) rating? Do they have a lot of complaints against them? For example, Hostgator has an A+ rating, but have 100% complaints on the BBB. How do they handle these complaints? Are developers and web designers praising their service? What is the feedback with them? Have you “Googled” their name with the words “review” or “scam” after their name?
4. Customer Support
Telephone support? Live chat? Email? Support Ticket? Do they have business hours? I do not favor hosts that have business hours for technical support. However it is common and absolutely acceptable for other departments like billing to only be available during regular business hours. Nothing is more of a hassle than contacting support for help on Friday and having to wait 2 days to get your issue resolved. MochaHost and WebHost4Life get lots of negative feedback on support. How long does it take for them to respond to inquiries? Do they have how-tos and a portal of information?
There needs to be various ways to get a hold of them! Some webmasters prefer “live chat”. Others will prefer to call them on the phone or to fill out a support ticket. Having a support ticket system is a must for me. There are going to be times when you’re going to have to get a hold of them. It should never be a hassled getting a hold of customer support.
If your website is always down people can’t view your website. You don’t like paying for services that don’t work or that you don’t use do you? There are a lot of services that can monitor your website’s uptime. 99.9% uptime is good. Under 99.9% isn’t. But, uptime is one aspect of a host that will drive you mad. I have tested HostNine and learned first hand that uptime was an issue.
Three hosts that I have used where uptime hasn’t been an issue are A2 Hosting, RoseHosting and InMotion Hosting. Uptime is very solid with these hosts. Also, a lot of hosts have a SLA/TOS where they will credit your account if uptime falls below 99.9%.
6. Upgrades/ Plans
Site Migration Fees? Did you know BlueHost actually charges you $149 to migrate to them? Can you change your DNS to another service? Is there a fee for this? Do they offer shared, VPS, reseller, cloud, and dedicated plans? Is there an upgrade charge? Make sure you read their TOS. LiquidWeb and Turnkey Internet make it very easy to upgrade and downgrade your web hosting plans.
Also, it’s important to take note of what different hosting plans they offer. Some web hosts specialize in just shared, VPS, cloud, or dedicated hosting. If you ever need to upgrade, it can be a hassle migrating to another host. Scaling up and down should never be a hassle.
7. Server Speeds / Limit Clients
Not all web hosts have the same performance. For instance, sites hosted on A2 Hosting load quicker than sites hosted on Web.com. Are they using the latest hardware? Do their servers respond quickly? Do they jam pack their servers with tons of clients? Is there a limit to the number of accounts per server? InterServer limits their clients on their servers. Are they using SSD hard drives? There are lots of benefits to using SSD hosting.
Two sites I like to use to test servers speed are:
Watch out for web hosts that use the whole unlimited bandwidth sales pitch. Also, a lot of hosts limit the number of inodes you can use on their servers. Be aware of the limitations on your web hosting account or you could get suspended for using too many resources.
9. Price Tag
Is their price tag on par with other web hosts? How is their billing structured? Monthly, Quarterly, or Annually? Dot5Hosting and Globat don’t allow for paying monthly or quarterly and require you pay your bill annually. Having to pay $100+ at once might be too much for some.
Also, watch out for web hosts that start you at an entry fee and then raise the price drastically. Two hosts that I have seen do this over the years are StartLogic and JustHost. Also, I will pay more for a quality service. Sometimes cheaper hosts are not worth the hassle.
10. Money-Back Guarantee
Money-back guarantees help give us a piece of mind. What is their money-back guarantee? 7,14,30,45, or 90 days? This is usually stated on their TOS page. The industry standard is 30 days. Virpus and ServerPronto have very short money-back guarantees.
Some web hosts like A2 Hosting, InMotion Hosting and WebHostingHub go a step further and do pro-rated refunds once the money back guarantee period is over. If you try out a host and they don’t exceed your expectations it’s always nice to get your money back, and then migrate to another host.
11. Control Panel
I know a lot of webmasters that heavily favor cPanel over every control panel. Managed WordPress Hosting is the exception, though. You won’t need a control panel with managed WordPress hosting. Unless you want to install WordPress or your apps manually, you are going to need a control panel. Below are the most used control panels:
- Direct Admin
- HDE Controller X
- Hosting Controller
- Virtualmin Pro.
Is there a licensing fee? Annual or monthly? How Much?
12. Backup & Security
Backups and extra security precautions can give you a little extra added piece of mind. A lot of hosts have backups. Daily, weekly, and monthly backups? Is there a fee? There are hosts that have partnerships with SiteLock which is a backup and security service. They are paying an extra monthly or yearly expense and if their sites get hacked they actually have to pay to restore it.
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