One of the most crucial factors of a website success or failure is the web hosting. a bad web host can render your site extremely slow or even unavailable to your visitors. Moreover, extended site unavailability translates to loss of rankings, unhappy customers, and (lots of) complains. Multiply that by a factor of 100 if your website is an e-shop and your business relies heavily on it.
It is obvious from the above that you should invest in your sites web hosting. Forget about cheap web hosting, its not going to work out, at least not in the long run. Be extra careful in what hands your trust your brand, your business and reputation. Inspect their policies and watch for the usual red flags such as an amateur web design, badly written descriptions or inconsistencies. It is a good idea to run a ‘background check’ on them. Google them, read as many reviews as you can and make an intelligent and informed decision.
It should be noted however that all services may experience some downtime and a yearly percentage of 0.01-0.05% of unavailability is generally acceptable. If you cant afford that there are solutions to bring that percentage close to 0 (it’s going to cost you an extra) and in most cases it just isn’t worth the money and effort.
Here are some important factors to take into consideration, summed up in question form, to help you decide:
1. Clear policies and SLA (Service level agreement).
What happens if their service becomes unavailable? are there backups available or do they charge extra for their retrieval? Whats their policy in such a case and do they offer any sort of compensation?
Is your website content accepted and how they handle complains?
2. Availability and Backups
Can they guarantee a server and network availability level of 99% or over? Do they keep a daily or at least a weekly backup of your data and how easy is it to deploy a backup?
3. Be extra careful of lock-ins
Many providers will advertise a ‘free domain name’ or ‘free sitebuilder’. There is no such thing as free (not in this case anyway). Almost always there is a catch. Find out how easy it easy to move your domain or the website you have build with their sitebuilder tool to another provider. Do they charge an extra for that?
4. Reviews and user feedback
Google their firm and read as much feedback from their users as you can. Obviously there will be bad comments but is it the general case? Sometime users have unrealistic expectations from their web hosting space, thats not the web hosts fault. Make sure the comments and feedback apply to the web hosting service you are looking for.
5. Do not trust the ads
Ads are ads.. they will tell you what you want to hear (well read, anyway..) , dont trust them. Again, there is no such thing as free, there is no 1 cent web hosting and there is no unlimited web hosting. They cant make money with that. (Simple as that).
6. Start low and upgrade
Don’t rush. You most likely do not need 10 GB of web space to host your blog. Start with a small plan, evaluate their services and upgrade (remember, each company has each own policy on that) as neccessary. Also a yearly contract is probably not a good idea, unless of course you have a solid plan for your website and they have proven trustworthy.
Will you receive an acceptable level of support from them in case you need it? Is there a live chat option or perhaps phone support available? Try their support before ordering.
Update 8/6: I am currently using 4 web hosting providers and probably have used a dozen or more. I consider writing some honest reviews (no affiliate junk), let me know if that would interest you 😀