With thousands of host companies on the market, it’s no wonder that choosing a reliable hosting provider for your website, is a tough decision you have to take.
While big host companies assail you almost everywhere (online) with catchy ads and tempting offers (trying to convince your subconscious that you’ve already met reliable hosting provider), your friends, colleagues, and online reviewers seem rather advise you to look closely at small, but reliable host providers.
So, in this article, I’ll try to make your research work much easier and help you figure it out faster what suits and what doesn’t to your website/s needs.
Main steps to find and select a suitable hosting provider
1. Make a list of what you need and expect from a hosting provider
- How important is technical support for you?
If you’re a beginner, you’ll probably need a lot of guidance from the start and keeping in touch with the host provider’s team will be essential.
If you’re a tech-savvy, you won’t need the same guidance, of course. But when you finally call technical support, your questions will be more in-depth and more specific. And, that means what you need is highly-qualified support members to communicate with.
- Traffic, contract time, or the number of websites you manage? Which one defines best your interest?
If your websites will have significant exposure and you’re expecting to have intense traffic, unlimited bandwidth is what you’re looking for.
If you’ve just started an online project and it’s difficult to estimate the future results, or are testing a new online project, contract time is what you need.
If you’re going to manage several websites (your websites or for clients as well), pay attention to providers’ offers from this perspective.
Shared, VPS, dedicated server, or cloud server?
Shared hosting will cost you (most probably) less than others, and this is important if you have a limited budget. At the same time, if the hosting provider isn’t a performant one, there could be some limitations and disadvantages that shared hosting involves: your website’s loading speed depends on other sites, you won’t be able to run any program, you’ll have limited database access, etc. So, before making any purchase, be sure that you’ve chosen the best hosting provider.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a hosting solution that uses isolated server solution for each user.
Dedicated server – a physical server rented to you.
Cloud server – your site will be connected to a vast service cloud, and you’ll have almost no limitations.
2. Check out for recommendations
- Friends, colleagues & followers – ask them directly or put a question on your social pages
- Social media groups. Find out dedicated groups and launch a question or ask for a recommendation
- Forums and Q&A platforms. Quora, for instance, hosts a wide range of information filtered by topics. Here you can find detailed recommendations from various users.
3. Save some company’s names and check out their offers.
4. Compare commercial offers. You can do that manually or use a reviews platform
5. Make a shortlist with top suitable web hosting providers
6. Check reviews, testimonials, comments, and recommendations for each hosting company from your list.
7. Test their responsiveness and their customer approaches.
It’s always a good idea to test your future providers’ real interest to his clients. Get in touch with the support team and ask it a specific question.
3 signs that a web host service may not be a reliable hosting provider (how to avoid the “best offer” gimmicks)
- Unlimited offers for only a few bucks a month. Free or cheapest commercial offers deserve a second thought. A high-quality hosting service should be at fair and realistic prices.
*Our advice: check out the terms and conditions and look closer if there are hidden costs.
- 100% uptime – is that for real? Even the best hosting providers will put your website offline once in a while. So, take the “100% uptime” offer as a myth. Instead, what reliable hosting provider can guarantee to you is a 99,99% – this meaning under 5 minutes of downtime per month.
*Our advice: check customers’ comments about each providers’ uptime
- Shiny advertising but not reviews allowed on social pages. Ant lack of transparency should be a signal that the reality may look different.
*Our advice: see what provider’s clients say about the brand on external websites (other social pages, reviews pages, forums, etc.)
Checklist – 10 criteria to evaluate a hosting provider
What do you have to lose if you choose the wrong host provider
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Jeff Bezos