Today we are going to find the characteristics of a good web hosting provider. Going through all the web hosting services that are currently available for everyone is a time consuming process. It’s easy to get confused with all the different variables and advertisements and they don’t make it easier for you to choose. To most people, the advertisements and the offers they see look like they’re almost the same for every hosting provider.
Sure, the exterior looks very similar. Each provider offers reliability, high speed, high uptimes and an outstanding, even award winning customer service. This is a few of the core things that make up a good hosting service. But once you look under the hood, you realize that things are very different from what you’ve seen on the surface.
Hosting services are offered by varying companies, which are ran by different people, with different policies. They have different servers, different gear and their very own way of treating their customers.
Naturally, you want your money, your attention and your website to be in the most capable and caring pair of hands, which is why we wrote this article. To help you understand the knots and jolts of hosting services on a basic level. This help you make an educated and reasonable decision as you look through perspective hosting services.
So, if you’re looking to identify the hosting provider that will be the best for you and your website, stick with me and I’ll tell you how to do it!
Identifying Your Web Hosting Needs
You won’t buy a pair of pants unless they fit you, right? It’s the same deal with web hosting and just about everything you buy. So it is crucial for you to understand your hosting needs before you click the buy button. Here are some of the main questions to ask yourself.
What Kind Of Website You’re Building?
What purpose will your website fulfill? Will it be a simple portfolio website, to show off your skills and achievements? Will you make an e-commerce website where you can showcase your products and sell them? Or is it going to be a community website or forum?
Depending how complex purpose your website is going to fulfill, you can know how excessive your hosting needs will be. If you’re only building a portfolio website, you’ll do well with some of the simplest hosting packages. If you’re building a large e-commerce website, you’ll need a better one, because there will be more traffic and more server requests eventually.
At the core of things, it really just comes down to how much traffic your website is going to receive. The more traffic it will get, the more bandwidth and server resources it will require to function as well as it has to.
Keep in mind, that in today’s online environment, speed is crucial. You’ll website will accomplish any task much better if it operates on high speed and it will drive more than 30% of the users away if it’s slow. So, always go for the fastest hosting service.
Does Your Website Have Any Excessive Requirements?
If you’re looking to build your very own web app or seek to provide an online service for millions of people, you will probably have to have a dedicated server or a VPS. If you’re using a dedicated server, you don’t have to share any space with other websites and have the entire server for yourself. Although this costs more and managing server resources requires technical knowledge. But if you’re seeking to build something more complex, I’m assuming that you have it.
But if you’re a complete newbie and just want to build a website, than a simple shared hosting plan will be enough.
In case you seek to expand your website in the future, you should definitely choose a hosting provider that offers scalable services.
Double Check “Unlimited” Offers
A lot of hosting services say that you get unlimited storage space and bandwidth for the money you’re going to pay. You do actually get unlimited storage space but the provider will put some tight limitations on the amount of resources you can use. They might even shut your website down if it uses up too much. So be sure to check the terms of service before you get into such an “awesome” deal.
Do You Require Website Building Tools?
You don’t have to be a web developer to create a website. There are plenty of drag and drop tools available that let you build a website from scratch, fairly easily, without any technical knowledge.
Also, most hosting providers have the most popular content management systems that you can use with a single click.
How Much Traffic Are You Looking To Have?
Like I mentioned before, knowing approximately how much traffic your website is going to have or how much you want it to have, is one of the most important variables.
Of course, you can’t know too much about how much traffic you’re going to get beforehand, it’s only a guessing game. But just to make sure, choose a hosting service that is easy to scale and also make sure that you know how much extra you would have to pay if you step over your bandwidth limitations.
Understand Server Types
The cheapest type of hosting is shared hosting, where you share space with hundreds or thousands of other websites. This is also the most widely used type of hosting plan, for obvious reasons. It performs well, it’s stable and reliable throughout the year, not taking too much money out of your hands. But shared hosting limits your access to the servers’ resources. It limits the number of websites and databases you have, among other things.
For those who want to have more power and are willing to pay a bit of extra, there is the VPS (Virtual Private Server) option. Multiple virtual servers are running on a single machine. You can use a virtual server as if it were an actual dedicated server. This way you’ll have more server resources and a lot more services you can use. These are great for more demanding applications and websites. But you’ll also have to manage that server yourself or have an expert manage it for you.
Actual Dedicated Servers are one of the most expensive plans, but they offer the most horse power, since you’re renting an entire server for yourself. You’ll need a set of system management skills to be able to use this service.
Cloud Servers and Cloud Hosting is one of the newest types of hosting. Data is stored on huge public clouds, which makes them faster and safer. The amount of server resources applied to a single user, varies. They can be scaled seamlessly, which makes it very flexible.
It is also great for handling huge, unexpected loads of traffic, without you having to do anything to scale your service. Things go really smoothly and flexibly if you choose cloud hosting.
Looking At The Web Host’s Qualities
Now, here’s the important stuff. If you look at the following aspects of a hosting provider and its services, you can easily decide whether it is worth buying into or not. Without further ado, let’s check them out!
Reputation of Web Hosting Company
One of the first things that we look at when we review a hosting provider is what kind of reputation they have gathered over the years if they have gathered any. Usually, as with any other company, the past experience people had with them is a good way to tell whether they are trustworthy or not.
Many good web hosting companies have been in business for about 20 years. Some companies have only worked for a few years, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they are untrustworthy in any aspect. But many years’ worth of customer reviews stand pretty strongly for a company.
So the best way to go about it is by looking at how many years a company has been active, reading customer reviews and user submitted comments. With these, you can get a solid idea of what the perspective company has left in its footsteps.
Cost of Hosting Plans & Services
The price of hosting services varies for every company. Usually, a shared hosting plan costs about $2-$3 dollars. Some go as high as $4 or as low as $1. It’s always worth taking a calculator in your hand and going through the numbers to know how much you will be paying throughout a one year period.
Keep in mind that the price you see on advertisements only apply if you sign a two year contract with the company. Otherwise, the price might go up from $2 to $4 or from $3 to $6. Plenty of companies use these pricing tricks, even those that provide a good service. It is a marketing tactic that you should be aware of.
Renewal cost is also something to have a good look at. Once you get to the end of the period you have signed up for there will be a renewal cost you have to pay, so you should factor that into your price. The renewal fee should be listed out, because you could get lured into paying a load of cash before taking any notice about it.
On the plus side, you can easily get your hands on discounts if you register through other websites that offer them. This way, you could easily chop off a dollar or two from your monthly hosting costs.
Now, whether the pricing is good or not, depends on the service that the perspective company offers. If you’re looking for a shared hosting plan that costs $4 but doesn’t offer too much, you won’t be making too much of a deal. But if you get your hands on a hosting service for $2-$3, that offers a free domain registration along with unmetered disk space and bandwidth, you can make a pretty good deal.
To make things feel safer, you have a 30 day money back guarantee period almost every time. Some hosting providers are confident enough to offer a 40-70 day money back guarantee period.
Whatever service you come across, make sure that the price is reasonable for the service you’re receiving. A good hosting plan can be found under $5 per month, so you shouldn’t have a problem.
Performance of Good Web Hosting
Sure, you get some web space to store your website on, but that’s not everything that’s required to get it to run smoothly. Your website should be fast and reliable throughout the entire year.
Uptime: A server’s uptime means the amount of time it is online throughout the year. It is measured in percentages and the closer a server’s uptime gets to 100% the more reliable it is.
To make things more concrete, you definitely shouldn’t choose hosting that has its uptime measured below 95%. In fact, you should go for the ones with an uptime of 98% or 99.99%. It’s rare to find a hosting plan with 100% uptime, but most good hosting providers get really close to it, so you should do your business with them.
Speed: The speed of the server is crucial, since it will decide how fast your website is going to load. Website loading speed is measured in milliseconds. If you want to ensure that your website has speed according to today’s online standards, the server you store it on should a loading speed around 500 ms. There are good hosting plans that are even faster, offering a 200 ms loading speed, while some operate on 600-800 ms. Your website will work pretty well with both, but you shouldn’t go over a 800 ms loading speed.
Not every review offers these measurements, so you should look at those that do. We always provide the average loading speed of a hosting plan in our reviews, so feel free to check them out.
You can also install a piece of software to do it yourself but it’s much easier to look at reviewer’s results and compare them.
Customer Support: It’s easy to buy server space but managing can get tricky along the way. You might come across problems and plenty of things that you just can’t wrap your head around. In those cases, it’s lifesaving to have some professional help. This is where customer support comes into play.
A good customer support is one of the most important aspects of a good web hosting service. You’ll want to have some helpful people on the other end of the chat window and phone line, who are fast to respond to your queries.
Usually, a good customer support agent will reply to you within 20-30 minutes after you wrote them in chat or after you called them. They have to be helpful and get straight to the task once you have defined what the problem is. You’ll want to do business with people who you can trust and who have your back without any extra fees.
But you won’t know how good the customer support of a company is, until you try it yourself or do some research. People like to talk about their experiences and they do talk plenty about what they experienced with a specific hosting provider.
If the customer support team is bad, plenty of people have already posted their complaints to forums, social media and other websites, so it’s very easy to look into. I suggest that you look at plenty of these and see what kind of feedback their already active user base has given.
Also, it’s best to have a 24/7/365 support, that you can reach even on holidays. If you already paid for a hosting plan and you’re still in the trial period, it’s a good time to test the customer support team with a few calls.
Free Stuff Offered by Hosting Provider
Some hosting providers charm their customers with some pretty good offers. Some of them provide a free site migration that costs more than $100 at other providers. If you have an already existing website you want to move, this would come in really handy.
They give free domain registrations, free tools and website builders along with other things that would be too long to list. In short, you can get your hands on some pretty good bonuses if you choose your hosting provider wisely. I personally find the free domain name and various free tools to be most useful. Thankfully, that is what most hosting providers offer.
The above defined things are the most important aspects to look at when choosing a hosting provider. Of course, there will always be some extras, but these are the core things that make a good hosting provider.
Now, off you go! It’s time for you to put your new found knowledge to good use and find the best hosting package out there! Here are our top recommendations for good web hosting: