How Do I Choose a Web Hosting Company?

Web hosting

With a rise in power and popularity of web-based website and online store building applications like Shopify and Wix, people searching for traditional web hosting to launch a website are declining. These services offer not only the ability to create your site but also host it online.

But, that doesn’t mean that web hosts don’t come with their benefits and important uses. Not everyone wants to use these applications to create their websites. Some people want the flexibility of a web host to host their custom e-commerce site.

Choosing a web hosting company is very important. Choose the wrong company and you’re guaranteed stress, headaches, and potentially even a loss of clients. Here are the critical things we look for when choosing a company to host our website:

Company history

The longer the company has been around, the better. Same goes for the size of the company; hundreds of employees, especially a large support staff, is very important. Be sure to take a look at their infrastructure. Do they own their own data-centers? How many do they have? Bigger is better for all categories, in our opinion. Web hosting is one of the most competitive industries on the Internet today. Hosting companies are started and shut-down almost every day. Be sure to pick one that has stood the test of time.

For example, HostGator has been around since 2002 and employs over 800 people.

Number of clients

A successful web hosting company should boast how many clients they have. The only way to have an impressive client count is to be good at what you offer. This might take some navigating to find out, but it should be available on their company page.

For example, HostGator claims to have over 9 million domains hosted.

Prices

Price is important for all purchases and even more for your business. After you’ve narrowed down your host choice to only quality hosting companies, price becomes an important factor. Since you’ll most likely be paying monthly, these costs can add up quickly. You need to be careful when comparing prices though, as companies may offer very different hosting packages. Use factors such as RAM memory, hard-drive space, bandwidth, and other features to size-up the options. Make sure you only purchase what you can afford.

For example, HostGator has starting packages at $3.96 (at the time of writing this).

Flexibility of hosting packages

Having options, and lots of them, is very important. First, make sure that all major hosting types are available. Second, make sure that each offers plenty of options in terms of price and what is available for each price-point; things like RAM memory, hard-drive capacity, bandwidth, etc. This is important because you will most likely want to start small, and gradually scale up as you need to. Having flexible packages available means you will save money.

For example, HostGator offers shared, virtual private servers, dedicated, and reseller hosting with many packages for each.

Additional features and partnerships

Most web hosts offer many features included with their hosting packages including control panels, web-based email, analytics, marketing tools, software addons, search engine optimization services, and much more. Take a while to see what is included. Some might even include free credits to place ads on major search engines. Partnerships are not as important. but can be a great added bonus. Hosting companies often partner with companies that offer products that compliment a website or online store like email marketing, website builders, shopping cart software, detailed analytics, and more.

For example, HostGator offers everything mentioned above and much more. They even partnered with Weebly to give you the ability to easily build your own site.

Support

This is the most important thing to look for; in my opinion. Hosting, servers, networks, and websites are all complex. Problems will happen, things will break, and websites will go down; it is going to happen. How it’s dealt with, and how fast, is the only thing you can control. I only use web hosts that I know have an incredible track-record of remarkable, talented support, and are available at any time of any day. You can take someone’s word for the support a company offers, but our advice is to test this out yourself. A bad outage or technical glitch could cripple your operation so you better have some time to evaluate the support of your web host. First, see if they are available 24/7/365 – if they aren’t, move to the next company. Second, see what their contact options are – you want to see email, phone, and live chat. Third, test their response-time and technical knowledge – try at noon on a workday, then 2AM on a Sunday.

For example, HostGator is available 24/7/365 via phone, live-chat, and email. Their response times are excellent.

Reviews

Check with friends to see if they have had any experiences with the companies you are considering. Also check online to see what information you can find. It’s hard to find unbiased information. We recommend searching the forums at Web Hosting Talk – they are the biggest forum for discussing web hosting that I’ve ever seen.

Bonus: Uptime guarantee

The best web hosts stand behind their product, servers, and network. Some are so confident that they offer an uptime guarantee. What that means, is that if your site is down for a certain period of time within a month (or given billing period), they will offer you some form of compensation. This is a big plus when shopping web hosts. If a web host with a guarantee like this wasn’t able to keep sites up, they would have gone out of business by now.

For example, HostGator will refund your entire month’s payment if your site is down for more than 0.1% of the month (at the time of writing this).

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