Your business depends on your web hosting, but comparing different offerings on your own is next to impossible.
There are three essentials to avoiding a poor deal:
- Decide what you need
- Avoid hosting company sites
- Disbelieve 99% of hosting reviews
There are independent review sites that compile user reviews and let you compare web hosting using simple side-by-side comparisons. Find one. Use it.
Decide What You Need
Check review sites to learn about the different types of hosting and which would best suit your use scenario.
Some factors to consider:
- Domain names supported
- 24/7 chat support
- Percentage of happy customers
- Fast web servers
- Number of visitors per month
- Upgrade route
- GDPR compliance
Domain Names Supported
How many do you have? You certainly don’t need unlimited domain names to host your company website and a couple of variations.
24/7 Chat Support
Technical support is expensive for hosting companies to provide, which is why it is often the first thing a budget host will cut. Email support with a response within two working days is no use to man nor beast. When your website is displaying an ugly error across the screen or has crashed altogether, the absolute last thing you want to see is an automated reply saying, “Please be patient, we will try to respond within 48 hours (Monday – Friday).
Everyone needs help from support staff sometimes. Chat support is perfectly adequate, and you don’t need to insist on telephone assistance.
Percentage of Happy Customers
This is the crunch statistic. Sometimes a review site will display it as positive vs. negative reviews and sometimes as the number of customers who would renew their contract or recommend the company to others.
Fast Web Servers
Only look at companies that use servers with solid state disks (SSDs). These machines are more reliable and will serve your web pages faster than traditional spinning magnetic disk servers.
Visitors per Month
The more visitors you anticipate, the more you will need to pay for hosting.
Shared hosting only works for sites with minimal visitor numbers, so concentrate your search on VPS (Virtual Private Server) or Cloud hosting if you anticipate more than a few hundred monthly visitors. Start with the lowest specifications and lowest cost alternative your preferred company offers because the company will always be happy to upgrade your package and take more money from you.
Ideally, your hosting company will offer free backups of your website and databases, and free re-installation from those backups.
Non-compliance will cause you endless headaches down the line if your users are UK or EU based.
British companies must still be GDPR-compliant even after Brexit. If a host doesn’t tell you they are compliant, they aren’t, so look for this as one of your final choice factors once you have a shortlist of possibilities.
Avoid Hosting Company Sites
Hosting company websites are designed to sell you what the company is offering rather than what you need.
Bamboozling the visitor is the name of the game. Overwhelm the possible customer with unlimited bandwidth, unlimited disk space, and unlimited domains. The lack of limitation is good, but it is meaningless or useless:
- Bandwidth is cheap
- Disk space is dirt cheap
- You only NEED one domain
Customer reviews on hosting sites have no meaning because the company can pick and choose which review comments to publish.
Disbelieve 99% of Hosting Reviews
Every hosting link on every website is there to earn an affiliate commission of around $100. Affiliate commissions are often higher if they can send more people to one hosting company site and this is one reason to disbelieve any source that only ‘reviews’ one or two hosts.
Affiliates are supposed to make it clear that they earn money if you buy hosting through one of their links, but they usually hide this information in the depths of their T&C page.
Your business website is only as good as your web host, so your choice of host is too big a decision to take on the basis of one biased review. You only get the big picture from an analysis of hundreds of testimonials on an independent hosting review website.
Look for a company with hundreds of user reviews that are overwhelmingly positive. Costs are similar across the industry, so what you get is always going to be in proportion to what you pay.