5 Things You Should Look While Choosing a Web Host
Your website is the first wheel of your online money-making machine. If that stops, it sends the website owner into a downward spiral of overwhelming, negative emotions.
How do you guard yourself from it – even before you have chosen your first host?
What are the factors you need to evaluate your host on?
Quality of the hosting company has always been the key factor in success of any business that runs on the Web. However, low cost isn’t the only parameter; effectiveness and helpfulness of supportive executives, downtime, and reviews are also crucial.
An average website owner may not know a lot of things when he sees marketing banners; the cut-throat, competitive prices and technical jargon might leave him confused. He might forget the important thing to consider before buying a hosting.
There are several different things you should take care while you buy a hosting.
But don’t worry. You needn’t to remember all.
Just consider the 5 most crucial things I have covered in this post to buy most suitable web-host for you.
Let’s stop beating around the bush and get into the details.
5 Things You should look While choosing a web host
I have selected these things as per my personal experience with different hostings. I hope they will help you choosing your best host. Let’s get started.
1. Quality of support
Hosting support executives receive queries from customers at any time of the day and the queries could range from the silliest of questions to the most annoying bugs. Some calls may run for a full hour. Chat support is even more crucial, as they are made to promptly respond to the customer.
A word of advice here: Don’t just believe any host which says “award winning hosting support” on their features page. Actually go deeper and check what awards they won and how long back.
In fact, go a step further actually chat with their support executives and see the quality of their technical support firsthand. That’s really a good way to gauge their effectiveness.
Some pointers you can use in evaluating support executives are as follows:
- Ability to lead their customers to a solution they want.
- Ability to quickly find a solution.
- Ability to communicate in the language of the customer.
2. Add-on Domains
Many hosting companies allow hosting multiple domains on the same server. They also give free domains but that offer is usually not applicable on the most basic plan.
A good method to compare between your choice of web hosts is to put the cost of their plans with free domain offers. Keep an Excel sheet open or use an online spreadsheet program. Choosing hosting is a time-consuming process, but better go through it now than get frustrated later.
3. Renewal Cost and Refund Policy
All hosting plans are available pretty cheap in your first year with a particular web host. But their renewal costs are much high.
A hosting account which you bought at less than $2 / month could go as high as $15 / month on its renewal. These are just estimated prices, actual prices may vary. But in my experience, all the decent web hosts have renewal costs in double figures.
This is the very reason many web hosts plan large campaigns around sales like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.
So once you have chosen a list of web hosts based on certain criteria, get back to the drawing board and start comparing their renewal costs.
4. Easy domain and Hosting Management Panels
When you are using a website – hosting or otherwise – user experience matters to the end customer.
You don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you are calling the customer support every day. You should be able to do some basic things without any kind of intervention.
cPanel is the most popular user panel there is. It neatly organizes all the relevant information for your hosting account in a iconized panel. It also has a dynamic search box. Every information is available within a few clicks.
An easier way to do this is ask them for the hosting management panel they provide. This way you get to know their support quality and get additional information about their hosting panel.
See if you other friends who are using the same host and ask them to send screenshots (if they can). Go ahead and find relevant forums where you will find many reliable people who are also website owners – genuinely willing to help you!
Your website’s backup involves two different parts – the contents of the website (including plugins, themes, etc) and the database of the website (the data required by your CMS to function).
You should definitely check host’s backup policy. When evaluating the backup options of a hosting service, ask the following questions:
- How frequently do they provide automated backup?
Run away from the host where you have to manually backup the website or automated backups are paid – it’s a basic feature and you shouldn’t have to bargain for it!
- Do they provide direct download of automated backup?
You will need this download when you are migrating from one host to another. While many good quality hosts provide automated backups, not many provide direct download of the backed up files to your local computer. This may be to discourage migration as they’re losing their hosting fees. So if they don’t provide it, don’t sweat over it. You can always reading migration tutorials to help you with backup and restore. You may also look at paid migration services.
- Do they provide hot swapping with the hard drive or spare drive ready to be installed on their critical servers?
These are essential features which are provided by many reputed web hosts to recover from catastrophic server failures. Do use this opportunity to chat with their technical support and see how effective and responsive they are.
Hope these comparisons have calmed your fear of choosing a web host. In the end, if you have a small website with not more than couple of thousand visitors a month then shared hosting should suit you. But if yours is a business or a large-scale website, or an e-commerce website, only VPS or a dedicated server can guarantee you the hosting power you will need.