There are literally thousands of web hosting providers with dozens of hosting plans competing for your business, and while most of them are reputable and will do a decent or even excellent job hosting your website, there are several things to consider when comparing different providers.
Shared hosting is the most cost-effective option for most web sites. While basic hosting is simply that, each hosting company offers many different options and incentives. Before you even consider a hosting company, it’s important to evaluate your current and future requirements. For instance, if you’re building an ecommerce website, you’re going to need much more storage and functionality than a personal site or a hobby site. If you’re planning to host more than one domain or sub-domain, you’ll need to know whether or not a company will support you without extra fees. Some hosting companies offer basic shopping carts and free domain registrations. Others offer multiple scripting options. The options are endless. The first thing you should do is create a list of criteria based on your current needs and what you’ll likely need down the road. It’s always possible to change companies at some point down the line, but it’s much simpler to get it right the first time.
There are several general factors to consider when evaluating various companies. Are they established? Have they been in business for at least three to five years? Do they have a physical address or phone number listed on their website? Do they only have an email address? Do they host 50,000 or more domains? Do they offer 24-hour monitoring and service? Do they provide emergency service in case their site goes down? Does the company offer a money-back guarantee? Do they require a year (or two) of payments up front to get the best pricing? If you decide to switch companies, do they offer a pro-rate refund?
How much do additional services cost? If you go over your plan’s bandwidth or storage allowance, it’s important to know how much extra transfer or storage you’ll be paying. Most providers are relatively reasonable, but some require you to buy additional storage in large chunks. Most companies send you a notification if you’re getting close to your plan limits and let you make arrangements. Others will just shut down your site until you pay. What about testimonials? They’re nice to read, but they’re a thing of the past. Make sure they don’t include your web address and go to their web-site.
Is the sales team available to answer any questions? Yes, you should! Look for a toll-free number and give them a call if you have any questions before committing to anything. The final step is to check the pricing and make sure it’s within your budget. You don’t want to go with a shady hosting company just to save some money, but we’ve found that higher prices don’t always mean better shared hosting.