How to Choose a Web Host


For anyone who is new to internet marketing or starting their first website, choosing a web host can be confusing and at times overwhelming. There are thousands of hosting companies out there, so how do you know which one to choose? There are several different things that you need to consider, and price is just one factor. On this page you’ll find a simple list of things that you need to consider.

Reliability

The most important factor that will influence the quality of web hosting is reliability. Good hosting will keep your website online and loading quickly. Without reliable hosting you’ll lose business due to downtime and slow-loading pages.

Reliability is something that can be pretty challenging to evaluate before signing up with a host. Many hosts will promote 99.9% uptime or they make a 100% uptime guarantee, but you can’t just take a hosts word for it. You can check user reviews online, but there are a lot of fake reviews (both positive and negative reviews) that are placed by hosting companies and affiliates, so it’s often hard to know what information to trust. Ideally, you’ll have a few friends or contacts that you can ask about  their own experience with their web host.

From my own experience I have found SiteGround to be the most reliable low-cost, shared hosting provider (you can see my full review of SiteGround for more info). I’ve also used HostGator and Bluehost in the past and found them to be reliable. My pages load a little quicker on SiteGround’s servers, but HostGator and Bluehost are also good options. For VPS or dedicated servers I prefer LiquidWeb.

24/7 Support

Even with reliable hosting you’ll still need support or customer service from time-to-time. Hopefully it will just be for questions or minor problems, but customer service becomes a huge issue when you’re experiencing downtime or other significant problems with your hosting. Most decent-sized hosting companies offer 24/7 support, and I would highly recommend that you only use hosts that offer this. I’ve had some bad experiences in the past when I needed support and couldn’t reach anyone due to limited support hours. Always check on the support hours before signing up for hosting.

Support Options

In addition to the hours, the options that are available for support are also a factor. Most hosts offer a support ticket system where you’ll receive customer service by email. I recommend that you choose a host that also offers support by phone and online chat, as sending emails back and forth through a ticket system can be slow and frustrating in an emergency.

Plan Options

Not all hosting is equal. If you’re just starting a new site you’ll probably want a low-cost shared hosting account. As your site grows you may need to upgrade to a more powerful plan. Of course, it’s important that any host you choose offers a plan that meets your needs, and it’s also important that they offer a variety of different plans so that you can upgrade in the future when needed. Some hosts only offer shared hosting, and if your site outgrows that account you may need to move to another host. One of the reasons I like hosts like SiteGround, HostGator, and Bluehost is that you can start with a low-cost plan and upgrade as needed.

Hosting Features

You’ll also want to consider the features and specifications of the hosting plan that you are choosing. For example, if you have, or are planning to have, several websites you’ll want to find a hosting plan that allows multiple domains or unlimited domains so you can keep all of your sites on one hosting account.

Price

Price is always a factor, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that influences your decision. If you need to spend a few more dollars per month to get a hosting account that meets your needs and will be reliable, it’s well worth  the extra money.

Commitment

I typically prefer to sign up for hosting on a month-to-month basis when I am trying a new host, as this makes it easier to leave if I’m not happy with their services. Most hosts will offer a discount if you pay up front for a year, so you may want to consider this to get a better price.