If you are going to run an online store, you have to have a good web host. There are several things you want to look for in a good host, and popularity is not the number one criteria. In this article we’ll look at some of the key things you want to look for in a good web host.
There is almost and endless number of web hosting companies out there, yet finding a good one is really challenging. The good news is that it is possible to find solid hosting company that offers both reliability and low cost. The first thing to look for in a good web hosting company is the company’s reputation for fair business practices, customer support, and reliable performance.
Look for online reviews from REAL customers, not affiliate marketers or advertisements. If you can find real customers leaving good reviews that is a good sign. Shopper Approved is a 3rd party website that collects customer surveys and testimonials from real customers. There are a lot of web hosting companies reviewed on Shopper Approved. Pick a well established company with at least 1,000 reviews. Most of the customers should give 4 and 5 star ratings.
Here are a couple hosting companies that have good reviews on Shopper Approved:
Another good place to look for reviews is WebHostingTalk.com, a very popular forum where real developers discuss their experiences with web hosting.
Some web hosting companies give back to the community with informative blogs that offer tips and tutorials. Or maybe the offer other perks like free WordPress themes or something. For example, Site5 runs a few websites to help you get going:
- YinPress – Tutorials on how to create and work with WordPress themes
- YangPress – Tips for running businesses with WordPress
- S5Themes – Loads of free, premium WordPress themes for their customers
These are all great signs that they know what they are doing and they care about their customers.
Read their terms of service
In addition to the company’s reputation you also want to see what kind of reputation the sites they host have. Yes, as odd as it may seem, IP addresses have reputations too. If an IP address sends out gobs of spam or is known to host malware or viruses, the IP address can get a bad reputation. You want your website to live in a good neighborhood.
Go ahead and read the terms of service and see what kind sites the web hosting company allows. You want to look for a web hosting company that does not host:
- Pirated software
- Bulk email related products
- Hacking/cracking related websites
- Warez and copyrighted media
All of these types of sites are magnets for heavy traffic, server overload, and bad things. So, avoid web hosts that don’t put restrictions like this in place.
Almost every hosting company says they offer an “uptime guarantee” but they make no mention of what happens if they fall below the guaranteed uptime. If a company is serious about their uptime, they will tell you what happens if they miss their target. For example, they might offer a pro-rated service credit. Here is an example of a really good uptime guarantee offered by Site5
The more customer support channels, the better. Ideally, you’d like to have a web host that offers email, live chat, and phone support. In addition, avoid hosting companies that outsource their support. You want a hosting company that has their own, in house support team that can communicate clearly and quickly understand and solve your issues.
Free site migration
Another great feature that some hosting companies offer is free site migration. If you already have a website hosted somewhere and you are not happy with the way things are going, some web hosting companies will move your site to their servers for you for free.
Hosting companies to avoid
There are a couple hosting companies to avoid, especially for WordPress hosting. Having answered support tickets for literally thousands of customers, we consistently have trouble working with GoDaddy and BlueHost.
Sometimes PHP is not installed or compiled properly resulting in all sorts of bizarre and unpredictable issues. They tend not to enforce any limits or restrictions on the material that is hosted on their servers. This results in wild fluctuations in performance for your site. Your experiences may differ, but I would suggest considering some other hosting alternatives where you will find more consistent and reliable web hosting services.
I’ve been researching, studying, and working with web hosting companies for over 15 years. I’ve set up sites for myself, my company, and our clients. The one company that we have consistently had success working with is Site5 Web Hosting. They meet all of the requirements mentioned above and I’ve personally spoken to the CEO of their company, Ben Welch-Bolen several times about their infrastructure and their exciting plans for continuing to grow their business.
Certainly there are other good web hosting companies that can successfully host your web site. Our experience with Site5, having studied their business, met with their CEO, and seen over 3,100 reviews on Shopper Approved, makes me very comfortable recommending their services as a reliable, well priced, web hosting company. They have a great reputation and are deeply involved in the WordPress community.