Choosing a Good Web Host

When a web developer asks “Who is your host?” or “Where is your domain registered,” the most common answer is “GoDaddy.”

You might not care what a web developer wants. It’s your site, and it’s the developer’s job to launch your site on whatever web host you want. But you should know how the host you choose may end up hurting both you and your website.

Avoiding Bad Hosts

Your host is what makes your website visible to the world. It’s where your website lives and what makes it work. A poor web host means poor performance and slow load times.

A good web host should give you everything you need and nothing you don’t. When a host advertises FREE things at a GREAT introductory price, make sure to read the details. Those prices usually increase after a year. You end up paying for all those FREE things you don’t need.

So how do I choose the RIGHT web host?

An alternate, silly explanation for the cloud, which is basically a web host.

https://xkcd.com/908/

It can be easy to feel lost or overwhelmed. What, then, makes a good host, and how do I know it when I see it? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t just a simple referral. The quality of hosts is always changing. Hosts that were once great get bought and sold, care less about quality, change their services, or increase their prices. Sometimes they make improvements to previous negatives and end up as a better choice. New hosts are appearing all the time.

A good web developer will know what hosts are currently among the best. They know which ‘best of’ lists are actual reviews and which are affiliates. Most of the ‘best of’ hosting lists are advertisements.

But don’t give up just yet. There are a few things you can look out for when looking into web hosts. You can also read up on some of the language related to websites.

How to Tell the Bad From the Good

As always, it’s important to do your research before signing up for a web host. There are many people who do the heavy lifting for you. They sign up for accounts, host websites, and test for the best and most reliable. Just like the web hosts themselves, resources about hosts can be good or bad. As long as the resource making the recommendations is transparent about their methods and any affiliate links, it is usually considered reliable.

One resource would be the folks at Reviews.com. They have created a review for web hosts that is detailed and updated. The review doesn’t just look at the best known or most popular hosts. They look into the hosts known for reliability and go into detail about how they came to their decision. There are even details about services offered by web hosts and whether to consider upgrading or purchasing tools.

Most mediocre hosts usually have at least a few of the following things in common:

  • There is a “countdown” for how long their deal will last. Untrustworthy hosts will often have more than one “deal” page, all with different prices. Once promotional prices end, they usually renew at a much higher rate. Also look for early cancellation fees.
  • There is some sort of checklist about the FREE and UNLIMITED things included. Some free things might be temporary, and some free things might be worthless. Just because a company offers something doesn’t mean it’s of good quality. Free customer support might come with a two hour waiting time unless you have the PRO account. Free support should still mean great support.
    • Unlimited space does not actually mean unlimited. If you are using what is deemed “excessive” (often determined by the host on a whim), your account can be disabled. You’re sharing that unlimited space with unlimited others who also got unlimited space. What other people are doing on your server can affect your website’s performance.
  • Hosts that advertise their 99.99% up time might not be telling the truth. That shouldn’t be something you should base your decision on. Almost all hosts claim that as their up time, and only some of them actually mean it.

How to choose the right host:

  • Know what you’re looking for. There are tons of forums and people to talk to. If you’ve hired a developer, they might have a preferred server that they find easy to work with. Tell them what you need and they’ll tell you what features to look for.
  • Trust your gut. If a site feels like it’s a scam or too good to be true, it probably is.

A Change Was Needed

This website has called many hosts home over the years. The longest-running host was A Small Orange. Like with most EIG hosts, once they’ve been acquired, their quality begins to decline.

It started slowly, with updates to the account area not making sense or causing issues or just plain not working. Then came the customer service speed, which used to be top-notch. Then when they failed to auto-update my domain despite the account settings, I knew it was time to leave.

Hosting Recommendations

There are actually many good independent hosts out there now.

This website is hosted with GreenGeeks. Their customer service has been great so far, and it was easy to migrate everything over. I was able to easily get my SSL certificate installed, and I’m happy with the admin area and quality of hosting.

SiteGround have pretty reasonably priced packages. They’ve got great support and great services. They include free SSL certificates as well.

I’ve also had great experiences with Media Temple. They’re great for more serious hosting needs, but you’re getting your money’s worth.

I’ve also heard good things about Web Hosting Hub and InMotion. Even GoDaddy has made the effort to improve their services to be able to compete for the developer’s good word.