Finding the right Web host for you can be difficult.
Choosing a Web hosting solution for your Website or blog is one of the most confusing choices with starting out.
Yet, choosing a good Website host is very important. A bad web host can cost you money. A bad Web hosting company can damage your ranking. A poor Web hosting solution can drive potential visitors away. It can make your blogging or Internet marketing career miserable.
It is difficult to know what advice to follow when you choose a Web host company.
Like cell phone providers, it seems like everyone hates their host. For anyone that says a host is good, it seems like there are 3 people that will claim that website hosting solution is the worst on the planet. Every Web host has numerous individuals either claiming it is run by monkeys or that it is the perfect hosting solution for every need. It is difficult to tell who had a really bad Web host versus who just had bad luck and whose experience was a rare exception.
Web hosting review sites are no help.
Web hosting affiliate programs are very profitable. Many hosting review sites are not much more than a list of affiliate links. The order they are in may not be as reliable as an opinion. Checking 10 “Top 10 Web host provider” lists will give you 10 very different lists. Often, a significant portion of each list will be unique to each one. It is hard to know who to trust.
Sadly, nearly all the Web hosting companies over promise and under deliver on their shared hosting plans.
Shared hosting plans are the $10 hosting plans that promise unlimited domains, gigabytes of space, and terabytes or incredible gigabytes of bandwidth. You will never get to use those features before you account is pause and you are told you need a more expensive plan. You will be told you are using too much resources (usually CPU cycles). No shared plan is going to stand up to a DIGG front page. With a shared plan, you are sharing the server with hundreds of other sites. A DIGG can use all the resources of a server (or more) leaving none for any of the other sites. The host can either pause your site, or let the hundreds of other sites on the server go offline.
It is a shame that Web hosting companies feel forced to advertise like this, but would you pay the same for a host that only offered 2 domains and 500 megabytes of space vs. the typical deal? Probably not, even if it was more accurate. At one time Web hosting companies had different shared hosting plans depending on how much you thought you needed. Now, it seems like there is just one shared plan, a few reseller plans, and then more expensive VPS and dedicated server solutions.
With shared hosting plans, you get what you pay for.
It is unreasonable to expect a $10 shared plan to give the same performance that you would pay $100’s for with a dedicated server. However, for most cases, they are just fine to start with. It may be all you ever need. Once you have a successful blog or Website, you can upgrade to a dedicated sever or virtual private server (VPS) if you need it.
What you need most from your Web hosting company is reliability and support.
You need your web server to be up and running. You need a reliable Web host. If not, visitors may think your site is gone when your site does not load and never return. Or worse, Google may decide your site is bad and stop sending you the traffic in the first place. Also realize that 99% reliability means your site could be offline 3 entire days a year.
Support is important because sooner or later you will need it. It might be to have a blog restored from backup. Good support means different things to different people. In most cases, I am happy with an email solution within a couple hours. Even with my slow typing, I would rather email support than spend 15 minutes waiting on the phone. I also realize that any site I would put on a $10 hosting plan can afford to be offline for a few hours. If you think you would lose too much money on support that might take several hours, you should look into more serious hosting. These are not the hosting plans for your Super Bowl commercial site. Still, especially if you are starting out, you will have questions that need an answer occasionally.
Below I will share my Website host experiences. These are all basic hosting options that I either have accounts with currently or had until recently. I am sharing my own experiences both good and bad. I also have an opinion on which I would recommend to someone. Most of the links are affiliate links, so you can take my experience or leave it.
XXXX vs. HostGator vs. Hosting Zoom vs. Prohosters
This blog is hosted on XXXXX. I had the unfortunate situation being with XXXX for a week and being with them when all their servers went down for an entire day. They claimed to have made changes to prevent this from happening again. Since then, I have not had too much of a problem. A few minor down times and occasional slowdown spikes at peak hours, but generally pretty good. Phone support is available.
I only have two sites on XXXXXX shared plan. This is because until recently, they only allowed two unless you wanted to pay an extra fee each month. Now you can have unlimited add-on domains.***As of December 2009 this site is now hosted on HostGator and because of further problems with the previous host, I am removing mention of them on this site. I cannot in good faith recommend them.***
I have not had any problems with HostGator. None. I have several sites on a Host Gator shared account and have not seen any problems. I admit that I do not check them quite as much (daily, but not much more than that) as the sites on Lunar Pages. While it is possible there have been problems, I have not seen any. I would expect some slowness at peak times but I have not seen it. You can have unlimited domains on the shared account.
I have not had much need for support with HostGator. My support tickets were handled timely even though I have never marked them urgent. They are better than LunarPages are warning of coming software upgrades. I was given over a month’s warning before the upgrade to PHP5. HostGator seems well run and is my recommendation for a Webhosting company for anyone starting out. HostGator is high on my list to check when I think about getting another hosting account.
I have a budget reseller account with Reseller Zoom a division of Hosting Zoom. I am including it here with the shared plans because it is basically shared hosting. The difference is you create an account for each domain (allowed up to 20 with the smallest account) instead of the add-on domains shared hosting plans have which look like subdomains in your account. It is slightly more complicated than just a regular cPanel admin but not difficult. The basic account was just $4.95 when I started. It costs more now (about the same as most shared hosting solutions). This is a good option for someone who has several small sites. Also, storage and bandwidth is very low on the budget plan.
Support with Reseller Zoom depends on your plan. Budget plans do not get phone support. Only online support. Reseller Zoom has some security settings that are different from most hosts also, which can cause some problems or confusion. Reseller Zoom is best for someone with a bit of experience. Of note are options for European and Asian hosting plans. You are best off getting hosting on the continent your target market is on, but if you are looking to improve your site using silo techniques, having links from sites at geographically different locations can help boost rankings.
ProHosters is a division of Carpathia Hosting. ProHosters is not the typical shared hosting but a VPS hosting solution. Their starter VPS solution is close to HostGator’s low end reseller plans in cost but probably lower in bandwidth and space. However, with ProHosters your plan tells you how many other plans are allowed on the same server. In other words, you are not packed onto a server till it starts to slow down from the load like most shared plans. Starter hosting plans are limited to 100 plans per server.
ProHosters support is top end. Any scheduled maintenance is done at off hours and you are well warned ahead of time and given specifics of any expected downtime. ProHosters also does not hide downtime. In four years of using Prohosters, I think there were three times the server was down or there was any interruption in access. None were over an hour and specifics were emailed to me about how long the outage affected the server and what the problem was. You will not see support like this from most shared hosts and even some VPS and dedicated server hosts. The hosting takes advantage of Carpathia Hosting’s datacenter reliability.
The only downside to ProHosters is cost and the admin panel. It is more expensive than most hosting. It does not use the cPanel that is used by the majority of hosting companies. It is an advanced option to look at when you have a site that is making lots of money for you. Till then, I think HostGator is a good solution. Carpathia and Prohosters do not have an affiliate program so the links are not affiliate links.
Some final points for WordPress users:
- Stay away from Windows hosting. WordPress permalinks and Windows hosting have some problems.
- cPanel is used by most but not all Linux hosts. This can make changing hosts easier for you later on.
- WordPress does have a higher CPU load than a static Website. This means you cannot get as many blogs on a server as static sites before the server slows. You will never get to the bandwidth limits of your account before you are asked to upgrade to a more expensive hosting option.
I hope I have explained why choosing a Web host can be confusing, I hope you’ll find my advice valuable.