There are thousands of web hosts available to Americans, and yet you can probably only name a handful. There are certainly benefits to going with big names, but for many website owners the quality, service, options, and features simply aren’t there. The biggest host of all is surprisingly
Y! Web Hosting, a Yahoo! product. Many people don’t even realize Yahoo! offers hosting, but they have a whopping 900,000 customers. The company itself was founded in 1994, the data center is in Sunnyvale, California, and the average price per month for basic shared plans is $5.98.
Next up is IX Web Hosting, which isn’t a name well-known by average non-techies. They have about 500,000 customers and were founded in 2001. Their data center is in Columbus, Ohio and the average monthly price is $7.95 per month. Coming in third is HostGator with 250,000 customers. This is a name many people recognize, and the Houston data center offers tours. Fourth is BlueHost with 230,000 customers, with a data center in Orem, Utah. GoDaddy comes in as the fifth largest with 200,000 customers relying on their Scottsdale, Arizona data center.
Does Size Matter?
Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to web hosting. For instance, the sheer size of a company isn’t going to tell you if they offer virtual private server/VPS hosting or not. That’s a type of hosting that almost every single website can benefit from. It acts a lot like a dedicated server, but has a price tag akin to basic shared plans. More and more web hosts are offering this, but the vast majority still do not. That’s more important than choosing a host with a name you recognize.
Another consideration is customer service. Just like with any company, the bigger the size the more automated the service is. If you really want personalized service and to steer clear of getting lost in a maze of pressing zero for more information, go with a smaller host. Some people even prefer a host with an office and/or data center that’s local. Web hosting can be a confusing industry, and having a fellow local you can call makes it a little simpler.
The majority of website owners go with a host they either 1) see advertised or 2) is available when they register a domain. This isn’t the best way to choose any vendor! Do a little research, and figure out what’s important to you before you start shopping around. It might be VPS, a data center in a certain location, the ability to quickly talk to a person 24/7, or maybe you have other priorities. No matter what they may be, write them down and make sure every host you consider fulfills your wish list.
The big hosts can certainly be great matches for many people, but don’t limit yourself. See what the little hosts have to offer—just as long as they’re established, reputable, and have what you need.