There’s no “one best” web host because every business, every website owner and every industry has different needs. Maybe free hosting works perfectly fine for your personal blog (but probably not, to be honest). Maybe you need dedicated hosting and refuse to share resources because you’re about to be the next Amazon. More than likely, you fall somewhere in the middle but then there’s also features, service and other options to consider.
Don’t worry: Here’s your complete guide to choosing the best web host for you. Don’t pick blindly, and don’t get led astray by hosting packages that are too good to be true. When comparison shopping, it’s important to keep a list of your “musts” nearby so you don’t get off track. This is how to get started:
- Understanding server types
- Read reviews and testimonials
- Test out the service
- Consider price as one of many factors
- Check on upgrade options
How come some hosting is free while others are ridiculously expensive? With web hosting, you can either “share” a server with a number of other people, host it in the “cloud” (which is basically reserving your own resources and siloing yourself across multiple servers, you can opt for a “dedicated” server where someone else takes care of the server but it’s only for your needs, or you can actually buy and care for your own server (colocate). The bigger your business and higher the traffic, the more likely you are to need a dedicated server and very few people need colocation.
After the initial purchase, you probably won’t talk to the hosting staff again unless there’s a problem. An issue isn’t the time when you want to find out just how helpful and professional a host is. Learn from the mistakes of others and read reviews and testimonials. Don’t expect 100 percent glowing reviews, but aim for at least 90 percent positive.
Whether you prefer to contact services by email, phone, chat or another method, make sure your potential web host has that option around the clock. What happens if a server goes down at 3am and they won’t be in the office for six more hours? Websites and hosting don’t have office hours, and neither should the company offering them.
For the most part, you get what you pay for with servers but there are still budget-friendly options. Don’t assume that the most expensive package is the best or that just because there’s a great deal happening it’s a subpar offer. Instead, focus on the features, the customer service and trust your gut.
Maybe a shared server is fine for you right now, but you foresee expanding to a dedicated server down the road. Ideally, a web host will offer a seamless transaction and might even sweeten the deal with a complimentary feature or two. Ask about those options and find out exactly what you’ll need to make it happen.
Most importantly, trust your instincts and if a company is pitch-heavy, go elsewhere. You don’t want to be “sold” on a package, but rather informed and educated when you ask. You’ll be able to smell a hard sale from miles away, and just imagine what it’ll be like dealing with that company should you ever want to change plans.