Over and over again, we have clients that come to us with tragic stories about how their web site host left them without a critical service or shut them down completely. The shame of all this, is that most of the time it could have been avoided by taking the time to find the right web host. Consider these things when shopping for a good web host:
It's your place of business. A business needs a place to do business, on and off line. And those places need to be reliable and accessible. Essentially, a web host is like the office building. The office building houses the off-line business; the web host houses the online business. And for many businesses, more people will see their online place of business than their off-line place of business. We urge people who are searching for a host to do it with as much diligence as they put into searching for the right office space.
Cheaper is not better. When small businesses go shopping for a web host all too often cost is at the top of their list for what matters most. Guaranteed, we've seen it time and time again, in this business (like many others) you will always get what you pay for. It's tempting after reading a nice ad to go for the cheaper web host; but things aren't always what flashy ads make them out to be - that shouldn't be a big secret to most people. Think about it this way: Say you are paying $20 per month for your hosting and email service. Well, how much work are YOU willing to do for $20 at your job? For most people, their hosting fees are less than their own hourly salary. But sadly, some of those same people demand 24/7 customer service and flawless email and web hosting service for 30 days for less than what they are willing to be paid for only one hour of their time at their work. If you are paying $20/month for hosting you are paying only 67 cents per day for that service... that's less than 3 cents an hour. The bottom line is this: how much you pay for hosting is indeed important. The more you are willing to pay someone to provide you a service, the more they will be willing and able to give you a better service. Reputation and service track records should be the most important things on your list when finding a good web host.
Check out the track record. How long has the host been in business? How long do they plan on being in business (i.e., are they merely positioning to sell out)? Many hosts do just that - build up their client list and sell out. Even worse, some hosts are actually a computer in the basement of someone's home... without any Internet backbone, power redundancy, or without adequate security or backup. It's OK to ask these questions - it's your business that is on the line. Call up some of the people that host with them and ask how long they've been hosting there and how the service has been.
Facilities. Your server should be in adequate facilities controlled by multiple levels of physical security. It should have multiple power redundancies on a power fail-over network. It should have multiple and automated tie-ins to the Internet on fiber cables. Ideally you should be on a clustered environment that ensures you stay online even if your hard drive fails. You should have daily back-ups of the data on your server AND they should test data recovery on a periodic basis to ensure your back will actually work should you ever have to recover. The facility should have an automated chemical fire protection system and a person on the premises 24 hrs a day monitoring critical systems within the facility. This may sound like it's a bit overboard, but these are what we consider to be the minimal requirements to host our clients - because your business depends on a good web host. Ask about these things and get something in writing.
Customer Support. Every host has '24/7' support... because you can email anyone at any time. If you require a technical expert to talk solve your problems immediately every time something comes up, you may be in for a disappointment in the web hosting world. Here's why: many hosts are 'wholesale' hosts, meaning they have thousands of customers. The only way to afford customer service for thousands of customers who pay very little per month for a 24/7 service is through automation - email or some other control panel type of system to report troubles. Most hosts have gone this way - or they have a limited switch board who's only purpose is to take trouble tickets and pass them on to someone who will get to your problem usually within 24 hours. Now, other than wholesale hosts will do things differently and probably provide you with more personal service - but they may not have a person to talk with until the next business day. But, honestly, most support issues for most businesses can wait until the morning (and I'm not talking about a catastrophic server failure here). So, ask about customer service and response times - but don't expect a personal assistant unless you're paying for it.
Features and options. We'll address features and options more in another article, but just to be clear - it's the last thing on our list here, because features and options are very similar on every server.
Great article, but what about a cloud web hosting? I think its way better than the shared and way cheaper than the dedicated? In the middle:)
I think GoDaddy is the stupidest hosting, i have ever seen? Agree?
I'm using GoDaddy as a hosting provider, but i would like to change it, thanks for the tips!