Choosing the right web host for your website is – both fortunately and unfortunately – a bit more of an in-depth process than simply signing online and signing up. There are tons of hosting providers out there, each with its own set of benefits, offerings, and specialties. You will need to carefully assess the providers available to make the right decision for you – an undertaking which can quickly become overwhelming to even a hosting expert.
Start your search off right by first gaining a clear understanding of your needs – this is an important first step to choosing the right web host for your site.
The 17 Criteria Host Shoppers Need to Know
As you begin your search for a web host, it is important to first have your list of requirements and also to compare apples to apples.
In the hosting world, there are many ways of saying the same thing – that said, as you evaluate hosting organizations based on their websites, it’s always a good idea to have a discussion with customer service or sales so that you have the opportunity to ask the questions your way; this ensures an apple to apple comparison.
Here are the 17 criteria that you need to know/ questions to ask when selecting a web host.
- How long has the hosting company been in business?
- Chat support is a must – look for Web hosts which have a round the clock chat service.
- Conduct a trial before you purchase – do not fall prey to any service which does not provide a trial period. Even the service that looks fabulous on paper may not be the right fit for you once you are live in their hosting environment – you never know until you are live with them whether you truly are a good fit.
- Avoid IP block lists– There are many web hosts who let you know whether your IP address is in the block list or not: you do not want your IP address to appear in that block list. Look for a provider who is able to actively help you get your IP address off the list.
- Look for the trial period offer – Most Web hosts should be willing to give you a money back guarantee, as well as a decent trial period. Quite simply, the best Web hosts have nothing to hide and are usually willing to give trial access to new clients. These trials vary in length, though the industry standard is 30 days. That said, some providers do give extended trial periods.
- Know the refund policy – If you decide at any point during your trial that they are not the host for you, what exactly is their refund and cancellation policy? Hopefully your trial will go perfectly, but if you do need to escape the service, what are the parameters for doing so?
- Be realistic–the cheapest might not be the best.
- How often do they perform server upgrades and how do they complete them? For example, is it during off-peak hours? Will it require downtime? Etc.
- Are there any set-up fees? Most companies will waive set-up fees with a one-year hosting subscription.
- What are the recovery procedures when/ if a site is hacked?
- How does the web host handle hackers? What measures are in place to prevent unauthorized access and, as mentioned in question four, what are the recovery procedures in the case that a hacker is successful?
- Is customer support 24/7/365? What does that mean specifically? Is there phone support included in the cost that is available 24/7/365 or are those hours restricted to email support or live chat?
- Is the tech support outsourced?
- Does the web host offer 1-click installation for popular Web scripts, such as Softaculous, Fantastico, Simple Scripts, etc? How exactly does this work for that given web host?
- What is the average monthly uptime? Never, ever, tolerate with anything lower than 99.9%
- Does the hosting company offer full refund trial period? What is that trial period? (Many hosting organizations provide a 30-day trial, but a few offer 45, 60, or even 90-day trials.)
- How does the hosting company handle cancellation? What are their requirements and processes?
After you Have Made the Purchase
As they say, there are no guarantees in life – and that includes guarantees with your selected web host. Hosting companies undergo changes in ownership or management, sometimes the service simply declines, and other times new policies go into place that are not in your favor. That said, even after you sign up with a web host and have completed the trial period to your satisfaction, your job is not over – you must continually monitor your host.
Monitor your web host closely
Make sure that your web host continues to deliver as promised everything included in your hosting package. This means being aware of your uptime, monitoring your site load times, bandwidth usage, and any metric possibly available to you. This knowledge and awareness makes you your own best advocate which is important should anything go awry. If you do feel like something is off, don’t be afraid to speak up – a good hosting organization will take interest in your concern, using it as an opportunity to check their system.
Don’t put all eggs in one basket
Additionally, remember that the host that is right for one site may not be the best fit for another site. If you are running multiple sites, don’t be afraid to use multiple hosts. This has one very clear benefit in that if one of your sites is down to the host experiencing technical issues, your other sites will most likely remain up since they are in different hosting environments. Sometimes it pays to put your eggs in multiple baskets – and this is one of those times. That said, if you truly love your Web host and they have proven their reliability, don’t feel like you need to select multiple, either.
In truth, selecting the right web host for your site is not an easy undertaking – particularly since everyone’s needs are different. Remember to do your homework upfront, take advantage of the free trial period to push the service and really put it to the test, and to, after you sign, continue to monitor and evaluate the service on a consistent basis.