Customer Service. It is to your advantage to find out how a company’s customer service is, before you even buy anything from them. Here is little test I did when I was looking for a new web site host, I would email their general questions email they post on the front page and ask about any of their plans. My goal was to find out how fast they would email me back with a response. Some hosts took 3-4 days to reply to my email, some took seconds. One host even replied to me after I had already chosen my new host.
It is nice to have support by email, or even live chat on their website, but some people require a better form of support. That’s where phone support comes into play. Not many hosts offer phone support, and if they do, that’s a huge plus on your part. This means that the hosting company is established and takes pride in their work. A host with 24/7 phone support is even better, and definitely worth investigating more.
Check the domain name. So you’ve come across XYZ Host. They look very professional and reputable. Looks can be deceiving as I’m sure you already know. Go to the WHOIS directory. I always use whois.net whenever I look up a domain. Type in the domain of the host you just found and see what comes up. Check the line that says “Record created on” and if it was made within 3 months of the date you checked it, the company is generally way too new and inexperienced. I would steer clear.
So what if the domain you checked has been registered for a couple years? Well you’ve probably found yourself a solid web host company. In some cases though, someone could buy a domain previously used by someone else. To check for this you can go to archive.org/web/web.php and just type in the domain. If you find out that the web host you’re about to use used to sell dog treats up until a couple of months ago, then I would definitely steer clear and find another possible host.
Read Reviews of the company. One thing I always do before I buy anything over the internet – including a service like web hosting – Is go to Google and type in the hosting company’s name plus review at the end. For example I would type “XYZ Host Review” into Google, and see what comes up. You can also visit websites dedicated to web hosts in general. A few that are very helpful are HostSearch.com, and DiscussHosting.com. Those websites often come up when I do a Google search.
Other Services Offered. Some hosts go the extra mile when it comes to offering services. They all generally offer the shared hosting plans, while some may even offer some dedicated server plans. The hosting companies that stand out in my eyes are the ones that offer extra services like SEO (Search Engine Optimization) packages, custom script installation, and web design. This shows that the company will do whatever it takes to keep you satisfied. It also shows that if something ever goes wrong, they are able to help you and won’t leave you in the dark when a problem comes along.
It is also good to look for a host that offers domain registration at the time of signup. This ensures the company will be around of a long time and won’t just up and leave you without notice.
Don’t be dazzled with ridiculous claims. The newest thing in the web host world is to offer unlimited space and unlimited bandwidth. Sure it sounds perfect! But, with that come a lot of restrictions and generally becomes frustrating. It can become frustrating because the web host sells a lot of that package; everyone will be trying to use as much bandwidth as possible. This will make your website very slow. Which in turn can mean lost sales for you, or just make you very mad. There are many restrictions put in place to stop this though, like some hosts not letting you start a very wide variety of websites. This is good in most cases though as it cuts down on disk space usage and bandwidth usage.
Only pay for what you need. It is common for a web host to offer 3 tiers of shared hosting. Generally most people opt for the biggest one because they envision themselves becoming the next Google or YouTube. Let’s be realistic here, when you start out, you won’t be getting 50k UV (unique views) to your website daily. Start small, only pay for what you need. You can always upgrade when the time comes.
There is also the issue of how many websites you will be hosting. If you are looking to build a portfolio of websites, then look for a web host with a high amount of addition websites allowed, or even unlimited. A lot of web hosts now offer unlimited websites along all tiers of hosting. I urge you not to pay for the most expensive package because you think you will need 100 additional websites instead of the 10 the least expensive one offers. Only pay for what you need and know you will use.
Hopefully this list will help you find the perfect host for you, because everyone has different needs and not every host is for everyone.