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Choosing a web hosting company - what to consider

Discussion in 'Hosting' started by temi, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. temi

    temi Facilitator Webmaster

    Just like I have done with the domain name section, I want to compile list of things you should consider when choosing a web hosting company. It would be nice if experienced webmasters can add their valuable comments and recommendation to this list so that we can have it as a sticky for newbies:

    So, what are the things you should look for in web hosting before signing up?
  2. KingPin

    KingPin Member Webmaster

    When I am choosing a hosting company I pick ones that are established with a good name in the industry.

    I look for me uptime and bandwidth are the main thing but the most important is customer service.

    I recommend SoftLayer.com and Rackspace.co.uk for hosting. I recently have CoLo with Rackspace and they have been excellent.

  3. temi

    temi Facilitator Webmaster

    Your CoLo with rackspace, do you just inserted you own server into their network? do you do the maintenance and stuff yourself?

    I had a quote for them for managed dedicated last year, it was very pricey.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2009
  4. KingPin

    KingPin Member Webmaster

    Yeah in a nutshell. I have just brought a "Half Rack" which is getting installed at Rackspace on Monday.

    I have chosen to have them manage the rack, it's a little extra but it saves me doing all the fiddly stuff.

    They can be pricey, I guess it depends on what you're looking for.

  5. TnT

    TnT New Member Webmaster

    We can only share a limited experiance, but it might help a few newbies. Our host is based in the UK, and is part of a vast network worldwide. They claim a 99% uptime, and have value, mid range, a resellar packages. Support is key, and the length of time it takes for the support to work, which in our case is normally within the hour depending on what time it is submitted.

    We've actually had more social chats than that of support chats, and they have really helped and over the years we've managed to build up a good relationship with them and put names to faces. They also 'share' in house news, upgrades, future plans with us also.

    A good friendly personal service I think on small to medium sites outways price / speed and features. Knowing that a quick email will result in a fix and a quick fix at that I find to be much more important. We're only using their value packages at the moment, and can't complain one little bit, the sites are fast enough for what they need to be, and they're reliable, this is shared hosting at it's best.

    In time I'm sure we'll be moving up to a dedicated server, but for now we can't complain. If in doubt, email the host, see what sort of response they give, is it warm? Do they welcome you? Or is it a robotic automated scripted response and you're just another customer paying the bills?

    Good customer service shows, as there is a lack of it these days, so check for reviews of the host, email the host, weigh up the costs and features of others, check where the servers are, if backups are done, and how friendly they are, and I'm sure in time loyalty will pay off for you.

    Hope some of that helps.
  6. Andyrose

    Andyrose New Member Webmaster

    A first step should be to send an email with a few fairly basic questions. Things that are general, and yet fairly important and potentially incommode, like "How long have you been in business?".

    The first email allows you to introduce yourself and to see what's their first reaction. Do they want your business or not? Do they answer your questions carefully and in detail or just skimp them? Are they polite? Do they use English the right way (spelling and grammar)?
  7. arunpattnaik

    arunpattnaik Senior Member Webmaster

    Nice discussion. :) . The first thing i look for is the quality of support. A good hosting never asks you to place an order before providing support. I have used one which has live support system and it works great for me.
    Though they dont have an actual support forum, but i'd really suggest you to choose one with support forums or support ticketing system.

    Now a days most of the hosts allow a 48 hours - 7 days trial/ money back. Grab one and you can see the uptime and speed.

    The next thing i look for is the control panel. I am quite familiar with cpanel, so i prefer a cpanel host.

    BTW, i'm pretty much satisfied with my current host, but i wont spam here :) .
  8. dman_2007

    dman_2007 Guest

    Another important thing to look is whether they have monthly payment options or not, even if it is a bit expensive then when you're paying for a year two in advance. It is quite tempting to pay for a year or two upfront in advance when it saves you some money, but don't do it. You'd be stuck with that hosting provider even if you start getting bad service.
  9. djpassion

    djpassion New Member Webmaster

    I love bluehost.com :kneeled: been with this company for just over 2 years now.....

    -great customer support
    -you can do what you want with the php.ini like can use 1gb upload max size for example. a lot of hosts limit it you to something ridiculous like 5mb
    -you have cpanel which is really good
    -can put in for a dedicated ip address for just $15 extra a year
    -42028.23 MB diskspace / 100606.56 MB monthly bandwitdh transfer
    -upto 2500 email accounts
    -999 subdomains
    -999 parked domains
    - 999 addon domains
    - 1000 ftp accounts
    - can use php version 4/5 and 5+fastcgi
    -mysql version 5.0.45-community-log
    - can use linux or windows
    - apache version 2.2.8 (Unix)
    - 100 mailing lists
    - 50 sql database

    the ammount of stuff you can use in cpanel is very good too

    there uptime is very good too

    plus they have support forums

    go with bluehost :D
  10. Andyrose

    Andyrose New Member Webmaster

    I don't want to convince you to choose a certain web hosting company. I want you to decide on your own which is the right hosting company for you. I actually encourage you to investigate other companies than the one I recommend Drupalvaluehosting.com
  11. Robster

    Robster New Member Webmaster

    I've gone through shared hosting, reseller and dedicated servers with various companies over the last 6/7 years.

    Here are my thoughts on some things to look out for:

    Avoid companies that offer "unlimited" data transfer/bandwidth
    There is no such thing as unlimited, and most companies that advertise this will have an acceptable use policy which means that at any time they can decide you are using too much capacity, and close your account or try and charge you the earth. You are much better off going with a company who have specific quotas and tell you how much they charge for going over, that way you know where you stand from the start.

    Stick with Linux
    Unless you are planning on using a specific application that requires Windows hosting, its probably best avoided. Just to be clear, I'm not being anti-microsoft for the sake of it. Around 60% of web servers run Linux/Apache and there is much more free help available for it on the internet than for Windows/IIS. (NB: Front Page extensions are available on most Linux hosting packages)

    Domain transfer
    Some hosting companies will tell you that you have to transfer your domain registration to them when you take up hosting, this is not necessary, all you should need to do is ask your domain registrar to update the nameserver records on the domain.

    Unfair charges
    Some hosting companies have charges that they don't make clear when you sign up, for example charging you to transfer your hosting to another company. This is relevant to the point above, as if they have control of your domain then they have pretty much got you and you'll have very little choice than to pay their transfer fee.

    Check out their company information
    Any hosting company worth its salt will have information on their website about the company and their data centre. Its pretty much industry standard for a data centre to have: security, fire supression systems, backup generators, and links to the internet by more than one provider. If they don't have this information on their site then ask them about it, or just move on.

    Backups are invaluable, so find out what the company's backup procedure is and whether or not backups are included in the price of the package.

    Customer Service
    Find out what their customer service is like. If you run in to problems, their ability to fix things in a timely way is crucial. Probably the best way to test this is to send them an email or give them a call. If they are good at what they do and value their customers they should be able to give you a quick response to questions about any of the things mentioned above. Also try asking on webmaster forums about people's experiences with a specific company.

    I hope this is useful
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2008
  12. djpassion

    djpassion New Member Webmaster

    doin a whois on providers is good too, like if they have been going for 5yrs + you know theyll be good

    for example

    Bluehost.com - Blue Host


    Registry Data

    Created: 2002-11-15
    Expires: 2011-11-15
  13. Fuzioned

    Fuzioned New Member Webmaster

    What Robster has said above is perfect. A few other things I would add to that are:

    Can you see the Spec of the server that you will be hosted on?
    If a company has servers that are of a high spec then the last thing they will do is hide that fact. Any company that has the latest technology will be more than happy to boast about it. If they didnt show the server specs id wonder why.

    Can you see your current server status, along with the status of the other servers in the rack?
    If your on a server and your site begins to run slowly its always good to be able to check the current condition of the server your on which any good host will have available for you to see. Again I would question why a host would not provide that information. Can you see the current server load / current memory usage / amount of HDD space left.?

    Server downtime
    The best webhost in the world will have server downtime. The differance between a good webhost and a bad webhost is the time it takes to resolve a server that has gone down. 99.9% of server issues can be resolved by a good host within 10-15mins of them being flagged up.

    There is no good excuse for a server to crash every few days. If your with a company that has frequent server crashes then the server you are on is probably overloaded, underpowered, not running the latest updates or running insecure vunerable scripts. move host!!. The only other reason for a server to crash is from the actions of a rogue customer which any good host would only let them do once.

    Hardware failure is a very rare ocurrance with todays servers. The most liable parts to fail if any are the Harddrives followed by the PSU's. If you have a company that is dependant on its website ie an Ecommerce site then you really should be on a server with Raid 5 or 10. If a Harddrive does fail when the raid is on raid 5 or 10 your site and the server will still run perfectly if not a little slower while the new drive rebuilds. If you have an Ecommerce site then the server your on should also have a redundant PSU that is plugged in! Most datacenters will charge extra to have the servers redundant PSU plugged in so make sure your host has not dodged that charge. Motherboard and CPU failures almost never happen, if it does happen then go easy on your host as that one is not 20 minute fix :)

    Community forums
    Look for a company with a community forum. It doesnt have to be active but it has to at least be there. What good reasons are there for a company not to offer you a place to mix with its other customers??? none. A forum can be set up within 10 mins so there is no good reason for there not to be one. Any company without a public forum should get passed by. Also post in the forums before you buy your hosting, how active is the community? how helpfull is the community? and how friendly is the community?. Have any issues brought up on the forums been solved or been ignored.

    Does the company have a testimonials area? Have a read. Do the testimonials have a link to a website? Do a tracert to that domain. Does it go to the correct webhost? it doesnt? WHOOOPPPS! Caught! Email them :)
    Use a bit of common sence when reading testimonials. Some testimonials are so blatantly staged I get embarrased reading them. Company x has been in buisness for a week and has 10 testimonials. Sure!

    Support ticket times
    Submitting a support ticket before buying a hosting package to "test" the speed of a companys response time is not a good way to check how fast a company would normally respond to a support ticket. Good companys would always put there existing customers before there potential new customers so any test emails would be marked as low priority. If you want to know how quickly they would normally respond to a support ticket then ask there existing customers. If you cant ask there existing customers because theres no forum then move along.

    You pay for what you get?
    Not always the case with webhosting. If your unsure of the host make sure they have a no quibble money back guarentee for at least up to 2 weeks into your contract. Also where available pay monthly for the first few months. A good host will not charge you any extra when you decide to upgrade to a full years hosting package.

    £30 a year or less is Budget hosting. You will be on a server with other budget accounts which means there will be more of them which in turn means there is a higher chance of problems being caused by your fellow server users. This does not mean that your server should crash every few days or anything like that but you should expect the occasional slow period caused by a mass email or an out of control script on another site. Budget hosting should only be used for websites that have no bearing on your day to day life. A website about your dog or a photo gallery from your friends wedding are budget hosting candidates. An ecommerce site or a buisness frontpage is not. For £30 a year you should be expecting up to 1GB of diskspace but no less than 500mb for a budget account. If your paying more than £30 for 1GB or less then your on premium hosting not budget hosting and there should be no slowness on your server at anytime.
    Find out if the server you will be on has a mix of account types. You do not want to have your £150 a year eccomerce package on the same server as 15 resellers and 100 budget accounts.
    Nothing is webhosting is "unlimited" so if you see that word anywhere in a webhosting companys site then move on straight away as thats an immediate attempt to decieve you before you even get started.!.

    I'll add more if I can think of any :)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2008
  14. finalfrontier

    finalfrontier New Member Webmaster

    I would recommend Liquid Web, over 2 years & always had good experience with them, no downtime (so far) & fast support ;) [​IMG]
  15. edyst3

    edyst3 New Member Webmaster

    Before I sign up for hosting, I consider few things such as price, service, hosting plan, friend recommendation, user friendly or not and customer service.
  16. seo2

    seo2 New Member Webmaster

    In addition to things mentioned above, I always check the servers location. If my main audience comes from a specific area, then having the website close to them may bring better loading time and better google results.
  17. seogoogle

    seogoogle New Member Webmaster

    I only prefer hostgator they have very nice service and also live chat :)
  18. Vilice

    Vilice New Member Webmaster

    When I choosing a web hosting company ,I establish mostly on its service .For prblem comes out ,I hope it can be solved at soon as possible .
  19. [Tsohost] Darren

    [Tsohost] Darren New Member Webmaster

    Draw up a shortlist and do as much thorough research on a hosting company as possible. Search for reviews on websites and forums and do your best to check out their validity.

    Impulse buying from a company they offer eleventy billion gigabytes for $3 a month is never a good idea. Of course, they're running a "limited special offer" that will expire this week - but more often than not they'll be running that same offer again a week after the last one ends. ;)
  20. temi

    temi Facilitator Webmaster

    Darren, that is a fantastic offer, tell us a bit more about your company, how long have you been providing hosting services?


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