Choosing a web host is a fundamental part of having a website or blog. Those who have a lot of experience in these categories will have their preferences, but noobies can get swept away in the sheer volume of choices that there are out there. There are literally dozens of web hosting providers out there, many of them offering very similar specs and making near identical claims about the service they provide. Not every service can be the best (and if you read internet reviews of individual hosts, you’ll know there are plenty who seem to be competing to be the worst). Be that as it may, there are reliable ways to separate the wheat from the chaff, and find the perfect web host for your blog.
- Check the Uptime Record. There is nothing on the planet that is more frustrating than working hard on a blog, then getting complaints that it’s not loading. Host uptime record tells you how often this mini-catastrophe is likely to occur. Most hosts have above 99%, but you want to pick one that is very close to 100%. I won’t consider a service with less than 8% uptime.
- Pick a Host in Line With Your Goals. In the early days of your blog, you might get by with a shared host. But if you want to grow your site beyond a certain point, you’ll need a dedicated server. If your goal is big exposure, you’ll want to pick a host that handles small clients, but can upgrade with your growing needs.
- Keep an Eye on Renewal Prices. Almost all hosts start your service for cheap, then jack up the price after a few months or years. The best hosting sites are worth the extra cost, but it’s best not to be surprised by a sudden increase in rates. Figure this out in advance, and be prepared to change hosts if the new price is unacceptable.
- Check the Extra Features. You may want to add all kinds of features and eCommerce options as your blog or website grows. Make sure you are picking a host which can help you achieve your goals as your business needs change. Extra features can be complex, but it’s good to familiarize yourself with terms like Cron, .htaccess, and Server Side to see how these might benefit you at some time in the future.
- Support. One of the most important factors for me (because I’ve been burned in the past) is chat support. I want a real human being at my beck and call 24 hours a day, because problems always seem to arise at 3AM. Not every service offers this, and some that do don’t do it very well. So read reviews. You want chat support there when you need it.
There are loads of other considerations you can make when picking a host, some of which you can see in the linked pieces. These are the ones that I think about, which help me do what I do. As you get experience, you’ll learn exactly what demands you make from a host, and which provide the most value to you. To me, excellent hosting is not just about cost. Great hosting is priceless, and I’m willing to pay a little more for it. If a host is doing its job, you’ll never even think about it. You’ve got to do some homework to find a host that works this way.