5 Tips for Choosing a Web Host
1. Trust & Security
Web hosting is all about trust in your provider. Can you trust them, not just with your data but with your client’s data also?
Security is important for everyone but it is vital for sites that deal in credit card transactions or collect confidential customer data. The technical challenge of providing a secure hosting environment is a tough one and reputable providers devote a lot of time and effort to securing their systems and keeping them secure against an ever-changing threat environment.
It can be difficult to tell ahead of time how well a web host meets this challenge but one simple test is to simply ask them. Can they tell you what security features they have in place, how do they keep up to date with security, what real-time threat monitoring do they have in place, what common exploits can they detect and thwart with their monitoring software. You might not understand all the answers but it should give you a good idea if security is something at the forefront of their concerns or the last thing on their mind. Read more about our security practices.
You want your website to be available every time someone visits and you don’t want them to wait too long. Many hosts make a big deal about “Availability” or “Up Time” but that only tells you one part of the story. 99.9% availability sounds great but if your site loads at a snail’s pace then you still won’t be happy.
There are many factors that affect page load times but if the speed of your site varies dramatically from one visit to the next it may be a sign of problems with the hosting. Most small/medium sized websites are served from a shared hosting platform. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it is a very cost effective method, but if done badly it can have severe drawbacks. Many budget hosting companies will simply cram as many sites as they can onto a single server and hope for the best. When done properly, however, a shared hosting environment that is not overloaded can be an excellent solution. Read more about our shared hosting.
3. Resources – What do you get for your money?
This is a vital question if you are going to get value for money, but one that can be confusing for non-specialists. It’s another area that’s not just about numbers but also about trust. Will you actually get what you have been promised? Many hosting providers will not give you accurate information about the resources you will have at your disposal. They will promise “Unlimited” resources but then hedge with statements like “Subject to fair use” or “Read more about our definition of unlimited”. This just means there really is a limit but we are not going to tell you what it is.
There are basically two different approaches:
a) Promise everything to everyone and hope they don’t all use what they have paid for.
b) Be very clear and upfront about what you will get for your money and work with you to tailor a hosting package that meets your needs.
Read more about our hosting packages.
If things do go wrong then high-quality support is essential. Again, it’s not just about the numbers but the human element. Does your host offer telephone support? Will you actually speak to someone who has the knowledge and experience to solve your issue? Or will you speak to someone working from a script in a foreign call centre?
Find out more about our support team.
When it comes to web hosting the question is not really about price but value for money. You can’t make a fair comparison on price until you’ve compared the other factors discussed above. As with many things in life you get what you pay for. If the price is your main concern there are plenty of low budget options available. But if you are running a business or providing a service to the public you need a professional service. High-quality hosting means paying a fair price for the services you need.
Find out more about our web hosting services & pricing.