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8 Things to consider when choosing a web host

Things to consider before choosing a Web Host

When choosing a web host its not uncommon to choose because someone recommended a company, but does that make them a suitable candidate?

No. Being a web design company, needless to say, we have been in and out of web hosting companies. Some largely disappointing *cough* Smartweb *cough*, and some outright annoying.

There are some certain standard things to consider before choosing a hosting company:

1. Price

This is usually the first thing people look at before choosing a webhost, however, this should not be a deciding factor. When you see price differences, it’s helpful to remember the old saying that we get what we pay for.

Jumping on the “cheapest” offer you see isn’t necessarily the best idea, especially if you rely on your site to make money. Things like non-outsourced support and quality hardware cost money, and a hosting company that charges NGN2,500 per year likely won’t offer these features. Take a closer look at the features that each host provides, and THEN compare prices.

2. Tech Specs and Limitations

Take a good, honest look at your site and figure out what you want it to do. If you’re hoping to host a blog, an e-commerce site, rich content, and videos, then you shouldn’t go with the cheapest hosting package you can find.

A cheap hosting plan probably won’t have the RAM, processing power, and disk space to serve all these needs, and you’ll spend more time dealing with downtime or load issues than you would like.

3. Specialties

Not all web hosts are right for all types of customers and websites. Some offer great shared plans but don’t have solutions that are good for growing businesses, while some have great enterprise solutions but aren’t suitable for someone with a personal blog.

Look into a company’s specialty or area of expertise before you buy, and go with one that understands your particular needs as a customer. You can find reviews and recommendations on the Web, and many of these will talk about a particular company’s strengths and weaknesses.

4. Features

What makes this hosting company special? What extra incentive do they offer to make hosting your site with them just a bit more attractive? If you see one that offers something you need or find important, that can be a good tell that you should look into using that company.

5. Hardware

This is a bit technical and you might have to dig deep or ask your web design company to sort this out for you. Generally, however, questions to have in mind are: What kind of machines does your hosting company use? Are they top-of-the-line, out-of-the-box new machines, or are they cobbled together from what might be spare parts and chicken wire?

If the hosting company doesn’t say what kind of servers they use, you’ll want to ask, since hardware can affect the performance of both their servers and your site.

6. Customer reviews

This is one of the main factors. Do a Google search for a particular hosting company. Look them up on Twitter. Just do whatever you need to, to see what customers (or ex-customers) are saying about their service.

Are they easy to contact for support? What’s the average time it takes to respond to a ticket? When they find a problem with a site, what’s their course of action?

This is one of the great things about social media – ask a question about a company, and you’re more likely than not to get a few answers.

7. Control Panel / User Interface

Even if you’re the least tech-savvy person in the world, there are some things – installing WordPress, setting up email, setting up FTP accounts – you should be able to do without calling your hosting company’s support line.

Does your provider use cPanel or Plesk to make updates and modifications easier, or do they use some clunky interface that no one can figure out? You’ll most likely be the one working with it, so if you can’t figure it out, then that’s going to be a problem.

8. Scalability

Another important thing to note, Scalability. Think of this. You own a site and its steadily growing as time passes. What you consider adequate hosting now might not meet your needs two years from now, once you start selling your wares online and getting some good traffic to your site.

Any web-based enterprise should have its eye on growth, so if a hosting company might have difficulty accommodating that growth it could pose an issue.

Does the host have VPS or Dedicated Server solutions? Will they be able to easily upgrade your account? Transferring from one host to another takes valuable time and effort which could be avoided if the company can scale their solutions for growth. As with all these factors, do some research, get some opinions, and make an informed decision.

Conclusion

While no hosting service is perfect, some are manageable, and with the right customer support, they are generally loveable. Choosing the right host is very important and choosing the wrong one will just annoy the shit out of you.

I have personally tried many hosting providers and I’m currently using MediaTemple and PagodaBox, without problems generally.

I have used others like Smartweb, Web4Africa, and some third-party resellers in the past, and I can confidently say, they annoyed the shit out of me, so much, I had to move my websites eventually.

Good luck picking the right hosting service.

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