How To Pick a Good Web Host
Posted in Web Development on 29th August 2011
A question that everyone who develops or owns a website faces. Especially early on in their career. This little blog is going to try and help you make it a bit easier to choose a good web host. Please note that I am not affiliated with anyone and there is no marketing on here for any company.
Lets begin then...
Don't be blinded by big numbers
It's common for the newbie to be concerned with how much you're getting. 150GB disk space, 500 email accounts, 8000 MySQL databases, or as you'll often see, unlimited something, whether that's bandwidth, storage, email accounts etc. And if you really do try to break the limits of their fair usage policies which is probably in the small print of the unlimited* plan. Then simply, they will shut you off until you upgrade. Another thing to be cautious over if you really have a monster website. But generally the simple fact is that most web hosts offer you more than you'll ever need. And things like disk space go a very long way. So don't worry about what you're getting, what's the point in choosing a plan just because it has 100GB disk space more than another? The likelihood is you'll probably not go above 2GB anyway. Instead look at what you're not getting!!
Look at technical/customer service recommendations, I can not stress this enough. Peace of mind is totally worth it. Simple fact is, you maybe a programming god, but you might not know much about a particular server, having somebody who is a server genius can save you heart-ache and time. And whilst we're on this topic, check to see who is in charge of your server maintenance, with regard to updating it and its upkeep. Self management can be daunting and is definitely not for everyone. Look to find web hosts that are well recommended and that means not looking at paid reviews, because they are all fake and, well, paid for. Join a forum or web development blog and look for recommendations. Even ask, they don't bite!!
I mentioned what you're not getting, think for the future also. A lot of plans allow only 1 domain, which is cool if you're only ever going to host 1 domain. But if you maybe could host another, or want to mess around on a live server then look at how many domains you can host. Also don't buy a plan because you get a free domain name. It is a recipe for disaster if you ever leave that host. Getting your lovely domain name back in your hands can be tough or extremely long-winded. Save yourself any potential pain, register it yourself, it costs next to nothing.
Be aware of cheap/free hosting plans. You do get what you pay for and cheap plans often mean exceptionally slow servers because they load them up with far too many clients, on top of this the more websites on a sever the more chances of there being a security vulnerability in one that could affect you. Now this doesn't mean go out and buy a VPS. It just means, well again, you get what you pay for, there are a host of very good web hosting companies out there where you can pay less than $10 dollars a month for a very good service in terms of performance, manageabilty, customer service (i.e - technical help) and satisfaction.
Finally, if you know what you're website is going to be using, have a look through to see what plans support what languages, aspects of languages, servers etc. The web is incredible varied and almost every aspect bar HTML & CSS are replaceable with some other technology, whether its languages (Ruby, ASP, PHP etc), to servers (Apache, IIS) to even modules within separate technologies, like does a plan support a particular framework, language extension or does it support mod-deflate within Apache? These are all the kinds of things to think about before you purchase a plan. You've probably got a good idea of what you need or are going to need, take the time to look into whether a plan is compatible for your website.
I without any doubt reccommend somebody like Hostgator. They provide unrivalled customer service and techincal support, in terms of time to reply (instantly with live chat and quality) which is so helpful, the worst thing for a webmaster is to have a website and not be able to get it online, for whatever reason, there are so many aspects to getting a website online that just a small oversite can stop it working properly. Their servers are quick another headache with some hosts and their prices are very reasonable.
Here's a link to see for yourself, there's tons of information and help available
I can't recommend your services enough to my friends, I'm so grateful for all your help and tutoring. - Gaz Hurford