How To Choose Web Hosting

Web HostingWith so many web hosting companies and prices varying from virtually nothing to over £100 per month, how do you choose?

1. Be Clear About What You Need

Make a note of your answers to these questions:

  1. How much disk space will you need? Your web pages are unlikely to take much space but factor in the space required by photos, and videos and audio files if you are hosting these with your site (and not embedding them from services such as YouTube or AudioBoo).
  2. Get an estimate of what bandwidth you will need per month. If your site is already running then take a look at your Google Analytics pageviews and multiple that by the average size of a web page plus its non html content such as photos and any videos and audio you are hosting on your site.
  3. What platform will your site be using – WordPress, Joomla, Drupal? What additional software does your platform need – PHP, MySQL? Or do you plan to use a sitebuilder?
  4. Do you want to use your domain address for email? How many email accounts do you need?
  5. Will you need to make secure transactions on your website? If you do then you need a host that offers SSL certificates.
  6. Do you need any special services such as a dedicated IP address or a Virtual Private Server?

2. Get Recommendations

Ask for recommendations. Ask friends, business associates, Twitter and other social media channels. Compile a list. Put a star against the web hosts you get multiple recommendations for.

Using your answers to point 1, check out the recommended web hosts to find out if they provide the services you need.

Do they support the platform you are going to use and do they offer a one click install for it?

If you are not sure then give their pre-sales or tech support a call – did they answer the phone quickly and were they helpful?

Finally make a note of their prices for your disk space and bandwidth requirements.

Cross off any that don’t meet your requirements.

3. Whittle Down Your Shortlist Down

a) Technical support

One of the most important things I look for in a web host is good technical support. I had a client who’s website was down with a database error on a Friday afternoon. She called her tech support and they said they would get back to her after the weekend! This is just not good enough. I currently use a company with 24/7 support who usually get back to me within 15 minutes to any queries I make, even on a Saturday evening.

Check their tech support offering. Is it 24/7? If you didn’t need to call their tech support to answer your questions in step 2, do so now.

Do they provide telephone support or are they only contactable via email or a ticketing system?

Also check their social media streams and check on Twitter for mentions of them. Do their customers seem happy?

b) Where are their servers?

Does the company you are considering have their own servers or are they resellers of someone else’s hosting? I’d prefer to use a company who manage their own servers.

Are their servers in the UK? This may be important to you if you are targeting a UK audience but are using a non-geographic domain name such as .com or .org. See this video by Matt Cutts from Google’s webspam team where he talks about the importance of server location.

c) What do they promise?

Do they promise 99%, 99.9% or 100% uptime? Bear in mind 1% of downtime is equivalent to over 7 hours a month when your website could potentially not be available.

Have a look at their T&Cs – do they offer a refund if they fail to meet their promise? This is not about the money but about getting a feel for how confident they are about meeting their promise.

d) Price

Hopefully you are down to just a few potential web hosts now. So why not compare the prices?

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

Thinking about changing your web host? Go through my list and see if you can get a better service for your money.

And if you want to know who I use then click here (affiliate link) and use the code “microbizhub” (without the quotes) to get a 10% discount.

Jo Waltham

Jo Waltham is the techy person behind the Micro Business Hub. She builds websites for micro businesses and bloggers at Callia Web where she also provides general tech support with WordPress, email and hosting. So if you are looking for a little techy help then do get in touch.

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Comments

  1. A good guide for the webmasters who are looking for a web hosting service and doesn’t know what to look for.
    WWW Hosting recently posted..Promo coupon codesMy Profile

  2. Well said! I went through this process last year and it would have been a lot easier to have your guide then. After email, website hosting is the most important thing.

    Once you’ve found your host, back up, back up, back up. It’s a good time to create automatic backups while you’re already enduring technical torment.

    And now I will get back to the hell of setting up SSL POP3, which is meant to work and isn’t (currently on day 3 of working out what the problem is. Grrrrr)
    Rosie Slosek recently posted..How a budget got Cinderella to the Ball: How To Manage Your Cash FlowMy Profile

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