When it comes to selecting a Web host service provider for your site, you have no shortage of options, to say the least. But not all Web hosts are created equal. Beyond having their own service plans and price points, some providers are simply not of the same caliber as others. But what makes them different – and above all else, exactly what makes a Web host a “good” Web host?
The Importance of A Reliable Web Host
When it comes to selecting a Web host, reliability is key – after all, if your host goes down, so does your site. And if your site is down, that means lost revenue and lost opportunity to you; their down time directly impacts your business. Though there are a slew of other services that Web hosts provide, their number one goal needs to be keeping their servers – and by proxy – their clients’ sites up 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If they can’t do this, they really shouldn’t be in the business (there’s a reason why Web Hosting Secret Revealed spent so much money in signing up test hosting accounts in order to track web hosting uptime scores).
Beyond keeping your site live, a good Web host will be able to deliver quick load times. People have short attention spans – so if they click a link to your site from search results, for example, and do not receive that near instant gratification that they expect, odds are high that they’ll abandon your site and look to one of the other links that does load quickly. Speed is important.
There are many other factors that play into the reliability of a Web host, but these are the two most important. Remember that when you select a Web host, you are putting trust in them as they play an important role in your site’s success. Make sure that you can rely on the Web host that you choose to work with.
The Factors That Separate the Good from the Average Web Hosts
There are basically two sets of criteria against which you should consider your evaluation: First, consider the host against their strict performance standards and second, consider them against how they match your needs.
In the performance category, there are a number of factors that will provide indications of the provider’s quality, including:
The minimum server uptime guarantee that a provider should claim and deliver to is 99.9%. Everyone is going to have an error every once in awhile – but there should be enough expertise and quality protocols in place to keep it to a minimum. Think of it this way – there are 24 hours a day and 365 days a year which comes to 8,760 hours each year. Just 0.1 percent of downtime is equivalent to 8.76 hours of business – or a full day. Any more than that percentage of a percentage and you are putting yourself at high potential to lose significant business.
Customer service and technical support:
Every Web host provider will offer some degree of customer service or technical support – the difference lies in the quality of knowledge and accessibility. Many providers will claim 24-hour access to these services, but that access may only be via email or Web chat. Other providers will offer 24-hour phone support; but again, you have to know what that means – does it mean 24 hour access to someone who has first-hand knowledge or to a basic call routing center?
Control panel friendliness:
Whether you’re an expert or a tech novice, the Web host’s control panel should have a level of user friendliness and ease of use. Overcomplexities are usually a result of poor planning and a lack of the knowledge needed to create a quality user experience; this does not bode well for their hosting capabilities.
In the second set of criteria, you must match the provider to your own needs – of course, everyone has different needs. Consider the following:
There are quality hosting providers at every price point, but what is good for one person is not necessarily good for the next. Perhaps you need something super affordable with very basic features; you may find a great fit with a budget hosting provider. Alternately, you may require substantial space and services that will cost more. Keep in mind that there are always limitations to how much you can pay – even if you are looking for significant service, make sure to compare pricing to ensure that rates are reasonable with a given provider.
Flexibility within payment plans
Most providers offer subscription plans with a variety of subscription terms and payment plans – six, 12, or 24-month subscription periods, for example. The longer the term, typically the higher the discount you will receive. Look for a provider who matches your need.
Not all sites require e-commerce features and functionality, but if yours does, make sure that the Web host you are considering has the features and functionality that you require. E-commerce is one area in particular that you don’t want to be applying virtual duct tape or trying to fit a square peg through a circle hole… it either fits or it doesn’t.
Scalability is particularly important for new businesses or businesses that are likely to expand. Selecting a host and setting up your hosting environment is hardly a small undertaking – and the fewer times you have to transfer environments, the better. That said, consider the type of hosting that you need now, but look for a provider who offers other options in case your needs should change. Many providers offer a variety of configurations, such as shared server, dedicated server, VPS, and more.
The short answer is that what makes a Web host good is a bit different for everyone. Performance measures will always prove important, but flexibility and service inclusions vary by your individual needs. There are plenty of other nitty-gritty components, such as specific plan inclusions (take, for example, the number of domains included, hardware, security measures, etc.), environmental friendliness factors, and more that will influence what a good provider means in relation to your needs and priorities.
At the end of the day, look for a provider who meets your needs, has stellar uptime records, and positive client reviews