For many choosing a hosting service is one of the most stressful and paralysing decision that you have to make for your business when you get started.
But it does not have to be.
There are criteria that you need to look at before making your decision so that you at least know what you are getting yourself into.
How to choose the right hosting : The different types of hosting
This is the cheapest type of hosting. You can get started for as little as $5/month but there is a catch 🙂 Your website is sitting next to 100s of websites that you know nothing about, they could be drug dealers or sex shops for all I know, and that is potentially attracting bad traffic to the shared server as well as hackers, which will then probably try to hack your server too at some point.
Business shared hosting
This is still shared hosting but with a lot less websites on it, better speed and memory usually and at a higher price ($15 and up), that keeps cheap/non pro websites at bay but you are still in the shared environment.
VPS stands for Virtual Private Hosting, you can see it as dividing a big server into smaller servers, each one gets its own memory and bandwidth. This is our preferred solution and what we use for our business and clients that are serious about protecting their websites. You can get started as little as $20/month.
Dedicated server hosting
This is when you have your own physical server all to yourself. You need to hire an IT person to take care of that for you unless you are familiar with installing cpanels and databases, etc.. because you are basically renting a server and have to take care of everything inside. Some services include setup for an extra fee.
Now that you know the different kinds of hosting services out there, let’s dive into the criteria that you need to look at before you make you decision :
1- Access to a cpanel (access to filemanager and databases)
This is a big one for me. I know some good services who don’t provide access and lock everything for security purpose but I want access to the cpanel so that I can go check my databases, create subdomains, etc.. when I need to without going through support.
2- Allow for your backup system to run on it
The ideal hosting for me would need to allow me to use backupbuddy for my backups, because even if they provide a backup service, I don’t want to rely on them to backup/Restore my site, I want full control.
3- ftp access
It’s critical that you get ftp access to your server. All hosting services should offer that, but it’s always important to ask and not assume. This is the information that you would give to a developer for example if you want to give them access to the source of your website without giving away your hosting account information. You can create a temporary ftp account access for them with just access to the folder they need to have access to.
I like hostings that support emails. I don’t want to have to go to a separate smtp server just to setup emails for my domain. (that is if you want an email address that includes your domain name in it, if you work only with your personal email or a gmail account you can live without it, I personally can’t).
5- Downtime history
This is a very critical aspect of hosting. If a service says 99% uptime guaranteed, that leaves over 7 hours of downtime per month. Is that acceptable to you? To me it’s not 🙂 No one is going to guarantee you 100%, it’s just not realistic. You should Look for 99.9% (that’s about 43min per month).
This is obviously a factor but if you are serious about your website and want to make money with it, you can’t afford to be cheap on this. If you can’t afford/don’t want to pay the $20/month to be setup right with a VPS, you’re probably not making money yet with your site and are not in the mindset of “I’m making money this month”.
7- Support 24/7 (phone, email , chat)
Support is probably the most important criteria for me. Things are going to happen. Hackers hack banks and large corps and your hosting is going to be under attack at some point, what is important is how they react and communicate about it. I hate hostings that will just shutdown your site without warning because they have too much bad traffic coming to their server (not even your site!!) and that you have to find out about it the hard way and can’t do anything until they get their act together.
8- Recommendations from people that have had to deal with support
As always, before purchasing any tool or service, ask around for recommendations, just make sure that you compare apples and apples and that these people have had several interactions with support before. I know people that are happy with godaddy but they have literally no traffic, make no sales, don’t track their site so they don’t even know when it’s down. In their case a crappy hosting is not going to make much difference. But if you want to take your site seriously, get more leads and make more money, you need to choose your hosting wisely.
Our recommmendation is
hostgator ASmallOrange. The support is great and they’ll even move your site for you for FREE. I like to use the online chat when I have a quick question, that saves me a ton of time. I like that I can count on them and that their support people know what they are talking about! (at least the ones I have talked to 🙂 )
I hope that you enjoyed this post and that it helped clarify what you need to look for when choosing a hosting service.
If you have any questions, just leave me a comment below and I’ll be happy to help 🙂