Web hosting is crucial to our site’s performance and it would be great if we can get informed about the host’s performance before subscribing to any web hosting plan.
Yes, we hear you and that’s why we write this post to aid your host evaluation.
Regardless of whether you’re new to web hosting or hunting for new provider to better suit your hosting needs, the 11 tips below could perhaps give you some ideas on how to pick the right hosting provider for your site.
Without further ado, let’s get started…
1. Determine Your Hosting Needs
First thing first, let’s be clear on one key point – there is no one best web host that suits everyone! The right web host should be the one who offers the features that meet your hosting needs. Therefore, back to these basic questions:
- What’s the purpose of your website?
- Do you need any specific features? (e.g. PHP, Ruby on Rails, WordPress etc?)
- Do you need a specific operating system? (e.g. Windows or Linus OS?)
- How big do you expect your website to grow in the next 1-2 years?
The variety of hosting types (shared, VPS or dedicated hosting) and its long features listing from the web host could be quite overwhelming when you don’t even know what is required to build your website.
Don’t worry, as a general rule of thumb, if your intention is to build a blog, small-medium online business, eCommerce, corporate website, or even a forum site, a shared hosting account with WordPress platform is sufficient to build most of these new sites. It’s advisable that you start with the basic shared hosting account that supports WordPress installation, and upgrade to VPS or dedicated hosting only when your website grows.
2. Reliability of the Server
The reliability of the server is usually measured by the server uptime records. No one wants their website to be down and inaccessible. So, at least 99% server uptime is the standard that we should be looking at.
In case you’re not aware, we track the uptime records for every web host that is listed on our review site.
3. Review of Their Support Services
In my opinion, customer support service is one of the key factors that you must consider before subscribing to any hosting plans. We need someone to be there to assist when something has gone wrong on our sites. Therefore, 24×7 customer support services and timely response should be the standard expectation. But it’s hard to evaluate when we don’t have any experience with the web host before. In such case, it’s best to ask our friends who has experience with the web host or read the user reviews available on the internet.
To save your time in searching and reading multiple reviews, we’ve sampled and summarized the relevant user reviews for each of the provider listed in our web hosting reviews post which will be updated regularly.
4. Storage & Bandwidth Limitations
You might notice some web hosting providers offer unlimited storage & bandwidth in their shared hosting plans. These are just marketing gimmicks to attract customers. The truth is they are unlimited only if you do not use excessive amounts of CPU processing on their servers. Any violations might result in your account being suspended. This is usually stated in their Terms of Services.
Having said that, I’ve been hosting multiple websites on iPage‘s shared hosting plan and do not have any issues with their unlimited storage & bandwidth so far. If you’re not spamming or abusing the server storage, I believe that 10GB storage for a domain should also be sufficient for most new sites.
5. Multiple Addon Domains Capacity
The number of addon domains allowed on a single web hosting account is important if you own or planning to own multiple websites. While some web hosts offer unlimited addon domains in their hosting plan, some might only limit one domain for each account. So, always check the number of addon domains allowed before you proceed with the hosting plan. If you’re devoted in web building, chances are you will own multiple domains – as getting a new domain name is just very affordable nowadays (around $10/year).
6. Readiness of eCommerce
If you require specific eCommerce software, do check on the eCommerce features of your hosting plan as different host might have different shopping cart options (e.g. ShopSite, osCommerce, AgoraCart etc). No matter you’re running your website with eCommerce software or WordPress, if you are collecting payment information (e.g. credit card transaction), you should require SSL certificate to safeguard such sensitive and confidential data of your customers. We can identify whether a website is run with or without SSL certificate by their URL. For example:
URL without SSL certificate:-
URL with free shared SSL certificate on iPage would look like this:-
URL with premium SSL certificate be:-
Premium SSL certificate is usually not included in the hosting plan and you need to purchase it separately. Having said that, some web hosts offer free SSL for first year in their hosting plan (e.g. SiteGround – GrowBig plan). Therefore, do your sanity check on the features offered if you’re in eCommerce business.
7. Rooms to Grow
The actual performance of your site is very depending on your web host. Generally, on the conservative side, a shared hosting plan is sufficient to cater for about 40k unique visitors per month. If you’re just starting a new website, shared hosting plan would be just nice as it takes months or even years to really grow your visitor base. Unless you’re confident and expecting your site to grow exponentially in a very short period of time, then you might want to start off with a VPS or Dedicated hosting plan.
To avoid unnecessary headache in moving your site from one host to another when your site traffic outgrows your hosting plan, it’s good to choose a web hosting provider who offers at least shared hosting and VPS hosting plans so that you will have lesser hassle in upgrading your plan, when the need arises.
8. Do They Have Refund Policy
Most web hosting providers offer free trial period, ranging from 30 – 90 days, for new signups. This has become a norm in the web hosting industry. If you come across any web hosting companies who don’t offer money back guarantee on the trial period, I’ll suggest that you look for other providers.
It’s also good to check their cancelation policy before signing up as the cancelation charges vary from host to host. In general, domain name registration fee is not refundable if your web hosting plan is inclusive of a free domain name.
9. Check the Renewal Prices
Web hosting industry is very competitive and it’s common to see that their prices are cheaper for new signups. The renewal price, usually at a higher rate, will kick-in as soon as your first contract term expires. If you’re price sensitive, make sure that you check and are okay with their renewal prices before getting onboard. As the price-hike might be 2 to 3 times higher than your initial signup. Normally, for a shared hosting plan, renewal price below $10/month is reasonable.
10. Email Account Features
Other than having a professional looking domain name, you might also want to have your own email address that carries your domain name. This is usually included in your web hosting plan without additional charges.
Instead of having a free email address like:
You can create your own email address like:
In order to have your own email addresses, you need to check whether your hosting plan allows email hosting. If yes, how many email accounts can you create? Is there a webmail support for you to access your email anywhere? Any limitations to create email forwarder and autoresponder? Any email spam protection? These are some basic questions that you might need to know to host your own email accounts.
11. Site Backups
No doubts that site backup is essential to safeguard your files and databases. In case of site crashed or infected by virus, you can then restore your site from the backup files. But, not all web hosting providers offer free backups to your site. Even that there is free backup service, you might also want to know how often your host will run the backup.
The backup features vary from host to host. As a site owner, you should know as to what extent the backup could restore your website. Can it be restored in full? Or just the files? Or only the databases? If the backup features of your host do not meet your requirements, you might want to perform your backup separately, or look for alternative web hosting providers.
Choosing the right web hosting provider could be time-consuming as there are hundreds (if not thousands) of web hosting providers available on the internet. If you need some guidance, I’ve shortlisted the top 10 web hosting providers with summarized reviews in the market for your reference.
Alright, I hope my two cents of advice can be helpful to you in choosing the right host. Happy host-hunting!