There seems to be two camps of website hosting companies these days. You have the hosting vendors that are competing on price and you have the vendors that are competing on customer service. Now, your choice of a website hosting company may not be what you consider a major decision in the scheme of things. There are certainly decisions that will have more impact on your business. You can always change your mind later and move your website to a different host right? Well, yes you can. And that move can range from a minor inconvenience (waiting for the DNS records to repopulate so your visitors can find you) to a major hassle involving your time (and possibly a lot of teeth-gnashing and pulling out of hair). After all, if you do decide to move your site, there has to be a good reason for it – possibly you were experiencing a large amount of down-time where your website was inaccessible which could translate to loss of revenue. Having to move your website is necessary sometimes but if you can avoid it, why not? So, it’s prudent to do your due diligence before you decide which hosting company you want to go with.
How do you pick a website hosting company? Let’s start by thinking about what these companies offer:
- Price: It’s very easy to compare prices. And if saving a few bucks a month is worth risking your time and peace of mind, then, you may as well stop reading here.
- Disk space: Unless you have a really large website, the economy hosting package that most hosting companies offer will most likely be more space than you will use.
- Email Accounts: Some hosting companies offer 100+ email accounts or even unlimited. Sounds Good. Do you really need all those email accounts? Probably not. If you’re a company with that many employees that need email, you most likely have your own email server. If you’re a smaller business or a sole proprietor, you probably have no use for that many email accounts. It would be unmanageable.
- Free Applications: Cool! Free stuff! But, do you really need it? How important is “free” stuff in this decision?
- “Stuff” You May Need: (FTP, PHP, Perl, SSI, SSL, SSH, MySQL, .htaccess, CRON) OK. You may not need these now or ever but as your business grows, you may. So, since these are standard offerings from most hosting vendors, why not have them available from the beginning?
- Up-time: This is the percentage of time that the vendor says that your site will be available without interruptions. Well, even though they may guarantee a 99.6% up-time, if I’m in that 0.4%, it could have a serious impact on my business. Things happen. OK…. But more important to me than percentages is how am I treated when that happens. Which brings me to…
- Customer Service: How do their past and current customers feel about their service? Keep in mind how much technical support you think you will need. Better yet, should you run into problems, how good are your technical skills? If you’re a techie, you probably don’t need a lot of hand-holding when it comes to tech support. If you’re a non-techie, you may be better off hosting with a company that gets raves for their customer service.
So, how can you choose the website hosting that’s best for you? I recommend thinking about the kind of website that you have. Is it e-commerce? Does it run on a CMS (Content Management System) such as Joomla or Drupal? Is it a blog that runs on WordPress? You may want to spend a little time checking out the forums before you make your decision. I guarantee a quick search on keywords such as Joomla website hosting will bring up a number of recommendations as well as a list of vendors to avoid.
Personally, I use Rochen for my website hosting and I highly recommend them. Whatever you decide, best of luck. And here’s hoping that you and your website hosting company have many happy years together.