Selecting the best hosting provider for Webhosting, SSD VPS hosting or even Cloud hosting is not an easy task and betting on the wrong provider can end up costly and frustrating specially when downtime is involved.
1- Price :
Many of webhosting / VPS / cloud searches settle with the cheapest offering, And I have to admit that price is the most attractive factor on selecting the hosting provider however jumping on the cheapest option is mostly doesn’t lead to happy ending. Add to this if you use your site for e-commerce offering or as an online store.
My suggestion is to leave this factor not at the top in your priorities list.
2- Technical specs / Features
Which hosting actually offering what you need and more? Good idea is to look at your site and evaluate exactly what you need, blog, shopping cart, heavy content, media container like videos and images, Most likely cheap hosting provider won’t effectively help you with any of that due to lack of enough resources , shared RAM, CPU and mostly slow disks. Also which hosting charges for additional services such as backup, snapshots, recovery etc…
For that you will need good ram, SSD storage array that deliver good read/write speed.
Even if you like it or not, hosting provider is the owner of your data indirectly, It can be Leaked, Cloned, Published and even at worst LOST.
How safe is your data?, How secure is the network? most budget providers are a good target for DDoS attacks and phishing attacks and vulnerable in that way.
Is your data isolated form other clients hosting with the same provider? can another client use your IP address on their system? if they answer is yes then be happy you reading this article cause this will only lead to troubles.
Are the hosting compliant with regulations? “PCI for example” Credit card details and retention policy? Are they using legit license of any software they offer “Example Windows license, cPanel, etc…”
Another example: If your provider ask you for your photo ID to verify your order and payment then that’s a good sign “I know many would disagree” however the fact that they verify every order means that they taking this business seriously and picking client base to provide service to.
4- Tech Support
There is always a debate about how relatively important is tech support, In my opinion this is number 1 due to that you can have all the power and speed you need but once you have an outage you are dead in the water.
Make the math how much would 2 hours of downtime cost you? if the answer is $0 then you more than welcome to stop reading this article and go with the opposite of factor #1.
Better is to look for a hosting provider that have a good track record of good support as well as positive reviews (real ones) and live support wins them all since you will always have someone to talk to when an issue occur (which will happen)
5- Hosting provider client base/target
Not all providers target the same client base, so its good to know who exactly they targeting, for example if they target developers that it might be a possibility that their uptime SLA is not their top priority but features are.
good idea is to find this out by asking on their are of expertise and how that relates to your needs before you actually commit.
What makes one hosting provider better than the others, as you already know, There are hundreds if not thousands of hosting companies and they deeply vary on what features are offered and what are the strongest points, for example if they offer unlimited bandwidth and low latency – then you good to go if you looking to host a VoIP application…
If they have multiple datacenters then they are a great match if you looking for multiple locations presence and probably replication and offsite backups.
7- Hardware provider is using
That’s kind of a question that you have to ask as mostly information is not clear or visible without some research, If the hardware is an enterprise class then you are good cause that means less downtime, no weird questionable issues.
If the hardware is way outdated then you might be facing performance issues or if you will be using a specific application make sure that this hardware is in the supported list “ACL” or compatible with your application.
8- Dashboard / user interface
It’s call Control Panel in many cases, Is it user friendly, Is it powerful, Can you do much there without getting support team involved?
For example a hosting provider that allows you to set PTR , RDNS records to your SSD VPS is more desirable than others who doesn’t for the fact that it may take you hours of waiting to get an entry submitted then wait for propagation.
Do you have room to grow? most likely sooner or later your resources needs will increase ” it’s just the nature of a successful business” Is your provider able to support you with minimal interruption, Are the upgrade prices acceptable for you to pay one day?
If the answer to any of those questions is no, Then you are not there yet.
I mentioned above about looking into your potential hosting provider reviews and I’m stressing it again here, Cause those reviews are from people who learnt the experience the hard-way specially if it’s negative experience.
Focus on the negative ones, understand reasoning behind it, the dates of those reviews, if they are outdated like 2-3 years old then they stopped that might be a good indicator rather than negative one, It would mean that the provider have issues in the past and were able to overcome it and become more solid and trust worthy.
General notes: BOUNS
- No matter who you go with, keep your access information handy outside of that host’s network.
- Look for your target audience and select datacenter location that best serve them.
- Ask all your questions and insist on getting an answer, If you get answers for several questions and missing one answer ask for it again cause that might be the weakest point, so better to be aware of it before it’s too late.
- Do some reading on datacenters tiers and always pick provider who host in Tier 3+ datacenter.
- Educate yourself on your platform and never always depend on managed service if you taking that business seriously.
- Ask about the IP you will be getting and check it against blacklisted database, If it’s there that might be an indicator of the hosting provider itself quality specially if you will have email related services.
- Price is often a misleading indicator, make sure to avoid too good to be true deals and specials.
- Call provider support after hours, if no answer or a paid managed answering services responded that might be exactly the same when your site is down after hours.
- Watch for your payment recipient, Is it the same company name you intended to send payment to? if not then why it’s different?
- Watch for resellers who take other services and mark it up without adding any value – they might be just smart enough to find a plugin that integrate with their platform to sell you and some SEO working technique to deliver their message to you.
- A good provider might ask you about your business, What you sell? are you legally selling what you selling? Those are all good indicators NOT the opposite.
- Check the rank, if their site fast and highly ranked, That might be a good indicator that they have many clients and visibility in the market.
I will update this post based on more thoughts that I can come up with, hopefully this can help a bit in such a tough task of finding the right hosting provider.