While it is true that reading online reviews about a web host, or any other product/service for that matter, can help you in determining how good or bad they are; it should not be the only factor in your decision. The main reason for this is the likeliness that the person whose review you read is an affiliate for the product/service he is endorsing and if that is the case, you might not be getting an unbiased opinion. Not that the reviews don’t help at all, but you shouldn’t believe everything they say either.
Fortunately, for web hosts, there are a number of factors that you can analyze and determine for yourself whether the web host will fit your needs or not. There’s nothing technical about these factors and all you’ll need to do is a little research. Let’s begin with them!
This one actually has more to do with you than the web host. To choose the best hosting service and plan, you first need to clearly determine the purpose and scope of your website. Is it a business website or something you’re making for fun, or maybe even your online portfolio? Do you intend to build your site yourself with WordPress, or are you going to hire a web developer to make a site for you from scratch? These and other similar questions about your needs and expectations from your site will greatly help you in choosing the best web hosting provider for yourself.
Uptime basically means the amount of time that your site remains online. It is expressed in a percentage and most web hosting providers have an uptime of at least 99%; however, you should try to go for a host that guarantees an uptime of at least 99.5% or more. Beware though that even the best hosting providers have experienced unexpected downtimes so it’s a good idea to look for reviews by other customers on different forums, and find out which web host actually upholds that uptime claims they make.
In simple terms, bandwidth means the amount of data transferred to visitors when they open your site. You will find many web hosts claiming to offer ‘unlimited bandwidth’, but in the real world, there is no such thing as unlimited bandwidth. The actual details regarding this are often buried deep down somewhere in the policy statements of the host, where they turn the ‘unlimited’ to limited in one way or the other. To give you a rough idea, a new website with no videos and audios will require no more than 3GB of bandwidth. As your traffic grows, you will need more bandwidth. Don’t go for huge bandwidths as you won’t need them in the beginning.
Offers of 50GB and 100GB disk space for your website are indeed enticing, but do you really need them? The answer is very likely to be No! Some hosts even offer unlimited disk space to attract customers but practically speaking, you will rarely need that kind of disk space. Again, to give you an idea; a site with more than a 100 pages and no video/audio, will not require more than a maximum of 30-40 MB. Don’t let them fool you by offering you things which you don’t really need, rather focus on the ones that really matter to you such as bandwidth and uptime.
While every single host will claim of providing you an efficient 24/7 customer support, these claims are not always true. Aim for hosts that provide a money back guarantee and try testing their services and customer support as early as possible, so that you can walk away if they are anything less than satisfactory. Also look for reviews from other customers on different forums. They’ll help you a lot!
Some hosts call it a dashboard, some call it cPanel, others call it an interface, but it all comes down to one basic function; enabling you to easily manage all the aspects of your web account. Your control panel should give you maximum control and should be minimalist and easy to use. Some hosts, such as HostGator, will let you experiment with a demo cPanel before you choose to buy a plan. Make sure you’re comfortable with your control panel because you will be working there quite often.
SSL means Secure Sockets Layer, and it is crucial for commerce based websites. It provides added security for websites and keeps them safe from intruders. If you have a commerce based website where you’re going to process credit card information of your customers, make sure your website offers SSL services. If you don’t have a commerce website, or use payment gateways (such as PayPal) to process the payments for you, you don’t need this service.
Standard shared hosting is not what you really need if you have a WordPress website or one based on WooCommerce. It is best to use specialized hosting for these for a number of good reasons (Visit WordPress Hosting & WooCommerce Hosting for more on that). Make sure the host offers specialized hosting services if you are using either of the above.
Money Back Guarantee:
Fortunately, most hosts, if not all, offer a money back guarantee. It is something you should consider before choosing a host so that you can switch to a different host if you find that they are not meeting your requirements.