Web hosting sites can be a tough minefield to navigate if you’re looking for consistent, reliable and safe hosting for your site, whether it’s for business, personal use or just as a temporary project. Understanding the kinds of things that actually matter in terms of hosting is incredibly important since even a small error could lead to disastrous issues later on.
Speed is key when it comes to business sites – after all, the majority of people will back out of visiting a website if it takes more than two seconds to load unless they know that the site has the information they need. If it’s a personal site about a musician, this isn’t as important, but if you’re trying to sell products and are actively competing with other sites, there’s only so much you can do from your end.
Optimizing the site might help in the short term, but you’re still bound by whatever rules and limitations your hosting service has to impose on you. Bad web hosting leads to bad website experiences for your customers or visitors.
Uptime and Downtime
Bad uptime is worse than bad speed. If your site can only be up for 90% of the time, that’s 10% of the time where nobody can interact with your site. Not visitors, not investors, and not even yourself. What’s worse, unless it’s scheduled downtime, you have absolutely no idea when and where it’ll strike. Maybe you’re a PC-selling site, and somebody was prepared to drop two thousand dollars on a new desktop setup, only for the site to shut off at the last minute – that might be one purchase that you lose forever.
Of course, no site can be up 100% of the time. Many hosting services will have an uptime guarantee, and will partially refund or reimburse you if they go below that limit, depending on how many potential sales you’ve lost.
No matter which web hosting service you use, problems will happen eventually. When they do, you’ll want a way to actually get in contact with somebody and resolve them, or at least get some idea of what’s going on. First of all, if a site has no kind of support contact methods at all, then you’re off to a bad start. However, the main thing you’ll want to consider is whether or not 24/7 support matters: it might cost more to work with a company that offers it, but it also ensures that you can ask for help at nearly any time.
On the other hand, if your site is just for personal use, it might not be all that important. If you don’t actively need to worry about losing money by your site being down or temporarily broken, you might be able to go for a ‘nine to five on weekdays’ support team instead.
Hosting prices are, as you might expect, one of the major drawbacks of sites that offer great features. The better a service is, the more money they can charge for what they offer, and it can scale up by an extreme amount as you move towards more niche services. Free hosting exists, but it often has some kind of drawback or catch (even if it’s just something liked forced ads on your site), so you need to work out exactly what you’re willing to pay and how many features you’re expecting to get from it.
Keep in mind that pricing is often yearly, monthly or weekly, rather than being a single up-front payment. You’ll need to make bigger payments if you want to do yearly instead of monthly, but it’ll still be cheaper than doing it month by month or week by week, so working out the actual relative cost of a service should be your first step.
Finally, the best thing to look for in the reviews if the reviews themselves. Many of them have small nuggets of information that might be missing elsewhere. For example, these reviews on MangoMatter Media might differ to ones found from regular Google searches, which can show that there are some opinions or information that isn’t appearing in other places. This might also help you track down independent reviews that aren’t listed on normal sites, such as on personal blogs or forums.