The 800 Pound Gorillas of Hosting
I’m sure you have surfed around on the net and found the big players in the web hosting industry. Let me take a guess, do these companies sound familiar?
Before you make your decision on who you are going to choose, It’s important you understand what you’re getting for your money. Although these hosting companies make grandiose promises about unlimited storage and 99.9% uptime, I suggest you consider issues that are swept under the rug. Don’t get sucked in by their cunning marketing techniques. This information is created by me a guy who builds sites for a living. Although I’ve worked in this business for over 15 years, I don’t think you should consider my opinion as 100% fact. Do your own research online. Then make an intelligent decision after developing your own global perspective on what’s going on.
Fast & Knowledgeable Phone Support is Crucial
If you purchase hosting from the big boys (listed above) get ready for 20 minutes + hold times during the 9:30 am to a 4:30pm time slot. Hold times will be even worse when you attempt to contact their “live chat” systems accessible from their front pages. Beware! Email support is even slower.
In respect to support, their high volume of clients is your loss. It’s referred to as being “Oversold, ” and it means that the ratio of customer service representatives falls below the number of rising customer accounts. When things go bad for the big hosts, the phones ring off the hook and support falls apart like a 1971 Chevrolet Vega.
If you finally get in contact with your support person take note of their communication skills. Receiving a well-educated person who speaks clear English is not a guarantee. For example 1&1 support staff is not from the United States. Many have broken English and depending on who you get can barely be understood. Godaddy and the EIG companies are ok on this.
Receiving staff who have a comprehensive understanding of how web servers function is also a roll of the dice. It’s not uncommon to hang up the phone, apply the solution only to learn that it does not work and they you must call back only to be placed back in the 40-minute queue again. It’s painful, to say the least.
Carrots On A Stick
99.9% Uptime – What is this percentage based upon? Is it a month/year / lifetime? The percentage is worthless if it’s based upon any length greater than a year. If the percentage is based upon a period of a year, 99.9% is the same as saying .1% which is a whopping eight hours. If you’re running a successful online store, this could mean lots of lost money so move to a host with 100% uptime. To be fair, there are times when the server must be upgraded. During the upgrade, the server must be taken off-line. These are controlled outages and are usually executed from 2 am to 4 am. Hosts usually execute these updates at night when everyone is asleep. Good hosts will send a notice via email warning you about it.
Unlimited Transfer and Storage – Before I begin to explain the next carrot, transfer refers to the amount of data being sent and received from your site. Storage is the total file size of your site. When you hear hosts talk about “Unlimited” transfer and storage its best to take this with a grain of salt. When hosts say Unlimited what they really mean is “reasonable” usage. Take HostGator for example. They explain unlimited by writing, customers who use 25% or more of system resources for longer than 90 seconds will be in violation. In other words, if your site uses 25% of the server’s resources storage or processor resources your site will be stopped. How is that unlimited? In fairness if your site is small you shouldn’t have an issue with this limitation but, if your site begins to grow and your site generates revenue, you should consider moving your site to a more robust host with superior service and performance.
cPanel Vs. Customized Software
1&1, Godaddy and many others have custom software control panels that’ll drive you insane due to their convoluted and antiquated design. Godaddy is the worst. The number of clicks to accomplish simple tasks like setting up email forwarding is insane. The number of attempts to upsell you on similar products is also irritating. Make sure the hosting company you choose uses cPanel as the control panel. It allows you to see all the controls on one page. The need for clicking is minimized. Finding things is easy.
So What Hosting Companies are Best?
If you’re on a small budget and you’re just starting out MDD Hosting is an excellent choice. Support is by email only, and their response is fast. They employ cPanel and their up time is fantastic. They also use something called LightSpeed which accelerates PHP processing. In other words, your WordPress website will Fly! They also understand the intricacies of WordPress which great.
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Yoast (actually spelled Joost) is a highly respected WordPress, and SEO guy out of the Netherlands. He recommends a shared hosting company called WestHost out of Providence Utah. I have used them for a few clients, and their service is excellent. Hold times are minimal, they are knowledgeable, and their monthly fees are small for small sites. They provide the cPanel software, and they offer FREE nightly backups which are fantastic.
If you’re interested in researching further avoid the sites that list in the “Top Website Hosts” sites. There has been talk online that these rating sites are paid off by the big boys. It’s affiliate marketing. Your best bet is to read what other designers are saying on forum sites. These websites will give you real human opinion on every company. After reading these forums, you will get a bird’s eye view on what companies you should avoid.
Below is a list of web hosting forums that you can browse.