If you’ve ever searched Google for a new web host you’ll see there are a plethora of options at your disposal. The organic search results as well as the paid offerings across all search engines offer a seemingly unlimited list of web hosting companies who will claim to fulfill your every desire. Whilst some are more popular and some are ultimately more well-known than others, one thing they have in common is they all offer you pretty much the same sort of service. In fact no, they all offer you EXACTLY the same service in terms of what they provide. There are not that many different ways to host a website – right? So how do you choose which provider to go with? Do you base it solely on price or are there other things to look out for? For most people looking for professional hosting as opposed to the free options available like WordPress.org – their websites are their livelihood so choosing a reputable, honest and for the most part reliable hosting provider is of the upmost importance.
Considering The Options
One thing that becomes immediately apparent on a quick Google search is that the search results are dominated by a mix of well-known brands such as GoDaddy, Hostgator and 123Reg along with a collection of smaller brands such as Heart Internet and HostPresto. So how do all these players compare and who is truly the best option when it comes to hosting your site.
First and foremost, you have to consider what it is you actually want from them. If you don’t work out what you require beforehand you could end up paying for something you don’t need or even worse, choosing a package which simply isn’t suitable for your needs.
The Price Points
Fortunately, most web hosting companies price their packages and services to be competitive. You’ll find that from the smaller companies right through to the major players – the price plans will be similar. This means that finding a provider will be easy as you’ll know where you stand price wise – but finding who has an advantage over another solely due to the price will be difficult. There are obviously companies out there who are so unrealistic price wise that they shouldn’t even be considered, but these will stick out like a sore thumb in comparison to other services.
In real world terms, for hosting a single website you should be paying no more than £20.00 per year or the equivalent when split over 12 months as most web hosting companies like to do. Sure, there are cheaper services out there and likewise more expensive ones. But this, as a guide should be the sort of money you should be paying.
The Plans and Services
As with the price points, the plans and services that hosting firms offer tend to be somewhat similar. Most tend to break down their offerings into 3 or 4 packages designed to suit the end user and cater for their needs overall. Typically you might see service plans named Bronze, Silver, Gold or Starter, Small Business, Professional etc. Whilst these names may in fact be meaningless the important information is contained in the detail. If you’ve figured out how much disk space you need, what services you need and how much you’ll likely be doing on the transfer front then choosing a service to suit your needs will be a breeze. As mentioned above, working out exactly what you need from your provider before going ahead with the purchase is the key to getting a service that works for your needs for ultimately the best price. It is by no means uncommon for a home user to require a “professional” web hosting package if the site in question requires it. Likewise, some real world businesses may be able to get away with simply taking out a “home user” package if their site is low traffic enough.
Big Players Vs Reputable Brands
This is ultimately what your decision will come down to given the price points and service offerings between all providers are so similar. Do you host with the big well known firm like GoDaddy who you have seen on TV or do you go with one of the less well-know companies such as HostPresto? If the price plans are the same and the services offered are the same, this should be a no brainer right? Well, you’d be wrong.
In my opinion it is best to find a balance. The best hosting companies in terms of overall service are by far, smaller/independent companies. If you were to use a company such as GoDaddy, sure, you’d be hosted by a big brand and would be paying a fair price month to month but you simply wouldn’t get the support which you’d get with a smaller company. If anything did ever go wrong with your site or if you needed assistance with installing a script, fixing a bug or just general advice on your project then the likelihood of an end-user support professional at GoDaddy be able or even willing to assist you is slim. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a smaller company who’s owners are the ones on the end of the phone or the other side of the computer terminal assisting you then you stand a much better chance of getting the help you need.
Finding the right balance unfortunately isn’t that easy. It’s difficult to know who is a good company and who will provide the service you need unless you actually take the plunge and go with them. If you truly want the best service, take your time, read the reviews of the company from real-world users and then make an informed and educated decision.
So in short, if you are considering taking out web hosting for the first time or are looking to switch your provider there are a few things to consider. You’ll find that most of the companies you find be it via Google or otherwise will offer the same run of the mill services for the same sort of average price. Some may be slightly higher, some less, but the difference for the most part will be negligible.
The key difference will come down to the overall support and after-sales experience as a whole. You will most definitely get much better support from a smaller but reputable company than you would from a major player, which outsources their technical support to relatively unskilled workers. Like with any service, it’s always best to deal with someone who has something to lose than someone who is simply paid a wage to whom your custom doesn’t necessarily matter.
Admittedly however, finding such companies will be a challenge. Ignore the major players immediately, make a short list of smaller firms and put the leg work in to read the reviews other users have left for them. Sure it’s a bit more work than picking someone at random but the second you have an issue with your site or need some advice that isn’t included in the standard terms of service -you’ll be glad of it.