Now, I have had websites for the last six years, and I have had my share of good and bad web hosting companies. Even though you would think that they should all be similar, they can be very different in terms of speed, quality, and uptime. Check out my following tips to learn from my experiences and mistakes in choosing a quality web host:
Pay by the Month
I have bought a number of cheap web hosting packages in the past six months at a yearly rate. Some of them had incredibly cheap prices (for example five dollars for a year) while others were a little more reasonable. My experience? Over half of the accounts, I bought disappeared within three months.
Save yourself some frustration, pay by the month – you may pay more per year, but I have found that the web host will stick around a little longer.
Multiple Webhosting Accounts
In the past year I have had some of my web hosting accounts disappear. Luckily, I was able to move my site quickly to another web hosting account and not lose much of my business. I would recommend having at least two accounts – chances are that both of them won’t be down at the same time. This allows you to protect yourself from lost revenue. Which leads me to the next tip…
I am sure you have seen this elsewhere, but be sure to back up your websites (and their databases) often. Personally, I just about lost two of my sites this past year because I didn’t back up the information. So, back up to your computer at home, also if your host does daily backups, this may be an option for you. I also try to keep a backup of my site on CD at a friends house in case my house burns down. Then at least I have a copy of it.
You Get What You Pay For
Web hosting is a lot like many other businesses – if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. I see a lot of fly by night operations where they offer a crazy amount of space and bandwidth for next to nothing – usually, these guys are gone within a month or two.
Also, take care to not get ripped off either. My brother started a website and hosted it locally and he thought he was getting a deal. Instead, they charged him too much for the hosting that he needed.
Get Recommendations From Other Webmasters
Some of the best luck I have had with web hosting companies are with companies that were recommended to me by other webmasters. Not unlike your friend recommending a good restaurant to you, webmasters like to share what works and what doesn’t. For example, if you are in the market for shared web hosting plan, I would suggest going into webmaster forums and see what people are saying. Most webmaster forums have a hosting section and the advice here can be invaluable. Be sure to compare responses and look for consistency.
This last tip is perhaps the most valuable: shop around. No different than buying a car, most people will go around and compare prices and features. For example, if you are looking for cheap web hosting, not all plans are the same price, and not all plans have the same features. I would suggest looking at both big and smaller web hosting companies and find some that would be suitable for your needs. Also, if you do this, you can compare prices and get a feel as to what you should be paying for hosting.