How to pick a great web host

Most importantly

Most importantly, ignore what you read on the websites of all of these hosts. Their own webites are marketing tools and are meant to convince you that they’re the best, when they may not be. There’s a ton of hosts out there these days, and that makes things more complicated.

Before diving in, here’s some things you should know: there’s generally 3 types of hosting, which increase in cost.

Shared hosting. This is the GoDaddy like services where you can get hosting for less than ten bucks a month. Here you’ll share a server with tens of thousands of other sites.

VPS, a virtual private server. Here you’ll share a server with less than a hundred sites. A VPS will cost you $50-$100 a month.

Dedicated. A whole server all to yourself. All the resources to yourself. Expect to pay $100+ for a dedicated server.

There’s also Cloud based computing for hosting, which you’re unlikely to be interested in, unless you’re running a fairly large scale type of website or web app.

Essentially, like most anything in life, the more you spend, then better it’ll be.

Now that you know about the types of web hosting, you can hear your search to the right thing.

Ignore the marketing tactics.

So, what do you look for in a host?

First, take nothing on their website seriously. Well, take it with a grain of salt. Their sites are geared to sell you on their products. They talk about ideal situations and perfect worlds, not about reality.

Ignore review websites.

Second, pay no attention to “reviews” you find online, especially sites that only have reviews of hosting companies.

Why? Most hosting companies pay a very large bounty for new subscribers. Meaning that the opinions of the reviewers may be slightly biased based on how much the host will pay them for a bounty.

Take their support team for a trial run.

Third, try their support out first hand. There’s a good chance you’re going to need help, especially while you’re getting started, so you’ll want a responsive support team via whatever method you prefer support, whether it’s email, chat or phone.

If you don’t like talking to call centers in India, make sure you don’t pick one that outsources there. I’ve had both wonderful and terrible experiences with outsourced support, so it doesn’t matter to me. But if you have a preference, find the right support team.

Test them by asking questions and see how long they respond. The last thing you want to do is sit around waiting days for replies.

Just give it a whirl.

Fourth, find out if there’s a trial or money back guarantee. Then you can try your website for 30 days, see how it goes and find something else if it doesn’t live up to your expectations.

You’ll find out pretty quickly that there are thousands of hosts out there offering you the world for $3.95 a month.

“Unlimited” is never unlimited. There are always limits in place, whether or not they make it know up front.

Look for the right programming languages

Fifth, while most hosts offer all modern technologies in terms of supported programming languages, make sure the one you’re picking supports the languages you’re building your site in.

Further, make sure they support a modern version of the language you’re after. The last thing you want to find out before going live is that your shiny new site won’t work because they’re using an outdated version of the software.

Ask for help from a pro or online

Finally, if you don’t know what you’re looking at in terms of technologies, find someone who does and can help you. A friend or colleague, or you can hire someone to help you pick a host.

As a last ditch effort, there are a number of Facebook groups and subreddits that talk about the web hosting industry that you could look at, as well.

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