How to Choose a Website Host

How to Choose a Website Host

by on 21/01/2014

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When considering how to choose a website host there are a number of factors to consider.

  1. Whether the host is one owned by EIG
  2. Whether your hosting is “fully managed” or not
  3. Whether cPanel is provided
  4. Support hours
  5. Speed of serving your pages on the internet
  6. Whether the host can “throttle” your usage
  7. How many addon domains are permitted
  8. User reviews

Let’s have a look at these factors one at a time.

Though let me start out by saying that it is not easy for a beginner to judge all these items. So think about going the easy route which is to use one of my recommendations for the best website hosting companies, which include:

MDD

EuroVPS

Stablehost

These are all decent hosts, with quality hosting, low cost options, and which give you generous resources.

Most hosts are actually poorly run and give you pathetic resources, which slows down your website!

By the way, if you did not see it, check out the previous article to this one: What is Website Hosting

So let’s review the main hosting factors to consider.

1. Is the Hosting Site Owned by EIG?

This is a serious question – is the hosting site owned by EIG – Endurance International Group? These hosting sites include Hostgator, Bluehost and Justhosts.

To be clear, I am saying you should *avoid* these hosts. Certainly they are okay to start off with but hosting with them is insidious. You only realise the limitations when your website gets a bit bigger and your performance starts to drop off.

These sites are also mis-sold. Many of them say you get “unlimited bandwidth”, but that is, at best, a misrepresentation; and at worst it is an outright lie.

If you try using their so-called “unlimited” bandwidth (by having loads of visitors) you will soon find they clobber you – for example, by throttling back your site, which means they give you the lowest priority on your server.

Certainly the biggest of the EIG-owned hosts, and possibly all of them, specialise in selling low quality hosting. They jam as many people as possible onto a server.

Although their support can be very good, service is poor. In other words, their crowded servers will often have trouble serving your webpages quickly. These sites will just create unhappy visitors for you.

A full list of the 60 or so hosting companies which EIG has gobbled up can be found here

2. Is The Hosting Fully Managed?

Many website hosting companies offer hosting which is not “Fully Managed”. What this usually means is that you have to do a lot of the setup work yourself.

You will need to work with UNIX and the command line.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, that confirms this approach is not for you! In summary, unless you are a real techie, make sure your hosting is “Fully Managed”.

3. Is cPanel provided?

When you want to manage your site – for example, add an email address or add-on domain or check your account invoices – you need some sort of “Control Panel”. And the best-known and easiest to use control panel out there is called cPanel, so choose a website host that offers this.

Other control panels range from difficult to use to nearly impossible to use. Stick with cPanel unless you are a real techie.

4. Support Hours

Today, it might not matter to you hugely if you have to wait for half a day or a day before you can access the support for your web host.

But in the future this might be crucial: if something is broken and stopping you making money, for example, you want to fix it now – not in eight hours. I would not choose a website host that did not give me 24/7/365 support.

And preferably by telephone.

5. Host Speed of Serving Pages

Website hosting companies vary tremendously in the speed with which they deliver your site’s pages to surfers. It is well-known that if the page is not delivered quickly a surfer will be likely to leave. It’s a good idea to set up your site on your chosen host and then do some speed tests to see just how fast the pages are being delivered. You will find links to speed tests here

6. Whether a Host Can “Throttle” Usage

Bluehost and some other website hosts squeeze as many users as possible onto one server and then, to safeguard all of them, if anyone uses more than their share of the server resources their access is “throttled”. In other words, your site is put to the back of the queue when a web page is requested.

This might seem fair in one sense, in another sense it might not be. For example, you might have a poorly performing plug-in on your WordPress site which is causing increased overhead through no fault of your own. Then suddenly your pages can take 45 seconds to load: I know – exactly this happened to me!

You are best avoiding hosts which throttle your access to your server in this type of event. You can do this by avoiding any hosting companies owned by EIG, some of whose companies do this, or you can check with any other web host’s support and ask them if they use throttling.

EIG hosts include: Bluehost, Hostgator, Hostnine and JustHost. For a full list see here

 7. How Many Addon Domains are Permitted?

When you start out, one website may be sufficient. But as you carry out your internet marketing plans you will more than likely want to host more than that.

Indeed, if you are following a money making system such as Google Sniper  [Google Sniper review] or the Chris Farrell Membership [Chris Farrell Membership Review]  you may well be creating dozens of websites.

In this case, you want the ability to create multiple add-on domains to your account.

Each add-on domain gives you a new website.

N.B. Add-on domains are different from Sub-domains. An add-on domain allows you to set up a new website on your hosting using another domain name you have purchased. Sub domains are quite different.

8. User reviews

If you are deciding on whether to select your own hosting – and have not followed my recommendations – then definitely look out for some honest user reviews before investing in a new hosting plan.

Be careful not to be taken in by the many hosting review sites which are just trying to get your money from commissions. The poor quality web hosts often pay a very high commission which is attractive to con artists, or to people who know no better, and they will push these sites on you.

One great place to hunt for unbiased recommendations for hosting is the form at  Web Hosting Talk.

How to Choose A Website Host?

It can be a tricky matter choosing a decent website host.

I suggest you follow my recommendations for hosts which give you more space and better resources on their servers. They are generally run by small companies who care about the quality of service.

Here they are again:

MDD

EuroVPS

Stablehost

There is a lot more to say about how to choose a website host but the factors above are the main ones. Be cautious before jumping into a contract which, if you are like most people, you will be in for 2 or 3 years or more. Strongly consider using one of the the best hosts which I recommend and please avoid those hosts owned by EIG which can so easily cause you ongoing problems – cause you to tear out your hair!

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  • John Rogers

    I agree with you on the fact that the best web hosting is usually done by the smaller companies who care about the quality of service. I have found the same to be true with web hosting control panels, which is why I think cPanel alternatives like InterWorx and Plesk are definitely suitable replacements for cPanel, and are both fairly intuitive for new users.

    • Hi, John.” Plesk” is a swear word around these parts! Maybe it’s the way it’s been implemented, but we all prefer cPanel.

      My new host – Traffic Planet Hosting, Terry Kyle’s new venture – says that cPanel is old-fashioned now and they are building their own control panel. This means that they are adding features on the go; but the hosting is certainly faster than Bluehost was, for me.

      I’m just getting down to the time-consuming task of checking out all my hosting accounts and then either consolidating them or removing them or moving them. It’s been on the to-do list for a week and today is the day!

      Cheers, Malc

  • Anne

    Thanks Malc, this is the most useful and important e-mail anyone has sent me. Hostgator is rather like Rocketmail. When I see Hostgator recommended or complained about by the big boys, or receive an email from a Rocketmail user I know it’s spam or rubbish.
    On another tack. One hosting company I have stayed with is IPowerweb they use V-Deck which uses a secure way to install WP not Fantastico. and I found much easier to use. I suppose its like Betamax and VHS everyone had their preferences.
    P.S.G+ won’t work, must use Discus

    • Wow! Some compliment, Anne! Yes, if someone is recommending Hostgator you can be sure there influenced by the high commissions paid. They may or may not realise that the hosting is poor quality.

      I recently saw a comparison of hosting from Hostgator and Bluehost and as soon as 20 or 30 visitors were on the site at the same time they both slowed down ridiculously.

      Stay away from these hosts! I have used them myself three years, and even recommended them. But now I know the truth, I will be telling it like it is!

      Malc

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