When it came time to pick a web host you did your research. You scoured the forums for reviews. You emailed the company’s sales department and got a reply in less than hour. Even after that you were not convinced until you read A. Fillate’s blog post: “Harry’s Spider Leg Hosting: The Best Web Hosting Ever”. He was very convincing.
So why then has your site been down for four days? To make matters worse, Harry was running a special and offered to register your domain for free. Your control panel is down along with the rest of the site and you can’t get in to change the name servers to point to your new host. Assuming you eventually regain control of your site, a series of best practices can prevent this from happening again.
Review The Reviewer
One of the biggest problems with web hosting reviews comes from the industry practice of using affiliates. Many hosting companies offer excellent incentives for affiliates who drive sign-ups. In addition to an initial referral payment, the affiliate will often earn a recurring monthly commission as long as the person stays with the host.
While most affiliates are completely honest sales people, the lure of passive income does draw the unscrupulous as well. Less than honest affiliates will often use comments in blog posts, or one sided reviews that just happen to include an affiliate link to the host they promote.
This is not to say that reviews are without value. They can be a good first step to get a group of hosts for further examination. Just make sure not to base your decision exclusively on reviews.
Plan For Problems
Before spending any time examining a host, decide on the level and type of technical support you require. Many web hosts only offer email and forum based support. If you need phone based support, you can eliminate some options without any further work.
Finding good phone support can be tricky. Some hosting companies proudly claim 24/7 support, but there is often a catch. Your call is likely to be routed to a call center that could be anywhere in the world. Wherever it happens to be, it is unlikely to be anywhere near the actual hardware that supports your site. In addition to not being able to troubleshoot physical problems, the call center employees will likely have only limited rights to employee fixes. Major problems will probably have to wait to business hours anyway.
As a result, it is worth taking a look at hosts that do not promise 24/7 phone support. The ability of the technical staff to actually resolve the problem is more important than having a voice on the line. Even thought they may only advertise a daytime hours for general troubleshooting, a good host will have an emergency technical contact for midnight mishaps. Focus on who will be answering you call, not when.
Test There Tech
Once you have decided on a contact type that you are comfortable with, use it before signing up. Email or call the company with technical questions. Ask for details about their spam filtering system or for clarification on what version of a particular scripting language they support. Even if you know the answer, ask anyway. Keep track of how long it takes you to get an answer. This will be far more important the specific answer.
Feel Out the Forum
Most hosting companies will provide a forum where users can help each other. See how well they maintain their own forum. Are users complaining repeatedly about the same problem without any response? How long does it take for users to get replies to queries? If the forum is abandoned or filled with spam, this can a strong sign of a hosting company in decline.
Check Up On On Up Time
Most web hosting companies promise 99.99% or higher uptime. As with many marketing statements, there is find print to be considered. What qualifies as “down-time” will vary between hosting companies.
Many hosts will not consider server reboots, or other brief outages to be actual down time. Not a problem if this only happens once every few days. If however, the server reboots several times a day, visitors will notice.
The best way to check on this is to host a small site with the prospective company for a month and use a third party monitoring company or your own monitoring software to check up on them. Services like Alertra will test the server every few minutes and report on response time and availability.
This may seem like an extreme step, and in many cases it may not be necessary. If however, you are deciding on a host for a site tied to your income or reputation, it can save you in the long run.
Never Give Them Your Name Server
Today’s fabulous service and phenomenal uptime may be tomorrows downed server and unopened email. Many companies will offer to be both your host and the registrar for your domain. If you have to switch due to technical problems, you may find you cannot get at your DNS settings to point your name servers to a new host.
Even if the initial cost is slightly higher, it is better to register your host with a company who’s primary business is registration – not hosting. This will provide a bit of insurance should you need to quickly jump ship from a rapidly sinking web host.
Following these simple practices will help reduce your chances of getting stuck with a bad host. Even, so the most important practice is to have a backup plan. Keep the information for the host that came in second when you did your initial research. If your host turns out to be “Harry’s Spider Leg Hosting” in disguise, you will not have to waste time looking around.
The above mentioned points are simply what you call a drop in the ocean of this magnanimous structure. There are so many other things that you can learn from this topic with a vast array of information in abundance about cheap & best web hosting so as to understand it more and also spent less at the same time.