The most frustrating part of starting any website is how to find a good web host provider. I know many people experience this problem because I have in the past. I will also state that there is no such thing as a perfect web host, even though people keep searching.
Most Review Sites are Misleading You
The first thing most people do when they want to find a good host is to search on Google. Keywords usually are “best WordPress web host” or “best web host providers”.
What is common with the top search results, is that most of the sites that give reviews have some misleading commonalities:
- They seem to talk about the same host companies
- Many often focus on just a few specific brand names
- Links to the host companies they talk about are affiliate links. Of course, there is nothing really wrong with that, but what is wrong is that the article you read is not even, or ever used the host they are recommending.
I remember asking one review site what host they use and they did not reply back to me. With an easy check, I found out that their website is not using the host they gave an A+ review on. When you see hosting review sites with links to hosting providers, they are often affiliate links.
Again, nothing wrong with that, but when it comes to hosting, you want to make sure that the reviews are truthful and not just there to only care about making money.
Let Me Help You Find a Good Host
With my own personal experiences over the last 15 years, I will help you find a good web host for your WordPress website. I will ask important questions for you to consider, along with the reasoning behind each one.
What Kind of Website do You Have?
Before you start any website, or even if you have an existing website, is to ask yourself “what kind of website do you have?” This is important because the type of website you have will help determine what kind of hosting you need. For example, a small website or blog could easily run on a shared hosting package. However, if you have a large, high-traffic website, then you may need to go into a VPS (Virtual Privat Servers) or Dedicated Server solution.
Is a Scalable Solution Important?
Basically what this means is that as your website grows, can your web host make an upgrade easily? As your website grows, it requires more resources, so there may be a time that you have to upgrade. The last thing you want to do is be forced to change hosting companies if the one you have is not capable of scalability.
How Important is Support to You?
My guess is that for most people, web hosting support is one of the more critical aspects you seek out when finding a good host. When looking at web hosts, check out what kind of support they offer. There are a variety of support mechanisms to consider:
- Toll-Free Calling – Preferably 24/7 access.
- Live Chat Support
- Email Support
- Quality Documentation – Very important to make sure it’s up-to-date and thoroughly written.
- Hosting Support Forum
- Ticket System
What is Your Hosting and Website Level of Experience?
Many people do not consider how much experience they have with the overall management of a website, let alone hosting it. As much as it would be great to have your web host provider manage everything, you still need to have the ability to do a few things:
- How to create a database
- Adding email accounts
- Installing an SSL certificate – Most hosts make this fairly easy now
- Can you add more domains to your existing account, or how about sub-domains?
- Using a File Manager or FTP program to upload/download website files
- How about installing WordPress or any other CMS (Content Management System) – Don’t use the auto install/setup features host providers give you; best to install it yourself.
What are Other Features You Might Need?
Here is a list of things to consider asking yourself:
- How important is a brand name hosting?
- Is price a deciding factor?
- Is support a deciding factor?
- Do you need a hosting knowledge-base of informative documentation for self-help?
- If you need SSL (Secure Sockets Layer certificates), does it matter if it’s paid or free?
- Is fully managed WordPress hosting important for you? Basically, this means that a hosting company will manage everything about your WordPress for you. This could also mean a host that specializes only in WordPress hosting and means their servers are optimized for WordPress.
There are a few more items I can list, but I kept it to the basics.
Time to Research Hosting Options
I’ve posted several questions to consider your own answers to, but now we need to begin actual research…
[bctt tweet=”How to Find a Good Web Host – My Own Experience.” username=”roughpixels”]
Begin Searching Google for the Hosting Company Info?
I always recommend people start with the host company’s information page, then I move on to Google and search that company.
- Read about their history and who they are.
- How long have they been in business for?
- Who owns them?
- Are they an affiliate hosting company run under another source?
- Where are they located and where are their servers?
I would go as far as checking the Better Business Bureau (or whatever equivalent you have in your country) and read complaints and see if they were resolved. Find any other complaints about the hosting company you are considering.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as a perfect host; everyone will have good things and bad things listed. Only you can make a judgment based on what you read as complaints. Some complaints may be done out of personal anger, while others have absolute legitimate reasons.
What Kind of Billing do you Want for Hosting?
If you are looking for a new hosting provider, see what kind of billing and payment terms they offer.
Make sure you read the fine print! I’ve seen too many people get ripped off and lose a ton of money because they signed up for a long-term commitment, only to find out there are no refunds.
Here is one of my top recommendations when it comes to payment:
When you find a new web host to try out, NEVER sign-up for a term upfront, instead, start with a monthly billing cycle. The price will be a bit higher, but this gives you a chance to escape if you decide the host sucks! If you signed up for 6-months or 1-year (the most common), you could be in for a fight to get your money back. Again, read the terms (fine print) as it relates to refunds.
Find a good web host that offers at least a 30-day money back guarantee. However, do NOT sign up for a term even with a grace period until you are absolutely 100% happy. I like to recommend paying monthly for a year so that it gives me enough time to try them out. Once your year is up, then you can consider opting in for a longer term. Just make sure you can back out any time with a refund, of whatever unused months remain.
Read their refund policy!
Never Register or Keep Your Domain Name on the Host
I know many people love registering their domain names with the host provider they use or plan to use. I’ve also seen people set up hosting and then transfer their domain registration to the host—Never Do That!
Although I can only recommend this, keep your domain and hosting separate…always! If anything went wrong with the host, you run the risk of losing your domain name, or worse, you could end up in a situation where it becomes a battle with the host you are leaving. If you registered your domain on an unknown unaccredited registrar, what could go wrong?
Long story short, keep your domain registered separately, but most of all, make sure you use an ICANN accredited and popular domain registrar for it. The most popular one, of course, is GoDaddy but there many great ones with cheaper pricing. I’m not a big fan of Godaddy hosting, but for domain management, they’re not too bad. Of course, that is just my own opinion after 12 years of using them. Just be careful of their opt-in and up-sells…they are good at trying to sell you more.
Should Pricing be a Deciding Factor?
Most of the time, people make choices based on price. I can understand that price is often the primary reason to decide on a hosting company due to a limited budget. Pricing is important but it should never be the deciding factor. Likewise, going for an expensive solution does not guarantee the host is going to be high quality, nor does a really low price mean the host is poor quality.
It’s really a balancing act between doing your homework before signing up and reading reviews, hearing from friends or colleagues, and going on gut feeling.
Here is my own opinion about pricing…
When I am confident with a hosting company that I want to sign-up with, I don’t mind paying a bit more if I find that fits perfectly with my needs.
Consider the value of your website or blog and the amount of time and effort you put into it. Next, consider the value of your website visitors and/or customers. Now imagine if something goes wrong and support from your host is taking too long or gives you horrible support! Is it worth finding the cheapest host on the planet with the possibility of losing everything you worked hard to create?
Remember the idiom “You get what you pay for“.
Again, I’m not saying you have to go with the most expensive or the lowest priced host, it’s more about making sure you have a quality host provider that you are comfortable with. A web host provider that you know is there to look after you. It becomes a balancing act when deciding what is reasonable as it falls within your budget.
For most people, shared hosting is probably what you will start with. I think anything from $10 to $35 per month is realistic.
Web Hosting Reviews
I mentioned earlier about doing Google search and seeing all the results of websites doing “honest” reviews. Take these reviews with a grain-of-salt because I would say 90% are simply written up for the affiliate payouts only. Many of these reviewers have never even used the hosts they talk about.
Don’t make your decision based on what they say; do your own research to find a good web host for yourself. You can still use the reviews as a starting point, but make your final choice from what you researched, and always go on your personal gut-feeling and what is important to you.
Testing a Hosting Provider with Questions
Here is something you can do when you are looking to find a good web host…
Think of some questions to ask them about their hosting, but ask them something related to server requirements that you need for your WordPress site. Use their contact form and ask them your questions and make note of how long they take to get back to you. Review their answers to your questions to see if they were helpful. If you happen to ask questions using a chat window, don’t let them pressure you to sign-up right there; even with special offers, they give you.
If You are Curious Who I Use…
I’m sure you are wondering who I use, so I will keep it short. Rochen Hosting is the company I use for the Rough Pixels website and other sites. What I can say is that I’ve used them a couple of times in the past 10 years and recently got back to them.
Overall, very good hosting with good support, fast servers, and reasonably priced. My decision is that I’ve used them before and then I love the fact they offer the popular LetsEncrypt SSL, which is free!