We have tried several different website hosts and have read through hundreds of reviews of various hosts looking for ones that are affordable and reputable. We like our customers to get good hosting because we offer full support. If you have a hosting problem, we have to deal with it (especially during setup) and the difference between a good host and a bad host can mean the difference of a quick phone call or hours of headaches.
The main things we look for in a host are reliability, customer service and support, ease of use, uptime, and the ability to support WordPress and Content Management System (CMS) sites.
Reliably is important. Many of the hosting companies are here one day and gone the next, and when they disappear, your site is down and the money you invested in your hosting plan is gone also. We like to deal with hosting companies that have been around a while, and that are located in the U.S. We choose U.S. companies predominantly because we’ve found it is easier to deal with U.S. based customer service.
Customer service and support is a big issue with hosting. We like to work with hosting companies that have live chat and a number to call that has a live person on the other end available in our normal hours of business, so when there is a problem we can get it resolved quickly.
Some hosting companies require you to submit a “service ticket”. You send a message and hear back from them “within 24 hours” . . . not very helpful when your site is down. Many hosting services hire outsourced customer service workers. When you try to talk or email with them, they struggle to understand you or your problem and you struggle to understand them or their solution, which is a huge headache.
We want to be able to make contact with a person in customer service who is on our side of the world, speaks English, is available when we need to contact them, and is willing to help and offer support for the hosting that was purchased from them.
Uptime is another important aspect of hosting. If a hosting company has old or insufficient equipment, they will usually have a higher percentage of down time, which means when people go to your site nothing will show up. When a hosting company has old or insufficient equipment, it often gets overloaded during peak times so when the most people will be potentially visiting your site, with a bad host your site might show up and it might not.
Ease of use is important as well. The best interface we have found is cpanel. Most of the tools you need to maintain your site and email accounts are in cpanel and well organized. Along with the cpanel interface, a good hosting set up should have easy access to your account information such as when the next payment is due, changing your contact information, etc. Navigating through a cluttered buggy interface for an hour when all you want to do is make a quick 5 minute edit to your site can be a nightmare, and it can get worse if the interface doesn’t offer the option you need requiring you to contact the hosting company to have them manually make the change. What should have taken 5 minutes can turn into a 3 day headache with a bad host.
The ability to support WordPress and CMS sites is important if you are setting up a WordPress site or a CMS platform. These types of sites need a few more things like PHP and SQL databases, and a good host will have the latest version of these programs for your site to run on. They will also have the latest security issues under control to keep your site and database safe.
Now that you know the qualities of good hosts and bad hosts, be sure to find a good host. It is worth it!