Website hosts come in different varieties offering different plans. Given below is stepwise approach which will hopefully guide you to find best web host with ease.
Step 1: Requirement Analysis
You need to judge from your requirements and expected load on website what exactly your disk size and bandwidth requirements will be. If you are running a normal website even with some multimedia, flash based content, still space and bandwidth requirements are not high. There are many website hosting service providers claiming to grant you unbelievable space and bandwidth at lowest possible price, hardly over zero. Such hosts sale same package to numerous users, because of the fact that average website requirement is not going to reach their offered limits. So hosts instead of selling their package to 10 customers sell it to 1000 customers. So much so that if even a mere 10% websites that these hosts hold, need their full quota of bandwidth and space, host’s whole system will collapse. Another control by such company is written in their Term of Service agreement. Mostly before reaching limits mentioned in advertisements, website are restricted by limits stated in TOC and other policy documents.
So question now arises, what kind of storage capacity and bandwidth are required when looking for best web host. For space estimate, you need to just calculate size of website files you will be deploying at host machine. For bandwidth take an average page size preferably the one which you expect will be visited most. Now multiply that page size with the number of visits you are expecting on that website, here is your rough bandwidth requirement.
We have talked about numbers, let’s talk about money involved in selection of best web host. You must have a rough amount that you are willing to spend to create and maintain your website online. Generally the good hosting service may cost you around $5 each month. The reasonable package in this cost would be 500 MB disk space, 15 GB data transfer rate or bandwidth, which believe you me is quite enough for most websites.
So now let‘s summarized what we have discussed so far in selection of best web host:
- Say no to over sellers, as mostly the overselling will result in ever declining website performance.
- Decide on disk space and bandwidth you need
- Allocate a budget for best web host.
- Set your expectation regarding the features you may get for your allocated budget from your chosen best web host.
Step #2: Searching the best web host
Searching the best web host by its reputation is very important. Apparently a host may qualify on your list by fulfilling all the criteria that were discussed in step 1. However do they actually deliver their promise, is a million dollar question. There are multiple sources where you can check the authenticity and reliability of the host. It is not advisable to visit the review and directory websites. Their opinion is usually inclined toward the host, as a result you will be denied with fair assessment, and may make a wrong decision in choosing best web host.
In order to get unbiased opinion about the host’s service quality you can try many famous search engines by searching for the appropriate keywords like ‘good webhosting’. There are various online forums available where existing website owners share their review about their host. One such famous forum is Web Hosting Talk. It contains hundreds of reviews people have posted about their webhosting services providers. Don’t ever rely on one source, check other sources as well while looking for best web host.
You also need to search websites which provide host data, for instance Domain Tool. Only upon typing company’s URL, this website reveals accurate data about the hosting company. This data is useful. As a general rule of thumb you must avoid the companies which are founded very recently, or have many blacklisted websites are running under them. Also check whois to see if you find some genuine data there. If you find non-serious data, count the host out of your contention for best web host list.
Now you should also pay a visit to host’s own website. Check if it is professionally made. If host’s own website is not built properly, you can imagine what will happen if you host your website on its server. Also see if host’s own website is not hosted on some other or free hosting service.
So now let‘s summarized what we have discussed in Step 2 of finding best web host:
- Search for the host by providing appropriate keywords on famous search engines like google, yahoo.
- Make sure that website of host shows they are here to stay by maintaining a proper portal.
- See online reviews on forums to see what their existing customers are saying about them. If many of the website owners are cursing their host, you must not join them.
Step #3: Support
Now the search is almost over for finding best web host. It can’t be emphasized more that you spend a lot of time on Step 2 to be certain about the quality of your shortlisted best web host. Now if the host is offering lucrative plan like storage space more than 5 GB and charging about a dollar or so per month, they don’t have Contact available on their own site and they are haiding it on whois searches, such host must be avoided. Also see how good their Control panel is. Control panel helps you to manage website settings, contents etc, in short it is the administrator panel for your website. It needs to be user friendly, so that you can use it easily. Also see what is their charging mechanism? If the site is taking you directly to payment page, you should understand their only motive is to deprive you of money, not to provide you with appropriate service. Rule out this kind of host from your best web host list.
Support plays an important part in the overall scenario of website management. First just go their Contact Us page on their website and send them a query. Ask them some technical question along with some general questions. Now wait for the answer; see first how rapid is the response, secondly check how accurate is the response. If a host’s support staff takes too long to reply, you can imagine what kind of support you will be getting when your website actually crashes. If you feel the support was adequate then such company qualifies for further considerations in your quest for best web host.
So now let‘s summarized what we have discussed in Step 3:
- Reject if the host is offering out of this world plan.
- Gauge the quality of support of the shortlisted best web host by sending a query and judge their support by the rapidness and quality of response.
Step #4: Placing Order
Now if a host has qualified all three steps, it implies that it has following qualities.
- The chosen best web host is maintaining website for quite some time and has developed a certain reputation in market.
- They are open to sharing their information and whois search about them is not revealing anything meaningless.
- Web host is searchable, and can be accessed upon search performed on search engines, at least the famous ones.
- Public opinion about the host is good and their most customers are satisfied with their services.
- Prices are not extremely low, neither too high. Our chosen best web host is maintaining acceptable level of quality and not selling more than their capacity.
- Webhost own website is professionally built and contains useful information.
- Their support is good and they provide fast and accurate response and are expected to provide adequate technical support whenever needed.
- Their TOC and other policies are not designed to charge you unnecessarily.
Step 2 is backbone of the whole best web host searching activity. So keep on searching till you find the right one for you. Heed my words, the host is not alone in this world, the competition is to intense that you can find thousand hosts offering almost the same services and packages. One thing no matter how much your selected host ask you, do not register domain name with them. Have it assigned to yourself so that transition to new host if required, is trouble free.
So now let‘s summarized what we have discussed in Step 4:
- Best web Host is found based on the criteria discussed in Step 1, 2 and 3.
- Don’t let the host give you domain name, have it with you separately.
Step #5: Once the best web host is selected
Keep on taking backup of your website contents, pages and most importantly the database running at back end. Decide on some period like daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on the sensitivity of your website. Best web host services do take the backups themselves, but you must own your own latest copy yourself.
Keep on reading the Term of service and other policy documents like Acceptable usage policy of the best web host for any changes in the way the site would be governing onward. See if the policies are acceptable to you and by having revised policies? If it is so, you may consider switching the host. It may also save you from violating their rules that may result in suspension or more severely deletion of your website.
Now for a month or so, observe the host performance, if performance is not satisfactory the refund policy discussed in step 1 will come handy. Check the selected best web host on criteria like downtime frequency and duration, support of newly available version of software components, efficiency of support to name a few.
If the new host does not prove suitable for you for any reason you do have the option of taking your website to some other host. Here the role of keeping your own domain name is critical.
If you decide to move on don’t rush into ceasing your agreement with your previous best web host until suitable replacement is identified. Take backup of your website, to now upload it on new host’s server. Share your new information with source like search engines and nameservers about new host for the same URL. Now you may proceed to delete your account with old host. Keep the old website enable for about 2 weeks to reduce the downtime and make sure the transition takes place smoothly.
So now let‘s summarized what we have discussed in Step 4:
- Keep on monitoring website performance.
- Constant backups are mandatory and you must take these yourself too.
- Switching host is not that difficult, provided you own the domain name.
- Oversee switching activity to make sure everything is in order.