Choosing a web hosting provider with high uptime or near 100% uptime is one of the first things you should check for in a host. Choosing a web hosting provider can be a daunting task, especially with all of the fly-by-night hosting providers that leave you high-and-dry after a short period of time. Here are some tips when looking for a good hosting provider.
1. Setting a realistic budget.
Is this for a startup website that will have little to no traffic when starting out? Chances are you won’t need a dedicated server at $100 per month or more – start with a smaller hosting package that has a small monthly fee. This way, you can build up your site overtime and upgrade hosting packages instead of being overwhelmed by hosting bills.
2. Does the hosting provider offer 24/7 Support?
Having 24/7/365 is critical in any reputable hosting provider for a multitude of reasons. This is also one thing that fly-by-night hosts fail at – these “experts” will have to go to school, or have other daily jobs besides web hosting that they have to attend to. This can possibly leave your web hosting account offline, or lead to really long support ticket delays.
3. Does the hosting provider clearly lay out their rules regarding account usage, a Terms of Service, and acceptable use policy?
Actually reading and understanding what rules you’re accepting to when signing up for a hosting package is important.
With shared web hosting, Does the host limit how many hits your site gets per day? How many MySQL connections are allowed for the hosting package? Normally these are not issues when the site is growing, but what happens if your site has a large influx of traffic? You want to ensure your site remains online and you can receive that advertising revenue or product sale.
In a dedicated server or VPS, what are the limits on the port? What are their rules regarding complaints, spam loopback issues, etc? You’ll want to look for a provider that will work with you to resolve these issues, not simply shut off the server when a fake compliant arrives.
4. Does the hosting provider offer a money back guarantee?
When a host offers a money back guarantee, it’s a little extra promise that they will offer great service and decent uptime. Otherwise, they can count on customers simply turning around and leaving for their poor service. A 30 day or even 60 day money back guarantee is great and acceptable, but don’t abuse the policy for a minor error – things happen from time to time.
5. Does the hosting provider offer live chat?
Hosting providers that offer live chat offer a greater level of service, instead of waiting for an email reply or other update. For simple issues, you can hop into their live chat and ask the question and have an almost instant answer. Sometimes more complicated hosting issues will have to be dealt with a higher level of technical support, and live chat may redirect you to a ticket. This is fully understandable and acceptable – you don’t want to have to wait in live chat for hours.
I would highly suggest trying out their live chat sales – check to see how long their queue is, how they communicate, etc.
6. Reputation and uptime
Some hosting providers offer a visible uptime history or report regarding their servers or even network uptime. However, routine system maintenance does have to take place from time to time during off-peak hours. This is generally not considered downtime because it has been planned. Much like if you own a windows system, system updates and security updates need to be applied and sometimes require a server reboot. Sometimes core network functions need to be updated or patched to prevent unstable issues in the future.
7. The hosting providers web site
Does the hosting provider’s website function as you think it should, or is it full of errors and unworkable? Chances are, if they cannot devote time to accepting support requests for their clients, then their service uptime will be less than optimal. Do some checking and pretend to be like a client – can you locate their support contacts easily? Have they invested time into an FAQ for instant help on common issues?
8. Payment Options
Not everyone has access to a credit card or even a paypal account for one reason or another. Does the hosting provider accept multiple forms of payment? In addition, what is their policy regarding late invoices? Do they simply delete the entire account if the invoice is not paid on the day it’s due?
In a shared hosting account, does the hosting provider include backups by default, or the option to set one up? System failures happen from time to time, due to hardware failure or it could even be malicious. Even if your hosting provider offers backups by default, you should always have a full local backup copy of your entire site every week or so. Depending on the size of your website, you can possibly use a third party service to back this up to instead of downloading hundreds of gigabytes with your local connection
Some hosting providers charge a lot more for the exact same specifications – whether it be space, bandwidth, or even the same CPU model in a dedicated server. What sets them apart from the others? Do they have better networking connections around the world? Do they offer true 24/7 support through live chat or phone?
I have dealt with multiple hosting providers in my time, and I will suggest two for the highest website uptime and support availability.
Hostgator offers fantastic live chat support and is routinely over staffed, meaning you get near instant responses in live chat. Hostgator is also considered one of the founding cPanel hosting providers out there.
LiquidWeb is based out of Lansing, Michigan. All of their hosting packages are fully managed by default, meaning you can contact them 24/7 about any issue that you may be facing. They have a great uptime track record and friendly support.