How many guides like these are out there already? Nevermind that. We’ll try and make our guide special. If you don’t really want to read all of this, just contact us and we’ll help you pick the right hosting for you.
Before you actually start reading this guide,
Why follow our web hosting guide?
Yes, there are a lot of choosing guides out there, but why ours? What makes our guide so special?
- This guide is NOT sponsored by a web hosting company. If it was, we would just force their criteria and their web hosting services, like some do.
- Comes from years of (bad) experience. We’ve gone through a lot of hosts. A lot of bad hosts, actually. Why did we choose those bad hosts in the first place? Well, because we followed some other bad web hosting guides that are out there. That’s one of the main reasons why we wanted to write this actually helpful and honest guide.
- We actually want to help you. We are not employed by anyone. We are doing this with our money out of our pockets and we are doing it “for fun”. Nobody forces us to write this. The world has gone to s**t. Where are all the nice people? What has happened to all of them? Well, we are here!
So now, let’s start with the actual guide on how to choose your host.
Choose the right type of hosting for you
How many terms have you seen so far? Shared, Cloud, VPS, Managed etc. If you are a beginner, this can be overwhelming. So we’ll quickly go through all hosting types and who they are for:
- Shared web hosting – good for beginners with simple sites that don’t get a lot of traffic. It’s easy to use too, as every shared hosting provider offers a control panel too.
- Reseller hosting – good for web designers, smaller agencies and everyone that needs to host more than one website on more than one account. You are basically reselling the hosting space (as the name suggests) to your clients. It’s still the same as a shared hosting plan, but more powerful and with the option of more accounts.
- VPS hosting – if you have a website that gets a lot of visitors, or if you have some app that has special requirements. Like a Nodejs app. VPS hosting isolates you from other people on the host and you’ll have full access and control over your server. Good for experimenting and learning Linux too.
- Cloud hosting – basically the same as VPS hosting. For a beginner, they are the same anyway, so just go with a VPS since it’s cheaper. Cloud hosting is more (easily) scalable and usually, there are more billing options (billing per hour, per usage etc). On a Cloud, theoretically, you should not have ANY downtime, as a Cloud is fully redundant and load-balanced. It’s usually more expensive than a VPS. Some web hosting companies use the term “Cloud” as a marketing term, so they may sell you a VPS and call it a Cloud.
- Dedicated hosting – our guess is you wouldn’t be reading this guide if you need a dedicated server, but anyway. Dedicated hosting is where you buy an actual computer (host) somewhere in a data center and you completely own it. You don’t share it with anybody and you get its full potential and capabilities. Dedicated servers are great for enterprises and major (popular) websites.
- Fully/Semi/Un Managed hosting – if it’s fully managed, it just means that the hosting provider will manage your server for you. They’ll do the maintenance work, they’ll monitor your server, they’ll help you install software, they’ll do all the server work. If it’s semi-managed, it means that they’ll do most of the (major) work like kernel updates, but they would not install software for you. Unmanaged means that they won’t do anything for you, you’ll have to do it all by yourself. Beginners should go with fully managed hosting. A big misconception about managed hosting providers is that they have to be expensive. There are actually a lot of cheap managed hosting providers.
- SSD or HDD – go with SSD, always. Most of the hosts today offer SSD hosting anyway, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Solid State Drives are more powerful, more reliable and faster than Hard Disk Drives. The only reason why you would go with HDD is if you don’t need your website to be faster or if you are just experimenting. HDD should be cheaper.
Appearing first on Google does not mean the host is good
The first thing everyone does when looking for a host is, naturally, googling. But, the web hosting market is over-saturated with big corporations that spend a lot on marketing (including SEO), so the results you see may not be that “natural”. So, the first results you’ll get are probably not right for you. You should still do your research and use Google, but not to find an actual hosting provider. Use it to find reviews or other mentions of the company you’ve previously found somewhere else.
Check the (real) reviews
Of course, you should always check the reviews of a hosting provider. Be careful of the fake, sponsored reviews, though.
How can you spot a fake review?
- It’s a top 10 list of EIG hosts only.
- It’s a review sponsored by the hosting provider itself. Sponsored reviews are always going to be positive, even if they claim they are unbiased.
- It’s a “user-submitted” review site with thousands of fake (probably submitted by a bot) reviews. Reviewers with no proof of identity (a link to a social profile, a profile image, link to the website they host etc).
- It’s a random testimonial on their website. No hosting provider would post a negative review on their own website, so just skip those.
- It’s a non-reviewing “review”. What? – you ask. Well, we’ve actually LOL’d on some of those “reviews” out there. They claim it’s a review, but it’s actually a bunch of neutral statements going over a hosting provider’s offers. Basically just “here’s what they offer, here are a bunch of screenshots, here’s something copied from their website” and just adding a score. That’s not a review.
- There are no negative sides/cons. Is it a pros and cons list with no cons? It’s fake. Nobody’s perfect, not even the great web hosting companies. If you don’t spot a con or a negative statement, the review is probably sponsored by the hosting provider.
- It’s unintentionally unhelpful. Two differently skilled web developers will have different impressions over a hosting provider. What if a total beginner ranks a hosting provider as “great”, but hasn’t even properly tested the host? Someone may leave a review about the hosting provider’s support, but it may happen that you don’t actually need support, so how useful is that review to you? It may be real, but not really useful.
So where can you actually find real reviews? It’s difficult. Try looking at Twitter, Facebook or Google+. The reviews are usually real on social media. Look for reviews on forums and online communities like Reddit and WebHostingTalk. Search our website and we may have a review on the hosting provider you are looking at.
What kind of support do you need?
Do you need 24/7 support? Do you need support over the phone? How important are response times to you? For a beginner, a host with 24/7 support is a must. Even for non-beginners, the support team of a hosting provider always comes in handy. Check the scope of their support, too. What will they do and what won’t they do? Is the support actually good and knowledgeable? You can always do a free trial. Get the hosting you want and if it doesn’t work for you, just ask for your money back.
Usually, there’s a lot of stuff they don’t want you to know. Every hosting provider has a different ToS, PP and SLA, so please check them carefully. They are a bit lengthy, so you can try contacting their sales department and ask a lot of questions yourself. You can also use the search function and try and find something based on keywords like “bandwidth”, “terminated”, “unlimited” etc.
Don’t go with new, not-yet-a-year-old hosting companies
We always prefer legit businesses with years of experience. We don’t want any new, fresh newbies that don’t know what they are doing and may close shop any minute without prior notice. Everyone can become a “hosting company” nowadays. Everyone can be a reseller. Check the domain’s whois data and check if the business is legit. How many years have they been working so far? If it’s a new hosting provider, chances are they may not be there for long. However, there are some legit new hosting companies. They are usually by someone who has already offered something else before, and now they just extend their services with web hosting.
There’s no unlimited bandwidth/storage and 100% uptime
In cases where someone advertises unlimited anything or 100% uptime, carefully read their ToS/SLA. There’s no such thing is unlimited. They will probably overcharge you or turn off your server after they notice an increase in bandwidth or storage usage. More expensive hosting plans may, however, offer unmetered bandwidth. Which may be legit.
There is no such thing as 100% uptime. Nobody has 100% uptime, not even google.com. However, hosts that have a 100% uptime guarantee will usually reimburse you for every second/minute/hour of downtime.
Watch out for overselling and hidden fees
A fully managed dedicated server for $3 a year? Why, yes please. I’ll have one. Oh, I need to pay a $600 setup fee? Nevermind.
Watch out for hidden fees. Usually, they are setup fees. But they may have a fee for any other service – like their control panel or their 24/7 support. Watch out for overselling too. Do you really need that website builder? Do you really need that big of a hosting plan? Surely, you can go without that Let’s Encrypt addon and set up the SSL yourself.
Always check your cart before proceeding to checkout!
Check their actual month-to-month prices
Hosts usually advertise a price like “starts from $0.01/mo”. And it is actually true, the hosting plan may start at 1 cent per month, but the next month’s bill would be about $30/mo for a shared hosting plan. Always check the renewal price.
Another “trick” that hosting companies do is a “from $1/mo”, forgetting to mention that it’s that low price ONLY if you pay for a whole year (or more). So it’s not really a monthly price, but rather a $12/per year price.
But wait, there’s more!
Based on our guide, you may think that choosing a hosting provider is rocket-science. Well, it may seem that way, but it’s actually not. We can help you pick the right host for you. Just leave a comment below or contact us with your requirements and needs, and we’ll pick the best host for you. You can also check our reviews and guides.