All web hosting is not created equal

It seems that the general consensus is that hosting is hosting. In fact the opposite is true…they are almost all different. And price does not always determine quality.

There a re four different types of hosting available to regular folks like you and me. Shared hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS), Cloud Hosting and a private server. Today we’ll talk only about shared hosting. The rest we’ll save for another time.

Shared hosting is the most popular

Shared hosting is the most popular and the least expensive. In a shared hosting environment you are literally renting space on a computer with hundreds if not thousands of others. For many personal and small business blogs this may be all you need. However it does have it’s limitations and when you bump up against them, then it’s time to look at alternatives.

Don’t be fooled by advertisements that promote “unlimited bandwidth..or unlimited domains.” Because you are sharing space with others, there are limitations…there has to be.

Its like renting apartment that you can’t see. You only get so much space. There is only so much space in the parking log and the doors and elevators can handle only so much traffic. If you think you will be able to have unlimited facilities for $9.95 per month, don’t kid yourself.

Your online apartment could be a luxury townhouse or an overcrowd slum. Because you can’t see it you just won’t known until you move in.

How do you find a good host?

So how do you know which is best? A host’s cool website, TV advertising and even NASCAR sponsorship are not indicators of quality. Often quite the opposite.

Online Reviews. I don’t recommend doing a Google search for “web host reviews” or other such keywords. Many of the top results will be affiliate websites which contain a list of generic review with affiliate links (links that pay money to the website for a successful sale). Instead try some well respected review sites like VistaInter.com or HostSearch.com. Both are recommended by Consumer Search.

Call their help desk. Do they answer? Do they have live support or only email? I was with one host for over 8 years and finally left when they outsourced their support overseas. The quality took a nosedive. In case you’re interested, it was Powweb.

Post on forums but be careful of people pimping their affiliate link.
Ask on Twitter (same caution as above).

Our recommendations include Hostgator and Bluehost (those are affiliate links). We’ve build dozens of sites on these services and they quite good. However there are dozens of other very good ones as well. I just won’t list anything that I don’t have personal experience with.

In my personal opinion avoid Godaddy, Yahoo (avoid this one like the plague), Media Temple and any hosting provided by your telephone company or cable provider (these guys love to bundle services to keep you from leaving). In fact we either refuse to support or assess a surcharge to support sites on any of above hosts. Why? Because they are often very slow. This means each time we refresh a page we may have to wait way too long to see the changes (sometimes 30 seconds to a minute or more). When you do this 20 to 30 times an hour that time adds up fast.