Although price is probably the first that most people look at before choosing a web hosting company, it should by no means be the only deciding factor. Because you often get what you pay for, it isn't such a good idea to lock in and register with the cheapest offer on the market.
High-end services cost money, as do quality, speed, and support. Make sure you look at all of the features you are being promised in your plan, and weigh those features against features on offer in similar plans and packages to get a better idea of who offers what, and what you can expect for what price.
2. Expertise and specialties
Different hosting solutions exist for clients with different needs. A new blogger has certain requirements, and they are different from the requirements of online stores. Growing companies have specific requirements, as do companies that operate using sensitive data. The same goes for WordPress galleries versus Joomla product comparison sites, or social platforms and payment gateways. Depending on your needs, there will be a host or a package that offers services tailored to those needs.
Do a little research to find out more about a company's area of expertise before you register with them, and only settle for the host that is an expert in your current (or intended) area of work. Reviews and recommendations are aplenty on the web, and you should have no trouble making comparisons between similar or equally-matched plans and packages.
3. Resources and specs
Know what you want to do, and don't try to make a site that will do it all. You have to pay for RAM, processing power, and storage space to meet your online needs, and you may need higher or lower levels of customer support as well, depending on the kind of work it is that you do.
Figure out whether or not you need things such as additional domains, regular backups, additional layers of security, and the like, and find out whether or not the resources you need will be scalable as hopefully your online presence will be.
It makes no sense to lock in a certain plan that will handicap your growth, so it's important to not only know what you're getting today, but to have a good idea of what you can expect should your needs change tomorrow.
If your site goes down, can you call your host's helpline up and speak to someone with the technical skill and training to help you resolve the issue? Can they figure out what's wrong and fix it, or at least guide you as to what you need to do to get your site up and running again?
Different hosts offer different levels - and different channels - for their tech support. Email, phone, chat, and online ticket systems are the most popular channels in place. Make sure they have what you need, and also be sure to ask if they work around the clock, or if they have set business hours.
5. Control panel, hardware, and extra features
These are three separate things, but we've combined them here because they all can be categorized as extras or 'winners' - things that not every host may be up to the mark with.
Try and find out what makes a particular host special. Do they have data centers at geographically convenient locations across the globe? Do they have green energy and energy-saving protocols in place? What kinds of hardware do they use? SSDs are up to 20 times faster than regular drives, so hardware obviously matters. And can you get customized email with your domain name? What about design templates, and tailored color schemes?
Next comes the admin panel. Is it easy to use? For things like installing WordPress, setting up your email, or registering FTP accounts, if you have to call your host's support line for everything, you're going to have a bad time. So what you need to ask is, does your provider use cPanel or Plesk to make site updates and webpage modifications simple and easy? If not, since the admin panel is what you will use regularly when you make changes to your webpage, you should know beforehand what you're getting into.
Go for the host that is a winner in an area that matters to you - whether that is speed, security, customer support, uptime, privacy, security, ease of use, customizability, flexibility, or hey, even price!
Are you ready to get started?
When it comes to choosing a host, the first thing you need to do is to figure out what your hosting needs are. You need to then look into different hosts to figure out things like reliability, what their uptime guarantees are, what options you have for upgrades, price points (both sign-up costs, as well as the cost of renewals), figuring out what kind of admin panel they use (and what kind of panel you are comfortable with), what hardware they have in use, what your options are for scaling services up or down as required, and what additional supporting features are in place, such as backups, or the use of green energy.
And yes, be sure to do a little digging into their customer support - not just its availability, but response times, customer satisfaction reviews, and the tech training and experience of customer support reps, because these are the guys who are there to help you should all else fail, and great customer support often makes up for shortcomings elsewhere.
If you have a specific hosting setup in mind but are still unsure about what kind of host to go for? Let us know and we'll be happy to help you choose from our list of top-rated web hosts!