Choose Your Host Carefully (for users)
Dear HostingDiscussion.com Users,
Here are a few simple rules to follow when choosing a web host that will help reduce the risk of signing up with a host that is unreliable or dishonest.
1. Always ask your potential hosting company several pre-sales questions via the various support methods they provide.
This will accomplish two things: You will gain information about the host and you will get an idea of the average response time of the host. Some of the questions you might ask are:
- How long have you been in business?
- What are the specs for your shared and reseller servers?
- What datacenter do you use?
- Do you have uptime statistics?
- Is my account easily upgradeable? Is there an upgrade fee?
- How many people are on your support staff?
- Do you have a file I can download to test system speed?
- Do you have a money back guarantee?
- Do you have an uptime guarantee and if so is it server uptime or network uptime?
- Do you perform regular backups or am I responsible for my own backups?
- Are there any scripts that you don't allow to run on shared plans?
2. Beware of hosts who oversell their services.
Overselling is when a host sells more space and/or transfer than they have available. For instance, a host may be leasing a server with an 80gb hard drive and 700gb of transfer. If the hosting plans offered by the host is 20gb of disk space and 100gb transfer that would mean the host can only sell 7 hosting plans without overselling.
One of the easiest ways to spot overselling is if the host is offering very large packages for very little money. The hosting business is like any other business, there are many costs involved. If a host is offering very low prices you should be very careful in your research before choosing this host. There is a very good possibility that the host is overloading server resources and the performance will be affected negatively. Be sure to ask a host how many accounts they allow on their servers and what resources are allocated to these accounts.
3. Never trust a host who offers unlimited disk space or unlimited transfer.
The simple fact of the matter is unlimited space and transfer do not exist. Everything has a limit and a host who offers unlimited plans is most definitely overselling server resources and is being dishonest to potential clients. These hosts may seem like a good deal when signing up but they will either not be in business very long or you will have many issues with down time. These hosts also usually have a TOS (Terms of Service) that severely limits what files or scripts you can use on your site.
HostingDiscussion.com monitors and disallows posting "unlimited" offers in respect to space and bandwidth. If noticed, such posts are usually removed.
4. Do a WhoIs search of the host.
If you find that the host's URL was registered for less time than the host claims to have been in business, contact the host and ask them about the discrepency.
HostingDiscussion.com recommends this site for WhoIs purposes.
5. Read and understand the host's TOS (Terms of Service) and AUP (Acceptable Usage Policy).
Many hosts will have hidden clauses in their TOS that will limit your ability to run your site the way you choose. This is not always a bad thing but it can be abused. Make sure you read the TOS and AUP and if anything concerns you contact the host and question it.
6. Search forums for references to the host you are researching.
Ask for opinions from people who have used the service. You should also do a Google, Yahoo! or other search engine search using the name of the host to see if any negative comments appear.
7. Try to avoid spam-friendly hosts.
There is a much higher chance of IP addresses being blocked which are owned by hosts who support spam.
8. Ask around.
The best way to choose a host is almost always based on recommendations from people who have used the hosts services.
9. Do not rush into your hosting decision.
Don't be fooled by limited time offers or hosts who advertise that a special offer will expire at midnight only to find out that the same offer is available the next day.
10. Beware of hosting directories.
Most are either owned by hosts or the rankings are based on how much the host pays. Very few, if any, are actually based on peoples' personal experience with a host or the quality of the host.
The best way to begin your journey of selecting a host is to determine what you are able to spend and what your needs are. If you are able to spend $7.00 per month on hosting and you require 500mb of disk space and 3gb of transfer then you should look for a host offering this. Don't go with a bargain host just because they can offer you 10 times as much for the same price. You will most often end up on the hunt for another new host in a very short time.
If you know a good rule to add to this guide, please post it in this thread using an appropriate and a clear format. All non-related information will be deleted.
GUIDE CREDIT: Blue, HD Community Advisor
Another rule you should follow.
Is there more then one form of contact available for that host. When I was doing reseller hosting I found alot of the times that hosts with email only contact didnt last very long. A rule of thumb I made for myself was this.
Does the host have a Phone number? If so does the area code match on the whois information ?
Does the host provide its' street address ? If so does it match on the whois information ?
Keep away from hosts' that have only 1 email address listed for contact
ATTENTION USERS: Those requesting hosting, please keep in mind that starting Dec 28, 2004, your request thread will be closed if the original post is over 30 days old, unless you have publicly notified that you are still shopping for hosting somewhere near the end of your thread.
One of my own rules which has become somewhat of an accurate barometer of a Host's abilities to service my needs ...
Read the Host's web site thoroughly - I have found that those who have been meticulous in their spelling and grammar on their web pages also tend to be just as meticulous in their service. Through experience, I have found those companies content with bad spelling & bad grammar ... or choose to cut & paste wording from other company's sites ... also tend to be sloppy in their support and in the fulfilling of my needs as a customer.
Choosing a Web Host
Thanks Blue, HD Community Advisor,
Excellent information, well compiled.
One thing that you didn't mention was whether the hosting company has pre-paid for their server space and for how long?
I feel that this is important as I am told that many hosting resellers only pay for their own reseller account on a monthly basis. If they fall upon hard times what happens to their clients?
One of my major concerns before providing web hosting services, being a responsible professional, was guaranteeing the services for clients.
Again, thanks for your insight and caring!
MOD NOTE: Post edited for self-promotional content.
I would like to remind visitors and members that this guide has been written by Michael (aka Blue around here), HostingDiscussion.com Community Advisor. All the credit goes to him. I just posted the article. :)
I thought I would add some fresh questions to ask prospective web hosting companies to the list:
6 questions you didn't know you can ask potential web hosting providers
[US Only] A lot of people miss this, but if the company you're researching is registered as a legal entity (company name ending in "LLC," "Inc.," or "Corporation") - you'll be able to find their filing information in the state where the entity is registered. The easiest way is to google "<state> entity search" and plug in their company name. Some states will even show you scans of their filing information. Use this information to find out how long they've been in business and corroborate it with what they say when you ask.
Going through the process of setting up a legal entity with separate bank accounts takes time, and if someone is looking for a quick buck they're less likely to go through that process.
Another way to see if they're legitimate is if they process credit cards themselves. Merchant processing accounts and business bank accounts usually require credit checks and require a decent amount of paperwork, rather than taking 5 minutes to set up a PayPal account. This is another way to see how legitimate the company is.
If they're using WHMCS, you can append "cart.php?licensedebug&forceremote" to the end of their domain to see when it was registered, and to also see if their WHMCS install is pirated or legitimate.
Of course this won't help you steer clear from all the bad guys, but it'll eliminate many of them and make you more informed.
MOD NOTE: The discussion that was sparked by this post was moved and can be continued via this thread.
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