With so many web hosting companies and prices varying from virtually nothing to over £100 per month, how do you choose?
I purchase web hosting for many of my clients. I have my favourite companies who I know deliver on their promises, but this is the process I recommend you take.
1. Be Clear About What You Need
- How much disk space will you need? Your web pages are unlikely to take much space but factor in the space required by photos, and videos and audio files if you are hosting these with your site (and not embedding them from services such as YouTube or AudioBoo).
- Get an estimate of what bandwidth you will need per month. If your site is already running then take a look at your Google Analytics pageviews and multiple that by the average size of a web page plus its non html content such as photos and any videos and audio you are hosting on your site.
- Do you want to use your domain address for email? How many email accounts do you need?
- Will you need to make secure transactions on your website? If you do then you need a host that offers SSL certificates.
- Do you need any special services such as a dedicated IP address or a Virtual Private Server?
- How concerned are you about security and reliability?
2. Get Recommendations
Ask for recommendations. Ask friends, business associates, Twitter and other social media channels. Compile a list. Put a star against the web hosts you get multiple recommendations for.
Using your answers to point 1, check out the recommended web hosts to find out if they provide the services you need.
Do they support WordPress and do they offer a one click install for it? Even better, are they selling themselves as “optimised for WordPress”?
If you are not sure then give their pre-sales or tech support a call – did they answer the phone quickly and were they helpful?
Finally make a note of their prices for your disk space and bandwidth requirements.
Cross off any that don’t meet your needs.
3. Check the companies out
a) Technical support
One of the most important things I look for in a web host is good technical support. I had a client who’s website was down with a database error on a Friday afternoon. She called her tech support and they said they would get back to her after the weekend! Do you need a quicker response than that?
Check their tech support offering. Is it 24/7 or business hours? One thing that the more expensive web hosts offer is the 24/7 support.
Does the web host provide telephone support or are they only contactable via email or a ticketing system? Usually support via email or ticketing system is sufficient but sometimes you just need to talk to someone, right?
Also check their social media streams and check on Twitter for mentions of them. Do their customers seem happy?
b) Where are their servers?
Does the company you are considering have their own servers or are they resellers of someone else’s hosting?
Are their servers in the UK? This may be important to you if you are targeting a UK audience but are using a non-geographic domain name such as .com or .org. See this video by Matt Cutts from Google’s webspam team where he talks about the importance of server location.
c) What do they promise?
Do they promise 99%, 99.9% or 100% uptime? Bear in mind 1% of downtime is equivalent to over 7 hours a month when your website could potentially not be available.
Have a look at their Terms and Conditions – do they offer a refund if they fail to meet their promise? This is not about the money but about getting a feel for how confident they are about meeting their promise.
Hopefully you are down to just a few potential web hosts now. So why not compare the prices?
I was looking for a new host for a client with a high traffic volume site. I got quoted from £42pm to £166pm!
Who do I recommend?
We currently host most of our clients’ website on 34sp.com – they are a UK based (in Manchester) web host which offers WordPress hosting (as well as other packages). Their £9.95 per month for one website is a good price for the speed and security you get with their system. Technical support is 08:00 – 18:00 Monday to Friday, and 09:30 – 17:30 at weekends. They have basic email hosting and you can register your domains through them too. If you sign up with them enter the discount code WPJOWALTHAM19 to get your first month free (and this earns us a referral fee too).
We have some clients where 24/7 support is critical so we choose WPEngine (affiliate link) for their hosting. WPEngine specialise in WordPress hosting and nothing else – no domain registration or email hosting – and are generally considered one of the best places to host your WordPress website, if a little pricey. They are also now the owners of the Genesis Framework and give you access to the framework and all the child themes for free.
If you are using a great web host do give them a shout out in the comments below.