Who is a “Good” Web Host?

It is a million dollar question who I am going to use to host my web site. This is a question most of the web site owners, whether hosting for the first time or want to move the website from current web host, have in their mind.

There are many, many web hosting companies across the globe we could use without boundaries, if we want to utilise their web hosting service.

What attributes or qualities make a web hosting company a “Good Web Hosting” company? Well, in this post we will see what attributes make a web hosting company a “Good Web Hosting” company.

We will first look at the attributes. I would rate a web host a good host if it has/provide the following attributes to the hosted web sites. Here, I would consider features for the “Shared web Hosting” type.

Must have qualities

  • Reliable up time of a hosted web site
  • Acceptable  speed
  • 24/7 technical support
  • system with acceptable wait time
  • Frequent Backups
  • Up-to-date technology
  • Minimum 5 GB of space for their lowest paid plan
  • Must have free SSL connection
  • Must provide adequate Email boxes
  • Good Security features
  • “How to” knowledge base
  • At least 30 days money back guaranty
  • Clear plan details without any hidden charges
  • Enough bandwidth to allow reasonable traffic
  • Good number of sub domains
  • No restriction on the number of domain pointers
  • Free Content Management System like WordPress
  • Good Admin Portal

Reliable up time of a hosted web site

What is the purpose for someone to have a web site?  As a web site owner, you provide/sell useful information or some service or products to your targeted audience. So, I would expect my web site should be always available (the site is up and running) to my target audience to consume the information or services provided. In addition, it should be available to me so that I can maintain my web site www.biizbee.com

So, I expect the web hosting company smarterasp.net to provide that level of trust/reliability to me.

“Up Time” is usually a percentage, considered over one year. For example, if one web site is down for 5 hours in total over 1 year period ( 365 x 24 hours = 8760 hours), then

Uptime = (Total hours in a year] – [down time] in hours) / [total hours in a year] x 100 %

          = (8760 – 5)/8760 x 100 %

          = 99.94 %

I would say, if a web hosting company can provide the platform for 99.95 that is a reasonably good web host.

If a web hosting business promises a 100% up time, I would be sceptical and treat that web host as making false promise (you will need to look for more information on them before signing up)

Acceptable speed

I would want any web host provide a platform that enables the hosted web sites load in an accepted time frame, consistently.  I may consider a simple WordPress blog site.

I would say if a blog site takes more than 3 seconds consistently, then, the web host is a bad web host.

So, a good indication for a good web hosting business is how quick the web host’s web site loads though the server(s) their web site hosted would be a highly resourced dedicated server.

24/7 technical support

Well, if one web host is providing a 24/7 technical support and their turnaround time is within 1 hour, then, obviously their service is good and we can definitely say it is above average.

If the hosted web sites experience lot of technical issues, obviously, they could not afford to have a very big technical support team!

Now a days, support through a good CHAT platform, through a good ticket logging system (self-service portal) is very common.  If a web host does not have any one of the above, then they are not a good host and you would be frustrated soon with their service(s).

A phone support is good and if they have other channels as well, it would be a nice to have feature.

System with acceptable wait time

“Acceptable wait time” is somewhat related to the “Support”. If we raise an issue on the self-service portal and we do not receive any response within one hour, we could consider the hosting company as “useless”. If there is a CHAT facility and you initiate a session, then if you don’t get the response within 10 minutes,   the hosting company is not dependable.

Frequent Backups

Be prepared for the worst case scenario when your web site data is corrupted and you have no access to your last good working system. It is a nightmare situation. At any cost, avoid any web host that do not offer a frequent backup and give you the confidence that you can easily restore your web site back to the nearest working system.

In ideal scenario, I would prefer that the web hosting company offers daily backup of the system with no additional charge.

If that is a blog, a weekly backup could be acceptable. However, if your website is an E commerce web site, then a daily backup is a MUST!

Up-to-date technology

The used technology in the hosting platform should be reasonably up to date with the stable versions of the releases. This is my personal experience, that I had one of my sites with a hosting company on WordPress.  However, Their Windows servers are still Windows 2008 servers (12 years old) and the WordPress cannot be updated to the latest version because the technology behind the WordPress (PHP) was outdated.   That’s the time I moved to my current web hosting company.

So, mindful that their web hosting platform supports all your needs. Even if your web site is a simple blog, outdated platform may be vulnerable to security holes!

Minimum 5 GB of space for their lowest paid plan

Most of the blogs and websites for individuals and small to medium businesses, the needed storage space would rarely exceed 1 GB.  Usually, it will be few MB in size. If the web site has multimedia rich content, then the needed storage would be higher.

So, if a web hosting company’s offered storage space is less than 5 GB for their lowest plan, I would recommend to avoid them in general. However, the decision should be based on wide range of criteria.

Do not get carried away by the sales pitch of “Unlimited disk storage”.  If your web site needs only few MBs of storage, why would you worry about unlimited storage?  If you need a glass of water, do really consider a lake of water or a glass of good water?

Must have free SSL (Secure Socket Layer) connection

If you are going to have a web site, do seriously consider have a SSL connection. What is it? In layman’s terms, if we enable the SSL connection then the web site will start as https://www.biizbee.com  without SSL connection, it will be http://www.biizbee.com . With SSL connection, the data transferred from/to your web site to/from the web site user is encrypted so that no one else can intercept it.

Now a days, many web hosting companies provide at least one SSL connection (for one web site) and there are many hosting companies provide free SSL connection for any number of web sites.

I expect all of the good web hosting companies should provide at least one free SSL connection. If they don’t give one free SSL connection, that is equivalent to ‘someone lease one shop for $X.00 and charge for $Y for each key in that shop!’ After all the free SSL connections do not cost the hosting businesses a cent!

Must provide adequate Email boxes

When you have your web site with unique domain name, it is natural and professional to have email addresses with the new domain (i.e. I may have one email address like developer@biizbee.com where biizbee.com is my domain.  It makes my communications look professional with my unique domain name)

So, it is important that web hosting companies provide adequate number of email boxes as part of ANY paid web hosting packages.  If they do not give less than 10 mail boxes, DO not host your web site with them unless the number of email boxes serves your purpose well and all the other features are too hard to ignore!

Good Security features

In addition to SSL connections, the web hosting companies should provide additional security features to all of the hosted web sites.  They should safeguard their servers and also, each website hosted (as shared hosting) in their servers.

 These features should fend off any viruses, spammers, spywares, malwares etc. If one web hosting company provide this service to all of the web sites hosted on their servers regardless of the selected plan or features, I would rate that as an excellent host.

“How to” knowledge base

Though most of the web hosting companies do have knowledge bases, I want to stress that a good web hosting company will have a knowledge base that would help the user resolve lot of issue by themselves.

If any web hosting company does not have a “how to” helpline, do not go with them unless there are other compelling “pros” and you have “above basic” knowledge in building and maintaining web sites / blogs.

At least 30 days money back guaranty

When any service provider gives you a true “money back” guaranty, then, naturally we begin to trust them. Same way, if a web hosting company provide an unconditional “money back” guaranty, you may trust them than other hosting businesses who don’t have it.

This should be regarded as a positive feature for that web hosting company. I would expect at least 30 days money back guaranty is offered. Some web hosts provide even more, like 45 days or 60 days.  The more days they give, the more confidence I will have on them.

Though, this cannot be an only one criteria to look at, I will definitely recommend to go for a company with this feature.

Clear plan details without any hidden charges

If any company try to charge for some feature they vaguely mention in their “Plan” then challenge them. If they don’t give it for free, I would say that the company is not a good one.  There are following features they might vaguely mention and try to upsell.

  • Claim to have free SSL connection and then when asked, say only one free SSL connection is given
  • Free domain (but end up only ONE free domain the first year only)

So, look for any traps in the plan. Specially, look for the “would be” charges at the renewal for the next year. If their charges are substantially higher than the charge at the signup time, they are trying to con you.

Enough bandwidth to allow reasonable traffic

The hosting company should provide a bandwidth that will allow the user to have a reasonable traffic to their lowest plan. Ideally the lowest plan should have a 5GB band width. Any web host with their lowest plan’s allowed bandwidth is less than 5GB, then regard them as not worth to be considered.

Good number of sub domains

Most probably, you don’t need this as a blogger. Having a sub domain is a neat way of portraying your categories/departments in your domain name. For example, if your domain is www.mydomain1.com, then you may have a sub domain like www.products.mydomain1.com for your products and so on.

Now a days, most of the web hosting companies offer/allow unlimited number of sub domains for free. So, why not you go for a web hosting company that offers at least 50 free sub domains! Please be reminded that this is again a marketing pitch. 99% of the web sites will not use more than 5 sub domains (if not using at all!)

No restriction on the number of domain pointers

If a web hosting company would charge you additionally for having a second domain name pointing to your main domain name, then they should be out of your scope. For example, you may have a web site called www.mydomain1-phones.com and then have a domain name registered as www.mydomain2-mobiles.com (or www.mydomain1-phones.net , www.mydomain1-phones.biz ) and all pointing to the same web site.

Now a days, most of  the web hosting businesses offer free many/unlimited number of domain pointers. Again, this is a sales pitch. Although they offer unlimited number of domain pointers, 99.99% of the web sites will not use more than 10 domain pointers. So, a web hosting company that offers 50 free domain pointers is as good as a web hosting company that offers unlimited number of domain pointers.

 Free Content Management System like WordPress

At present, most of the web hosting companies offer free software (one click install software) related to hosting a web site. Most importantly, they offer free content management systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.  If one web hosting company does not offer WordPress (and/or others) then most of you (mainly bloggers) can avoid those web hosting companies. They are out of TREND.

Good Admin Portal

The web sites need to be managed and maintained. Managing web sites need to be relatively simple and straight forward for an average user.

Web hosting companies provide an admin portal for this purpose. There are standard “admin portals” (or control panels) such as Plesk Control panel or cPanel Control panel most of the web companies provide to their customers. There may be some custom made admin portals too.

Make sure they are easy to use and save you time as well.

Conclusion

These are just guide lines only. Make your own judgement. The core thing is that you make your judgement for each feature they list and think twice whether you will need that (feature) or that many (the count) and give the weight accordingly. Choose your web hosting company based on your judgement not by their direction. Good luck with your choice.

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