When it comes to web hosting, you’ll want your first host to be your last host. Going through the hassle of changing hosts can be a challenge for even the most experienced webmasters.
I made the mistake of half-assedly choosing my web host a few years ago. I greatly overpaid for the services I was receiving and the support was terrible. I was under the assumption that dealing with web hosting companies would always be this complicated. Ignorance is no excuse! I should have done my research, read reviews, and never signed up for a one-year plan right off the bat.
A few months and nearly $140 later, I was back on the market for a new web host. I sacrificed the remaining months I prepaid for and made a switch to a new host. This time around I did my homework. I read reviews, talked to support technicians, and spoke with customers currently using the service. This was the approach I needed to take the first time around. This is the approach you need to take your first time around. Below are three criteria you need to check before ordering web hosting.
1. Support for Unlimited Domain Names
When I started building my first website, I never thought I’d expand outside of just one blog. The three domain restriction seemed so far out of my reach. Within three weeks of starting my first blog, I had already used up my three supported domain names and had ideas for several more. This is because blogging is addicting.
You may be thinking to yourself that support for one domain is all you will ever need. Well, you’re probably wrong. Once you see how cheap and easy it is to own your first domain name, you’ll quickly be looking to expand on your influence on the web. A single website can only influence a single niche. Take it from me, you’ll want support for as many domain names as possible.
The use of the term unlimited might be a bit of a stretch, but I’d recommend looking for a host that offers support for more than a single-digit amount of domains.
2. Support for Unlimited Databases
Database use may seem unimportant to novice webmasters, but support for multiple databases is an absolute must. Again, use of the term unlimited is unrealistic, but you’ll want as many databases as possible.
My first host allowed a whopping five databases. Ignorant old me thought nothing of databases at the time. Database? phpMyAdmin? MySQL? Are you even speaking English? A database quota may seem irrelevant now, but a small quota may come back to bite you in the ass.
Take for example this simple scenario. You sign up for hosting which includes only five databases. You plan to start a company blog to keep your customers updated. The blogging software has used up one database. You then want to be able to sell products online through the company blog. That’s another database for ecommerce. You also want a company message board so both you and your customers can interact with one another. You’ve now used three databases out of your five database limit. You can forget about serious expansion.
3. Customer Service and Satisfaction
The number of databases and domains allowed won’t matter if your site is hosted by an incompetent set of morons. Customer support should always be readily available to answer any questions you have or solve any major problems you run into. To gauge the quality of customer support, send an email with a few questions you may have concerning their web hosting. If you can talk to a customer service representative live, great. If you have to email the customer support team, measure how long it takes to get a response. Waiting a couple business days for a response from customer service is completely unacceptable.
Finally, before you make your decision, read customer reviews! I cannot stress this enough. You’ll get a look at both the good and bad experiences customers have had while dealing with a company. Testimonials do not count as reviews either! Do not make a decision without reading a few thorough reviews. I urge you to take it a few steps further and actually talk to an individual currently using the service. Find out what they like or what they dislike. Don’t make an uneducated long-term decision.