While it’s true that determining the true quality of a web host is difficult if you have only been with them for a short time, there are still some benchmarks to pay attention to that give you a clue as to whether you’re using a good one. This is what I will cover in this post: How to know when a company is offering something worth spending your money on!
First of all, let’s get price out of the way. Pricing can fool you. An expensive host can offer crappy performance and customer service, and an inexpensive host can be awesome. It all depends on the people running the show. So while the old adage “you get what you pay for” remains true in many cases, it can’t be taken as gospel. The web hosting industry is simply too competitive to judge it by price. Therefore, other factors must be considered before price.
FYI: Compared to other hosts I’ve been with, Reliabox does offer comfortably low pricing for the average user, and attractive rates for their higher end services.
Another thing to look at are the features of a hosting package. Everyone has different needs, so this post really can’t discuss features with any authority, since I have no idea what you’re looking for in that respect. Pretty much any web hosting provider worth its salt will offer the following features:
- FTP Access
- POP3 Email Accounts with Autoresponders, and Mail Forwarding
- Control Panel
- Support for FTP, PHP, Perl, SSI, .htaccess, telnet, SSH, MySQL, crontabs
- SSL (secure server), Shopping Cart
- Multiple Domain Hosting and Subdomains
There are other features available most of the time, but those are some important ones that will make your Web presence complete. So having these features doesn’t necessarily make a host a good host. It just makes them a host. ;-)
So what about support? All hosting companies will offer a degree of customer service, the quality of which will vary. We all want to get the best customer service possible, and to be honest there is no such thing as perfect customer service. It’s all relative, and dependent on the customer’s perception of company competence at the time of need.
What I mean is, if a minor issue occurs the customer may not be in a panic, so the support team could be as slow and half-hearted as they want to be; the issue gets resolved and they have a satisfied customer. But if a major issue arises, and customer service is still sloppy, well then they’re the worst thing since the discovery of broccoli.
For the most part, customer service is competent and quick enough in most good Web hosting companies. The perception aspect of it, however, isn’t quite a big enough factor to make a difference in choosing a reliable web hosting company .
So what exactly makes a web hosting provider reliable?
Whenever I look at a web host, I already know that all the above will most likely be available, and are not the biggest concerns for the reasons mentioned. A website that is always there, always available for visitors – that’s what we ultimately want, right? Reliable web hosting is the key. And reliable web hosting is a large part of good web hosting. The main points I look for when it comes to reliability are:
- Server Quality
They aren’t listed in any particular order of priority, mainly because I feel they are all equally important for solid hosting. Let’s look at them one at a time:
Even though speed isn’t strictly a reliability factor, it does have a major impact on visitors to your site. There are the occasional bottlenecks on the Internet that can slow down a web page temporarily, but a consistently slow website doesn’t encourage return visits. An ongoing problem with speed is a sign of an unreliable web host.
No matter how great a server is, with all its modern and well-maintained hardware, a crash can happen for many reasons. That’s just the nature of technology. Nothing lasts forever. And if your website files are on a server that crashes, in many cases those files are gone right along with it.
A good web host will keep backups of all your files. The method and frequency of backups will vary from host to host, but the important thing is they must have a backup policy!
Uptime is basically the amount of time that the server is connected to the Internet, so your website is always accessible to visitors. This is vital to a successful online presence. The Web is a 24/7/365 deal, and people expect to be able to reach your site at all times. Just like a regular real-world business, if it’s advertised as being open 9 a.m. – 5p.m., then customers expect to come in at 4:55p.m. if they like.
A website that’s not available at least 99% of the time, on a consistent basis, is an unreliable website. If you’re running a site for profit, downtime can cost you more than a few minutes of blank space. And it would be the web host at fault if they can’t keep their servers connected to the Internet.
This relates to reliability in that you may find yourself needing more server space and/or bandwidth as your website grows; especially if you’re running an online store or something that attracts tons of visitors every day.
To keep up with growth you will need to upgrade your hosting; perhaps to a VPS or dedicated plan. The way a web hosting provider handles growth is important. This is especially true when it comes to automatic upgrading or not. You don’t want to find yourself in the embarrassing position where your current hosting plan runs out of space, and your account gets suspended until you upgrade. Making it automatic will avoid that situation.
Due to the length of this post, I am going to save Server Quality for my next post in a day or two. It is the last one on the list not because it’s least important – it’s actually very important – but because the detail in which I want to into is lengthy, and as I said this post is already long enough!
Please check back in the next couple days to read what I have to say about it, and we’ll also get back to focusing on my Reliabox review as well. I know this post wasn’t so much about that directly, but it helps to understand a few important aspects of what constitutes good web hosting, before getting into the actual review.
Thanks again for reading! I’ll see you again soon.
- – Joel