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Which Hosting Service Should I Use?

My Top Three Picks Before I explain how to choose a website hosting company let me give you my top three picks.

Hosting Recommendation:

Once upon a time there existed a list of several hosting services that I recommended. At this point I have narrowed that recommendation to one. The reasons for this are multi-fold. One service was a major disappointment to a client of mine. Another service was a fine service, but I was unable to personally stay on top of their performance. Hence, no longer able to personally recommend them. At this point I personally use BlueHost.com on a daily basis. I continue to be pleased with their service. And, most importantly, none of my clients have complained :)

It's only fair that I make it clear that if you use the link above I will receive a small referral fee. This does not affect your cost up or down. It's just a "thank you" they send my way for the recommendation.

By the way, BlueHost continue to score excellent on the combined results of my 13 step selection process.

Before we start our hunt for the best web hosting company let's try the easy method. If this method works for you, you will save yourself quite a bit of time hunting.

The Easy Method of web host selection. Ask a friend. That's right before going through a big hoopla, ask a friend that has a website three simple questions:

  1. Are you happy with your website performance?
  2. Would your recommend your web hosting company?
  3. Who is your web hosting company?

If the answer to question 1 is no, then make a mental note to look further. It is not easy to determine whether a friend's disatisfaction is because of the hosting company or because of unrelated issues. And since you can't be sure how much of a role the web hosting company is playing in this disatisfaction, keep looking.

If the answer to question 2 is no, then get the answer to question 3 and put that company on the don't use list.

If the answer to question 2 is yes, then get the answer to question 3 and decide to use that hosting company.

But wait.... The minute you decide to use a hosting company based on the recommendation of your friend, a fourth and very real question will occur to you: "Was asking this friend really a good idea? i.e. Do I really believe they have the proper experience upon which to base my decision?"

If the answer to this fourth question is yes, then you are done. Just sign up with that company. Job done. Get on with the business of making a website.

But wait... Can it be this simple? Yes it can be this simple. Let's face it. Getting a web hosting company is like buying lunch. Unless you happen to eat in a dump, there will be many perfectly fine options on the menu. There may be an equal number of bad choices. But there will be more than one good choice. Remember you are buying lunch not selecting a brain surgeon -- or hair stylist. So don't get all OCD and obsess on getting the "best". Just get one that works. You are not stuck with them for life. If you want to move to a different hosting company it is possible.

The Thirteen Step Method

If the easiest method given above does not do the trick for you, then take a look at my thirteen step method for selecting a host company.

Where did this list of thirteen steps come from? One day a client asked me: "Which Hosting Service Should I Use?"

Why not just tell him to use my hosting company? Because I use a very high-end hosting solution designed for power users. I am responsible for the hosting and maintenance of over 400 websites, hence my needs are a little more extreme than most folks. I am very happy with my hosting company, and would be more than willing to recommend it to anyone that needs such a major solution. If you are in need of a high-end rock-solid power-user type solution contact me for a personal introduction to my service company.

The thirteen step selection process was designed for regular people. By regular people I mean pretty much everyone. This method can be used by individuals looking to put up a hobby site. This method can be used by small business to find a hosting service for their needs. And this method can be used by large corporations to solutions for their our-sourcing hosting needs.

By the way, which hosting company did you recommend to your client?

I feel good about recommending BlueHost based on good price, available phone support, and excellent reviews. The way I figure it, the better experience my clients have, the happier they are. A happy client is a good thing. Concequently, I have put quite a bit of research and thought into these selection. Down the page a bit, I outline the steps I went through in my research. I invite you to consider the same process for yourself.

The Thirteen Step Selection Process

Below is an itemized list of the steps I went through in my selection. These may or may not be the kinds of steps that you would go through in making a selection. After reading the list to myself a couple times, I do believe it is not a bad approach. So, I'd recommend these steps as a good starting place.

  1. Ask friends which companies they used and would recommend.
  2. Look for online reviews of hosting companies.
  3. Select a short list of companies that seemed like they might be good prospects.
  4. Visit each site to see how you feel about them -- use your gut reaction on an intuitive level.
  5. Look in google for "name-of-prospect-company.com problems." See if there are complaints. See how the complaints are handled. There is always gonna be some complaining about any web hosting service. Part of what you are looking for is resolution.
  6. If you intend to use WordPress on your website, look in google for "wordpress on name-of-prospect-company.com". Some hosting companies are known for keeping wordpress up-to-date. Others are known for being nearly impossible to use. This has to do with how php and other back-end services are handled. Don't worry about what that means. Just look for people that are doing it well on your prospective web hosting company.
  7. Phone technical support to see if you can reach a human. Do you like how they sound? Do you like how you are treated?
  8. Ask a few questions, some good questions (and even some stupid questions) to see how they deal with you as a person.
  9. Visit the features list on the hosting service products list to see if they have all the products you might be interested in.
  10. See if they are using any of the sleasy tricks and gimmicks we have all become so tired of.
  11. By hook or crook whittle your list down to two companies.
  12. Search in google for a string such as "Which is better name-of-prospect-one.com or name-of-prospect-two.com". Or perhaps a search such as "Compare name-of-prospect-one.com name-of-prospect-two.com".
  13. Look over the resulting articles.

If you do the preliminary work correctly, then the results from the final google search should be something like: They are basically equally good, but..." If there is a sharp distinction between the two companies, then something in the preliminary hunt did not go well.

After you have narrowed the search to a couple companies then revisit the websites. See if either company jumps out at you as the one. If neither company grabs your final attention, just flip a coin.

At this point either company should be just fine. So it won't really matter which company you try first.

Did you notice the "try" part? Yes, you are just going to try them. This is not a permanent marriage. If after a day, a week, or a month, you decide you don't like the company you can switch. Or, if you find that it is a great fit, then keep them. You don't have to try the other company. If at first you succeed, then leave well enough alone and shift your attention to other issues to solve.

How Will I Know If I Made The Right Choice.

Unfortunately there is no substitute for personal experience personally experienced. It is going to be your history with the hosting company that will tell you if they are a good fit for you. And doubly unfortunate is the fact that the best experience from which to judge a hosting service is when things go wrong. How does the company handle emergencies -- either caused by them or caused by you. This will not reveal itself until something goes wrong.

Will you help me find a hosting company?

Yes, I'd be happy to. Use my contact form to request help and I'd be happy to lend a hand. Sometimes all it takes is someone to listen. And, if you happen to have special needs, I have experience in helping with such a search.