Originally posted 2017-11-16 15:03:16.
So after my ‘rant’ about HostGator and the trials and tribulations I have experienced with them, it begs the question “What should I consider when selecting a hosting company?”
Well I’m glad you asked!
I have finally bitten the bullet and signed up for a new hosting company myself. The pain of staying with HostGator finally became greater than the pain of throwing away 3 years of pre-paid hosting. If you signup to inmotion hosting by clicking the link I will get a small commission.
First, you need to consider what type of hosting you require. There are 3 or 4 basic types of hosting available (well there’s more but let’s just say for a small business or enterprise)
- WordPress Optimised – this is the cheapest type of hosting and as the name implies, it’s an optimised custom hosting for WordPress. The disadvantage of this type of plan is that often the host company will not allow you to install the plugins you like as they will conflict with their server configuration or they might even force you to use certain plugins and not the ones you would like to use. You can generally expect a $1/month ‘discount’ for selecting a WordPress plan. Honestly I’m not a fan of these types of plans as I like to be able to control my sites myself. Some people undoubtedly find them a good option. Typically cost <$7/month.
- Shared Plans – there’s a few plans in this category – some might be labeled as ‘business’ and may also offer different features between these plans. Sometimes, (HostGator I’m looking at you) they will only offer free SSL certificates on Business plans. Nevertheless the shared plans are on a shared server and the performance will depend on load of other customers as well as you. These plans will typically let you host unlimited websites and unlimited databases and have an overall disk space limit and bandwidth limit per month. If you hit these limits depending on the host they may block your account without notice. (Yep HostGator). Typically <$8/month
- Reseller Plans – similar features to shared plans and also may not include an SSL certificate. These are a lot more expensive than shared plans but enable you to ‘sell’ space to other people or to host websites for other businesses. They are all managed in their own cPanel and one site cannot see any other site. Typically ~$50/month. Like shared, there will be bandwidth and disk space limits which you allocate to the accounts you create.
- VPS Plans – much more expensive than the other ones above. Totally separate section of server allocated to your account and resources are not shared. You get total control over what runs on the server. These plans can cost $100/month or more.Like shared, there will be bandwidth and disk space limits which you allocate to the accounts you create.
There are also plans where you have your own server hosted in the data centre etc. I am not going to talk about these. You will also find deep discounts on hosting when you sign up. I have seen up to a 75% discount. Also a trick I found is that if it looks like you are going to leave in the middle of signing up for hosting they will add an extra discount (maybe as much as 10%) to complete the order – on top of any coupon you may already be using. This is a very competitive space! My advice is to shop around and read reviews.
Here are my criteria for web hosting companies
- Host must NOT be owned by Endurance International Group (EIG) who own Hostgator,Bluehost, Justhost, iPage, Fatcow and maybe others. See reasons why here.
- Look at the disk space allocated in the account. As a guide, a wordpress site will typically use less than 100mb for a small site. Again that is just a guide. Also consider bandwidth – the amount of data that will be transferred. I have been using a rule of thumb of 1gb of bandwidth per site and haven’t run into any problems yet. Remember this will be aggregated across all your sites hosted in that account.
- Speaking of disk space, what type of disks do they use? SSD disks are faster and will cost more.
- Look for a host that provides free SSL certificates. WordPress will begin to require SSL for sites soon and will disable features on sites that do not use SSL. Some ‘cheap’ hosting (yes HostGator) might not have free SSL on all plans. As an example, 6 sites on HostGator cost me an extra $150/year for a multi site SSL. Add that onto the cost of your cheap hosting! Google also favours sites with SSL and you have also probably found nasty messages in web browsers saying your site is not secure – not something a business wants to show their website visitors!
- Look for hosts that provide a ticketing system and live chat and also look for reviews and see what other people think. How long do they take to respond? If you go into live chat as part of the sales process, what is your experience like with their sales staff? What is the attitude of their staff? Are they defensive or helpful?
- Look for a host that has the latest versions of cPanel and WHM (for reseller/VPS). As of today, 2017/11/16 HostGator is still running with EOL versions of this and an old version of Apache. (guess there’s a reason why they are so cheap).
- Look for a host that lets you use 2-factor-authentication for cPanel and WHM. It’s been a standard cPanel feature since v60 of cPanel but some/most hosts (yep HostGator) won’t enable it for shared/reseller hosting plans.
- How many databases, domains, email addresses can you use? Most will be unlimited. Unlimited is not essential – I use 2 hosts with limits on domains and databases – it’s just important that you know these limitations upfront.
- Remember if it goes bad and you have made a bad decision, it’s easy to choose another provider and migrate your sites to a new host. Your new host might even help you do this and may even migrate your sites for you!
- Some people will look at the ‘time-to-first-byte’ to compare website performances on different hosts. I doubt this is as helpful as customer reviews to be honest as this will vary all the time.
- Where are the customers you are trying to attract? If it’s a USA audience predominantly, you would probably select a host in the US. If it’s Australian, maybe Australia or Asia. This isn’t THAT important but speeds will be slightly faster the closer the server is to your customers/users.
- Price – this is important but is not the only or even the most important. Reliability and value-for-money trump this for my money.
There are probably other things to consider as well, but those should be a good start.
So which hosts do you use?
I’m glad you asked!
I currently have 4 hosts. Two of these are in Australia and the other ones are in the USA.
In Australia, I have an account with Zuver. This is a very low cost host. I currently pay AUD$3/month for a shared service. They provide free SSL. On my plan I receive 10gb storage, 300gb bandwidth, 4 domains. A new customer will get a 50% discount on this for the first year. An unbelievable discount! I have had nothing but good experiences with Zuver and I host this site there (the site you are reading this on) Zuver is owned by VentraIP. Check them out!
In Australia as well, I have an account with VentraIP. This is a more premium solution. I pay AUD$6.95/month for this. There are discounts for paying up to 3 years upfront. This was the first host I ever used. They also provide free SSL. On my plan I receive 5gb SSD storage, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited domains. A new customer will get a 30% discount on this for up to 3 years. An unbelievable discount! I have had nothing but good experiences with them.
Yeah the 75% deep discount for 3 years sucked me in. There’s a whole thread here telling you to avoid HostGator at all costs along with a bunch of reasons. You can read about my experiences with HostGator here. I have a reseller account with them.
So I have finally had enough of Hostgator and yesterday I followed my own advice above and went looking for a new host. I have read lots of good reviews of Inmotion hosting. I decided to look at VPS hosting this time, again due to some of the issues I have had with HG. I have only signed up yesterday to Inmotion. They do have a 90 day money back guarantee and a heavy discount for the first year of 36% so it starts at USD$28.74/month, 75gb SSD, 4tb bandwidth. I had excellent pre-sales support from them and also great tech support via chat after signup. I even got emailed a transcript of the chat sent (which HG have stopped doing to protect the guilty) It’s early yet and I’m just migrating a site to try them out. Stay tuned (or check out my first impressions here).