How To Select A Reliable Web Hosting Company

To conduct a successful marketing campaign on the Internet, your website must be hosted by a reliable web hosting company. Selecting the ‘wrong’ provider can prove very costly along the line.

Below I detail a few important aspects of the selection process based purely on my own experiences over the last six years.

Since there are thousands of hosting companies in the web hosting market, naturally during your research you will encounter hundreds of web hosting resource sites loaded with numerous and sometimes bogus reviews and recommendations, consequently your research process must be very thorough.

First and foremost do searches in the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN. Simply enter terms like “Complaints about ‘Your Potential Host’s Name’” ‘Hosting Reviews’, etc…..You will find a lot of stuff regarding your potential host. Search for ‘web hosting forums’; there are numerous such forums on the web that contain all kinds of information.

If you consistently find too many complaints about your potential web hosting company…. beware!

A company that offers too many features for too little is also suspect. If they are offering huge amounts of bandwidth and disk space for a very low price, be careful. Here is why: The company will most likely be forced to host numerous websites per server, resulting in congestion and server overload. The result: Your site may be too slow and may experience lots of downtime.

Where is your web host’s datacenter located?

A datacenter located in a natural disaster prone and/or a politically unstable region is undesirable. I wouldn’t host my website in a Kabul, Afghanistan or Kinsasha, Congo based datacenter – these two and many others around the world are politically unstable regions. On the other hand a datacenter based in the state of California, a major earthquake zone may be undesirable, but the fact that California is more than well equipped to handle such disasters and is the world’s nerve center for all that is computer, far outweighs any existing dis-advantages.

A foreign based hosting company may be too far away from your customers. It won’t serve you well if your host is based in Australia and your targeted customers are based in The United States. On the contrary, if your are marketing to customers exclusively in Australia from The United States, a web hosting company in Australia would be OK. If you are marketing worldwide, your choice becomes a little bit more complicated….unless of course you are Google, Yahoo or MSN, big companies who host their websites almost everywhere worldwide. Generally, I prefer web hosting companies located in The United States.

How is your web host connected to the internet?

Your potential host’s data infrastructure – regional and local is of utmost importance.

- How is your potential host connected to the Internet…Do they have multiple connections to the internet backbone, and enough bandwidth to accommodate surges in web traffic?
- What kind of computer equipment is deployed within the datacenter?
- Is the latest network security technologies incorporated?
- Are the hosting servers protected behind firewalls and intrusion monitoring software
- Is the datacenter monitored via CCTV and supervised 24/7

How fast is your web host?

Find a couple of sites that are hosted by your potential web hosting company and test how fast their pages load on your computer. You also may execute the PING and TRACEROUTE commands on these websites to determine their suitability. Executing the ping command is called pinging a website and it determines how quickly a server can receive and send back a piece of data through your connection. When you run ping it sends a small packet of data and calculates the time it takes to get a response from the server. It is executed four times by default and a small report of average, minimum, and maximum response times will be displayed. A ping output typically consists of the packet size used, the host queried, the ICMP sequence number, the time to live, and the latency. All times are given in milliseconds. A ping output indicating large values and/or lost packets consistently over a period of time ….is a red flag! Please note that if you have a bad or restrictive connection (Your ISP), the results may be skewed. Firewalls and proxy servers installed in your system or network can sometimes interfere with the ping operation. Also, some web hosting companies do not allow pinging of their servers, in which case you will get a ‘Request Timed Out message’.

The Traceroute utility displays the connection [path] through the Internet between your computer and the potential web hosting company’s server(s). The path between these two locations has many routers, computers and other devices along it which help move Internet information. Each movement from one device to the other is called a hop. Too many hops is cause for concern ….do several Traceroutes for comparison!

Based on my experiences with different hosting companies over the years, I regard the following Web Hosting companies as the most reliable. I am sure there are many other good hosting companies out there, but it would be unfair to comment about a company that I have never dealt with.

One my websites, TheCertificationHub.com has been hosted by Ipowerweb since 2000. There were problems at first, typical when a web hosting company is experiencing a spurt in growth. In the year 2000, they had a customer base of 15,000. Six years later this number has grown to almost 300,000 and their service level has improved tremendously over these six years. Ipowerweb is one of the best web hosting companies on the Internet. A first class hosting company which I highly recommend.

I moved my other website, ClubAfrika.com from Globat to iPowerWeb beginning April 25, 2005. With Ipowerweb I have experienced much less frequent downtimes, few email delays and failures. The customer service is superb and well coordinated as expected. The only problem we had at the beginning was their inability to transfer our database from Globat. Club Afrika is targeted at users in Africa, most of who are still on dial-up. It therefore makes no sense that these users have to wait for 5+ minutes for pages to load up. In this respect Ipowerweb has delivered. My site is no longer ‘snail slow’ and in spite of a few incompetent TIER 1 Techs here and there, overally I am satisfied with their service. Globat may improve in future….I suspect that they are having ‘growth problems’ just like Ipowerweb had when I first started hosting with them. If they do, then they might be worth considering for they offer the most ‘humongous’ features in the web-hosting business. But be cautious, ‘Greed’ almost always translates into poor website performance….some of their offerings are just too good to be true, for lack of appropriate words.

I have been hosting another website, ApondoSystems.com on Lunar Pages servers since 2000. Lunar Pages web hosting plans start at 5000MB of storage and 400GB of transfer for only $7.95. It is my opinion that Lunar Pages is a great web hosting company. Great website uptime and customer service! Very few websites require more than 1000MB of disk space (Apondo Systems has over 300 pages and I haven’t even used one half of the allocated space), so if what you are looking for is quality first, Lunar pages is a good bet. If you are looking for extra databases, humongous disk space and bandwidth, then take a look at iPowerWeb which is a topnotch company too, or even Globat.

StartLogic is a relatively new web hosting company, a reseller of IPowerweb Web Hosting Services. Naturally, you will expect them to follow in the great footsteps of Ipowerweb. Being the #1 reseller of Ipowerweb, StartLogic’s hosting infrastructure is most probably maintained by Ipowerweb, a large and reputable web hosting company. They offer both Windows and Unix Hosting. Due to the ‘newness’ of the company and the fact that I have not used their services, I cannot judge them authoritatively, but based on the comments I have seen so far, all over the Internet and by virtue of their relationship with Ipowerweb, I think this is a good low cost web hosting company.

GoDaddy currently offers one of the cheapest prices for Domain Names and Hosting Services. The pricing on packages is very competitive. With Godaddy website templates you can get a nice-looking Web site with ample storage. Reports indicate that their performance is above average. One thing you may not like is that they do not have an 800 number for Technical Support. They prefer local numbers. I think their pricing especially for Domain Names is very reasonable and is worth giving a shot. Also, if you are looking for just a handful of features, Godaddy offers very flexible packages….they even allow you to pay for your hosting services on a monthly basis! The control panel is kind of ‘tight’, scripting Gurus may not like some of the restrictions but I think Godaddy hosting is worth a try. We hosted AfroArticles.com briefly at GoDaddy but quickly moved it to Hostgator for one and only one reason: Godaddy does not support CRON JOBS, a server feature vital to AfroArticles.com.

Our website, AfroArticles.com is hosted at Hostgator. We were initially attracted by two things: Unlimited Databases and the option of paying monthly and not the usual year long contract. This means that if we are to disapprove of their services during our self imposed trial period, we will be able to opt out with ease. Well, we haven’t because we love the friendly and professional customer service support offered by hostgator and our website has been running exceptionally well. We have yet to experience any unscheduled downtimes. If you are looking to re-sell hosting, then consider Hostgator. Although the pricing is slightly above the average in comparison to other top hosting companies, we feel that the reliability of their services, the bandwidth, storage, unlimited databases and numerous other features included with their packages are well worth it. Hostgator is a topnotch hosting company, at the same level as iPowerweb and Lunar Pages.