Today is the last day of June, and this marks the first half of 2009 gone. And I’m glad to say I’m thrilled at the level of my business today, compared to what it was at the beginning of the year. No, I’m no millionaire yet, but enough projects to keep me very busy, hence the slack in posting here 😛
The point is, over the course of this half a year, I’ve have the luxury to work with no fewer than 20 different websites (some to a smaller extent), and these websites are hosted all across the globe. So I’ve interfaced with so these web hosting companies – their backend admin panels, ease of use, technical support and things like that.
Some of them were slow, and some have superb access speeds. Some were a breeze to handle, while others are really nutcases that really almost drove me crazy with technical support answers that go off the point for weeks without resolving the issue.
So having this experience, I really want to emphasise on this – getting a good webhosting provider from day ONE.
Web Hosting for Internet Businesses
If you had to open a retail shop, would you choose an cheap rental area that is frequented by gangsters who would come in and smash your items, causing you to have to close your shop once every 2 days, or would you prefer to select a expensive storefront right in the middle of town where you can get great traffic?
The answer is obvious. You can’t compare retail shop rental rates just by the meter. You need to know where the shop is, and what are the consequences of having your shop in that area.
Well, I’ve found the same would go for web hosting. No two web hosting a companies are alike, and even though they may give you the exact specifications in terms of web space, bandwidth, databases, email addresses and add on domains, they are different.
Basically, you pay for what you get. Pay peanuts, and you get monkeys.
One of my friends I’m working with happened to start on the “peanuts” web hosting plan years back when she first started her business. Of course, she didn’t know it then. I didn’t know too, because it was a provider I’ve not heard of at that time.
So when we started on the project, she gave me her login details and everything, so I could get direct access to her site.
Here is how bad your experience can get.
- I’ve tried to work on her site for about 8 occasions now, since we started about a month ago, and on almost every occassion, I experienced a server downtime of at least 10-15 minutes. Today, its been down for over 2 hours already (that’s what triggered this post!)
- I’ve been corresponding with their technical support for help on an unusual .htaccess issue – its been 2 weeks and 8 emails to and from them, but I’ve not got a good response. Different people handled my email every single time I replied, and none of them resolved the question directly.
And when I tried to log in to their web admin panel today, I got this:
So, this is it. I’m getting my friend to switch to another provider.
Here’s what to look out for when selecting a web hosting provider
1. Real Reviews
Go on to forums like Web Hosting Talk, where you can get real reviews and comments from people who are using the provider you are considering. Many web hosting providers provide affiliate programs, so be wary of reviews that have “affiliate intentions”.
2. Peanuts are for Monkeys
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Getting a web server, bandwidth and web space cost money. Think about this. If the web host doesn’t charge you enough, how do they pay for their servers? If you’ve got a “awesome deal” to have unlimited sites for $1.99 a month, you better be prepared for monkey service and support.
3. Know the specifications
If you are serious about your web business, ask and compare server specifications. A Pentium 286 web hosting server running off a guy’s garage is definitely going to bring a different experience to one running in a datacenter. Ask about location, CPUs, allocated memory and bandwidth.
4. Test their support
When you have decided on a provider. Take the 1 month plan (don’t commit to 6 – 12 months unless you are confident of the services), and as soon as you get your account, test out their response time for support emails. If they take more than 36 hours to get back, it is time for you to get another provider.
What do I recommend?
Personally I use Hostgator on many of my domains and Singapore Web Hosting for domains I want hosted in Singapore.
I stick to these two providers because I have experienced good support so far, and good server uptime on my reseller accounts. But don’t take my word for it, go do your own research and get a good host.
Remember, if you are operating an Internet business, your website is your retail shop. Don’t scrimp on it. In fact, pay them well so they can give you a peace of mind.