Finding a Web Host That Doesn't Suck

Published: Jun 14, 2011
Under: General

A critical step in creating a successful website involves finding a good, reliable host. Particularly if this is your first dive into “webmasterdom”, this can be a daunting task. You will find a massive amount of “unlimited hosting” and “unbelievably low prices” mixed in with legitimate deals – usually offered with a cap and a slightly higher price. So how do you tell which one is good and which is bad? Read on.

This article is a guest post by Mariana Ashley. To find out more about Mariana – see the bottom of the post.

This is for certain: there will never be a shortage of web hosts. There will always be thousands to choose from and that is why finding a good one is a headache. One must be skilled in deciphering the “too-good-to-be-true” marketing schemes. One must be skilled in actually telling which hosting will be valuable, and which ones will just take your money.

On another note, most web host review sites are becoming hard to trust. As anyone with an email (or several hundred) address can create an account and start giving “their buddy’s host company” positive reviews. I also have no doubt that a large portion of the web host reviews out there are written by paid affiliates. This is why, as web aficionados, we must be smart and know how to interpret the marketing game of web hosts.

Unlimited Is NOT Unlimited

Ever wonder how hosting companies unlimited space and bandwidth at an extremely cheap price without going out of business? Think of it like an all-you-can-eat buffet. They know people will come in and eat their food, but they really plan on people not taking full advantage of their offer. If people just had bottomless pits instead of stomachs, all-you-can-eat buffets would not exist.

So how does this relate to hosting? Web hosts are banking on the prospect that your site will not be extremely popular (and that it will not take very many resources to load for the few people who visit it). For most sites, this is a correct assumption. But what if your site makes it big? Most likely, your site will experience a lot of downtime or your host might even suspend your account. Best possible outcome: They’ll charge you more money.

Extremely Cheap = Extremely Bad Service

Let’s say you found a hosting service that actually details the limits of their hosting service, but they offer an “unbelievably cheap price” (Be wary of offers less than $5 a month). Though they may deliver on the resources they provide, it will probably be sporadic and riddled with downtime.

Also, trying to get any technical issue sorted with these extremely cheap providers is some kind of sick joke. Either they won’t respond to your emails or calls, or they will just keep passing you off to different helpdesks until you give up or change service providers.

Avoiding the Bad: Ask Before You Buy

To avoid the hassles of hidden, unexpected charges or incredibly slow or unresponsive service, read your service provider’s Terms of Service (TOS) with an extremely careful eye. In the TOS, they should define what “unlimited” really means as well as at least give some idea of their turnaround in customer service.

Some service providers have very complicated TOS. If you find yourself being confused in this area, don’t be afraid to contact them for clarification. Remember, they want your business, so they should be helpful in clarifying this information. If they are unresponsive or unhelpful in the instance that you want further details in the TOS – don’t even bother. Hang up the phone. Their service with your hosting will be no better.

The Bottom Line

The biggest mistake you can make when finding a web service provider is having blind faith in them. You must read through the terms of services. It’s always a good idea to ask questions before you commit. Remember, if they’re unable to help you before – rest assured that they will be unable to help you later (when you need them the most).

Lastly, if you still have doubts – try them out only for a limited time. While this generally means you are paying more for a month-to-month basis compared to a year’s worth, it will still save you more headaches than getting stuck with bad service for the entire year.


Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031[at]gmail.com.
  • Nod

    true that!!
    I’ve got good experience with bluehost, rackspace and lunarpages.

    and HORRIBLE nightmares at Mediatemple, powweb, dattatech and ehostpros.

    so dont base it on the price, lookup some reviews and it all depends on the type of site you want to host

  • Maybe another thing to look for is a host that specializes in the technology you use. If I’m going to host a .NET site, I want a Microsoft host. Same thing for PHP sites; I want a LAMP expert hosting company.