All I want for Christmas is a good web host: The good and the bad

By | December 24, 2007

Web hosting is such a good, renewable business model that even big search engines offer it. The web hosting industry is huge. Choosing a good web host is such a preoccupation with some people, that they spend entire days or weeks drifting from one review site to another, chatting with web host chat operators, or scanning the forums for hours on end. And all for $7-8 a month.

If you’re on shared hosting, you shouldn’t be spending so much time looking for a good host, because basically, you don’t need to. Your site is not going to get much traffic for months at least, and that makes all the bandwidth calculations, and space calculations, quite frivolous. Think about upgrading your shared hosting only when you’ve outgrown shared hosting.

I have now been a customer of 5 different webhosts in total, and there is a lot of difference between each one. Some shared hosting plans can be as low as $3-4 a month. But, they’ll offer you gigabytes of disk space, and terabytes of bandwidth, knowing you’ll never use even a fraction every month. But, if you try to setup a high traffic site to make use of your “hosting quota,” you’ll soon find your site suspended. Anyhow you look at it, it’s called “overselling.”

What makes a good web host good? A good web host is always willing to listen to you. They’ll go the extra mile to solve your problems. They’ll respond to your support tickets as soon as they can. They keep your site running most of the time, with nary a down time. Basically, they run in the background, quietly, efficiently, softly. There is almost no need for the “support” option.

But bad web hosts, they don’t care. They can be rude in support tickets, or just deceptive. They’ll usually deny they have any problems, and pin point any of it on you, as well as being just lackadaisical.

What are the warning signs of a bad host? Here’s from experience…

  • Frequent downtime. The number one web host problem. You could use an independent site uptime monitoring service to monitor your site, like SiteUptime.
  • Long response to support tickets, or no response at all. A very common syndrome of the lousy host.
  • Time in business. Related to the above point. Web hosts who haven’t been in business for more than 5 years may not be good choices. I don’t care if you have the greatest, newest hardware, or the fastest connection speeds. Learned the hard way, that nothing beats experience.
  • Unbelievable plans. Although every web host oversells nowadays, it is the best managed ones that can still pull it off. But, be cautious if it looks too good to be true.
  • Inexperienced young owners. Usually in web hosting, young people do not have the mellowed experience, nor the patience of older, wiser heads in dealing with irate/frantic/desperate customers. They even end up pissing their customers even more, especially when things go wrong. I’ve learned to go with webhosting owners whose owners are older, >40 years old. They usually know what they’re doing. 😉

An example of a good webhost is the one serving this blog – Downtown Host (aff link). I’ve never had any major problems with them, and support is also pretty gracious. 🙂
Well, that’s my wish for Christmas – problem free hosting. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

P.S: *Might be taking a week off blogging, till after the New Year.*

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