This is the aspect most of us will look at first when choosing a hosting provider; however, it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. When you see price differences it’s helpful to remember the old maxim that we get what we pay for. Jumping on the cheapest offer you see isn’t necessarily the best idea, especially if you rely on your site to make money. Things like non-outsourced support and quality hardware cost money, and a hosting company that charges $1.99 per month likely won’t offer these features. Take a closer look at the features that each host provides, and THEN compare prices.
2. Area of Focus / Specialties
It’s a fact that not all web hosts are right for all different kinds of customers. Some offer great shared plans but don’t have solutions that are good for growing businesses, while others have great enterprise solutions but aren’t the right fit for someone with a small recipe blog. Look into a company’s specialty or area of expertise before you buy, and go with one that understands your particular needs as a customer. You can find reviews and recommendations on the Web, and many of these will talk about a particular company’s strengths and weaknesses.
3. Tech Specs / Limitations
Take a good, honest look at your site and figure out what you want it to do. If you’re hoping to host a blog, an e-commerce site, rich content, and videos, then you shouldn’t go with the cheapest hosting package you can find. A cheap hosting plan probably won’t have the RAM, processing power, and disk space to serve all these needs, and you’ll spend more time dealing with downtime or load issues than you would like.
Look to see what you are getting with the cheap host and what features are included in the cost. Do they charge for additional domains, support, backups, etc.. Call them. Ask questions. Tell them what you envision your site’s needs to be. Just don’t take it for granted that they take your site as seriously as you do.
4. Tech Support
In most people’s opinions, this is the big one. When my site, for some unknown reason, goes down, can I call up and get a real, live person on the phone? And, more than that, can they find out what’s wrong and fix it, or at least tell me what I need to do to get my site back online?
Before going with a host look into their reputation for customer support. See what kinds of different ways you can contact them when you need support – email, toll-free phone, chat, and so on. Are they staffed 24/7? Do they outsource support?
You’ll find that, like in price and technical specifications, all hosts are not equal. Some hang their hat on their support crew, and some view customer support as an afterthought. Steer clear of the latter.