Looking for a New Hosting Provider?

Last week, on 9-10-12, GoDaddy suffered from a massive outage of all of their services in the United States. Millions of customers who use GoDaddy’s databases, DNS services and email services found that all the services were inoperable throughout the majority of the business day.

During the disruption, a self-proclaimed security hacker falsely took credit for GoDaddy’s demise. However, after services were restored, GoDaddy admitted that the server outage was actually due to internal problems.

Upon hearing the reason why GoDaddy was down, I wasn’t sure if “internal problems” was a good thing or a bad thing. The only good thing about it was that at least it wasn’t a security issue and customer information was not breached. Other than that, the reason for service failure was very disappointing. One has to question a web hosting company that spends millions of dollars on cheesy, racy SuperBowl commercials, that heavily sponsors a NASCAR racing team, and doesn’t put their toll free technical support number on their website (even though the number exists). In fact, I went to GoDaddy’s website and tried to search for the number 1-866-463-2339 and I got zero search results. I actually found the toll free number with a Google search. What’s up with that?

Where should a web host spend its money? Is advertising the best investment for the host’s customers? Or should a web host spend millions of dollars on actual web hosting technology, web security and customer support?

Apparently the TV commercials work, since GoDaddy is one of the most popular web hosting companies around. They have an estimated 6.5 million customers worldwide. Interestingly enough, while watching NFL football over the past weekend, I noticed that 1and1 Hosting has had numerous advertising slots during the games and during normal broadcast television. Does TV advertising really bring in new customers for web hosting providers? It’s hard to say but it appears like it is.

So how do you choose a hosting provider?

The four biggest things I tend to look at are: uptime, web technology/performance, affordability and customer support.

There a literally hundreds if not thousands of different hosting companies you can choose from. You just need to figure out a way to narrow it down to one. Maybe you prefer a U.S. based company or to be even pickier, a California based company. Or perhaps you just want the most affordable and cost effective. Sometimes software application performance can factor in your decision, as well as other additional features of the hosting plans. Do you want to keep your domain name with the same company that does your hosting or do you want to keep them separate? These are some of questions you will have to answer when making your decision.

Here at Bop Design, we prefer to use HostGator as our main hosting provider. I don’t want to make this an advertisement for their services but I’ll list a couple reasons why I prefer to host with them over GoDaddy and 1and1:

  • WordPress performance. From my experience with GoDaddy and 1and1, WordPress performance is significantly slower and less responsive in comparison to HostGator’s servers. HostGator was ranked as the Best WordPress Hosting of 2012 by WordPressHostingReviews.com
  • Hosting Account Administration. HostGator uses the standard cPanel interface to control and navigate the admin area. GoDaddy and 1and1 have custom admin areas that can be confusing, hard to navigate and are always trying to upsell you on their other products.
  • Pricing/Plans. HostGator provides better performance with competitive hosting pricing/plans

So does that make HostGator the best? I wouldn’t say that. I’m sure there are many other hosting companies that provide the same, if not better, services and performance. But I’m also positive there are far more hosting companies that are far worse.

It all comes down to what you want and need in a hosting provider. Your best bet is to ask around. Here are some ways to get started:

  • get advice from experienced web developers or IT professionals
  • go online and look through support forums for any major issues/complaints
  • try reading some website reviews to see what others say; don’t take these opinions too seriously though, just use them as a guide

Also, if you are unsure about a hosting company, don’t sign up for a long term plan. See if they have a trial period or offer month to month billing. This way if you are not satisfied, you can switch to a different host quickly instead of having to wait for your plan to end.

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