What do we look for in a hosting service? Are there any certain characteristics that one needs to consider when making their decisions regarding where they will land their homepage. Here are a few things that I thought about when I was looking for a hosting service.
- Price Value
- Customer Service
- Ease of Use
Price Value What are you getting for what you're paying for? This the measure that basically indicated what services you should be receiving for the money that you're paying to the hosting service. These benefits would consist of, in their most basic form, the hard disk space provided, the bandwidth allowed, an interface panel, some mail services (maybe), and other assorted benefits. Many current hosting companies are engaging in something known as oversale advertising. That is to say that they are promising more benefits than any person could possibly use. A sample of a benefits page can be found here.
Reputation This is the word of mouth opinions of others regarding the service, benefits, and the general feel of a company. Some people will look at websites such as http://finance.yahoo.com to research their companies while others will cruise to forums to discuss their experiences wtih others in forums like these DreamHost Forums.
Customer Service Generally speaking, this is a topic that one can only research by asking other people about their experiences. Occasionally companies will post their support systems online or at the very least leave contact information for their support system. Things to look for here are the methods of contact - do they have support phone numbers or is it strictly email support? This is definitely a question that you need to ask because some users don't have a tolerance for delayed response to support requests - Developers or web designers especially.
Ease of Use Another personal tolerance characteristic. Most personal blogging or recreational users would rather have an easy to use interface that might not provide the "power user" interfaces that higher level developers would want. On the other hand, the power user will become rather frustrated if they don't get the options that they need. Carefully consider what you need and choose accordingly. Some hosts have customizable interfaces that a user can choose which interface (technical or simple) they feel is most appropriate.
The moral of the story is to do your homework and choose wisely. It's dangerous to believe all the hype and advertising without asking the questions behind the ad. Does the host have dedicated support? How has their customer satisfaction been over the last 5-10 years? What kind of uptime are they showing? Is there a SLA - a Service Level Agreement? What about dedicated servers? Think clearly and ask questions. As always, if you have questions, send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be happy to discuss or assist your hosting quest.