Lately, it seems so many are upset with their web host. But Why? Web hosting providers used to pride themselves on delivering excellent support and making having a website accessible.
Industry consolidation among web hosts has led to the market being dominated by a few big providers in both the traditional website hosting space, and the cloud. And although it appears like there are many choice as first, many poplar web hosts are part of much bigger conglomerates that own multiple vendors.
This results in the biggest hosts having the largest marketing presence and as such, attracting the most clients. When those clients then choose to host with that provider, they host no longer has the capacity or the desire to provide full support for the hundreds of thousands of clients that now host with them. Website owners then become frustrated because it appears at first that all hosts are this way.
But not all are, despite consolidation, there are still several great hosts that can make hosting a small business website accessible. Here’s a list of what you should look for when researching hosting providers.
The biggest factor that separates a good and bad host is the level of support they provide. Great web hosts will provide a smooth onboarding experience and stellar on-going support. The biggest web hosts hardly have the capacity to provide the level of support needed by their hundreds of thousands of clients. Typically, if your site is running, that is the extent of how far they are willing to help.
But small to medium hosts can give much more of their attention and are willing to explore solutions. For example, at ZebraHost we try to understand our client’s specific needs and will research solutions to make sure their site remains online and runs optimally.
In contrast, some hosts (mostly large hyperscalers) do not offer any support whatsoever. they relevate users to their forums to help each other in a peer-to-peer manner. This can be frustrating to many admins when they must resolve an issue in a short period of time.
Here are the qualities of excellent support:
- 24/7 support
- Access to a real person
- Multiple options to contact (text, chat, social media, phone, email)
- Clearly communicate the solutions so you can fix yourself in the future
- Strong knowledge of core solutions, and an interdisciplinary support team with experience in related technologies
- Support staff located in your local region
Unfortunately, many hosts do not provide transparent pricing. There are a couple deceptive practices that are most common:
- Web hosts that advertise first year rates then increase the rate after the first anniversary. For example, advertizing hosting for year 1 as $1.99 but then increasing to $14.99 later once you are already hosting with them.
- Hyperscalers incorporating round up costs and not making add-on and upgrade fees transparent. You do not know what these fees are of what the service actually costs until your bill becomes due.
Try to find a host that has transparent pricing (preferably available on their website). You may need to research forums to ask others of any fees they experienced and were not immediately aware of. Or you can call a member of their sales team to get exact pricing for your needs.
Hosting websites or web apps can be complex. There are so many different technologies being utilized to deliver your site to users. A good web host understands its important to be flexible deliver a solution tailored to each client’s needs.
Flexibility comes in forms such as:
- adjusting billing if you fall on hard times
- Setting up planned maintenance and downtime around your schedule
- Having a network of data centers and letting you migrate if needed
- Letting you move your site or app to another host in the future
Useful Tools and Services
A good host will provide a one-stop shop for all the tools you need. If your goal is to host a WordPress site, a host should offer an SSL, domain, and hosting. All for a reasonable price.
But if you need to host a web application, you may need more advanced or even niche services. You should expect that the host will offer CDN, load balancing, firewall, as well as both virtualized and dedicated options. If you need niche services (say perhaps the ability to host a satellite), this is where hyperscalers can become a great option because they have all kinds of niche services built for developers and businesses building complex applications from many components.
Not all hosts are frustrating to deal with. There are still many great web hosts around but you need to research and find one that fits your needs. A great host will fit all the qualities I’ve listed in this article. A quick way to see if a host is good is to check their Google Business reviews if they are local. Or visit a comparison site like G2 if the host is a large hyperscaler. Forums like reddit can also be great for understanding real user experiences.
If you would like to learn about ZebraHost, a five star rated host, you can visit us to see what services we offer and if those provide the one stop shop you need.