Occasionally I’m left exasperated by a client who invests thousands of pounds in a terrific new website, but then insists that it’s hosted with a cheap, flimsy provider. This often results in poor performance and poor technical support, a frustrating combo for both client and developer.
Aw, but they’re so cheap
Generally speaking cheap hosts need to cram as many sites on their servers as possible, creating a constant heavy drain on resources and capacity. Also, you can’t reasonably expect fast and useful technical support when you’re paying £9.99/year right? When something’s wrong you need support now, not tomorrow afternoon.
A good host is always worth the extra cost. Google now factors in website uptime and performance to their search rankings, and we all know how much clients obsess with their ranking. Paying that little bit extra for a good host will keep your site online and ticking along nicely. Plus because you’re paying a sensible fee, when you do need some support, you know there’s a team of people there to jump right on it.
How to choose a host
For me word-of-mouth is always a great start. Speak with developers whose judgement you trust, and ask them for hosts they recommend (or recommend avoiding). Check out forums, blogs and Twitter for positive and negative comments about a host you’re considering. Keep in mind though that negative comments are sometimes unfairly leveled at a host, since technical issues are often the fault of the developer.
As a developer, responsive support is critical. I need to know that I’ll get a speedy response from technical (not sales) staff. I personally prefer email support over ticket systems, but some clients also like to ensure phone support is available.
Be aware of reseller hosting. Many hosts simply buy a server from a larger host, and resell the service themselves. Fine until your site goes down, and you’re then at the mercy of your host’s host.
I often get asked for hosting recommendations. Truth is, I’m always on the lookout for new hosts. But for the last couple of years I’ve been using mostly Memset and Clook. Performance and support from both have been first-class, and they offer various packages to suit most budgets.
Like most things things in life, you get what you pay for. Performance, security and support are often compromised by choosing a cheap host. The result can prove much more costly in the long-run.
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