Many non-technical people run blogs and don’t know what to look for when deciding on a web host.  Many simply choose the first reliable sounding service or choose one based on referrals.  Unfortunately these referrals are nearly always PAID referrals.  Being paid for a referral completely invalidates the purpose of a referral.  We have not received a penny for the content you see below.

1 – Refund Policy:

The performance of a host is very often over-hyped and you want to make sure you can walk away with your money if the hosting does not work out for you.  MOST of the large hosts offer a 30 to 90 day refund policy.  As someone that has used all the big hosts from GoDaddy to BlueHost to InMotion (and a few small ones) I can tell you that I have never had an issue with requesting a refund.

2 -Free SSL:

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is what encrypts your website.  You might think that SSL is not important for you because your site/blog does not contain anything confidential or ask users for information, but Google disagrees.  Sites that do not use SSL have their Google “Page Rank” decreased.  This can kill your site traffic.  Most of the web hosting companies now provide “AutoSSL”.  AutoSSL is a free service that encrypts your traffic.  It differs from “full SSL” in that AutoSSL does not provide insurance if you are hacked.  Most people have absolutely no value in that insurance and Google does not (yet anyway) distinguish between the AutoSSL and Full SSL.  As we said most web hosts provide AutoSSL for free now but many do not so you need to ask.  The largest web host in the world is GoDaddy and they still do not provide AutoSSL because it would cut into their SSL business which is very large and profitable.  It is also worth noting that as of July 1 2018 any site that is not using SSL is marked as NOT SECURE in Google Chrome browser (currently the most used browser in the world) so that is a big bad thing.

3 – 24 x 7 PHONE Support:

early all of the large web hosts and some of the small ones provide around the clock phone and chat technical support, but some do not.  The problem is many people want to make changes to their sites ‘off hours’ and if you run into problems at 2am, you really need live voice phone technical support.  We have also found MANY of the support tech’s at these companies to be condescending and you simply do not have to tolerate it.   You can test their support by making calls or chats to them before you buy just to see what the pre-sales support it like.

4 – Performance: 

It is very hard to judge performance BEFORE you change web hosts.  As we said at the beginning, most referrals you see on line are little more than paid advertising.  Further, it should not come as shock that companies promote their very best numbers and specifications.  This does not mean they are lying, it just means you can’t rely on them.  As you can see below, we moved many sites from GoDaddy’s old ‘grid’ service to InMotions blindingly fast ‘Business Hosted SSD Disk’ service but had to revert back when the performance just was not their.  Our page load times roughly doubled, so we reverted back to GoDaddy and get a refund from InMotion.

Most sites will be on a shared hosting plan and that is not a problem, but you need to consider what your sites need to run them.  Check for disk space, disk type (SSD vs spinning), number of CPU’s, transfer speeds and limits.  As you can see in the screen shots above we like to use and to compare performance of our sites.  Keep in mind that if you are going to use these sites you need to run the tests 3 or 4 times to make sure the results are not aberrations.

5 – Price:

Price is always a major concern and it should be.  Shop, shop and shop some more.  There are always 1st year promotions but make sure you are comparing apples to apples.  Unless your site it tiny, it is seldom a good idea to take the bottom package.  Usually the cost to move to a mid-tier package is just a few dollars a month but provides much more.  There are ‘gotcha’s’ in the hosting business:

  1. CONNECTION FEES: Some web hosting companies have addon charges PER CONNECTION after some small number of free/included connections.  This can get expensive so make sure your hosting plan provides enough in the base package.
  2. CONCURRENT CONNECTION LIMITS: GoDaddy (and others) have a ‘concurrent connection limit’.  This means if your site gets linked on Reddit or CNet or some other major site it will max out quickly and start rejecting traffic.  That is not cool.  You need a host that allows for spikes in traffic or those big links that help your site end up burning your site because people get angry that the site is down.
  3. DEDICATED HOSTING: “Shared Hosting” provides more than enough support for all but the largest sites so don’t get pressured into taking a dedicated server (VDS) or any package that is larger than you need.
  4. MANAGED WORDPRESS: “Managed WordPress” is all the rage these days.  I have tried it and just don’t see the value.  It is not something I would shy away from but I would not pay extra for it.

As always there is more to consider when entering into an agreement with any company, but these are the top 5 things you should know about web hosting.



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