​How to choose a web hosting service?

A little research before committing yourself can save you a lot of headache


Teaming up with the right website hosting service is more important than you think. Opt for the wrong one and you could find yourself struggling to get support, suffering downtime or worse. Choosing a hosting package needn’t be a chore though, just consider these points below during your research phase and you’ll find the choice of plan becomes much clearer.

1. Type of hosting offered

  • Will you need your own infrastructure?
  • Will you need greater access or control over your server(s) and website?
  • Are you not very technical?
  • Would it be easier to let the hosting company take the lead in maintenance?

Ask yourself all these questions and more. Whether it be shared, VPS, dedicated, or fully managed hosting, look at the pros and cons of all. Ask yourself what you need it to do and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

2. Support

  • What are the available support channels: email, forums, live chat, telephone, 24/7 or office hours?

If anything happens to your server or website, from technical errors to DNS attacks, you need to be able to remedy the situation quickly. This becomes more pressing depending on your website. For example, if you run an e-commerce site you’ll be losing money every minute you’re offline. So make sure the support is right for you.

3. Features

  • What features are on offer?
  • Does the host use cPanel for one click installations of selected software?
  • How much storage and bandwidth is available? How many domains can be hosted on one account?

Functionality is important for any website and so is future-proofing. If your company grows and with it the amount of space you need, does the hosting company have the capacity and the features to allow for growth?

4. Server locations

  • Is the location of the data centres important to you?
  • Do you collect personal data on your website?
  • Are you compliance led?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions you may want to look into the location of your servers. Normally a quick Google search or email to the provider can tell you the physical location of things.

5. Areas of specialisation

  • Do they focus on specific platforms like WordPress and do you require this level of service?
  • Or do you simply want to learn how to use Linux which is tough on a managed host?

6. Security

  • Depending on the nature of your business you may have higher standards to meet in terms of security. Will this hosting company meet these expectations? Or would another be better equipped?

Similarly, just because you may not have to meet regulated standards doesn’t mean security shouldn’t be a factor in your decision. The internet is a rough neighbourhood and you should make sure your hosting company has appropriate measures in place to protect your server and website. At the end of the day, it may be you who is accountable should anything go wrong.

7. Price & general feedback online

  • How much do they charge and how does it compare to the other hosts on your shortlist?
  • Is price a factor or do you not mind paying that little bit more for a more complete service?

Last but not least, while feedback from users with similar requirements to yours is definitely ideal, lots of general negative feedback from users can be just as revealing.

Research the company itself and the services they provide. While you are more likely to find negative reviews about a company, what previous users have issue with may give indication as to whether you want to trust the hosting company with your website.

Read more: Aruba

  • This is an adapted excerpt from an eBook called "The ultimate guide to web hosting", published by TechRadar Pro in association with Planet Hippo