What to look for in a website host

Aug 20, 2017

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Finding a good website host is a critical part of setting up any website, whether you’re using WordPress, Joomla, or some other content management platform.

But I know there’s a lot of confusion about website hosting, so let me break it down for you a little bit.

  • Your website is like your home on the internet.
  • Your host is like the landlord you rent land from to build your home on.
  • Your domain name is like the street address that gets people to your home.

Website hosts have racks of servers on which the websites all live. Without a host you basically don’t have anywhere to put your website.

Hosts are a dime a dozen. The internet is saaaaaturated with website hosts, so it’s really easy to get stuck on a host that, well, sucks, especially when you’re shopping on price. When it comes to your website host, you usually get what you pay for. Typically, the cheaper the host the crappier service.

When you’re looking for a website host, you need to think about the following things:

  1. Uptime. Most providers promise an uptime of 99.99% because they cannot promise 100%. Be wary of those who don’t promise 99.99% uptime. If they only promise 95%, something is wrong.
  2. Bandwidth. How much bandwidth you has indicates how much data you can move and at what speed. Everything on your website uses bandwidth every time it’s accessed. When you upload an image, you use bandwidth. When the visitor loads the image, you use bandwidth. All the bandwidth is shared by you — the site creator — and by all the site visitors. This is why when you have a lot of traffic, you’ll use more bandwidth. When bandwidth is provided by your host as “Unlimited” it means (basically) you can upload as much as you want, and your site visitors can download as much as they want without your website going down.
  3. Page load speed. There are a lot of factors going into page load speed, and most of them you — the site creator — control. Image size, scripts, and so on. But this can also be influenced by your host. If your WordPress website is on shared hosting, your site will be slower to load, which can hurt your traffic, and your Search Engine ranking.
  4. Pricing. Price has to be mentioned here, and the reason is because, as I mentioned, you generally get what you pay for. When a hosting company is able to provide super cheap hosting, it’s because they’re selling on volume, and cutting up the physical resources into chunks for more and more customers. And generally speaking, all the resources are shared among all the customers on that server. So it may be only a few bucks a month, but it will cost you in page load speed, uptime, and bandwidth. Also, one of the ways they get away with keeping the price so cheap is by cutting back on things like tech support. So consider yourself warned.
  5. Tech support and Customer Service. With most good hosting companies, you don’t have to talk to a real human. Everything is automated and controlled by computers. But, sometimes things go wrong, and when that happens, you need to talk to a human. A lot of hosting companies — especially those who are really cheap and sell on volume — charge you for tech support, while simultaneously customer service is told to sell you more features you don’t really need. Typically when you get hosting from a company that’s a bit more per month, they don’t charge you for support, and — if they do because something went majorly wrong — it’s not terribly expensive.

For these reasons, the only hosting company I recommend is DreamHost.

Which means I don’t recommend: GoDaddy, SiteGround, InMotion, Bluehost, HostGator, Host Monster…or any other host you can think of. I only suggest you use DreamHost, and no others. A lot of these hosts you may recognize simply because they have a robust referral program and it’s in their interest to get bloggers to recommend their service.

I don’t just blindly recommend DreamHost. I’m not getting anything for recommending them to you right now. I recommend them because they’re awesome.

I’ve been with DreamHost for 7 years. Over the years they have grown with me as my business has grown, and they stuck with me while one of my big sites was hacked (in a hack so epic it landed me in Entrepreneur). Not all hosts will. A lot of hosts will shut off your account if your site gets hacked. Not DreamHost.

Their One Click Installs make it super easy to get set up on WordPress, and you can easily switch DreamPress dedicated WordPress hosting as your site is ready to go.

Furthermore, DreamHost is stands up for the privacy of their site owners, and also site visitors. At the time of this recording, DreamHost has been fighting the Department of Justice, who wants DreamHost to turn over visitor logs and IP addresses for people who visited a political website. DreamHost is dedicated to protecting the privacy of its customers and visitors, while other hosts turn over information to the government on a regular basis.

If you already have a host, I still recommend switching to DreamHost. It’s a far superior server. You can always point your domain to DreamHost’s servers later on.


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