How to Choose Your Web Hosting Provider

Bryon Turcotte
Bryon Turcotte

This article was sponsored by Hostwinds. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make SitePoint possible!

It’s important to have a good grasp of what your web hosting needs are before committing to a specific web hosting provider. You need to consider whether that provider can handle what you have to deliver, along with the possibility that their services are far more complex and expensive than what you need. There are a few questions an individual or organization should ask themselves before making this decision and investment. Let’s review the most important.

How much money do you have to invest in hosting your web presence?

Many individuals and newly-born organizations considering their first website only think about achieving a quick, inexpensive launch. This can land many in a very common trap. Many will choose the cheapest option, or go for services that make a lot of promises for nothing. Unfortunately, big promises, low prices and unbelievable deals often lead to unreliable service, poor support plus a huge waste of time and money.

The financial, intellectual and creative investment involved in producing your website should be followed up with a careful choice of host. For example, an automobile collector doesn’t purchase an expensive and rare vehicle only to park it on a busy city street or next to a cliff known for falling rocks. Obviously, instead he’ll garage the vehicle where his investment will be protected and allowed to maintain it’s beauty for many years to come. Don’t sacrifice a major investment by not intelligently investing in your hosting. Your first step should be to research reliable and reputable hosting companies that can meet not only your budget but also your technical needs to make sure your investment is not wasted.

What type of web hosting do you need?

Not all websites demand the same level of performance and requirements from a hosting company because all do not see the same traffic, contain the same content and serve the same audience. You must evaluate your website’s purpose, expected performance and level of traffic before investigating the hosting options currently available. Web hosting providers usually offer a few choices of servers depending on your website’s need.

The most affordable and common web hosting server is the “Shared Server”. This option allows the hosting provider to house many websites on one server. This may be a good choice for individuals that author small websites with very few demands, but they will come with very few administrative resources.

A “Dedicated Server” may be a better option for those wishing to have a more dependable service, albeit at a higher budget. The bandwidth of expense can vary due to the servers feature set and amount of resources so an investment can be between hundreds to thousands of dollars each month.

Lastly, a “Virtual Private Server” or a VPS, often used by larger websites that require more services, doesn’t give you as wide a range of resources as a dedicated server does, but insures that no interruptions or outages will be caused by other websites that may overly demand resources. The cost of a VPS is usually somewhere in-between the Shared and Dedicated options.

What kind of administrative controls do you need? Does the hosting provider give you an option?

It’s strongly advised to choose a web hosting provider that offers a control panel to its clients for handling the web site’s administrative functionality. A common control panel called cPanel is one many web hosting providers offer so their clients can easily make modifications to their web site. Whichever control panel is offered, research that the application is reputable, stable and clearly supported. This could have a major impact on the functionality and stability of your web site’s performance.

What level of Technical Support and Customer Service should a web host offer?

Reputable customer service that works in concert with a responsive and dependable technical support team is an important consideration, especially for those who depend on the website to generate their primary source of income. A web hosting company that offers 24/7 technical support is always your best bet. Many offer multiple channels – email, IM, live chat or phone – to contact support staff. Generally, hosting companies that give multiple options for technical support aren’t afraid to communicate and help their clients.

Does this web hosting company have a good reputation? Have they received good reviews from their clients?

Every web hosting company makes promises, claims to be the best and most reliable, and says they will never let you down, but the truth rises to the top through the experiences of their existing clientele. It’s very important to research the web host that could potentially be caring for your investment. Search for reviews online that are posted by actual customers, reputable hosting industry experts or technical publications that can give an accurate and honest assessment of their experiences with the service. Remember, some reviews may contain links to an affiliate of the hosting provider you’re researching, so be careful.


It’s extremely important to remember that a house designed with the investment of ideas, creativity, time and many other precious resources should not be built on sand. Placing the home you love on a foundation of rock is and will always be the best plan. The web hosting provider you choose should mirror the rock foundation you visualize. Make sure it’s capable, stable, well grounded, big enough to support you correctly, and well-regarded. Make the correct choice now to move forward into a productive and profitable future.