With the large number of web hosting providers, it can be difficult to select a specific type and company. Luckily there are a variety of options available across the Internet. However, in order to select the provider that best fits your business or personal goals, it is important to conduct thorough research. As a result, many websites, directories and forums have come to fruition to satisfy this necessity.
Rating Web Hosting Providers
Many directories and ratings sites boast thousands of user reviews in a variety of categories. These sites also display their own reviews. Although ratings sites vary, the most detailed commonly have a side-by-side comparison of the following:
• The hosting company’s name
• Overall rating
• Package offerings
• Database support
• Availability of ecommerce hosting
• Online marketing tools
• Website creation tools
• Help and support
One helpful aspect of these rating’s sites is if you are not aware of the definition of a specific category or feature, the website will usually have a hyperlink to explain what that function is. This allows those who lack technical knowledge to learn more about the building blocks of the web hosting industry and what it has to offer.
The Hosting Company’s Name
Typically, the number of sites being compared will be displayed next to one another forming a matrix of information. In the top row of the matrix will be the provider’s being compared. In many instances, the ratings site will rank the hosting companies in order.
Most providers feature a variety of monthly pricing plans. The general rule is as follows: the higher monthly cost, the more features and resources like RAM, CPU usage, storage space and data transfer you will receive. However, it is also important only purchase what you need or believe you will need in the future. Buying more than needed is simply a waste of money.
The overall rating category is the total “score” of that particular web hosting provider. By placing this toward the top of the matrix, it is easy for those that are comparison shopping to view which companies are the best. Then, the customer can scroll down to learn why.
Monthly Package Offerings
The monthly package offerings section reviews the basic features included in all plans, expensive to inexpensive. For instance, several rows may showcase the amount of disk space and monthly data transfer.
Since websites require databases to access various type of information quickly, the majority of providers offer different types: MySQL pertains to the Linux operating system and MS SQL is most compatible with Windows. Therefore, this section displays the number of databases offered for each type.
The email segment exhibits a variety of features such as, POP3 addresses, webmail, form mail scripts, email forwarding, autoresponders, SMTP email, spam protection, IMAP addresses, catch-all email and email storage. The matrix shows whether that particular provider is compatible with each of these basic functions. In the instance of number of email addresses and storage space, a number is displayed.
Server access is important as it allows users the rights to upload and download files to the server via file transfer protocol (FTP) client. Therefore, this category lists the number of FTP accounts offered, .htaccess support, anonymous FTP usage, SSH and cron jobs availability. For the number of FTP accounts, a number is usually listed if they are not unlimited.
The domains area lists a variety of features such as, the number of domains, the number of add-on domains, the number of parked domains and the number of subdomains allowed per account. Other basic functions listed include, allowance of international domains, dedicated IP addresses, domain name transfers and domain search and registration.
The availability of ecommerce hosting is extremely important to the majority of customers since they are creating a website to sell some type of product. Therefore, it is in the best interest of all web hosting providers to offer this type of hosting. Many of the basic features that are reviewed involve SSL certificates, shopping carts and PayPal support.
Online Marketing Tools
Other features of ecommerce hosting fall within the realm of online marketing tools. Ratings sites look for the most basic resources which include mailing lists, search engine submission services and SEO assistance. Also, many providers deliver $50-$100 worth of free credits to use at Google to advertise your website.
Almost all web hosting providers offer some type of reporting and statistical analysis. Daily reporting is important to identify any traffic fluctuations as well as learn where your traffic originates. Common features include, log files and site traffic statistics.
Website Creation Tools
Although there have been a number of website creation tools available since the commercialization of web hosting, providers now offer these resources to create an all-in-one website business. Creation tools are typically comprised of a site builder and easy-to-use content management systems like WordPress, b2Evolution and Drupal.
Help and Support
Finally, a web hosting company is judged heavily on their customer support and availability. This includes, email support, around the clock phone support, video tutorials, forums, live chat support and a FAQ’s page.
Web hosting directories tend to have many more customer reviews than ratings sites. The reviews often mention the most important general aspects of a web hosting provider which include:
• Customer support
As previously mentioned, customer discuss the prices at various hosting companies and deliberate which offers the best bang for your buck. In many cases, customers will confer that a particular web host is not worth the money.
The second category commonly found on directory and ratings sites is uptime. This is the amount of time per month the servers are functional. Therefore, the higher the uptime the more Internet users will have access to your website thus improving sales and profits. This is a significantly important characteristic of a web hosting provider. Users that review the host will often comment on the amount of uptime (or downtime) each month.
The third classification of a web hosting provider is usually based on security which is also vital to ensure your website or server is not attacked. If it is the loaded security software will minimize the amount of damage. One of the most common security threats is a DDoS or Denial of Service attack in which millions of requests are sent to the same server thus causing overload.
The fourth group is the number of features offered per cost. Once again, the higher the cost the more features you often receive. Common extras include, shopping cart, credit card processing, scripts, applications, one-click installation of popular content management systems and much more. Users like features as they make their website much more functional.
The fifth category is customer support. Unless you have the top monthly plan, standard customer support is typically offered free of charge. For those with the best possible plan, there are VIP services allowing you to access customer support more quickly and receive in-depth answers. In many instances, remote customer support is available. This is another critical aspect of selecting the right web hosting provider.
The final category is the reputation of the web hosting provider. This can be obtained by searching reviews and rating sites. Accompanying reputation is the amount of experience in the industry, all aforementioned groups as well as the reliability of the company. You certainly do not need a provider that will be going out of business in the near future.
Importance of Directories
The primary reason it is important to check directories and rating sites for the previously mentioned categories is to obtain first-hand experience with regards to different aspects of different providers. When reading through the reviews, you want to note the trend of the users collectively. There will always be a few negative (or positive) reviews. However, if the average trend is of positive nature then the provider is a safe bet.
Also while perusing the discussions not the negative aspects of the provider as there could be specific details that could negatively affect your website. All other categories could be excellent while the weakest link could ruin your website. Read with caution, noting any negative characteristics while analyzing the overall satisfaction of customers.
Importance of Ratings Sites
It is always critical to check review sites. In many instances review sites are only out to get your money through their affiliate links. However, those that contain hundreds of reviews and ratings of different providers are likely to be more reputable than those with less.
One useful aspect of ratings sites is the ability to compare different provider’s side-by-side. Also, ratings sites provide all the information you need to sign up for a specific host and usually provide a snapshot of the aforementioned categories for quick and easy comparison. They are an excellent resource to collect information about a company and all it has to offer.
Reviews for the Review Sites
With so much information available on the Internet, it is difficult to know which sites are reliable. Therefore, many web hosting informational sites have collected the best review sites. Hence, prior to conducting research on a web hosting provider, it might be worthwhile to search for reviews of different review sites. This will give you insight into the reliability and accuracy of the reviews provided.
Aside from customer reviews, another reason to check web hosting directories and ratings sites is to read the in-depth reviews. The more reliable in-depth reviews have pages of articles that actually test each web hosting provider in the aforementioned categories as opposed to relying solely on customer reviews. These sites are the real-deal and can be trusted to provide unbiased, accurate information.
Use of Technology
With the rapid advancement in technology, many web hosting directories and ratings sites are using other means to review web hosting providers. Today, content is more than simply text based articles. Instead, many directories and rating sites are using video to portray that the most important aspects of a provider by showing you various aspects.
Video technology allows for those searching for information about a particular company or companies to actually see the various aspects that make one host better than another. It also gives them the chance to preview the negatives prior to locking into a contract.
Additionally, most directories contain links to their Facebook page, Twitter account and ability to add them on social networking sites. The primary functions of these features are ease-of-use for their customers and excellent exposure for the website thus increasing traffic.
Furthermore, rating’s sites also double as a hosting directory or blog in which customers can discuss the benefits and nuances of their particular web host. This is an excellent resource to acquire first-hand experience from customers in an unbiased setting.
Since almost all directories and rating’s websites on the Internet are affiliates, they attempt to provide content so you will click on the “buy” button. However, think of it this way; those that are legitimate sites deliver all the information you need to make an informed decision and an easy “buy” button to bring you directly to the homepage of the host of choice.
Selecting a web hosting provider can be a daunting task, especially if you do not know what you are searching for. Therefore, with the emergence of directories and rating sites, this task is now easier than ever. Many potential customers have become actual customers due to the reviews they have read online about different companies.
Utilizing the latest web-based technology like video, blogging and rss feeds; it is becoming even easier for customers to make an informed decision about a specific or group of web hosting providers. In the end, web host directories and rating sites are beneficial to those who use them and the companies that own them.