These days, it seems to be cool to select the lowest price option for anything, regardless of the merits of the service selected. In some cases, that is fine. However, one common case where this may not be the best option is with your web site.
Assuming you have a domain name for your web site, you have some sort of hosting service for it. For many people, it makes little difference who hosts the site. However, if you have any technical inclination, you are likely to want to tinker with it. In that particular case, you really want to have a hosting provider who is willing to talk to you, and possibly help you out with server configuration issues. This is where the cheapest solution from a gigantic company does not truly serve. Try talking to a knowledgeable technical support person at any large company and you’ll immediately realize what I mean.
The solution for that problem is to find a fairly small hosting operation who will be willing to talk to you if you have questions or problems. The company I use is Lexicom who also handle my domain registrations. Over the years, I have had excellent service from them.
There are a few things you should think carefully about when selecting a hosting company, especially related to your criteria for selecting a company.
The biggest thing a lot of people worry about when they select a hosting provider is support. Many people think they need 24/7 support. In actual fact, you don’t need it. Response during a business day is enough for your web site. Nothing about your blog is critical to your life. If it happens to be down for a few hours, or even a few days in a rare circumstance, it is not going to destroy your life. Neither will it destroy your business. Consider that even the likes of Google or Amazon have downtime. How about the recent multi-day outage for Blackberry? And face it, your site is not even remotely in the same league as them. Instead of a 24/7 support phone line, what you should be looking for is knowledgeable and competent support staff. After all, waiting through the weekend until Monday morning and then having the problem actually fixed is better than playing the telephone referral dance for several days and still having no resolution.
Another thing to consider is what you are going to do with your site. If you are just going to put up a wordpress blog, you do not need a “hosting control panel”, DNS management, five MySQL databases, extensive web site statistics, SSL certificates, mod_perl, the cloud, or any other buzzword the hosting providers like to throw around. You just need a basic hosting package that provides the minimal requirements for your site. Almost all support PHP and a MySQL database, which is probably all you need.
Also, when considering the included storage and traffic in each package, think about it realistically. Most web sites have hardly any real traffic. Very few exceed 1GB of traffic in a month on a regular basis. Even fewer exceed 5GB. Additionally, very few need more than a few dozen MB of actual storage space. There is no benefit to selecting a hosting provider that allows 50GB of traffic monthly over one that allows 5GB monthly if your web site is only ever going to do 1GB monthly. A similar consideration applies for storage.
Finally, does it really make sense to choose the hosting provider that is $1/month cheaper simply to save $12/year? That’s less than 2 designer coffees. Is your time to switch providers to save $12/year worth less than that $12? I know mine isn’t. (The same goes for domain registration fees, by the way.)
My hosting provider, Lexicom, charges $60/year for a basic hosting package that includes everything needed to run wordpress, or most any other reasonable content management system. Add that to my domain registration fee of about $20/year, I pay about $80/year for my web site. The domain itself would be cheaper if I renewed for more than one year at a time. Sure, I might be able to get the same thing for $30/year from one of the huge companies out there, but I value the time it would take to switch (more than an hour probably) considerably higher than $50. Also, I have the satisfaction of knowing that the company I deal with is Canadian and is not subject to foreign legal systems. I know my data is in Canada and not sitting on some random virtual server in, say, the United States.
So if you’re looking for a hosting arrangement for a domain, or even to transfer an existing one to a nicer provider, go ahead an give Lexicom a call. They’ll be happy to talk to you.