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What Your Mom Never Told You About Choosing A Web Hosting Provider

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Finding cheap web hosting is easy. Looking for fast WordPress hosting is like dating. You check out the web hosting provider, ask a few questions and sign up. If you don’t like the hosting plan, you move on.  The problem is, changing hosting providers is painful, especially once your website is up and running.  So how do you decide which hosting provider is the best for you?

If a friend asked me that question, I’d tell them to look at price, speed, support, and features but not necessarily in that order because all are important. It’s not news that most companies offer a “starter” hosting plan around $3 – 5/ month.  They pull new clients in with that. While a cheap hosting plan is attractive to some, it is not the plan I’d recommend over the long term especially if being online is important to earning a living. If you only use price and speed as your decision-making criteria, just pick a web hosting company name out of a hat since no hosting company can survive if they are too expensive or slow. 

There are nuances between web hosting companies and the hosting plans they offer. This review isn’t about comparing the top ten hosting providers. This article is about offering real-world experience with one hosting provider to help you know what to look for so you get the best WordPress hosting for your hard-earned cash. You should expect a certain level of service when signing up with a web hosting provider and if you don’t get that then change as fast as you can. Especially, if your business depends on it.

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It’s also a little about common sense shopping and real-world referrals based on actual experience.

-WP Blogger Tools

For anyone who is new to blogging and WordPress website design, aim for the best support you can get and afford from the provider you select. Starting your blog or building your new website is less stressful if you can reach out, ask a question and get a response from your hosting provider in a reasonable amount of time. You shouldn’t expect your provider to create your blog (unless you’re paying them to do so) but you should expect to be able to get answers to basic questions. My first hosting provider always answered the phone which was a real plus. However, I soon discovered that their support ranged from useful to neutral.  Nowadays I rarely call but when required I expect to get the problem addressed quickly.

Here is my advice before signing up with a web hosting company. When choosing a hosting provider, think about the features they offer. Do the features meet your needs? You should have a few ideas about what you need.  For example, I use WordPress, not Joomla or Drupal. I believe in good backups using my web hosting provider’s backup service even when using WordPress plugins to do the same.  Maybe it’s overkill but I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into my websites; hopefully, I’ll never the backups. Other hosting features I use fall into paid plan options offered using that web hosting provider’s Cpanel or equivalent administrative dashboard.

Of course, hosting is the tip of the iceberg when considering the cost of a website.  As a small business, a budget is essential so check out this article “How Much Should A Website Cost – Website Maintenance Cost.

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As for web hosting, this site uses A2Hosting for a reason. I recommend it based on experience with this hosting provider.

6 Criteria that make a good web hosting provider

1. Hosting provider customer support 

Everyone expects great service.  Sometimes that doesn’t happen, especially when promises that don’t live up to expectations. Our current provider A2Hosting has provided the service we need which is why we can recommend them. You’ll notice we’re not recommending the top 5, we’re recommending the #1 we use. There’s a reason for that. Yes, there I get a small commission if you use the affiliate link but I’m not out to make tons of money on that. I think A2Hosting is a good choice and want to share why.

2. Web hosting support and technical know-how

It’s is essential to have providers that know how to fix issues, answer questions and get the job done quickly. It’s never fun to find out there is a problem that takes days to address. Not only does that create stress it can impact both your site and your viewers. The best experiences with hosting have been when support took the time to address an issue and then assisted with any additional questions that came up.

Compare that to the opposite extreme. Here is a real experience from a previous provider (name removed). Calling in was basic like throwing a dart at a dartboard. One time support would simply log in a ticket and other times support worked while on the phone towards resolution. The roller coaster experience with that provider left uncertainty about support and so we moved to A2Hosting .

3. Response time and resolution

Today, especially in the US where most of us expect the “fast food” approach. It’s become our nature. We want to call or email for help, get it and move on. In most cases, that happens. With complex issues, it takes longer to address, but if your provider is not responsive then you should go elsewhere.

4. Load – more isn’t better

We all want our websites to be responsive, eliminating slow loading pages.  Obviously, website performance relates to configuration, image size, CDN and caching, but performance also relates to your provider’s system’s resources. No one wants to be impacted by another site on a shared system that is spamming the world or is poorly configured. Plus all good providers face occasional Internet issues but have the proper safeguards to deal with those.

The point is that a good provider that can take immediate action when an issue arises.  A2Hosting has clearly demonstrated that they can respond to performance, security and technical issues and resolve them efficiently.

5. Web Hosting options you need

Options on what service plan you use, what software, backup, SSL certificates, and content delivery if any. Most providers have many options; some are free and some are “add ons” to your original hosting fee. SSL is a requirement these days; A2Hosting provides free Let’s Encrypt SSL certs. That isn’t always the case with every provider so check first before you sign up

Backup your site. Period. Backups are that reality which becomes critical only when you need them. Issues happen, systems fail always at the most inconvenient times so make sure you understand the backup capabilities your provider offers.

Content delivery or caching is another essential but 99.99% of the time you will be going to a 3rd party for content delivery. That cost can vary widely up to $99/month or more with some services. While we didn’t select the free Cloudflare choice it was available to us.

6. Security isn’t optional

Getting hacked isn’t fun. Don’t be the low hanging fruit on the tree. A good provider patches their systems. A good provider notifies you about issues affecting your site. You are still responsible for updates to WordPress, theme and pluggins but a good provider takes care of the underlying systems.

7. Cheap isn’t really free – “You Get What You Pay For”

This is the bottom line. Shared is cheap and great to start with. Shared hosting is a good option even if you’ve been around a while because you will always have costs beyond that $3/4 per month hosting fee. Shared is the option many website owners use. Shared systems can have hundreds of websites and are built to be robust. But the cheapest shared systems aren’t the fastest and if you want performance then going with the cheapest web hosting plan available might not be the fastest. You get what you pay for. Even with the fastest web hosting you can afford, an issue might still occur. However, with a good provider, any issue will be immediately addressed. So if possible skip the most expensive or the cheapest hosting plan but pick something in the middle that you can afford.

6 Reasons why A2hosting is a good web hosting provider choice.

a)  Their CPanel has lots of tools available to manage domains, site, backups, email, WordPress, MySql and more. In particular, their Dropmysite backups can create backups of individual websites within one account and maintain those backups separately. Backup and recovery using the program is intuitive and easy. Domain management, email account creation and management are just as straightforward. The Softaculous App Installer makes installing and cloning a WordPress website easy and fast. They offer Cloudflare CDN services, SEO tools, Redirects and Cron jobs. All these services are useful for managing WordPress websites but depending on your needs you may need some or none of them.

b)  WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and other content management choices are all supported.  We use WordPress exclusively and love using the Softaculous installer A2Hosting does offer an “optimized” install version of WordPress but since we install and configure based on our own process and pre-selected plugins that is not a requirement for us.

c)  Sites are fast even on shared hosting with A2hosting. This is our personal experience and it wasn’t the case with our previous provider.

d)  Their support is good; there are busy times when using phone or chat means waiting in the queue.  They don’t configure WordPress but they do respond to issues.

e)  Their hosting costs are middle of the pack. There are certainly more expensive options out there.

f)  We recommend their mid-level shared hosting plan as a robust starting point and suggest adding on the extra backup option with Dropmysite. Here’s a little secret most providers don’t advertise. A shared hosting plan may have several hundred websites on it. That’s why it’s “shared” and why the monthly fee is low so if you decide on the cheapest hosting plan available you may find even when fully optimize it might not meet your need and it won’t matter what web hosting provider you choose.

So if you haven’t done it yet, you may find that A2Hosting is a good choice for you and your budget. Take a look at their hosting plans and see if one meets your needs. We’re happy with A2Hosting and think you might be too.

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What Your Mom Never Told You About Choosing A Web Hosting Provider

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