I read an article today of all the factors to consider when selecting a hosting provider. They asked readers to consider 19 dimensions when making their decision. Yikes! Who would weigh that many considerations, especially when hosting is relatively commoditized?
In response, I've put together my own easy six steps to use when selecting a host:
How to Select a Host (In 6 Easy Steps)
- Determine the type of hosting you can afford each month.
- $5-10 = Shared
- $10-35 = Reseller
- $35-$100 = VPS or Cloud VPS
- $100+ = Dedicated (or more VPS / Cloud VPS resources)
- Find the best specs (storage, bandwidth, etc) you can for the money. The higher the numbers, generally, the better. But don't be fooled by ‘unlimited' offers. If your site lands on Digg's homepage, you can bet your ‘unlimited' plan will evaporate instantly.
- Determine what features are most important to you. Do you need a control panel (likely, yes)? Do you want one-click application installs (*cough* WordPress *cough*)? Do you want a bunch of email addresses, forwarders, subdomains and databases (see above, and likely, yes)?
- Start with the host with the best specs (#2), features (#3) and priced most competitively (read: the best value). Google the name of the host and add ‘reviews' behind your search. Read a bunch or reviews, using your best judgement to spot trends, holes in their support, or overwhelming negative reviews. Please keep in mind that most hosts have negative reviews and people are more likely to post about bad experiences, than good ones. If you don't like what you read, move on to the next competitively-priced host. Rinse and repeat.
- *TIP* If you find one that you would like to take a chance on, try to find a coupon code, special offer, or free trial. Google the name of the company and add ‘coupon code', ‘special offers', or ‘free trial' to the end of the search.
- Purchase your new hosting plan and wait for the automated emails to roll in. Read the next series of emails closely and follow the instructions.
If you want my recommendation, I determined that I wanted a cloud VPS server with root access (which meant that I could install just about anything on a dedicated [virtual] machine). I clicked every link and paid advertisement for five pages into Google. In the end, I determined that the best value was Enzu.com. Their Cloud-2GB plan had awesome specs for the money. While there were a couple hiccups in the beginning, they were smoothed out. My cloud VPS is stable, returning pages quickly, and I couldn't be happier.
Good luck to you on finding your new dream host!
References: How to choose a Web Host Company?