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Choosing a Website Hosting Company

There are quite a few important criteria which we use to select a hosting company.  If a company fails on any of these criteria, we would prefer not to deal with them.  This is especially important when it comes to getting customer support at night and on weekends.

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Reasonable Pricing:

While price is important, it is not a good measure of how the hosting company will perform in the long run.

Most companies will offer a money back guarantee within the first 30 days, but if your Domain Name is registered with them, that name can be locked in with them for up to 2 months, making it very difficult to move away from them if there are problems.

We suggest keeping your domain name registered with a DIFFERENT company than where you have your actual website hosted so that you can not be held hostage by that hosting provider.  If your domain name is hosted separately, you can move your website at anytime should the need arise.  Though this is not a common occurance, it sometimes becomes necessary if a hosting provider gets purchased by another company and its service levels deteriorate as a result.

Also check whether the prices you are dealing with are in $CA or $US because the exchange rate on the US/Canadian dollar is a cost factor which you need to be aware of.

7 x 24 Customer Service with a Live Person:

If the hosting company ONLY allows a ticketing system and does not allow telephone support, we would not host with that company.  If you are limited to communicating with them through email, then you can expect problem resolution to times to be measure in days, not hour or minutes. 

Customer Service for your web site hosting provider needs to be available on a 7 day per week 24 hour basis. Remember that with 'shared hosting', your website will probably be hosted on the same server as several hundred other websites and that problems with their performance may effect your website.

While you are usually not the one contacting the hosting provider, as the website developers and managers, we need to know that the hosting provider will be available if we need them.

Clearly Spoken and Understood English: 

The Technical Support person needs to be able to speak and understand English well, especially in technical areas.  We generally find that we get the best service when the technical support is located here in Canada or in the USA.  While some overseas call centres offer excellent service, we recommend checking this out before setting up an account.  Be aware that they may use different call centres at night or on weekends to reduce costs so you may have to try calling in at several different times.

A telephone line which is free from electrical noise, noisey call centre background noise makes a big difference when trying to deal with Technical Support.  It is usually a good idea to try to speak to them before you get into a hosting agreement with a new hosting company.  You can use this as an opportunity to check out whether or not they meet the technical specifications required for your hosting such as bandwidth and the number of simultaneous MySQL database connections.

Up to Date and Full Patched Servers:

Linux, Apache, PHP5 and MySQL software need to be upgraded on a regular basis by the hosting company.  It us usally a good plan to try calling their technical support and try to find out what versions of software they are running.  If it is difficult to get in contact with them or they do not want to give that information, that does not bode well for how they will react when there is a problem or how open they may be about discussing possible security issues.

TOS: Unlimited, Unlimited, Unlimited, Unlimited!

There is no such thing as 'Unlimited'.   There are always limits and they are usually not published in the hosting company's posted Terms of Service Agreement or are given in vague terms which are subject to their interpretation with no recourse on your part.  These vague terms in the TOS leave them with the ability to 'toss' your account for a 'TOS' violation at their whim with no notice.

All of a sudden your website can disappear with not notice if your website starts to require more resources than the hosting company allows.

Having a good understanding of what their 'unlimited' limits are will help determine how good a fit they are for you website:

Typical Terms of Service (TOS) Limits which you should be aware of:

  • Number of sent emails / hour or emails/ day. 
  • The size of your email boxes may be limited.   Some companies allow the size to be increased at a price.  Usually we recommend forwarding the email to an email box at GMAIL or YAHOO and not using the email service offered by the hosting company. 
  • The file size of the website  (usually not a problem). 
  • Maximum bandwidth per hour day or month... an important limiting factor for websites which host their own video or audio files for download or which have a large number of pictures or files for download. 
    At some hosting companies,  a website will go 'dead' if it exceeds any of its bandwidth limits or you may be surcharged for any excess capacity by the hosting company.   It is important to understand how they handle these situations.
  • Number of MySQL databases and/or MySQL Tables. 
  • Maximum number of MySQL database connections (usually limited to 5 to 15 for discount hosting services).

Recommended Domain Name Registration Companies:

Currently, we have almost all of our domain names registered through GoDaddy though we do have several domain names hosted with TuCows and Domains At Cost because they were already hosted by them when we took on the websites.  We have seen no reason to move those domains so we would have no problems with recommending those companies also.

The majority of them are hosted with Godaddy because they have excellent pricing and allow us to manage domain names for clients where the registration and billing is done by the client but they would like to have us help them from time to time.

 

Recommended Companies offering Shared Webhosting: 


We have a good working relationship with both  HostPapa.ca  and  IXWebhosting.com and we are confident of recommending them for most hosting purposes.  HostPapa is a Canadian company with its servers located in Toronto.  The majority of our hosting is done with those 2 companies. 

If you are looking for advice on evaluating a hosting company and we can help you find a good fit for your needs.