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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 our DNS is 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.
We have had good working relationship with HostPapa.ca for about 10 years and we are confident of recommending them for most hosting purposes. HostPapa is a Canadian company based in Oakville. The majority of our hosting is done with them.
If you are looking for advice on evaluating a hosting company and we can help you find a good fit for your needs. There are several hosting companies who are well worth avoiding and we can help you with that.... but that is not a story for this webpage.