How to choose the best among web hosting offers in 2017

Once you feel that your blog is growing fast and it cannot be handled by free platforms, the first thing you look for is a good web host, isn't it?

There are numerous sites on the web telling you which website hosts are the best. We can't dispute their reviews but advise that in mnay cases, such reviews and recommendations are colored; they have some hidden commercial relationship with the web host they recommend

How to select the web host most suited for your needs

Consider various factors that are relevant for your blog, and then pick the host that suits your needs. We had earlier talked about what all you should consider while selecting a web host; check each host for these because shifting blog/ website from one host to the other again and again can be painful.

In the present post, we'd take that discussion forward and help you select a good web host for your website or blog. As always, our recommendations are fully unbiased and are not influenced by any advertisement that might appear on ITB. These recommendations, updated as of 2017, are meant to suit small or medium sized enterprises and bloggers.

Web host: a place in the web world. Photo:Pixabay

1. You won't have issues with shared hosting.

Shared hosting is good for users who don't want to spend a lot of money on hosting packages and don't mind some of its traffic and data transfer limitations. VPS hosting is great for businesses that want more power than shared hosting, but don't want to deal with dedicated hosting's prices. Dedicated hosting is both powerful and pricey; it's reserved for sites that experience incredibly high levels of traffic per day. Managed WordPress hosting is for those who want to build their sites on the back of the popular WordPress content management system (CMS), but don't want to bother with a lot of the back-end stuff (such as updating the apps and CMS, and enabling automatic backups). In cloud hosting, you pay for only as much resources you use but is at present more expensive than shared hosting.

2. You can always graduate to a more robust, feature-rich package.

All major web hosts have more than one plan. You can upgrade the plan once your blog grows bigger than what can be handled by the smaller plan. So, there is no need to spend extra bucks from the beginning unless you think you'd become very big very soon. 

There is a catch though in this arrangement: some web hosts start charging exorbitantly once you upgrade. In fact, you should be checking bigger plans than what you plan to buy initially and be wary of web hosts that have steep up-gradation costs.
3. Server location is a very important factor.

In olden times, you could buy hosting plans from only one location where the server of the web host was located. Now most big guys have servers in many countries, at least one in each continent (except Antarctica, of course). For example, if you are not located in the US and click on a link on a web host's advertisement in this website, it might take you straight to the web host's site meant for your country, and the rates might be better than what are seen on the ad. 

In most cases, it is more cost-effective to buy from a server in your location; it might also give you better customer service and in your native language. 

But be doubly sure that the local guys are as good as the main one. Check online forums and review sites, make local inquiries and also call them up. Why we advise this is because we have seen many reports that some hosts have unreliable franchisees or inefficient local units outside their headquarters.

4. Most bloggers are served well by Wordpress CMS, so website builder might not be of much use.  

If the web host is giving you a website builder on a cost, you need to assess whether you really need that. Small businesses and all bloggers will seldom need a website builder that has features beyond what Wordpress CMS can give - and it is free. 

If you host your blog that is made on Blogger platform, you can continue to use Blogger's tools. In general, you won't need many new features. Of course, if you need new features, e.g. latest templates or e-commerce features, you should not hesitate to pay for their tools.

So, do not pay for a website builder if you don't need it. But if you are a big or growing business, it might help to go for the web host's website builder and even get the website built by experts.

Why not have a look at this series on migrating the existing Wordpress or Blogger blog to a new host?

5.  Site up time is one of the most important things to consider. Big web hosts, all of them, boast of a fantastic up time. Though there are reports of poor service when their servers sometimes go down or get slow, they still are the most reliable lot. Small, local, web hosts might have a problem here.  

How do the biggest web hosts fare in 2017 ?

In a post last year, we had discussed  good/ bad features of some of the biggest names in the web hosting industry: Bluehost, DreamHost, GoDaddy, HostGator, InMotion

All these web hosts are still the toppers and we retain the list. We won't rank them according to price and features as we have seen a full range of good and bad reports about all of them and we believe that location, type of plan, personal needs and level of understanding about technical aspects are big factors in the quality of output - so the quality of web hosts is difficult to judge in absolute terms.

The hazard of ranking will be clear if you see these reports: There is a site, HostingFacts, which finds HostGator's cloud offer as one of the cheapest and with the best up time, fastest load time and fast service, leaving all others much behind. While it finds Bluehost with a poor load time, not so great up time and poor customer service, another reviewer Top Web Hosting finds Bluehost as the best web host! WhoIsHostingThis is gaga over SiteGround, finding it feature rich, most liked by users and much above the ones mentioned in this article.

Just a small addition to our earlier understanding of these biggies. We find that HostGator has improved its customer service and has added new features. GoDaddy is big and reliable too, and it scores over others in domain name registration more than web hosting. But make your own assessment especially if you are in a country other than the host's headquarters.

All the best!