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Choosing a host by Daniel

Last updated: 02/05/2012
Biography: Daniel has been interested in web design since 1999, when he first started designing a personal website. Since then, he has learnt much, and is interested in new web standards like XHTML and CSS, and in PHP.

Daniel is responsible for managing the 4WebHelp Forums, along with the forum moderators. He should be contacted for any modifications to your forum account (which you cannot do through the phpBB interface) and for any issues you may have with moderation.
See 9 more tutorials by Daniel

When you have a website, choosing a good host is crucial for its success. If your site is down all the time, how can it be successful? But how can you be sure you've got a good host? Well there isn't really any miracle answer to that question, but before you sign up with a host, you might want to ask them some of the questions below. When you have had satisfactory answers to these questions, try searching the web and newsgroups for the host's name, and also try a search at WebHostingTalk.

Beware: You probably shouldn't ask them all of these questions! Choose the ones which apply to you (for example, not everyone needs anonymous FTP). Do not just copy and paste these questions into an email!

Note: This is a work in progress. I will add questions as I think of them or as they are sent to me.

  • Space
    • How much space?
    • How much to add more?
    • What is counted (website, email, logs, databases, etc...)?
  • Bandwidth - Transfer
    • How much bandwidth/transfer (technically, transfer is the appropriate word, and bandwidth is incorrect, but most hosts use bandwidth)?
    • How much if I go over my allocation?
    • What is counted (website, email, FTP, SMTP, etc...)?
    • Who is their bandwidth provider (Cogent bandwidth is lower quality bandwidth, but cheaper, which in turn usually means a lower price for you)?
    • Is there a file which can be downloaded to test the speed (you might try testing it during offpeak and peak hours)?
  • Uptime Guarantee - Service Level Agreements
    • Is there an uptime guarantee (if there is, make sure it in the terms & conditions)?
    • What does it exclude?
    • Over how a long a period is it calculated (go away if it's yearly - monthly is the maximum!)?
    • What do I get if the guarantee is not met?
    • What is the current uptime on their servers (if it is low, ask why)?
  • PHP
    • What version are they running?
    • Is PHP running in safe mode?
    • Is there an open_basedir restriction?
    • What modules are installed (ie: are the ones you need installed)?
  • Databases
    • How many?
    • What kind of database (ie: MySQL, PostgreSQL, Access, MS SQL)?
  • Operating System
    • Linux? If so, what distribution?
    • Unix flavour?
    • Windows?
  • FTP
    • Are multiple connections at once allowed?
    • Is it possible to have more than one FTP username?
    • Is anonymous FTP available?
  • Email
    • How many POP boxes?
    • Are the POP boxes IMAP compatible?
    • Is there a webmail interface to check the POP boxes? If so, what script (ie: Horde IMP, Squirrelmail, etc...)?
    • How many forwarders?
    • Are mailing lists supported? If so, how many and using which program (ie: Majordomo, Mailman, etc...)?
    • How many autoresponders?
    • Is a spam protection program installed?
  • Statistics
    • Are any statistics available to see how many visitors I have had?
    • If so, what program are they generated by? Example?
  • General
    • How long have they been in business?
    • Where are they based? Where are the employees (it helps if they're not asleep when you're awake)? How many of them
    • Is a demo of their control panel available?
    • Is telnet/SSH access available? Most hosts will either not provide this, provide it only on expensive accounts, or only provide it if a valid reason for needing it is provided (some hosts even ask for a faxed copy of ID).
    • Is it possible to be hosted on one of their subdomains (ie: yoursubdomain.yourhost.com) instead of on a top level domain name?
    • Is SSL available? If so, for how much extra? Is a shared SSL certificate available (for all the server's users)?
    • Is a dedicated IP included (ie: you do not share the IP with all the people on the server)? If not, is it possible to get one, and for how much?
    • Is an upgrade to a lower/higher plan free?
    • How many websites will there be on each server?
    • Are the FrontPage extensions installed?
    • Are web based file uploads possible?
  • Server
    • What processor? How much memory?
    • How much of the processor's power can I use (some scripts are very intensive on the server)? Is this monitored?
    • Am I allowed to use x script (ie: ikonboard is banned on most hosts)?
    • Do I have access to my crontab file?
  • Web Server
    • What web server are they running (ie: Apache, IIS, Zeus, etc...)?
    • Under what user do my scripts run?
    • Who is the file owner?
    • What Perl modules are installed?
  • Support
    • Email only? Phone (toll-free or not)? Forums? Instant Messaging (ICQ, MSN, AIM, Yahoo, etc...)? Chat Room or equivalent?
  • Price
    • Paid monthly, yearly, bi-monthly? Make sure you don't pay yearly if you're on a big account - things could turn nasty, and then you'd be stuck
    • Discount for paying over longer period?
    • Ask for custom quote - you may get a better deal ;-)
  • Refunds
    • Are free trials available? If so, for how long?
    • Is there a money-back guarantee? If so, for how long? Are there any special conditions for this guarantee?
    • Are they pro-rated?

© 4WebHelp and Daniel

Latest comments on this tutorial
Name: polo91Email puppyflower880 at gmail dot com
Cost and speed are very important requirements while considering to choose a good host.I followed both points and found a reliable web hoster http://www.9cubehosting.com/cheap_hosting/  Recently i hosted my website using this site.I never had any problem.
Name: sophiaEmail sophia at zcrafts dot com
Hello,

If its UK Hosting requirement.. I have no question asking to take a look at http://www.webhost.uk.net I am with them for 3 years ..I will say they are the best UK web Hosting company I have come across from last 6 years hosting experience .

Name: ZyeEmail none
My company just left Webhosting UK after a year with them (VPS package). Started off good, great instant support, good uptime. Recently our VPS was hacked and they instantly blamed us for sending spam. We assured them that we had nothing to do with it. After the server was down for 4 days (40+ client domains) we were told that we would be migrated. The migration happened and the server re-instated. The server was up for one day when it was suspended for Abuse complaints. When I say suspended, I mean that they were not going to switch on our VPS no matter what. Not even to investigate further. We were not told that our VPS account had been suspended completely or anything ... high and dry. We pay quarterly and there is not one word from them at all. They might as well have said " you are finished with us, bye". I am now frightened of all hosting companies. It's like you have to have a mirror of your server just in case you get ceased by your provider. My woes happened behind the scenes. I didn't post on their forum so no one knows. A couple of our clients jumped ship and got shared hosting with them on my recommendation. One was down after 2 weeks and the other accused of phishing when it was a bad shared IP. They seem over subscribed to me, I do belive that they are closely affiliated with Eukhost. All in all they have a good infastructure, but expect your site to go down now and then. They treated us like nobody, likle go to another host if you want to. We have too many subscribers to care. Goddbye WHUK ...
Name: ChristinaEmail christinaanderson17 at yahoo dot com
After some bad experiences with other hosting companies we found Bodhost.co.uk. They offer 24x7 support through email, live chat and free phone support. Bodhost.co.uk provides full SSH root access to their VPS through which you can easily manage most of the things from your end too.We are hosting 5 major websites on bodhost's VPS and yet we haven't faced any major problem. Most of the issues are solved on chat itself their support staff is very friendly. Pricing is also good especially if you pay for a year in advance.
Name: AnonymousEmail none
I've had downtime problems with WebHosting.UK.com. My server is constantly down and their support is ****.
Name: vjEmail vienyvez at gmail dot com
i paid for a reseller account with webhosting.uk.com. the site says that webshoting.uk.com would be transparent to my domain services. after paying them the reselling account, i realized that they could not hinde webhosting.uk.com from my WHOIS result of my own very domain, they said it is not possible and their site says that they would remain anonymous but it's all lies.

have a chat with them, took me over an hour, after the discussion of removing their support email and website from the WHOIS result, i ended up being told that there was a connection error during the chat, tendency is i have to reconnect back and chat with another person and tell them the same story all over again.
i was advised in the end that hiding their own domain from WHOIS results would cost me 9 pounds yearly, trying to squeezing out my money on a small time chatting with them.

i end up having a refund of the reseller's account but not the domain registration

if you can get a better hosting company, it would be better, stay away from this web hosting company that tries to get your money and more of it.

Name: alphawaveEmail think_harry at hotmail dot com
After putting up with our previous hosting provider constant downtime we decided to move to webhosting.uk.com Their service is as good as it gets ..... with friendly staff, quick turnaround on billing and support issues and general good service. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone.
Name: jazzEmail jazz at bodhost dot com
http://www.Bodhost.co.uk web hosting company providing quality web hosting service in United Kingdom. It also provides many more features, 24x7 Customer Support, 99.96% Uptime Guarantee and 30 days Money-back Guarantee.
Name: Rick AllenEmail admin at b9m dot net
I have been using http://www.eMonsterhost.com for well over 2 years now with no issues or down time.  They host a large gaming site of mine on a shared server.  THey might be able to help you out.

Best regards,
Rick
Name: Anthony PatrickEmail none
I have been overwhelmed by the quality of service and the costs that was provided by webhosting.uk.com. I have not met up with anyone who offers a service that comes close to it. I would recommend this company to everyone I meet up with.Great Service.
Name: AlanEmail chets2121 at gmail dot com
I have used many hosting companies in the past but I have to say that webhosting.uk.com has been the best support yet. They have a free phone number and MSN support which seems to always be online.

All my problems have been sorted immediately and though they have made mistakes (we all do), they have been fixed very quickly.

So, thanks to webhosting.uk.com  I have never spoken to a manager but all the level 1 techs seem extremely eager to help.
Name: Allan WatsonEmail none
I have been with EUKhosting for around 2 years. I will be changing providers in the not too distant future. Their support is great to start off with and after a few problems with down time I am finding extremely difficult to get in touch with them.

I am also lead to believe that they are also behind webhosting.uk.com

Good in the beginning slowly getting worse as time goes by.
Name: KyleEmail bofhack at gmail dot com
I would recommend to go through the Best Hosting review site i have seen ever http://hostingcomments.com .

One can get enough resources to distinguish berween TOP Hosts now a days. Also right to add your remarks and comments on particular host.
Name: sandune makerEmail suhaibgt3 at hotmail dot com
Well,i personallly would recommend EUKHOST, they provided excellent support, and their way of personally assisting a single customer is just simply mind blowing.
Name: PBEmail none
I have had lots of down time with webhosting.uk.com and I have been trying to contact them all day, phone times out, web chat is not answered and email not replied to.....any ideas as to what to do next?
Name: David GreenEmail none
I also agree that eUKhost are a excellent low cost yet high quality web hosting provider i would also recommend them.
Name: Nick DavisEmail none
Hello,

I also think eukhost are very good i have had no problems with them at all service is excellent and support is of great quality.

I do understand a lot of people have had problems with them but i do think there is a reason for this because me and my friends have had no problems at all.

I would happily recommend them.

Thanks

Nick davis
Name: geospriteEmail none
I strongly warn against using eukhost.
Cheap they may be, and you get what you pay for.

Initially support will be good but will fade until they are either rude or ignore you.

The '30 day money back garuantee' is fraudulent. You will not get money back.

The service is not even in the UK. the owner is a one man show reseller of US server space. He is also responsible for webhosting.uk.com and probably a number of other cowboy outfits all of which fail to provide the service offered. They will take your money and run.

just do a quick google search and see for yourself the number of complaints about them.

I will shortly be taking them to the small claims court and have reported them to Trading Standards.

STEER CLEAR.
Name: SamEmail none
Good article, wish I thought of those points when I started out.

I have now been (after 3 other hosts) using justahost (www.justahost.net). 25 a year for the basic plan.

No problems and a nice server in Telehouse London.
Name: AdzyboyEmail none
I recommend http://tripod.lycos.co.uk/

Also http://www.breezeland.com/

These both support PHP and MySql, both are free!! Also on Breezeland they have 24 Hour Support!
Name: MikeEmail none
I highly recommend http://www.eukhost.com/. It is very cheap and reliable. I have had web hosting for a year and service uptime has been increddible! I only had to fork out 20 for webhosting too! It came with excellent features like php, mysql, 100mb of webspace and good bandwidth.

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