Maybe their website would randomly “go down” for hours at a time. Or maybe their site would only go down for a minute or two, but on a waaaay-too-regular basis.
My own “hosting nightmare” came to life this past September. I had just updated WordPress and my website’s theme – a simple task that wouldn’t normally cause problems – and was immediately greeted by the white screen of death.
My site was completely down.
And I had NO idea what to do. I couldn’t log into my site from the backend because the log-in page wouldn’t load, and the front end of my site was a blank white screen. No text, no error message, nothing.
I ended up hiring a developer to figure out what was happening. Three hours and $60 later, we know what had gone wrong: My site was using out-of-date PHP that was no longer supported by the current version of WordPress, or the updated version of my theme.
In other words: My hosting company had failed to update me to even a relatively new version of PHP. Which is why my site went down when I installed those updates.
Now I won’t name names, but I will say that I’m no longer with that hosting company. *Ahem* Moving on…
How to Choose a Web Host That Won’t Let You Down
Choosing a web host is one of the most daunting tasks for new WordPress bloggers. There are lots of not-so-great hosting companies out there, but there are some hidden gems. After working through the 6 steps below, you’ll be able to find the perfect web host for your site!
WHAT EXACTLY IS A WEB HOST?
When you use WordPress.org, your website is referred to as “self-hosted”. This means it’s not owned or operated by the WordPress company, but by an outside source. For a fee, these hosting companies provide the storage space needed to keep your website up and running.
HOW MUCH DOES WEB HOSTING COST?
The rates will vary from host to host and between the different packages each company offers. The most inexpensive hosting I’ve seen was around $60/year, but packages can go well into the hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars if your website has its own dedicated server.
SO HOW DO I CHOOSE THE BEST WEB HOST?
To help you choose the best web host for your new WordPress site (and to ensure you don’t wind up with a DUD), follow the six steps below. And make sure to stick around to the end of the post where I’m sharing my top two web hosts for beginners!
STEP #1. READ CUSTOMER REVIEWS
Before you look at pricing and packages, check out what current and former customers have to say about the host and its services. Read outside reviews, not just those on the company’s website (because you never know how legitimate those reviews are!)
Pretty much every web host under the sun will have some negative reviews, so don’t let a few bad comments scare you. If over 80% of the reviews are positive, the company is probably worth looking into further. If the majority of reviews are negative, give that company a pass and move on to the next one.
STEP #2. LOOK AT THEIR PRICING
Most companies will have multiple packages available, all of which come with a different price tag. If a particular company has prices that are WAY out of your range, cross them off the list right away. No point in looking at what you can’t afford!
For a good web host, you can expect to pay $80+ per year. Side Note: If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is! Don’t expect phenomenal service if you purchase your hosting at a crazy-low price.
STEP #3. LOOK AT WHAT’S INCLUDED IN EACH PACKAGE
Going with the cheapest package isn’t always your best bet. Sometimes, the middle-of-the-road package or even the highest package will give you the best value for your money. Look at each package and ask the following questions:
• Does a domain name come included with the hosting?
>> Often hosting companies will pair hosting and domain names together, which makes things super easy and affordable for you.
• If so, do you also get a custom email address and webmail?
• How many websites can you run with each package?
>> Some packages will allow you to have multiple websites on a single plan, which will dramatically reduce your yearly cost if you run multiple sites!
• Are there any extra bonuses included with the packages?
>> For example, my current web host company also provides:
• Free, no down-time web transfers
• Free backups
• Visitor stats
STEP #4. LOOK AT THE PAYMENT PLANS AND OPTIONS
With most hosting packages, you’ll have to pay for a full year of hosting upfront. However, keep in mind that you can generally cancel at anytime – for instance, if you can no longer afford that package or company, or if you want to switch to a different host.
You should also check out the different ways you can pay for your hosting package: e.g., credit card, PayPal, e-transfer, etc. Which method works best for you?
STEP #5. EVALUATE THEIR CUSTOMER SERVICE
Customer service is SO important, especially when you’re new to WordPress and probably have tons of questions.
When I switched from my old host to my current host, I was blown away by their customer service. I filled out their contact form with a million and one questions, all of which were answered quickly and professionally by one of their customer service reps. He even set me up with a super great rate on their highest hosting plan!
If you have questions about a specific package, price, payment plan, or how the process works, reach out to the host’s support team. If your questions are answered quickly (and well), it’s a good sign that the company has great customer service. If the response takes ages and you’re not impressed with the answers, it’s probably a sign of bad things to come.
STEP #6. SEE IF THEY HAVE EASY WORDPRESS INSTALL
Lots of hosting companies offer “one-click” WordPress install. This is super handy if you’re brand new to WordPress or if you’re not very tech-savvy (like me). Some companies will actually install WordPress FOR YOU if you sign up for their WordPress hosting plan.
If you can’t find this information listed on the company’s website, reach out to their support team and ask if they have easy WordPress install. It’s better to know these things ahead of time than to ask after-the-fact and end up floundering!
MY TWO FAVORITE WEB HOSTING COMPANIES
I think I’ve teased you long enough, so it’s time to share my two favorite web hosts! Keep in mind that this is just my opinion, and it comes from my own experience and the recommendations of my friends and peers. Always do your own research, and choose the best web host for YOU.
InMotion is the company I currently use for hosting. Their support team is incredibly helpful, they have competitive prices, and their packages come with a ton of bonus stuff for free.
I don’t often hear people talking about InMotion, which is surprising. They came recommended to me by a web developer I trust, and I haven’t been disappointed!
Although I don’t personally use Siteground, I have lots of friends and peers who do and who highly recommend them. Their customer support team is said to be amazing, and they even offer a free content transfer if you’re moving your website from a different platform!