No really, I’m asking!
My web host
My first (and current) web host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net, was recommended to me by my husband when I moved from Blogger to WordPress. I didn’t really know anything about servers and hosting at the time, so I trusted my software engineer’s advice implicitly. He didn’t steer me wrong; I’ve found NSF.net to be reliable, affordable and communicable when there are any server problems.
NFS.net is rather different to many other server setups: they run their servers on a custom BSD (UNIX based) operating system and they have a pre-paid account system where they charge for usage (storage, bandwidth, and MySQL processes). This might seem foreign to many of you, and you might balk at the thought of paying for usage when you can pay month for “unlimited” storage and bandwidth, but actually, for small–medium sites NFS.net is incredibly affordable (my first year on there probably only cost about $16, and my second year was about $43). I quite like their simple user interface as well. It is a lot less cluttered and complicated than most cpanels.
NFS.net might not be suitable for everyone though, since sometimes it can be a bit more hands-on. You need to access your files vis FTP or SSH, there’s no built in file editor (there is phpMyAdmin for your databases though). Also, their faster server type uses PHP safe mode, which not all WordPress plugins will play nicely with. PHP safe mode is being deprecated and I have word that NFS.net is working on solutions for fast and secure servers without it, but it did prompt me to look around at other hosts.
What’s important to you?
So, what’s important to you in a web host?
Obviously, when running WordPress, PHP and MySQL are crucial. One of the things that I find valuable is control and access of my files, including SSH access and the ability to change permissions on files. SSH access is also handy as one of the ways to access MySQL apart from phpMyAdmin, using Sequel Pro.
I guess price, security and support and probably all gimmes too, but what else?
What about these words “unlimited”? Are they really unlimited? Are they over-selling? Are they talking themselves up? What if I decide to use my server as a backup for my whole computer, will it still be unlimited?
How do you find web hosting?
Web Hosting Search was recently brought to my attention. Web Hosting Search has quite a lot of resources, reviews and articles to help you find and compare web hosts.
Have you ever wondered what the difference between Windows and Linux hosting is, how that relates to cost and what it means for you as a website manager? Or what the many different types of hosting services are? I was wondering the latter when I came across Chris Pearson’s web host recommendations (and actually, I’m still wondering how it’s possible to have VPS and cloud hosting at the same time…).
One of the best things about Web Hosting Search (I think) are the reviews. You can try to search Google for reviews on web hosts, or ask Twitter, but I’ve found that you get a bunch of one-off reviews and recommendations with no statistical significance at all and you’re no better equipped to make a decision than you were before. Web Hosting Search has quite a balanced range of reviews, and I think the reviews do a good job of identifying particular issues with hosts, which will help you decide if it’s right for you. Issues that come up include not really having “unlimited” bandwidth (may not be a problem for you if your site is small), whether they provide phone support, or efficient ticket support, or the amount of downtime.
When looking at the reviews on Web Hosting Search check out that “Show advanced features” button. It makes it so easy to see an overview of the service offerings!
I’m keen to see more reviews on there! If you have experience with web hosts then submit your reviews and get the word out—good or bad.
So, how do you choose web hosting? What’s important to you and what information do you need to make a decision? Who’s your host, do you like them, and have you left a review of them anywhere?