I have often found website owners confused regarding the right hosting for their websites. Web hosting companies offer newer plans and cheaper rates to get their attention. While there are number of very affordable website hosting companies available today, but there are few things that need to be checked before buying your hosting.
A very cheap hosting is not good. I have often seen hosting companies offering hosting plans for less than a dollar or two to attract potential clients. Always remember the cheaper the hosting, lower the quality of service. They host their sites on not- so-reliable hardware leading to more downtime for your site. They provide less bandwidth or throttle your bandwidth, so your site will appear considerably slower to your visitors and this also effects your sites reputation with search engines. Also they don’t offer standard web hosting tools making it difficult to deploy and maintain your website in the long run. Spending a few dollars more to get a better and more reliable hosting pays for itself.
We primarily work on PHP sites(and other open source platforms like WordPress which work on PHP). While suggesting a site to my clients, I look for the following
Control panel: A good hosting control panel is the first need for a quality hosting. Cpanel is the best choice in this regard, thou some hosting providers like GoDaddy offer their own control panel, which are good and have a wide range of options, your hosting provider providing cpanel for managing your sites is very positive indicator for the quality of hosting they will provide . A quality control panel like cpanel enables you to access your files, database, settings,mail settings, file manager, ftp settings, domains, backup tools and several other needed tools with one click. It enables you to deploy your sites faster and configure/manage your hosting in a variety of ways. Cpanel also enables you to manage your domains, sub domains, addon domains etc and hosting plans with cpanel generally allow you to host multiple domains in a single hosting plan. A good control panel even has SEO tools to ease your job.
File Manager: Your hosting plan should have a good file manager to enable you to better manage your files. File manager should not only allow you to browse your files but also enable you to copy, move, archive and unarchive files in your hosting folders
FTP: Your hosting should come with option to setup a large number of FTP users for various needs. The FTP manager tool should allow you to create and configure FTP accounts with ease.
Database tools: Your hosting should have options for you to create a large number of database easily form the control panel and configure access to them. If you are planning to host a large number of sites, access to create and host a large number of databases is must. You would also need a tool like PHPMYADMIN to work with your databases. The control panel should also allow you to easily take backups for you databases.
Domain tools: Your control panel should have good domain tools to not only allow you to manage the existing domain but also create sub domains and add add-on domains easily for your use later.
Mail settings tool: A good mail settings tool in your control panel should enable you to setup large number of mail accounts with ease. You should be able to handle basic functions like change password for all mail accounts easily with a few clicks from the mail settings control panel
Above and beyond all your hosting should provide large enough hosting space to accommodate your current site as well as its future expansion and robust bandwidth so that your site can be accessed by potentially hundreds of visitors and still load fast.
Based on all the above we suggest Hostgator.com for all our customers. Hostgator has several shared hosting plans(shared plans are generally much cheaper) which are really good if you are starting out a small to medium website. Their plans offer UNLIMITED Disk Space and UNLIMITED Bandwidth and some of the very affordable plans also enable you to manage UNLIMITED domains from your shared plans. Thou many hosting companies promise unlimited bandwidth and diskspace, but don’t deliver in practice. Hostgator has been found to be maintaining a high quality of service.
Hope this helps in your search for a reliable hosting provider