The Importance of a Trustworthy Webhost

by Matt Ellis

Although it is one of – if not – the most important ingrediants to success, quality web hosting is usually overlooked because you want to grab a bargain rather than part with your cash for what would seem to be a similar if not identical solution.

Unfortunately, most bloggers learn the hard way that you get what you pay for. It’s difficult to come across a package these days that is reliable, and of course affordable and it’s even more understandable that you don’t want to use the majority of your startup budget on hosting but you could find that doing so is the best thing you ever did…either that or you’ll end up regretting that you didn’t. Let’s take one of my sites for example!

Background Info

I had $20 and wanted to startup a new blog on the WordPress platform, so costs were minimal, I would use a premium theme and edit the hell out of it, the theme cost $10, the domain was $9 so I was left with $1 for the first month of hosting. I went searching high and low for a really cheap webhost not even thinking about quality or level of support, I found one and signed up right away without thinking about checking for references or reviews from previous customers.

The Story

Well as you can imagine, it wasn’t long until I realised my cheap investment was substandard. The server load was literally through the roof, memory was unexplainably high which meant actually accessing my site was more than a hassle. It took over 4 hours to upload the files for WP (yes, you guessed it, Fantastico or SOFTaculous etc. wasn’t installed) and when I finally got everything configured, the server failed.

Not only could I not access my site, I had no means of contacting support as the server being down meant I couldn’t access their site, although even if I could, I doubt they would have been able to resolve anything if the quality of their server was anything to go by. So I waited…and I waited until I decided enough was enough. I couldn’t be fussed charging back as it was hardly worth the effort, I waited until I had some more money and went with a more reputable host.

Although still a new host and priced at just $2 more expensive than the failure, I found their support and sales team to respond well via a Live Chat which is always an upside, they were able to offer me a trial for 24 hours to see if the server was to my requirements – if it was, I could just pay the invoice and continue with them which I thought was awesome – no risk.

The Morale

It’s reasonable to say I was stupid with what I did was rather stupendo but alot of people follow suit and dont bother to do some simple research on their chosen company. It can take just 15 minutes but can make all the difference in the long run. If your blog is constantly up and down, your visitors will decide you’re unreliable and you’ll suffer the consequences such as a loss of subscribers, traffic etc. Things that no site owner wants.

Ways to Avoid Falling into ‘The Trap’

There are several things you can do to avoid falling into  fly-by-night webhost. I will list a few of them which I have found to be useful when checking up on the reliability of the company, they should be helpful to anyone, no matter how inexperienced or the opposite you are.

Conduct a WHOIS

This is perhaps the quickest way of seeing how long a host has been around. Although it can be misleading because not all new webhosts are unreliable, it can often show tell-tale signs of a dodgy one if the domain was registered recently. Simple goto http://www.who.is and enter the domain name of the company, scroll down and look at the Creation Date to see when the domain was registered.

Do a DNS Lookup for their IP

Most new hosts will run off a reseller account in one form or another (Master, Alpha Master etc.) which means they pay a relatively small fee of $15-35/month for their account and sell cheap hosting filling their servers with as many customers as possible which often results in a server overload and you suffering because some idiot purchase 100,000 uniques to their site and burnt the network cable.

To find out who the owner of the IP address is, goto http://www.who.is and enter the IP address which any good host will happily give you, this will then show up a resolved name such as LSDN48.limestonenetworks.com which would mean the IP is registered with LimestoneNetworks. You can then go and check them out and see what services they offer and how reliable they look as a host.

Request a Test-File

webhost3

If the host really does want you as a customer  – which they should – they will gladly offer you a test file to check the speeds of the server. This will give you an indication as to how fast the server is but will also depend on your internet speeds aswell. Most hosts run on 100mbps ports meaning the maximum you could download at is around 12mb/s but that’s if you also have 100mbps connection.

Get a friend or 2 to download the file also so you can get a rough average of download speeds which will indicate if the server is good to go.You should request a test file of about 50mb which will ensure enough time for your connection to sustain during download, any lower than 25mb and it will be unstable and could give a inaccurate reading.

Ping the Server

Maybe one of the oldest tricks in the book but still a valid one. Ping the server IP, in laymans terms pinging is the process of sending small data packets and seeing how long it takes for the server to send them back. It’s simple and quick but again it depends on your connection speed.

Simply head on t0 your command prompt by hitting Start > Run > cmd.exe and type ‘ping 192.168.0.1′ of course you would edit the IP to the one that the host gives you, this will send 4 packets by default and return the response time in ms or milli-seconds. A decent time would be anything below 200ms, any more and it could be an indication that the server is under some stress from cpu useage.

Request a Screenshot of Server Status

webhost5

A simple method of gaining true access to the server status would be to request a screenshot of the Server Status page which your host can access via WHM. This will show you the server load and memory useage along with how full the hard-drive is. This way you can make an informed decision as to whether they have a truckload of clients using all the resources or if their hardware is up to the task of running the place.

Some hosts offer scripts such as Status2k which show the server status in true-time but be aware that such scripts do take up some resources as they update so frequently and therefore it could show an overage of CPU Useage. A reliable checker is built in to WHMCS under /serverstatus.php so check that out if you know the host is running this software as it too provides info regarding server load, uptime etc.

Look for Reviews/Testimonials

Google is your best friend. (or as I like to call him – Uncle Google) Use it to find reviews and testimonials about your host, search the name and see what results come up and if you can salvage any juicy gossip about them – good or bad – and that way, you are in tip-top shape to decide on your final verdict as to whether they are upto the task of hosting you and your blog.

Conclusion

I have one word for you…RESEARCH. Find out as much information as you can about the host before buying into it, sure it might only be a few bucks but the result it can have on your blog should the server take a turn for the worst could be extremely detrimental. Ensure you go with a reliable, trustworthy webhost so you and your blog can have the best chance at success by being available to anyone around the world at any time during the day or night.

Have you Been the Victim of a Bad Web Host?

Had a bad experience in the past? Either their supportwas bad or they couldn’t cater for your traffic, how do you think you can protect yourself from falling in to a bad webhosts jaws? There is no 100% foolproof way other than becoming a host yourself. What do you think?

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Jake | Web Journey July 11, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Man that really stinks. Thanks for the advice. Webhosts are definitely a very important yet underrated part of blogging. Web hosts screwing up can really annoy readers. Good post. Are you new to the blogosphere?
.-= Jake | Web Journey´s last blog ..Squidoo: Get Free Traffic, Seo Benefits, and Cash =-.

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Matt Ellis July 11, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Hey Jake,

Thanks for the kind words, I’m kind of new to the whole blogging thing although I have dabbled in it alot in the past and I’m used to Wordpress and whatnot so I wouldn’t say a complete ‘bloob’ (blogging noob).

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elmot July 14, 2009 at 11:40 pm

I totally agree, there are just so many web hosts flauting great services but are in reality bogus. Could we see another post here at blogussion about bogus for failing web host providers? Certainly it could be of great help to lots of bloggers like Matt.
.-= elmot´s last blog ..The Blogger Who Showered Me With Stars =-.

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Matt Harris July 11, 2009 at 10:06 pm

That sucks what happened, before I got hosting I looked at quite a few review sites before I made any choices. I think I got pretty lucky with Host Gator.
.-= Matt Harris´s last blog ..2 Ways to Get More Traffic, 1 Way to not =-.

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Matt Ellis July 11, 2009 at 10:10 pm

HostGator is a great choice, but I found they don’t offer much in thr way of a bridge between shared and dedicated. So once your approaching either your max. processes, inodes or permitted CPU/Memory Useage, you could find yourself out on your heels before you know it.

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The Bad Blogger July 11, 2009 at 10:15 pm

When I started out online, I uses a free hosting, I forgot what name already, you know free stuff sometime really attract me, so I use it, and worst to worst, the server breaks down a few time and the network was slow, that is when I realize free is always not the best, and I believe whatever we do, research is really important.

Anyway I’m now using hosgator which till date the best hosting company with great support when I need anytime.
.-= The Bad Blogger´s last blog ..The Bad Blogger Is Release From Army For A Day ! =-.

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Matt Ellis July 11, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Yeah, I always avoid freebie hosts as something isn’t quite right when a decent server could start from around $150/month. And I forgot to mention about 24/7 support is something that people should look for, as that way you know they care about their clients (you).

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Nick Max July 11, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Nice tips Matt.
Thats a really nice post.
I signed up to go-daddy and never tried other hosts, im glad i decided to later :)
Thanks again and hope you read some more of you stuff.

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Matt Ellis July 11, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Thanks Nick! I’ve never tried GoDaddy – only for domains not hosting as I prefer to keep the two seperate but yeah, GD and HG are both reputable companies and cheap enough but if you delve a little further, you can often find a host who is just as reliable for a fraction of the price – although saying that, the prices are so low these days, a fraction of the cost really is a fraction.

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Michael Rice July 11, 2009 at 10:18 pm

I couldn’t agree more with the idea of reviewing the heck out of any possible web host you’re about to commit too. If implusivly select your host, down the road you might end up experiecning a day or two of complete pain trying to transfer to a new host.

I’ve personally been using Host Gator for a good few years now. They used to have periods of down time, but nowadays they’re running fine *knocks on wood*.

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Matt Ellis July 11, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Hey Michael, I think web hosting should be treated like anything else. Such as themes. If I get a custom theme, I will analyze the div’s out of it to get everything perfect before parting with the money. Although web hosting is cheap these days in general, it’s still a matter of principle and it’s a huge factor to the success of your blog. It would suck if you were to get featured in Delicious or Digg and get a huge spike of traffic only to find the server just fail on you.

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Grace July 12, 2009 at 2:29 am

Thanks for sharing your lesson with us; that was pretty insightful. I’m happy with my host right now, but if I ever switch, I’ll try to keep these things in mind.
I’m just wondering, would you rather go with a free host like webs/blogspot or a cheap, slow, server with your own domain?
.-= Grace´s last blog ..THE Colours that Dramatically Effect your Success =-.

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Matt Ellis July 12, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Hey Grace, if I had to choose out of free with sub or paid with domain, I would go for the former as I’d rather people be able to access via a subby than not being able to access at all right?

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Tycoon Blogger July 12, 2009 at 10:35 pm

I actually had some hosting issues this weekend. Somehow the tables in my database were missing and the links in my blog were not working. Fortunately, I have a pretty decent host (Dot5Hosting) that has good customer service and the problem was fixed. The bottom line is you get what you pay for.
.-= Tycoon Blogger´s last blog ..Sunday’s Best – week ending July 12, 2009 =-.

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Charles July 13, 2009 at 2:34 am

Wow, I’m really impressed with your technical knowledge. Thanks for the tips!

To reply to the comments, I use a local webhost called newmediaexpress and I’m very satisfied with their service so far. But if you would ask me to recommend an international hosting company, it would be bluehost or hostgator.
.-= Charles´s last blog ..The Fastest Way to Achieve Results for Your Blog =-.

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Matt Ellis July 13, 2009 at 9:47 am

Hey Charles – Thanks for the compliment!

I haven’t ever used a local webhost, perhaps the nearest one was like 300 miles away in London. I suppose its cool if you’re like in the same town so you can get support easily enough and theres a slim chance of being scammed.

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Typhoon July 13, 2009 at 5:52 am

Hey! By any chance, was your blog and host(zykoshost.com) down yesterday? because I tried a lot of ways to visit your bog but it wasn’t accessible. I even pinged your server but no response.
That’s why I tweeted a message to let you know to blogussion.

Well, my suggested host would be the same as others favorite – Hostgator. I didn’t had any single problem from last 10 months. Just one downtime occurred for 30mins when they were upgrading PHP or something but they announced about it in advance.
.-= Typhoon´s last blog ..WP-Robot: A powerful automation plugin for Wordpress =-.

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ChazUK July 13, 2009 at 6:17 am

I would like to say that even some of the well established Webhosts aren’t that good. For example if you think that Media Temple is a great choice, then you’re only half right. Their Grid-Server option is much the same as any other small reseller, but they just throw in enough jargon to make it sound amazing.

I’ve been looking into UK2.net They have been winning quite a few awards recently.
.-= ChazUK´s last blog ..NikeSB Debacle DOWNLOAD NOW! =-.

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Matt Ellis July 13, 2009 at 10:09 am

I usually don’t rely too much on awards, there’s too many of them to make any prestigious claims. I go off the reviews of people who have had experience with them, that way you can make an informed decision rather than going off what an award site has been paid to say.

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ChazUK July 14, 2009 at 5:43 am

I guess so, but I’ve done some other research into them. They bought out a lot of other hosting companies, and have done a very good job of making them better. So far I haven’t found any really bad reviews about them, whilst the number of good reviews is promising. VPS.net is the company I was looking at.
.-= ChazUK´s last blog ..Glasto 09 =-.

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Matt Ellis July 14, 2009 at 9:03 am

I like VPS.net’s simple setup – they offer cloud hosting so you can instantly scale up you VPS to accomodate your needs and also scale down should you feel you can do well on a lower package.

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HAVOC MARKETING July 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I haven’t had a problem with my hosting company so far. Thanks for the great post. It informs new bloggers of all the possible problems they might face if they are not careful in choosing the right hosting company.
.-= HAVOC MARKETING´s last blog ..Mass Article Control Version 1.0 Reviewed =-.

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Steven Lambert July 13, 2009 at 12:48 pm

@Matt: Welcome to Blogussion. You have touched a point that has affected almost all webmasters at one point or other. I usually stick to top 2-3 hosts like hostgator and godaddy for hosting my sites. Believe it or not, almost all hosts have good and bad reviews, so the best method is to talk to ‘friends’ who are already hosting websites with a host. I have stopped believing most blogs who rate one host better than others, more often then not it’s just a cheap attempt at affiliate marketing.

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ed hardy July 14, 2009 at 5:53 am

I have found to be useful when checking up on the reliability of the company, they should be helpful to anyone, no matter how inexperienced or the opposite you are.
Ed Hardy Mens TopsED Hardy Mens UnderwearED Hardy Caps

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Typhoon July 15, 2009 at 4:25 am

Is this a spam comment which got accepted by-mistake?
.-= Typhoon´s last blog ..New Akismet 2.2.5 Available. ^Kill Those Spammers^ =-.

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Jeet July 15, 2009 at 5:50 am

@Typhoon: Looks like that to me. The comment has 2-3 URLs, I wonder how Akismet didn’t catch this one.

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Stancje Wroclaw July 15, 2009 at 3:26 am

You want to achieve success but you’re not prepared for it? That makes no sense. Want lots of visitors – you need to be able to handle them. Your hosting needs to be 100% reliable.
.-= Stancje Wroclaw´s last blog ..Wroc?aw 15.07.2009: Mam do wynaj?cia =-.

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Cpanel Web hosting July 15, 2009 at 5:27 am

Really the primary reason for selecting a particular company to host a web site is their reliability, researching web hosting is a very important step when looking to make a purchase of hosting package.

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Zulu Internet Marketing July 15, 2009 at 8:49 am

Hi Matt, great article. It’s good to see a fellow Brit getting involved with this site! Hope to see more articles from you soon
.-= Zulu Internet Marketing´s last blog ..Online Marketing grows, but is it all good news? =-.

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Seth W July 16, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Webhosting is really important as this article illustrates. I have used Hostgator and found their support and price very good. Hosting is something that adds up pretty quickly over a year so it is important to get something you actually like. It’s a joy to read your guest post…. very detailed and great research into this topic!
.-= Seth W´s last blog ..Dofollow, Design and Blog Tips =-.

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How To Easy July 17, 2009 at 6:59 pm

If you have a trusted friend or family member that can give a good recommendation, that would probably be the best route to go. These days it’s hard to go by online reviews, as you don’t know if their review was funded by the company they reviewed or not. My first host was a total nightmare.
.-= How To Easy´s last blog ..How To Get Free Business Consulting Advice =-.

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Felix Albutra - SighNetDollars July 24, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Thank you for sharing the information. I think that hostgator is a great webhosting company not just they offer monthly basis payments but they are used by great webmasters and bloggers out there. That’s why they are reliable enough to be a trustworthy webhost.

Thank you for your nice comment on my blog I really appreciate it.
.-= Felix Albutra – SighNetDollars´s last blog ..How To Create A Good Article For Your Blog Post? =-.

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Release Candidate July 26, 2009 at 8:16 am

All that glitters is not Gold! but sometimes it is..A free host is not necessarily bad, but in the worst case, you will get your site down!
.-= Release Candidate´s last blog ..What is Release Candidate? [the Basic Concept] =-.

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Ben July 27, 2009 at 11:35 am

This is why I use the Blogger platform. I pay $8 a year for a domain name, and Google hosts my blog for free. Probably the best free hosting there ever was.

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Marcell August 16, 2009 at 10:18 pm

I recently just won a free year of hosting and let me tell you the hosting was terrible. I think I only lasted 3 months out of the 12 months I was suppose to last. I would say host with someone who’s been around for a while and has good reviews. Do the research and don’t be cheap. The more you pay the better the host!
.-= Marcell´s last blog ..20 web designers you should know about and follow =-.

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komin July 5, 2010 at 2:27 am

Great article matt, Thanks for sharing such nice information.

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juicy couture July 26, 2010 at 4:48 am

Very interesting post. Thanks again.. Please Keep it Up!!

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