Table of contents.
A website host is the second thing you need to put a website online.
The host operates the server where your website resides. When a website address (containing a domain name) is entered into the browser address bar, the browser will look for the corresponding host and send them a request. Upon receiving the request, the host will serve up a page from the website stored on their servers.
Website hosting can get really advanced if you want the best performance-to-money-ratio, because you would need to deploy, configure, test, and optimize your own servers. I am merely a beginner, and most of everything I know involves basic shared hosting. So don’t expect me to teach you anything too complex.
That said, I still know enough to give you a run-down of the basics I’ve learned.
You can have multiple websites running on different hosts.
In my previous blog post, I mentioned that the first thing you need to put a website online is a domain name, e.g. scatteringclouds.com. I also briefly mentioned the use of subdomains and naked domains.
A subdomain refers to the prefix added to the front of your domain name, such as www.yourdomain.com. The most common subdomain is www., and it is used by most websites on the internet.
You can use anything as a subdomain, such as skjdhfg.yourdomain.com, but it is generally better to use something a little more meaningful and memorable.
Subdomains are used to help organize the websites under your domain. E.g. you can have an ecommerce website on shop.yourdomain.com, a blogging website on blog.yourdomain.com, and an image gallery on photo.yourdomain.com, etc.
And each of the websites mentioned above can be hosted on a different server operated by a different website host.
How browsers get the right website from the right host.
This is achieved through the Domain Name System, or DNS for short.
Let me give you an analogy: what do you do when you need to look for a physical location in the real world? You would probably enter the name or address of the location into Google Maps. The Google Maps application would then perform a search in the background, and show you a map of the location you are looking for.
A similar thing happens when you type a website address into the browser address bar. Your browser would identify the domain name contained within the website address, and then look up the nameserver of the domain.
For example, if the website address is “https://www.yourdomain.com”, then your browser would search for the nameserver of “yourdomain.com”.
Nameservers are usually provisioned by the domain registrar or the website host.
The authoritative nameserver of a domain, however, is determined by the owner or administrator of the domain, and this can only be done at the domain registrar. Your registrar will give you the option to use either their own nameservers as authoritative nameservers (this is usually enabled by default), or to use custom nameservers such as the ones provisioned by your website host.
The authoritative nameserver contains resource records pertaining to the domain. It provides information on:
- where the browser can find the corresponding host for each subdomain;
- where emails sent to your domain should be forwarded to;
- records for verifying your ownership of the domain;
- and much, much more.
Resource records are also known as nameserver records or zone records or more commonly as DNS records.
If you choose to use the nameservers provisioned by your website host, some DNS records may be added automatically by your hosting control panel. Other records may need to be added manually through the same control panel, or through the interface provided by your domain registrar.
It really just depends on whose nameservers you choose to use for your domain.
We will not go into detail on the specifics of DNS records in this basic introduction. If you need help with adding or removing DNS records, it is best to get in touch with the customer support service of your website host or domain registrar.
Choosing your website host.
Your choice of hosting depends on how your website is (or will be) built.
- If you use a proprietary, all-in-one website building service like Shopify, Squarespace, Webflow, or Wix, you have no choice but to rely on their server infrastructure. Unless they provide the option to export your website in a ready-to-use format (e.g. HTML code), you cannot host the website elsewhere. These website builders are thus partially irrelevant to this discussion.
- The most common way to build websites is to use a self-hosted or self-managed Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla. Your hosting choices here will vary greatly depending on your technical capabilities.
If you have an inordinate amount of spare time and money, you can learn to build and run an actual, physical server. You could even do it in your own home!
Website hosting for advanced developers.
A more practical and developer-centric approach would be to use either a VPS, dedicated server, or cloud hosting.
- A virtual private server or VPS is where you lease a portion of a dedicated server to host your website. VPS gives a minimum / baseline guarantee to the amount of server resources you can access, usually specified in terms of CPU cores and memory (RAM). It is the cheapest option out of the three.
- A dedicated server is where you lease an entire server infrastructure to yourself. It is fairly expensive but guarantees performance because you are the only person running websites on the entire server.
- Cloud hosting is where you lease partial access to a cluster of servers. Your data is spread across multiple physical servers in different locations around the world. You can increase or decrease the amount of server resources on your payment plan depending on your needs. It gives the best reliability because your data is not dependent on any single server, and it is the most flexible out of all three.
None of the above is recommended if you are not a developer and don’t know what you’re doing. Why? Because it is your responsibility to provision, configure, and manage your own hosting environment. If something goes wrong, it is nobody but your responsibility to fix it. And hackers are constantly prodding anything exposed online for vulnerabilities. If they find a way in, they can repurpose a misconfigured server into a spam or malware distribution center with ease.
Unmanaged VPS services seem like a great idea, … highly recommended, and save a lot of money. Until something breaks. It might be a week, it might be 10 years, but sooner or later you’ll have to take a situation like this and you’ll have to consider it 100% on you to resolve.
… Anything left running without knowledgeable maintenance will fail eventually for one reason or another.mxroute, Oct 2022
Website hosting for beginners.
Under the assumption that you are a complete beginner at website building, your best bet is to use shared hosting. The two most prevalent shared hosting providers I know of are Bluehost and SiteGround.
Author’s note: Bluehost and SiteGround may be prevalent, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are good. We will discuss this later.
Shared hosting is where multiple websites are hosted on the same server. They share the same server resources like bandwidth, CPU, RAM, disk space, etc. It is good for low-traffic websites, and most people like me (i.e. those with small websites and are less technically-inclined) would choose to use shared hosting.
Shared hosting is a step down from VPS in terms of performance.
As mentioned before, VPS gives a minimum / baseline guarantee to the amount of server resources you can access. In other words, you will always have access to a minimum amount of CPU cores and memory with a VPS plan. And since you can only have so many cores and memory installed on a computer, it limits the number of people who can share a VPS server.
Shared hosting instead places an upper limit to the amount of server resources you can use per month, calculated based on your hosting plan limits. Unlike VPS plans, shared hosting does not give you a minimum performance guarantee. So if a website is experiencing a massive spike in traffic, every other website on the same shared hosting server may be affected negatively. At least until the spiking website exceeds its monthly plan limits and gets throttled by the host.
Shared hosting is suitable for beginners for a few reasons:
- Lower costs. Since you are sharing server resources with more people, the cost is split more ways, and everyone gets to pay a lower price (in theory). You pay for what you need by selecting a suitable pricing tier for your shared hosting plan. Starter plans can range from anywhere between $5 to $15 USD per month.
- No server administration required. Your host will deal with everything server-sided, including server configuration and maintenance, hosting software updates, performance and uptime monitoring, security and backups, blocking malicious traffic, etc. You just need to focus on maintaining your own website.
- Customer support for basic server-related problems. Don’t know how to point your domain name to your website? Don’t know how to install WordPress? Don’t know how to migrate your old WordPress website from another host? Don’t know how to set up a mailbox? Don’t know how to configure website emails for password resets? Don’t know how to set up a SSL certificate to enable HTTPS? Don’t know why your website is suddenly inaccessible? You can reach out to shared hosting customer support for help with all the above.
Additional considerations when choosing a website host.
Cost and performance are not the only things you should look at when choosing a website host and hosting plan. There are a lot more factors that come into play:
The distance your data has to travel from the server to the website browser can have a significant effect on website speed. You want to put your website on a server that is as close to your audience as possible:
- If your audience is mainly from the US or Canada, you want your server to be located somewhere in North America.
- If your audience is predominantly from the UK, you want your server to be located somewhere in Europe.
- Your choices might be more limited if your audience is concentrated around the Asian or Oceanic region, because not all hosting companies will have servers located in those parts of the world. Some may have servers located in South East Asia, mainly Singapore, and some may have servers located in Australia.
Obviously, you want a host that provides servers near where your audience resides. However, distance is not as crucial as you might think. If you are lucky enough to gather a large audience from people all over the world, a single server alone might not be enough for your needs anyway.
To ensure fast website speeds for a global audience, you need to pair your hosting with a content delivery network or CDN. The most famous CDN provider I know of is Cloudflare. The specifics of a CDN goes beyond the scope of this discussion, but you can take a look at Cloudflare’s article on “What is a CDN?” to learn more.
Author’s note: If you do use a CDN, consider hosting your website on a server that is located close to you instead. It would speed things up when you need to make changes to your website.
Hosting control panel.
The hosting control panel is your server backend. It is sometimes also called the server admin or admin area, and you use it to manage your hosting service.
The control panel should not be confused with a website backend, which allows you to manage the design and content of your website.
There are a lot of things you can do with a hosting control panel:
- You can use it to install or remove your website software, e.g. WordPress.
- If you tell your domain registrar to use the nameserver of your host, you can also use the control panel to configure the DNS records for your domain name and set up secure redirects.
- You can use the control panel to configure the SSL certificates for your domain. More on this later when we talk about free SSL certificates.
- If your host provides email hosting, you can use the control panel to create email accounts. More on this later when we talk about free email hosting.
- If your host gives you access to automatic server backups, you can use the control panel to restore your website to a previous backup. This is useful for recovering a broken website due to bad updates or bad configuration changes. More on this later in backup frequency and accessibility.
- If your host gives you database and file manager access, you can use the control panel to manually copy, edit, delete, compress, download, upload, and restore your website files, configurations, and databases. However, caution is advised. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can easily cause more harm than good.
- And much more.
The most popular control panel out there used to be cPanel. However, they have recently announced that they will be raising their prices for the fourth time within four years. As a result, a lot of hosting companies abandoned cPanel for cheaper alternatives like Direct Admin or Plesk. Some even chose to develop their own (proprietary) hosting control panel in-house.
And yes, hosting control panels do require a paid subscription. The cost of the control panel is usually factored into your hosting subscription, and your host will deal with the control panel subscription behind the scenes.
You don’t really have a choice when it comes to hosting control panels. You use what your host provides. However, there are certain cases where it would make sense to choose a host based on the control panel they offer. E.g. you are planning to switch hosts and want to find a new host with a familiar control panel.
Another reason would be to avoid known limitations for certain control panels.
- For example, SiteGround’s in-house panel will generate database names automatically and will not allow you to rename it. So the more websites and databases you have, the harder it becomes to distinguish which database belongs to whom.
- Another example is Plesk, which will always attempt to deliver emails locally when its own mail service is active. This would prevent you from receiving internal server emails using an external mail service like Google Workspace.
At the end of the day, however, control panels pretty much all have the same functionality. They all do the same thing, just in slightly different ways. So it really comes down to personal preference.
Customer support availability.
When your website goes down for no apparent reason, you want to find out how it happened and what you can do to get it back online IMMEDIATELY. And your first point of contact will always be the customer support service of your website host.
Some hosts claim to offer 24/7 support, but when you reach out to their live chat on a Sunday, nobody responds. You dig a little deeper and find out that live chat is available on weekdays during office hours, and they only deal with sales enquiries.
For technical support. you need to submit a ticket through their ticketing system and wait for a response. But one day later, your website is still down and nobody has responded to your support ticket. You dig further into their website and find out they have a ticket response time of 48 hours.
Turns out, the 24/7 support refers only to their self-help documentation. Which you have already gone through thrice over in the past day.
The above may sound like an exaggerated scenario, but I assure you, bad customer support in real life is much worse.
Good customer support is one of the most crucial factors to consider when choosing a website host. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell if a host offers good support without actually experiencing it yourself. And for reasons I will discuss later, you cannot fully trust reviews which claim that a company has good support.
As a rule of thumb, the support capabilities of a hosting company is determined by the quality of their service:
- A good hosting company is one with fair limits, stable servers, and long uptime. Since users run into less issues with the hosting service, their customer support can respond to and resolve support tickets in a timely manner.
- A bad hosting company is one with stringent limits, bad software, unstable performance, and frequent outages. Their customer support is constantly overwhelmed by support tickets, and they will never be able to respond properly and on time. They are also unable to help with issues beyond their jurisdiction, because the roots of the problem might be deeply ingrained into the hosting company’s business policy and practice.
It doesn’t matter if a hosting company offers support through ticketing systems, email, live chat, phone calls, or even video conferences. The quality of customer support is determined mainly by the quality of the hosting company.
It’s just common sense when you think about it. To get good support, you need to learn how to identify and avoid a bad host. More on that later.
The timeliness of customer support is also affected by their time zone.
Hosting companies may claim to offer 24/7 customer support, but few can truly offer support at any hour of the day and night. If you are based in Australia but your host is located in the United States, you won’t get an immediate response if you reach out for help during their nighttime.
Again, this is just common sense. In order to get timely support, you should consider choosing a host that operates in a time zone near you.
Backup frequency and accessibility.
Bad things can happen to your website very easily.
If your website is built using WordPress, a stray update can take your website down for good. Or you could have a vulnerable plugin that opens up your website to all manners of mischief. Even an unintended typo left inside a core WordPress file can cripple your website.
This is why you are always advised to back up your website before making any major changes. If anything goes wrong, you can use the backup to restore your website to a previous state (i.e. not broken).
There are at least three ways to back up your website:
- Website backups: If your website building tool has a backup function, it is probably your best choice. For example, WordPress allows you to install plugins that can generate a downloadable backup of your website files and database.
- Server backups: If you don’t want to install a plugin, or if your website builder does not come with a backup function, you will have to rely on your website host. Most hosting control panels will come with an automatic backup facility.
- Manual backups: You can perform a manual backup by compressing / zipping and downloading your website files and database exports by hand. This is probably the most technically advanced and error-prone approach, especially if you are not familiar with the process.
We will not go into website backups and manual backups in this blog post.
Website backups are specific to the website building software or plugin, and there is no point in discussing them individually. Website backups are however quite straightforward to carry out. Anyone should be able to follow a specific online guide or tutorial to perform backup and restoration in a few easy steps.
Manual backups are too technical to discuss in a basic introduction. It depends heavily on the type of access provided by your host and hosting control panel. The backup and restoration process is also rather convoluted and too time-consuming to perform on a regular basis. There are ways to automate this process, but the technicalities would only get more complex.
And thus, when choosing a website host, you need to consider the availability of their automatic server backups. In particular, you want to find out about their backup frequency and accessibility.
- Backup frequency: Most website hosts will offer free daily backups. Some will keep the daily backups for seven days, fourteen/fifteen days, or up to a month. Some will offer to keep the backups for longer if you pay a monthly extra, and some will offer automatic hourly backups at a premium.
- Backup accessibility: Some hosts will not allow you to create server backups manually / on demand. Some will require you to get in touch with customer support to restore a previous server backup. Some will not give you the option to download a copy of your server backup.
Ideally, you want a host that allows you to do everything listed above by yourself.
Seven day backups are also too short for my tastes, and I would choose a host that keeps free server backups for at least fourteen days. You don’t want to go on a week-long vacation and come back to a hacked website with no good backups.
It is also important to note the method you used to create server backups. You cannot restore backups created by one control panel with a different control panel. E.g. a cPanel backup will not be recognized by Plesk, and likewise, a Plesk backup will not be recognized by cPanel.
Author’s note: It is NEVER a good idea to rely solely on your host for backups.
Because if your host goes down, your server backups will go with them. There are no guarantees that your host will retain any server backups at all when they get back online. It happened to me on my second WordPress host.
Server backups are a convenient but unreliable fallback. Always prepare for the worst and create your own website / manual backups on a regular basis.
The availability of staging sites.
Website staging works in a fairly similar manner to website backups. A full copy of your website is created in both instances, and both methods are used to deal with website breakage.
The biggest difference is that website backups are more reactive in nature. When your website breaks, you use backups to restore it to a (previously) working state. But your website has to break first before the backups can be put into good use.
Website staging is preemptive. It allows you to create a full working clone of your live website, which is usually known as a staging site. You can modify, update, and make changes to your staging site without affecting your live website. You then test your staging site to see if anything breaks. Once you are satisfied that it is in full working condition, you can push the changes selectively to your live website.
A good website host will allow you to create staging sites for free. Generally, there are two methods to do so:
- Using the hosting control panel, you create a full copy of your live site at a different subdomain, such as “staging.yourdomain.com”. This can usually be done with a few simple clicks. Certain control panels would allow you to create a staging subdirectory, where the staging copy can be accessed directly in your live website, e.g. “yourdomain.com/staging”.
- Using the website backend. Certain website builders come with built-in staging capabilities, or allow you to add staging capabilities through the installation of a plugin. With this approach, you would usually create a full copy of your website in a staging subdirectory.
Free SSL certificates.
Secure Socket Layer certificates (SSL certs) are required to allow visitors to browse your website using the secure hyper text transfer protocol, better known as HTTPS.
HTTPS prevents man-in-the-middle attacks by encrypting the connection between the website and the browser. This makes it more difficult for hackers and other third parties (e.g. your internet service provider) to eavesdrop on any sensitive information you submit to a website, like your password and credit card details.
Modern browsers like Google Chrome would display a warning to their users when browsing websites that do not support HTTPS.
A good website host would allow you to generate SSL certificates for your domain name for FREE. If you are currently using your website host’s nameservers, this can all be managed with a few clicks in your hosting control panel. Otherwise, you might need to make some manual changes, such as adding a TXT record to the DNS records of your domain name.
If you need help with enabling and enforcing HTTPS for your website, you can always reach out for help from your website host through customer support.
Free email hosting.
The purpose of email hosting is to allow you to create email accounts that end in your domain name, such as email@example.com. You can use the email accounts to send and receive emails branded with your own domain name.
Some website hosts will provide you with free email accounts and storage, though it isn’t strictly a must-have. I would even advise against relying on their email services altogether, because website hosts are generally not very good at email hosting.
Instead, you should use a dedicated email hosting service, which are available from providers like Google Workspace or Microsoft 365.
There are two main problem with relying on your website host for emails:
- You would lose access to your mailbox when their servers go down. There are no guarantees that your host will retain your emails when they get back online.
- Your website host is unable to guarantee the deliverability of your emails, because free email accounts are often misused for sending spam.
When you send an email, you want the email to land directly in the recipient’s inbox folder. But if your website host has a bad reputation and is often associated with spam, other email providers will direct all emails originating from your host into the spam folder as a simple precaution.
So the email service provided by your website host are best used for minor things. E.g. you can create a free email account such as firstname.lastname@example.org for sending out simple, once-off messages like password reset emails for your website.
Beware of sleazy marketing.
Unfortunately, not all hosting providers are good.
Unscrupulous hosts will do anything to get ahead, flooding the internet with their marketing tactics. They have an army of paid affiliates eating out of their hands, singing nothing but praise for their “affordable” and “stellar” service. They promise you the best but under-deliver on every promise.
- Some hosts will oversell their shared hosting plans. They run too many websites on the same server, resulting in significant slowdowns. And when you reach out for support, they blame your website for eating up too much server resources.
- Some like to take advantage of beginners. When I started building websites, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of performance and cost. I got confounded by their “generous” sign-up discounts and convoluted pricing structures. As a result, I purchased a hosting plan I came to regret.
- Some would place hidden resource limits (such as CPU execution time) on their hosting plans to cut costs. Once you hit the limit, the host will disable your website until the limit resets in the next calendar month. They would prompt you to upgrade your hosting plan to keep your website running. But no matter how much you pay, you are still constricted by the same stringent limits.
- Some would even refuse to provide support if you ask for help too frequently.
- Some would charge you for features that are free with competing services.
Just because someone recommends a website host, it doesn’t mean that the host is actually good. I wrote about my run-in with one such example in a previous blog post where I talk about affiliate marketing.
You don’t always get what you paid for when it comes to website hosting. Good hosting is expensive, but expensive hosting is not always good.
Why Webhosting Sucks
It’s not just shared hosting, VPS can suck too! Any webhosting company can suck! They suck when they care more about profit than quality. They suck when they get acquired by bigger (and less personable) companies. They suck when the industry pivots in a direction they can’t adapt to. All industries, not only webhosting, are prone to have shady business practices.
If you want true quality hosting, either:
WPJohnny, Jun 2018
- Pay premium pricing for a proven company.
- Be prepared to change webhosts often when their quality drops.
- Learn how to run your own webserver.
How to identify a bad host.
When you have a website, you want it to stay online for as long as possible. By this definition, a bad host is one that is unable to keep your website online consistently. They can cause you a lot of undue work and stress as you scramble around trying to cover for their problems and mistakes.
If your website becomes inaccessible frequently, or if your pages take a long time to load, it could be the sign of a bad host. However, there are many factors that can contribute to a slow website. Bad hosting is only one reason out of many:
- You might have installed a plugin or script that is gobbling up server resources. This can cause slowdowns in the server backend and the browser frontend.
- You might actually be attracting more visitors than expected, and your website will be throttled when you exceed the limits of your shared hosting plan.
- Your website might contain large and unoptimized images. Such images will take a lot of time and bandwidth to load.
- Your website might be built with a theme or website building tool that is inherently slow and bloated.
The causes of a slow website is a whole other topic that involves optimization, and I will refrain from going into further detail here for the sake of brevity. All you need to know is this: apart from basic website optimizations, your host is usually the biggest determining factor for website speed and performance.
Problem is, you can’t tell how well a hosting service performs from the outside. You need to pay for a hosting plan and actually spend some time hosting websites with them. But by the time you can reach a conclusion, it is usually too late to back out.
We need to find out how well a host performs without all the rigmarole.
Go check out hosting reviews.
The most efficient way to identify a bad host is to look at hosting reviews.
But not just any review. Due to the prevalence of affiliate marketing in the web hosting industry, the reviews you encounter are mostly compensated and biased, or fake or manipulated in some way or another.
- Bloggers and influencers like to recommend hosting companies that are generally regarded as bad. Why? Because such companies often have very generous affiliate commissions.
- Worse still are YouTube comparison videos and hosting comparison websites. Their content is mass-produced and often misrepresents how web hosting actually works. All they do is muddy the waters for their own profit.
- The performance of a host may degrade as they begin to cut costs. It happens when the hosting company becomes more profit-focused over time. Mass-produced and cursory reviews will often fail / neglect to reflect such a change.
- Third party review websites like Trustpilot cannot be fully trusted either. This is because some hosts will funnel positive reviews through customer support.
Funneled reviews don’t carry any inherent value.
These reviews are left by new customers who spent very little time with the service. Such customers are prompted to give five stars for the most inconsequential matters, like receiving a simple answer from customer support. They have nothing useful to say about the actual value and performance of the hosting service.
Funneled reviews don’t do anything other than pad the numbers to make the company look good. And Trustpilot is very aware of this problem. Just look at all those disclaimers and warnings on Trustpilot’s review pages:
You can’t trust the majority of hosting reviews. Basically all of the “top 10” sites you see listing hosts are actually selling their review slots.
What they do is list a few of the biggest corporate brands in their top 10, this helps boost their search engine ranking, and then they sell the remaining slots to the highest bidders.
That is why you frequently see the worst hosting companies in the world on top 10 review lists, because they’re being used to boost search engine rankings.
Buying hosting is somewhat of a crapshoot but if you know the signs of a bad host and you know what to look for in a good host that can help you to make an educated decision.OriginalSimba, Dec 2017
The characteristics of a trustworthy review.
In my experience, bad hosts will only show their true colors after you stay with them for a few months. I will talk about my experience with them in the next section. Sometimes it can take up to a year to find out what nasty surprises they have in store, i.e. when you renew your hosting subscription.
So you want to seek out honest reviews from people who have been using a hosting service for the long term, preferably for well over a year. You want the opinions of those who operate live websites with actual human visitors.
You want to know all the good and bad things that have happened. How many websites they are running and the amount of traffic generated. What plugins and other functionalities they have added to their website. Whether they have used other hosting in the past, and how their current host measures in terms of value.
You DO NOT want cursory reviews or simulated comparisons using test websites with zero traffic. NOT paid reviews designed to bait and entice you into signing up for a first-year discount. And most definitely NOT funneled reviews from people who have only used the service for a few measly weeks.
My experience with bad hosting reviews.
Unfortunately, I myself struggle to determine which reviews are trustworthy.
I’ve been messing around with WordPress since Jun 2020, and this blog is built on my third WordPress host. Suffice to say, I didn’t have a good time with my first two.
My first host was an affiliate sham. They gave me frequent connection issues about halfway through my first term, and a massive bill shock when it was time for renewal. You can read about my experience with them in a previous blog post.
I found my second host because they had raving reviews on AppSumo, which I later realized were left by people who are completely new to the service.
Author’s note: The AppSumo reviews had since been removed and the above link now redirects to their front page. However, you can still find reviews for the same host on a different AppSumo page. Notice how the earlier reviews are almost unanimously 5 stars (the reviews can be sorted by oldest / newest first).
And my second host did perform better than my first, but I also ran into connection issues after a year or so. That said, they are still more consistent than my first host.
I abandoned my second host for a much different reason: they got hacked in Aug 2022. Their servers were wiped clean and it took nearly a month for them to get everything back to normal. Worse still, they restored from backups that were several months old, and failed to recover the websites I built on their platform.
It was a good thing I made my own website backups, and also kept my domain registrations separate from my website host. Since I followed best practices, I managed to find a third host and get my own websites back up and running within a few days. All while my second host struggled to get back on their feet.
My favourite place to browse for hosting recommendations.
I found my third and current host on Reddit. More specifically, they were highly rated and recommended by users in the r/webhosting subreddit. This subreddit is an open forum on everything hosting-related with an active and helpful user base.
You do still get the occasional shill that advocates for bad hosting, but a quick search using the name of the hosting company will set the records straight.
If you need a brief summary:
STAY AWAY from GoDaddy and SiteGround, as well as hosting companies that are acquired by / associated with Newfold Digital (formerly Endurance International Group or EIG), such as Bluehost and Hostgator.
They have shit support, their servers are over taxed and nickel and dime you. This sentiment is overwhelmingly shared in this subreddit and in the general web development circles. They sucker people into their services with their marketing and provide a piss poor product and user experience.happyxpenguin, Oct 2022
EIG is the largest most dissapointingly [sic] mediocre super-corp webhost in the world. They buy up bespoke webhosts with good ratings, integrate all their plans on their own down-costed datacentres, and decimate any custom support into their own bog-standard centralised offering. Most of the webhosts under their name were probably once decent hosts. But after their owners sell up for a nice profit, they all suffer the same fate.
… As long as you don’t buy from a host hiding under their umbrella, it’s likely you’ll get some level of quality above what EIG offers.ivosaurus, Oct 2022
Before you buy into a recommendation for hosting, go search in r/webhosting and see if the host checks out. It is the best way to know if a hosting company is worth your time, or if a greedy affiliate is angling for a pay check at your expense.