How to Select the Best Web Hosting

The Web Hosting Mirage

Web hosting companies offer practically everything under the sun for almost nothing, and it sure looks fantastic. The obvious question is, “Why on earth would I pay more than a few dollars a month to host my website when so many companies practically give it away?” The answer is easy when you know how the system works.


How Some Companies Wiggle Out of Their Promise

There is always a “gotcha” with every company that offers unlimited storage and bandwidth for almost nothing. Most companies hide limitations to your account in the fine print or create dependencies that result in your inability to use all the resources they advertise. Here are just three common ways some web hosting companies get around their promise of unlimited everything for practically nothing:

  1. If they offer an enormous amount of space, it's likely that they will have a file number limit, which means even if you have space left but you have surpassed the number of files they allow, they will shut down your account.
  2. Or, they may say, “Sure, use all the space with as many files as you want, but if you get too much traffic, then we'll shut down your account.”
  3. Or, they may say, “Sure, use all the traffic and space and files, but if you use too much of the processor time on the server, we'll shut down your account.” (This can happen if you have a blog that suddenly gets popular, or host a forum for your clients, or have some type of database-driven application on your site.)


Granted, sometimes they will only suspend your account until you correct the violation of their terms of service, but by then, the damage is done, and in many cases, it's so easy to violate the terms (especially when your site becomes successful) that after a number of violations, they will ask you to pay them more money and upgrade, or permanently close your account.


What is Overselling?

When the hosting is super cheap, your account is usually placed on a computer with 100s of other accounts—the lower the price, the more websites will most likely be on that same computer. Sometimes, there could be 300, 400, 500, or more websites on that one server. If every site used all the resources offered, it would require much more space and server power than the server would ever have. Selling more resources than you have is, strangely enough, called overselling.

The web hosting companies who do this are banking on the statistical probability that the majority of websites will never use 1/100th of the resources promised. For the most part, this works since most sites are tiny and never get any traffic. However, if you plan to be successful, you're all but guaranteeing that you'll be the exception and lose the probability gamble. And when your site needs those promised resources, and they aren't available, you'll be wishing you'd paid a few extra dollars for better hosting.

In most cases, you don't need all the extreme drive space, unlimited bandwidth, and CPU power that you're being sold. All you need is a moderate amount of space with guaranteed access to your promised resources. Good quality shared hosting has a low number of websites allowed on the server, and every bit of space and processor power sold is available for each account.


Why Should I Care?

Let's imagine for a moment that you've just sent out your newsletter with that great new service or product that you just started selling on your fancy new website. You finally got everything up, and now people start clicking the link in your email and coming to your site in droves. But unfortunately, you've blown it with your cheap web host's terms of service somewhere along the line, and your site has been suspended. Even worse, you won't even know it until one of your clients hits your site and finds the dreaded “404 Not Found” error, or possibly the “503 Service Unavailable” error, or the most damaging “Account Suspended” message. What happens next is pretty predictable and, sadly, completely avoidable.


What You Lose

  1. You lose credibility as a business in the minds of your visitors and clients.
  2. You lose sales.
  3. You lose email (remember, your email is likely down if your site is down unless you're using Gmail or similar.)
  4. You lose time tracking down the problem.
  5. You lose referrals from folks who thought you were a reputable business.
  6. You lose new customers who just found your site and only saw an error instead.
  7. You lose sleep wondering how you will make sure this never happens again.

Obviously, everything hinges on having a rock-solid, reliable website.


Beware of Price Changes at Checkout

When you see an incredible deal advertised, keep in mind that the final price may not include all the features mentioned in the ad. Often, the attractive price is used to grab your attention, but when you proceed to checkout, you'll discover that each additional feature or “bell and whistle” comes at an extra cost. If you want the complete package as advertised, you'll likely have to pay more than the initial price that drew you in. If you suspect this is happening, it's best to look for a better deal elsewhere, as there are likely more transparent and genuinely cost-effective options available.


So, How Do You Find the Good Companies?

I ran my own hosting company for 9 years and learned firsthand how all this stuff works. I discovered the many pitfalls that await the innocent business owner who simply wants to put up a website. Finding decent web hosting may seem impossible, but fear not. There really are some great hosting companies out there, and there are some easy questions to ask that will help you find them.

Look for answers to these questions:

  1. Do they emphasize service and support? That's a good sign. If you ever need help, you'll be glad you have someone to call at any time of the day.
  2. Do they have a moderately higher price than average and offer fewer resources than the super cheap companies? Also a good sign. This means they are probably not overselling, and you will actually be able to use the services you were promised. (Double-check and verify this! Just ask them if they oversell; the good companies are proud to say they do not.)
  3. How is their support? Have you tested it? They should offer 24/7 telephone support as well as a trouble-ticketing system. They should respond to tickets within a few hours at most and within an hour on average.


If it's insanely cheap with outlandish storage and unending bandwidth, it's almost always too good to be true.


Thorough Research is Key

When searching for a reliable web hosting provider for your WordPress site, it's crucial to conduct extensive research to ensure you make an informed decision. Start by utilizing search engines like Google to gather information about potential hosting companies. Use a combination of the company's name and negative keywords such as “sucks,” “scam,” “terrible,” “awful,” or “problems” to uncover any red flags or dissatisfied customer experiences.

However, keep in mind that having some negative reviews doesn't necessarily mean a company is bad. Every business, at some point, will have unhappy customers. What matters most is how the company handles these situations and addresses customer concerns. Responsive customer support and timely problem resolution are far more important than having a near-perfect record with minimal issues.

To further validate your findings, visit trusted forums where you can rely on the authenticity and expertise of the community members. One highly recommended platform for web hosting reviews is Web Hosting Talk. This forum serves as an early warning system for identifying both problematic and exceptional hosting providers. By combining insights from Web Hosting Talk with a comprehensive Google search, you can gather a well-rounded understanding of a hosting company's reputation and performance.

When evaluating potential web hosts, consider the following factors:

  • Uptime and reliability: Look for a host with a proven track record of minimal downtime and stable server performance.
  • Customer support: Assess the quality and responsiveness of the hosting provider's customer support team. Opt for companies that offer 24/7 support through multiple channels, such as live chat, email, and phone.
  • Scalability: Choose a host that can accommodate your website's growth and offers easy options for upgrading resources as needed.
  • Security measures: Ensure the hosting provider implements robust security measures, such as SSL certificates, regular backups, and DDoS protection, to safeguard your WordPress site.
  • Performance optimization: Look for hosts that offer performance-enhancing features like caching, content delivery networks (CDNs), and optimized server configurations specifically tailored for WordPress.


By conducting thorough research and considering these key factors, you can make an informed decision and select a web hosting provider that aligns with your needs and ensures a smooth, reliable experience for your WordPress site.


WordPress Hosting Recommendation

If you're starting your website and need an inexpensive but excellent host to grow with you, I recommend WP Engine (affiliate link). The pricing is extremely reasonable, and the support is excellent. They get back to you quickly, and their site migrations are fast and professional. Since I only build sites woth WordPress right now, I only recommend hosting companies that are optimized for that platform.


Domain Name Registration

If you need domain name registration with no fear of domain hijacking, great support, a fast, well-designed interface, and easy transfers in AND out to other registrars, I now use and recommend only (affiliate link)

If you have any remaining questions, please comment below, and I'll happily answer.

All the best!



I support this site by partnering with some of the companies whose services I also use. If you click the links on my blog right before you sign up with a particular program, they will pay me a small percentage for sending you to them. Of course, this does not affect the price you pay and has no effect on what I may say about them. I only recommend products or companies that I use myself. And sometimes, you'll see recommendations disappear if I ever discover that the company or product has not lived up to expectations. This is why it's really important that you let me know if you're ever less than thrilled with anything you might have purchased that I recommend.