Don’t want to be fooled choosing a web host?

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Top web hosting - Google inside, fools outside

Don’t trust Google about top web hosts

Choosing a web host may be a quest and a challenge. The prize is a zen – your peace of mind based on a reliable hosting. I’ll share with you my way to it. And if you think that this zen is awaiting for you by simply Google’s top search results for “Top web hosting” query, then it is far not zen but just a beginning of the way to it. And don’t be fooled on your way!

Web hosting zen is behind the curtains of search engines lures. You are welcome to explore the way to the best website hosting and then come back to say what you think in the comments below.

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  1. very good post about this subject. i hope you can give us more information about selecting a best web hosting . from know i waiting your next post. thank you vary much for sheering this idea.

  2. I have been using bluehost with about 15 websites under a single master domain. Did not see it under your review of the best hosting.
    Can you give your opinion about bluehost?
    Also would love to see your thoughts on how difficult it is to move from one provider to another. I have used Duplicator for moving sites but any of your thoughts on that would also be great.

    • Hi Bill,

      Thanks for your comment.

      My opinion on Bluehost goes under EIG category. You can find it here.

      As regards moving websites from one host to another, if your current host uses cPanel, the moving is quite easy. You can move the whole account very easily be telling your new host to do so. Your new host will basically take the full cPanel backup and restore it on its servers. It’s the easiest way to migrate. Most hosts offer this for free. Some hosts offer it for a small fee. You don’t need to move site by site.

      However, if for any reason you need to move site by site, then duplicator is a good option. There are other solutions/plugins like that, but basically the process is the same.

  3. Hi Michael, great work with the hosting series. A few questions / comments.

    1. In June 2017 Hostwinds took 3rd in your performance contest but it isn’t one of your recommend hosting providers and you don’t have even a quick review of them. Any reason why? For what it is worth, I recently signed up with them for a VPS plan and my experience was pretty good but ultimately I had to cancel my account because they use outgoing email spam filtering (MailChannels) which ends up stripping the TLS headers thus causing gmail to flag email sent from their servers as unencrypted. That was a deal-breaker for me. I presume the same will apply to their shared packages but not sure.

    2. Have you looked at TMDHosting? I have just signed up with them so I cannot say yet whether they are truly good or not, but they are not EIG, and though reviews are a little harder to come by, they are mostly quite positive. If you have considered them but chose not to use/recommend them, why not? If you haven’t maybe you will consider adding them to your stable of hosts to measure and consider?

    3. A third provider, one I very nearly chose, is IWW (Incendia Web Works). Ever considered them? They, again, are independent (non-EIG) and seem very focused on performance and only offer 1-site plans which are not all that cheap by comparison, but it sounds like they know their stuff and would be suitable for those who prioritize performance over unlimited resources and low prices. There aren’t many reviews for them, though the handful that do exist are very positive.

    • Hi JB,

      There are a lot of non-EIG hosts. Some of them are great. But the majority (like in any industry) are mediocre or bad.

      I’ve added HostWinds in my Hosting Performance monitoring since this host is widely known.
      Although it shows not bad performance I don’t recommend it (at least for now) because other hosts I recommend from the same pricing category look better in my eyes. It does NOT mean though that I recommend against this host.

      My hosting recommendations are not based only on performance. Before all, I look at how the company runs its business, which can be seen analyzing real users reviews, host’s pricing policy, analyzing its business model including estimating its costs by comparing with other hosts, its reputation among web hosting professionals, the way the company cares of its reputation, the overall clients satisfaction rate, its clients acquisition policy, its experience on the market etc.

      As regards TMDHosting seems to have more risky business model than other hosts I recommend. In my opinion, they have too high affiliate commissions for their prices. This makes me think that the quality of the services might be lower than some other hosts. But I have not had experience with it personally.

      I don’t plan to add other hosts in my monthly Hosting Performance Contest at least for now, because ongoing costs for the testing service are too high for me to include more and more hosts. Moreover, the Hosting Contest is not supposed to include any non-EIG hosts.

      The purpose of my Hosting Contest is to consistently monitor the performance of some of the most well-known and well-established non-EIG hosts. It not actually about comparing all the hosts that I come across.

      As regards Incendia Web Works, I have not heard of it before. Also, I have not found any legal information about this company on its website, but it’s pricing looks quite adequate. According to their copyright notice at the bottom of its page this host started in 2016. So, its quite new, I guess.

      Hope it helps.

      Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions.

      • Thanks for the reply. I am sure your testing does cost a lot so I completely understand not wanting to add more hosts. Anyway, it is a valuable public service for the ones you do monitor now, so thanks.

        One other issue I have been wondering about. Some hosts are now starting to add cloud shared packages using CloudLinux, which if I understand correctly, containerizes an account and provides dedicated minimum resources (CPU/RAM). If this is the case, might such plans effectively avoid the issue of a company over-stuffing their server? Of course, the prices for these tend to be a little higher than basic shared servers, but worth the extra cost if you value performance. Any thoughts to agree or disagree with this line of thinking?

        • JB, CloudLinux is indeed the operation system that allows better management and server resources allocation among accounts on the server. But it does not prevent hosting companies from overselling. CloudLinux is a management solution for SHARED hosting.

          it’s true that CloudLinux allows to effectively limit the resources used by each account. But it does mean that the number of accounts are limited (it depends on how many accounts a hosting company creates on a particular server).

          Here’s a super simplified example. Imagine a 4-CPU server. And a hosting company sells 1-CPU accounts. CloudLinux allows to make sure that each account will not use more than 1 CPU. But it does NOT mean that there can be only 4 accounts on that server. It still depends on a hosting company how many accounts to sell. Selling just 4 accounts would be too generous (and expensive).

          So, it still depends on the management strategy (and ethics) that a hosting company applies even using CloudLinux. CloudLinux just makes a life for a hosting company much easier. CloudLinux gives more control to a hosting company and allows to avoid situations when clients abuse the server resources.

  4. Mark Cohen says

    HI Michael,

    We had a staffer who was very keen on bluehost, and we were seriously considering them, but went with a small local provider. They are not great, but sounds like we dodged a bigger bullet. I guess they were decent until they sold out.
    I’ve had my client sites on 1an1 for a decade, and they are reliable if nothing else, but agree with one of the commenters that they now seem to be competing with godaddy for worst CP ever.
    In any event, thank you for doing this work! I’ve been increasingly hesitant about recommending 1and1, but you’re my go-to guy from now on!

    • Thank you Mark for your comment and kind words.

      Indeed small providers may be very good choice because of their really great attitude and unparalleled quality of hosting because they want to stand out.

      And in order to do so they need to offer something really outstanding. But as you correctly noticed, it may go downhill once it’s sold out. That’s the risk with small or young hosting providers.

      I’ve used more than one hundred hosts for my projects. And a part of the hosts were young hosts which were not bad at first (considering their very low prices!), but after some time after getting more clients they were sold out and outages started over-flooding.

      Probably it was the initial idea of creating such hosts to gain clients and be sold out. Anyway, hosting business is quite competing. And maintaining a good quality for a long time is possible not just thanks to a good business strategy but also thanks to a sort of way of business ethics when a hosting owner does not care only of income.

      So, I recommend hosts which are already established, and are great in both hosting quality and business ethics for different pricing categories. I pick out the best ones in the different hosting segments.

      Moreover, recently (since Feb ’16) I’ve launched a hosting monitoring project where I anonymously monitor performance of the hosts. You are welcome to to keep an eye on it!

      Thanks again for your voice!

  5. Margaret Bartley says

    The information I’m looking for isn’t here, at least I can’t find it. I really appreciate the work you’ve done, it will help some, but I need to know things like what databases do they support, what languages do they support? I”m a small user, looking for both an Access database and also a PHP- MySQL. I’d also like to be able to offer streaming downloads to a small group of family members for family videos. Plus, I’d like to have password-protectored directories. I don’t need all this in one website, I have six right now, for different purposes.

    I’m using OneAndOne. It is slow, but their tech support is 24/7 (an important detail you should include in your reviews) Their online documentation about how to set things up is really bad, although the last time I used it, it seemed better than before. I have to call every time I need to do anything. And they keep changing the way the administrative site is organized, so even if I think I know how to do something, I still have to call.

    Fortunately, they hire smart people who listen, whose accents are fairly undetstandable – NONE OF WHICH are universal qualities in shared web hosts, and are as important in a comparison as the amount of data that can be downloaded.

    Anyway, just some feedback.


    • Thanks Margaret, but your comment seems like a… hmm… a little bit of 1-and-1 ad 🙂

    • Anyway, if you need MS Access, you need Windows hosting. Have a look at LiquidWeb.
      Php-mysql is a standard things for all Linux-based shared hosting (by default any hosting you can find out there is Linux-based)
      Streaming downloads – you need to contact each host with this query. However, usually for streaming video/audio, you need something more than shared hosting (a VPS or a dedicated server). On the other hand, if you need to deal with just small videos, then different extensions such as may be sufficient for you.
      As regards supporting languages, if you mean technical support, then for specific languages you better find a host in a specific country.
      Hope it helps.

  6. Michael, you want to check out the ASO Christmas present it has given to its customers. 6 days of downtime and some still offline. Plus as much BS as you can eat. Mass exodus from EIG ASO. See twitter.

  7. Hi Michael, Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, its quiet effective to taking the right decision when someone choose a reliable web host. i really appreciate.

  8. Newbie here, thanks for the research , it is matter if web server close to the website visit area right , I can’t seem to find ant list that show web hosting server location, Actually I ‘m looking web hosting that have server close to SF BayArea, CA, any list suggestions ?

    • Hey Joe,

      Location matters a bit, but it’s not the first factor that should be taken into consideration when choosing a web hosting provider.

      Ideally, the closer location, the quicker ping. But it’s just one of the factors for your website download speed. Far more important factor is web hosting overloading and overall proper server management.

      For instance, close server location can give you an advantage of less than a second or so.
      But correct server management of your hosting can give you a faster speed by several seconds and much more uptime in general.

      Moreover, if you have a typical website or blog (and not sort of multimedia storage), server location is not that important as reliable web hosting.

      For example, my website is hosted on the cheapest shared plan in the good hosting company in Europe, although most visitors are from US. But when I compare my site speed with many others hosted in US or wherever, I see that my site is faster than most of other websites.

      So my advice is simply ignore the server location, but focus on choosing a good hosting company first of all. And if there’s a choice of server locations in the hosting company of your choice, then that’s great – ask the hosting provider for advice and they’ll recommend the server for you.

  9. Yes sure plz i expect more information about web host from you. I appreciate your effort. Thank you.

  10. Good post. It is useful for me to know more details about web hosting

It's important for me to know what you think