Ultimate Guide To Hosting Plans – Part II
This is Part II of my three part article Ultimate Guide to Hosting Plans. In this article series, I’m sharing deep insights into various Hosting Plans and the hidden clauses from some of the Top Web Hosting providers. I came across all this stuff hile researching for some Hosting Plans and Domain names for my E-learning website Xero To Millions, to be launched book about Online Success and three more allied websites.
In this part of the article, we will dig deeper into various aspects of Web Hosting plans. The third and last part deals with the Fine print that remains obscured in the flashes of marketing gimmicks.
Web Hosting Companies Used For Comparing Plans and Services
Documentation, Support And Forums
If you’re setting up a plain Blog with a twenty thirteen or twenty fifteen theme, you have to be less worried about this. But if you’re planning to setup something professional like an e-commerce website or are gonna use premium plugins, themes etc., the Hosting Companies Support, Documentation and Forums are the most important aspect to be looked.
A few dollars more or less, or a 100MB of less storage in the Hosting plan shouldn’t be bothered about when it comes to Support. Most Hosting Companies have 24/7 calling numbers for support, the only exceptions in this are Namecheap and A Small Orange . Both these Hosting Companes don’t have a phone based support facility instead, they have a 24/7 Live Chat option. Comparing the Phone Call to Live Chat Support, I just experienced Live Chat was a better option.
Why Live Chat Is Better Than Phone Based Support?
This Blog has been hosted on GoDaddy for the last year or so, and truly speaking I ain’t that happy when it came to calling the support guys. Every time I called them on their support number (which isn’t toll-free) I’m welcomed by a sweet voice on the IVR, asked to select a few support category options and then wait for the next 10 min listening to mindless marketing and music waiting for the Customer support rep to come online. After certain verifications and explaining the issue at hand the Customer Rep again puts you on a hold to check for the solution. This goes on for the next 30-40 min or more till your issue is resolved or escalated. I have a few sites with other Hosting companies and the story was no different.
Live Chat Support
My experience with Namecheap Support while setting up my e-learning website has been fantastic. You just have to go to the support page, select the category you issue is related to and Click on Live Chat. You’re connected to a Customer Rep within a minute. After you go thru initial verification and explain your problem, the customer rep would ask you to wait till the have a look. You can also paste screenshots, error messages or upload files to make the issue at hand clear to the customer rep. Being able to paste or upload info to the support staff is way better than trying to explain stuff on the phone. Another good thing about Live Chat support is you can get back to work, or other chores at hand while waiting for the Rep to resolve your issue. If the issue at hand is concerning another department/section the Rep connects you to the appropriate person in the same chat window. his saves a lot of time re-explaining the stuff. And the Best part is you can save, mail or print the entire conversation for future reference.
And the Best part is you can save, mail or print the entire conversation for future reference.
No More Listening to endless Music and Marketing Messages.
Knowledge Base Or Documentation
Many minor problems are actually user configuration errors and these can be easily solved using the documentation provided by the Web Hosting company. You will require this for learning to use the various apps and control options provided to you with the Hosting Package.
Most hosting companies have very good documentation on almost all the sections of Web Hosting, but the problem is searching thru the extensive documentation. So while selecting a hosting provider look for the design and accessibility of the Knowledgebase.
Grievances and Forums
See if there’s a way to notify your grievances to the company. Look into the Contact Us and Support pages if they have email addresses or contact forms to reach them in case there are issues which need to be heard. Also, look if there’s an active customer forum. Not all hosting Companies provide a customer forum but do look if it’s there. An active forum can help in many a support issues as well as grievance resolution.
Based on my experiences with four Hosting companies (wouldn’t like to name them) NameCheap and A Small Orange are clear winners when it comes to support and documentation. The are willing to go out of the way to help you and get the issue resolved (even when the issue is not pertaining to their product) I’ve even started a chat, explained an issue and went for a meeting jst to resume it back after 5 Hrs.
If I had to rate NameCheap Support – I would giveto the support team. They are just awesome.
Transperancy Of Server Upgrades and Issues
Every network setup big or small is bound to have problem. However latest server you setup, it is bound to require maintenance and upgrades.Whichever network you subscribe for, they are bound to have some problem.
Critical Space Missions like NASA’s Mars Orbiter or Rocket Launches have problems and they readily acknowledge them. And the story should be no different to your Web Hosting Provider , however modern it may be. But are they willing to tell you.
This is one aspect where Namecheap again deserves 5 stars. They have a status page on their website which is updated about Upgrades, Scheduled Maintenance, Server Issues etc. Excluding Namecheap, I couldn’t find a single Web Hosting company declaring issues regarding their Servers. Knowing this information may not make much difference on your Websites operations, but can help you schedule important events like Webinars.
This kind of transparency builds trust and speaks a lot about the Company’s Character, which is bound to flow in their service and Support.
And there’s a reason for most companies not sharing these details with their customers. Most Hosting companies do not have their own Data-Centers and are leasing servers from Data-Centers owned by some other company, leaving them with little or no control on these issues.
Company Ownership and Management
While this may not seem to be important but is a part that should not be ignored. Having a professional well reputed team at the helm of affairs shows throughout the company’s every service. Do not ignore this factor as you’re getting into a long term relationship and trusting your creative hardwork with them. Always check the about us page that declares the team and ownership of the company.
Checking the ownership is important as some Hosting companies are owned by a single company. These child subsidiaries then lease servers from the parent company’s Data-center and use the same support system.
A good example is EIG. Endurance International Group, Inc. (EIG), formerly BizLand, is a web hosting company. The company owns Hosting companies like BlueHost, Hostgator, JustHost and Hostmonster. In April 2014, a major network issue at the data center in Provo, Utah, affected customers of Bluehost, HostMonster and JustHost, and took down many of the dedicated servers owned by HostGator customers.
Hosting Server And Data-Center Security
I’ve more than half a dozen websites and with all of my experience I can say that Security and Backups is an aspect never to be overlooked. Nobody would like to have a downed website or a website injected with tons of malicious code into. And cleaning this stuff isn’t easy. There is no pain like recovering from a hacked website.
Look with utmost care for what Backup facilities the Hosting Company provides. Check what solution is the Web Host using to secure its servers from DDOS attacks and other malicious software’s. Some hosting companies do not specify the solution they use for securing their servers, and would claim security as an issue for not declaring. I such cases speak with the support staff to know how secure their servers are.
Number Of Domains, Sub Domains and Websites
Hosting plans are always filled with marketing gimmicks and tricky language. Every hosting plan will allow a number of Domain and sub Domains to be hosted within the Hosting space. Do not get confused between Domain and SubDomain. Domain is actual standalone address websites like “http://blogsnclicks.com” while subdomains are child domains (example: http://support.blogsnclicks.com)
Some Hosting companies disguise shared hosting plans allowing not more than one website/domain by adding lines such as “100 SubDomains”. Don’t get tricked into this. You won’t ever require 100 subdomains and even if you wish to use them, it won’t be possible to install them in one shared Hosting space due to process and SQL DB releated constraints. (Refer to Fair Usage Policy in Part-III of this article)
Bandwidth and Network
Excluding VPS and Dedicated server plans (which are the costlier ones ) most Hosting companies offered Unlimited Bandwidth for shared server plans(the lower priced ones). Simple Common sense can tell it’s not possible. Yes! the “Unlimited Bandwidth” is actual never unlimited. There are clauses on how much you utilise. This is managed by a Fair Usage Policy which I’ve covered in Part III of this article.
Before selecting a Hosting service and plan one more aspect to look for in this section is Network. Look for what switches and routers the Hosting company is using. Also, look for which Telecom network are they using to connect to the internet and how big it is. Some Web Hosting companies are silent on this issue and do not declare it along with other features. I believe that if you have the stuff to show off – you will.
For those who don’t know what a reliable Network or Data-Center Information looks like – here are some links
Storage Hardware and Offered Storage
Similar to the “Unlimited Bandwidth” trick is the “Unlimited Storage” advertised by Hosting providers. It’s never Unlimited and you can know more about this in Part-III of this article. VPS hosting and Dedicated server plans have clearly specified storage. Most shared hosting plans are designed to trick users to think that they can use unlimited storage while the case is just opposite.
Also, check out what kind of Hard Drives is the Hosting Company using on its servers. The latest technology that most top hosting companies use is Ultra Redundant Solid State Drives(SSD). These are blazing fast and your websites speed does depend on them.
Control Panel and Management Tools
Excluding WordPress Hosting, most Hosting Plans will include CPanel for the management of your Hosting space. Cpanel is an industry standard software that’s widely used to manage Hosting space hence, a lot of support and documentation can be found online about Cpanel. Look for one click install facility for major content management software’s like WordPress and Joomla.
Installation and management apps like Softaculous are also a necessity, so don’t ignore them.In my recent purchase of Hosting from Namecheap, I was able to configure DNS resolution, Cloudflare CDN, Email accounts, WordPress installation and backup for 5 Websites in approximately 45 minutes using Cpanel and Softalucous.
Some Web Hosting companies use their own proprietary Software’s or customized versions of Cpanel. The problem arises when you wish to transfer your Website to a different Host a simple Cpanel based backup and export is not possible.
Example: Bluehost forked cPanel into their own proprietary software to diversify backup functionality.
Unfortunately, this means that if you want to move away from them at some point, you can’t just back your environment up via cPanel and move to another cPanel-based hosting company (instead, you’d probably need to sftp, or better yet, rsync the content via ssh from one server to another, and even then there’s some manual configuration to do).