What To Look For In A Good Host
We've been doing a lot of research lately on different hosting companies. There's a ton of them and it's a huge industry, but it's definitely just a few of the really big hosts that have most of the market, while the vast majority have just a handful of customers or no customers. For a brand new webmaster, it can be pretty difficult to decide what host to go to.
Here, I'd like to just list a few things that you should check before signing up to a new hosting company.
Support varies hugely between hosts, and you'd be surprised to find that bigger does not necessarily mean better. Some of the biggest hosts do provide excellent service and support where they have a live chat feature where you can chat with their support agents about any problems with your website. However, many big hosts also severely lack good support. They'll have thousands of customers with problems and nowhere near enough support agents to cater to them. A good example is HostGator - since their acquisition by EIG, many have reported that their support has turned terrible (see this article for example).
It can be absolutely infuriating if your website goes down. Nowadays, almost all hosts have excellent uptime, but all hosts will still (at least occasionally) go down. Do a search of what uptime different hosts have before signing up to one.
Like support, pricing between hosting companies differs a lot. One thing to keep in mind is that hosts usually offer huge discounts if you sign up to a 12 month or 24 month plan. However, that comes with certain risks as you don't want to be doing that if you're not sure the host is a good one.
Ease of use
All good hosts should offer cpanel, along with a simple admin area to manage your account and setup new domains. If your host doesn't offer this, you should go with a different one.