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- Top 10 best web hosting services: our review criteria
Websites are hosted on internet spaces that are provided by web hosting services providers. Read to know how we rated the top 10 in the world.
Fuelled by a recent post I wrote about how I protect my WordPress sites from hacking, in which I recommended five top web hosting sites, I decided to do a thorough work by researching the top 10 best web hosting services in the world.
Today, I will present you the criteria I used in arriving at the best of the best. In order to make a balanced review, I compared the medium hosting plans of these web hosting services running for at most 12 months. For all, I compared their shared hosting plans which are affordable and easier to setup. Read on to comprehend my mindset.
On an average, most web hosting company will allow you to start hosting your website for a minimum of a month. Others will force you to register for a minimum of 12 months.
In view of this, we awarded 10 marks to those web hosting services that allow you to start a month, 8 marks for three months and 2 marks for 12 months.
The carrots most web hosting services dangle in front of prospective customers is their very low entry rates. But most of these low pricings only come for long term plans; that is either 12, 24 or 36 months plans.
Even at that, you would need to look beyond the initial entry cost to check the features that the hosting plans come with (both paid and free), the renewal cost, what are customers’ experiences with them and more, in order not to get your fingers burnt.
But since entry rates still burrow holes in pockets and can bring or drive away customers, we awarded 10 marks to the web hosting services with the cheapest rates, $2 – $4.99/mo (iPage and NameCheap fell into this category).
8 marks were awarded to companies with $5-$7.99/mo entry plans (GreenGeeks, HostGator, et al); $8-$10.99/mo entry rates web hosting companies got 5 marks (InMotionHosting and A2 Hosting), while $11-$13.99/mo hosting companies went home with 2 marks (Site5 and A Small Orange).
While some web hosting sites give you a very low entry rate, their renewal rates usually shoot to the rooftop. After dissecting their pricings, we offered 10 marks to those with $5 – $6/mo renewal rate (only NameCheap), 7 marks to those in the $11-$12/mo renewal rates range (HostGator, Site5 and WestHost) and a paltry 3 marks to those renewing at $18/mo and beyond (SiteGround took this crown).
A storage space is the amount of space on a web hosting service’s computer that is allocated to you to store your website contents. While web hosting services give you unlimited space, meaning there is almost no limit to what you put on your host space. These categories were awarded 10 marks (E.g. NameCheap and iPage).
Bandwidth is the amount of data your website can deliver to visitors in a given month. High trafficked websites require plenty bandwidth.
The numbers of websites you can host on a plan could prove its cost effectiveness. Some web hosting providers gives you the ability to host unlimited numbers of websites on your hosting space. Those in this category like BlueHost and Site5 got 10 marks.
Hosting a website for a long time range plan (12 months and beyond) qualifies one to get a free domain on most of these website hosting services. Those that offered free domain registration like A Small Orange and BlueHost got 10 marks, while those that charged fees got 2 marks (e.g. SiteGround and A2 Hosting).
Customized email accounts are email accounts that are branded with domain names (e.g. [email protected]). Free email accounts are those offered by email service providers like Gmail, Yahoo and MSN (e.g. [email protected]).
Customised email accounts are the livewires of online businesses. If you run an online business, you should use your customized email address. You can still keep your free email account (most especially Gmail), but link your customized email to it.
For the hosting plans reviewed, all the hosting services provided free unlimited email accounts to customers and hence we awarded them 10 marks each.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) add extra layer of security to your websites. If you use your website to collect sensitive users’ data like login details or you run an ecommerce site, it is essential you install an SSL certificate to safeguard their information.
Even if you do not do any of the above, having an SSL certificate will still further strengthen your site’s security and add prestige to it. The protocol of a site with an SSL certificate starts with ‘https://’ instead of the common ‘http://’.
Hence, hosting services that give you free SSL certificates for all sites hosted on your hosting plan (e.g. InMotionHosting, A2 Hosting) got 10 marks, others that charge you were awarded 3 marks (e.g. Site5, WestHost and A Small Orange).
Sub-domains are sub-levels of domain names. For example, I can have a sub-domain (host.memorila.com) which points to a different site entirely from my site (www.memorila.com). With sub-domains, you can create sub-sites on your main website.
Web hosting services that offer unlimited numbers of sub-domain (e.g. WestHost, iPage) were awarded 10 marks, those that offer 100 slots (e.g. InMotionHosting) got 4 marks, while those that offered 5 slots (e.g. MidPhase) got 1 mark.
While it is required for a site owner to install security features and patch portholes from his/her end, it is especially good for the host service provider to further strengthen the security of its platform.
Some hosting service providers offer extra security for free (e.g. A2 Hosting, InMotionHosting), and as such scored 10 marks. Others require a monthly fee (e.g. WestHost, HostGator) – 3 marks; and unfortunately some leave you to your own fate (e.g. NameCheap, A Small Orange) and as such got 1 mark.
During emergencies, your first port of call is your hosting services provider’s customer support lifelines. Some providers offer phone support, live chat and even email ticketing. The ease at which a customer can contact his/her hosting provider and get his/her queries resolved as swiftly as possible can go a long way in building a lasting impression on the customer.
For this review, we used the live chat format since most of these hosting providers have it, and being one of the options that is fast, cheap and interactive. Some sites came up promptly, others delayed, while some didn’t even come up at all.
Hosting service providers with good, exceptional and intelligent customer support were awarded marks ranging from 14 to 20, bad or unintelligent supports got 10 marks, while supports that didn’t come up at all or that required that a guest must be registered (e.g. BlueHost) got 5 marks and below.
In the case where you happen to have hooked up with a bad host, the first thought that comes to one’s mind is to port to another hosting service provider with little to no downtime. The ease at which the destination hosts make it for prospective customers to port give them leverages over their competitors.
Web hosting services provider that offer free migration (like A2 Hosting) got 10 marks, those that insist on paid migration (e.g. BlueHost) got 3 marks, while those that had no contingency (e.g. A Small Orange) got 1 point.
Most websites store their data and those collected from visitors in database tables, most especially mysql databases. The numbers of databases available on a hosting plan can determine the numbers of sites you host on the account or the ease at which you create them.
Hosting companies offering unlimited mysql databases scored 10 marks, those offering 50 databases, 5 marks, 20 databases, 3 marks, and 3 databases got 1 mark.
One feature that can make or mar your website is backups. In an unexpected circumstance where your website is hacked or you mistakenly caused a major mishap on the site, you will want to fall back on your backups. There are hosting sites that offer free backups of your website, and those that offer paid options.
Knowing the value attached to backups, I awarded sites with free backups 10 marks and those with the paid version 3 marks.
Hard disk type (SSD v HDD)
Hard disk drives (HDDs) store information in a storage device that has moving mechanical parts. On the other hand, solid-state drives (SSDs) store information in microchips, similar to a flash drive or memory stick.
As a result, according to InMotionHosting, SSDs “do not require power to ‘spin up’ and have no mechanical limitations impeding their speed.” This means SSDs can store and access data much faster than their spinning counterparts.
In all the hosting service providers reviewed, those offering SSDs were awarded 10 marks, while those with HDDs got 8 marks.
There are hosting companies that sweet-talk you with freebies but keep some charges hidden under the carpet.
Most of the hosting services reviewed had no hidden charges and thus were awarded 10 marks each.
But GreenGeeks on the other hand which had many excellent features and overall cool pricing had a hidden compulsory $15 one-time setup charge for new customers are starting at one month. Hence, we penalized it with 2 marks.
One policy hosting service providers use to entice customers is their money-back policy. Most of them give at least a 30-day money-back policy in which if you are not satisfied with the services rendered, you can request for refund.
For this reason, hosting service providers with 90-day money back policy were awarded 9 marks, 60-day money back policy 6 marks, 45-day money back policy 4.5 marks, and those with 30-day money back policy 3 marks,
One thing a prospective customer should take into cognizance if he/she wants to make use of XYZ’s hosting services is the past experiences of the company’s customers. Are they happy or regretting hooking up with them? Hence, I paid particular attention to this value.
HostingFacts is a reputable hosting review site that has reviewed more than 30 hosting services providers. At the bottom of each review, users are given opportunity to say their views, whether good or bad.
I looked into these users’ reviews and awarded 20 marks to hosting service providers with 5 stars. 18 marks went to companies with 4.5 stars and so on.
Site Speed and Uptime
HostingFacts had done a holistic review on web hosting services’ speed and uptime, and with limited resources and time on my end, I decided to key into their data for this review.
For site speed, web hosting companies with 80% and above were awarded 20 marks; 60-69%, 18 marks; 50-59%, 16 marks; 40-49%, 14 marks; 30-39%, 12 marks; 20-29%, 10 marks and 10-19%, 8 marks.
On the other hand, website hosting services with 90-100% uptime were awarded 20 marks, 80-89%, 18 marks; 70-79%, 16 marks; 60-69%, 14 marks; 50-59%, 12 marks; 40-49%, 10 marks; and 30-39%, 8 marks.
I did a cumulative costing of the entry rate of a plan, computed for 12 months, and added the cost of domain, SSL certificates, site migration and backups (if not provided freely).
While the average total cost for an annual medium hosting plan is $154, we found out that some of these hosting services providers (e.g. NameCheap) charge you for as low as $29 for a whole year, while others shot to the rooftop with $310/year (e.g. BlueHost).
Hence, I awarded those with $30 – $59 annual plans with 20 marks, $60 – $99 annual plans, 18 marks, $90 – $119 annual plans, 16 marks and $120 – $149 annual plans, 14 marks.
Furthermore, hosting companies with $150 – $179 annual plans scored 12 marks; $180 – $209 annual plans, 10 marks, $210 – $239 annual plans, 8 marks; $240 – $269 annual plans, 6 marks; $270 – $299 annual plans, 5 marks, and finally $300 – $330 annual plans fetched home 4 marks.
What is our verdict then?
Very soon, the list of the top 10 web hosting services in the world will be released on Memorila. Watch out!
If you have any view on any part of what was written above, use the comment section below to let us know.
Until my next publication, stay safe!