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Meet the author:
Jill Olkoski

Jill has a MA in Clinical Psychology, a BS in Computer Science, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

She currently owns Aldebaran Web Design in Edmonds (near Seattle WA) and enjoys educating her clients on topics related to small business website design.

In Jill's previous life, she spent 17 years in the engineering and quality organizations of a Fortune 100 tech company.


How To Select A GOOD Website Hosting Company

June 28th, 2007

Selecting a good website hosting company is extremely important for the success of a website. If the hosting service isn’t reliable and doesn’t have good customer support, your website’s performance will be negatively impacted.

As a website designer, I have the fortunate opportunity to work with many different website hosting companies and they all offer different levels of customer support and website services. If you’re shopping for a website hosting company, keep these things in mind:

Do you know someone who has used the particular hosting company before and are they satisfied?

No matter what kind of claims you can read on a hosting company website, the very best indicator of a website’s host future performance is their past performance. Find out how long the person has been with the hosting company they’re recommending and ask about issues and support.

Compare costs: Are they a reseller or a “real” hosting company?

Some hosting companies are “real”, meaning that the servers that your website files are on are actually in their buildings. Other hosting companies are simply resellers, meaning they are a middle-person and are adding on profit to what they’re selling to you.

Size matters.

I’ve had experiences with some smaller hosting companies that weren’t the greatest, and I’d recommend that people go with a larger name hosting company. You’ll not only save money, you’ll generally get much more for your money, in terms of easy-to-install free applications.

Find out if they support PHP Scripting and MySQL Databases.

Most hosting companies do support these, however not all are running the same versions. I’ve also had some hosting companies charge for more than one database, so find out what their policies are. If a hosting company doesn’t have either, take your business elsewhere, because these are really industry-standard services. All kinds of applications, from shopping carts to blogs use these two languages – so don’t sign up for hosting if the hosting company doesn’t have them.

Try out their customer support.

Hosting companies really differ in the level of customer support. I frequently have to contact them with questions about their particular configuration. Some hosting companies have support only via email, while others offer phone support. Having phone support is nice, but it doesn’t mean that the hold time won’t be a half hour, or that person on the other end speaks good enough English to be able to understand you and be able to help.

How Sophisticated Is Their Control Panel?

The control panel is the place where you configure your hosting settings. Give the control panel a test drive. It should be easy to change hosting settings, setup email accounts, set or change the FTP username and login, etc. If your hosting company doesn’t offer a control panel – keep shopping. All major hosting companies offer this and without it, you have to contact your hosting company for everything. Keep an eye out for “one click installs” or “fantastico” – this is a highly recommended feature, especially if you want a WordPress blog. This feature makes installation and upgrades a snap – another time/money saver.

Which website hosting company do I recommend?

J. Olkoski
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.

6 Responses to “How To Select A GOOD Website Hosting Company”

  1. Tony Says:

    No offence but how do I know you aren’t an affiliate for Dreamhost and just out to make money from your recommendations?
    Do you know about Freehostia? They look quite good but perhaps too small judging by the forum.I am looking for something very basic though need around 10gb bandwidth

  2. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Tony,
    If clients put in that I referred them to DreamHost, I do receive a one-time small payment from DreamHost, but I’m not an affiliate reseller. Whether clients put this information in and I get the referral fee is completely up to them – I don’t track it or care. I recommend DreamHost regardless of any minimal financial gain I may make – which again, is completely up to clients. I have been using DreamHost for over 3 years now, and am happy with their service. And in my line of work, I work with many different hosting companies, and have to resolve issues, contact their customer support, etc – and none have been as easy for me to work with as DreamHost. I have not heard of Freehostia or had any clients use them, so I can’t speak to their service quality.

  3. Bill Says:

    Hi Jill,

    Ran across your web site when searching for articles on adding a blog to a web site. This article on hosting companies caught my attention. I currently use 1and1 and wanted to view what you had to say about them. Problem is, the link returns a 404 page. I have been happy with 1and1 but I am looking for a new host because 1and1 seems to be behind the times. I have Windows hosting package with them and I was looking at adding a new shopping cart to the site but it requires .Net 3.5 and 1and1 only supports .Net 2.0 with no immediate plans for supporting 3.5. I am looking at They offer features I am looking for. Plus, the reponded to my emailed questions within minutes of me submitting them. Just curious as to what you had to say about 1and1.

    Your site looks like a good reference site which is why it is now bookmarked.

    Nice to know about Dreamhost’s free hosting for non-profit organizations. Does this include organizations like a Home and School association, sports boosters, Little League organizations etc.?



  4. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Bill,
    I am not a big fan of 1 and 1 – I have one or two clients who use them, each time I have to get assistance, it’s a chore. DreamHost’s free hosting for non-profits has to do with the 5013c status of the organization, not what kind of services they provide. They will ask for proof of your 5013c status I believe.

  5. elizabeth murphy Says:

    Iam considering completing an accounting course with who provides a website for you to use when you set up your bookkeeping business.This site is free to set up but you pay $25.95 per month for a basic site.Since i know nothing about websites yet I would appreciate a little advice. First of all do you know if this is a good host company and secon once your website is up and running how bad would it affect your business to have to cancel that website and start a new one with a different host company.As I said I am a newbee at this and would appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks

  6. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I’ll preface my answer by saying I’m biased, because I do website design for a living and don’t generally recommend folks use these pay-for-a-website-per-month companies for a few reasons. The main reason, is that you are paying for a website rental. You don’t actually own your website, you’re renting a website from someone else. This means that unlike folks who purchase their own domains and hosting and get professional website design work done, once you stop paying them, you’ve got nothing. If you develop your own website, you own it, and over time, it will increase in Google’s rankings, getting you traffic that is yours, for free. The hosting company I work with charged $9.95 a month, so over time, your $29.95 will be wasted, since it could actually be money you’re spending on a real website that you own, and you control. I’d say if you’re serious about starting a business, and you’re in this for the long term, you should always consider hiring a professional designer who will help you buy a domain name and set up hosting (both in your name, not the designer’s) and creating a website that is yours. These days, websites are an integral part of small business, and renting a website, where you pay them forever and own nothing is not a good long term strategy in my opinion. But again, remember, this is what I do for a living, so there’s inherent bias in my reply.

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