How to check if a web hosting provider is reliable?

8 minutes reading

No structure could remain firm on fragile foundations. That’s a lesson best learned from someone else’s experience. In the same way, your website and online business will crumble and fall if you build it upon unreliable infrastructure. It doesn’t matter if you create one spectacular, unique, and appealing website if the infrastructure behind is crooked. No one will be interested in your exquisite content if they can’t reach it. Just like no one will buy from you if your security is questionable. You won’t find many interested in doing business with you if you spare money on essentials like your online presence.

This is why you must give extra attention when choosing your website hosting provider. They are the ones who provide and take care of your website’s foundation. So naturally, signing up with a reliable hosting service is the cornerstone behind your website’s success. But how do you know which web hosting provider is good and which one is bad? With more than 330,000 web hosting providers worldwide, this task may be a bit overwhelming. Don’t worry, though. We’ve gathered several tips on how to make sure your hosting provider is credible, reliable, and the best option for you.

Check their website

When choosing a product, regardless of its nature, checking the vendor’s website is a must. This way, you can determine whether you will get what you’ve paid for or be scammed. The same goes when you aim to sign up for a web hosting provider. There are several signs all reliable website providers share. Although they are not 100% indicative of whether a website owner is trustworthy or not, they are an excellent way to notice some red flags from the very get-go.

How old is the website

A brand new website is a red flag. True, a new business will have a new website. Still, it’s hard to determine whether a new business will be reliable or not. A website that has been around for several years is much more reliable than something that just popped up.

Check out the URL

SSL Protection

The URL usually speaks volumes about a business. First, you must check if the hosting provider has an SSL certificate. This is indicated by the small padlock icon next to the URL and the “S” at the end of the HTTP protocol. Of course, that alone doesn’t guarantee the hosting provider is reliable. Still, it shows that the website is using end-to-end encryption, which is essential if you are going to share your credit card number and other credentials with them.

Check out the design.

The website’s design and functionalities are usually the first clues that something is wrong with a business or service. If the website looks as if done by a 4-year-old, it was obviously done in a rush. Likewise, a poorly designed hosting website should hint at how they do the rest of their work. If they can’t spare the time to care for their own infrastructure, how would they take care of your website foundations?

Review the About US page.

Reliable hosting providers have no problem putting their faces and names on their About Us page. Moreover, their mission, goals, and what content they choose to put on their About Us page will show you precisely the type of people you are about to deal with.

Check out the blog

The next step is to check out their blog. Usually, reliable hosting providers would offer free advice and will have a ton of valuable information on their blogs. More importantly, reliable websites strive to attract organic audiences through their SEO. For this, they need a constant flow of new blog posts. So if their website offers a new blog post every week or two, it’s a good indication the hosting provider is reliable. After all, scammers usually aim to collect as much money for as little work as possible. Creating a website, maintaining it for a year or so, and writing each week a blog post is way too much work for someone who’s made an unreliable product.

Check the Contact page

Finally, make sure to check the contact page. A bountiful contact information is a pretty good sign. After all, unreliable hosting providers will try to avoid contact with their customers as much as possible. They will avert direct communication and ultimately either use only self-help tools or have a ticket system with an astronomical response time.

Of course, none of these signs can determine whether a hosting provider is reliable or not. However, they are a great way to weed out those with a high potential of being untrustworthy. To be able to narrow down the most reliable hosting providers, there are still a lot more factors to consider.

Evaluate the hosting provider’s uptime and downtime history

Evaluating your hosting provider’s uptime and downtime history is one of the most crucial factors in determining their reliability. Essentially this means you need to find out what percentage of the time the hosting provider’s servers are up and running. As you probably guess, a reliable hosting provider will have more than 95% uptime. Otherwise, each minute of downtime costs, on average, $5,600.

The best way to measure the uptime of a hosting provider server is by using an online tool. Whether you use UptimeRobot, Pingdom, or Site24x7 (which, by the way, is a terrible domain name), you can monitor a website’s uptime and downtime. Just check the host provider’s website in these tools, and you will see how often they go offline, if at all.

When analyzing the data, you need to focus on several factors:

Uptime guarantee

Screen shot of HostArmada's uptime guarantee

Usually, reliable hosting providers will give you an uptime guarantee. For example, ours at HostArmada is 99.9%, as we use cloud-based technology. So, there should be a truly massive cataclysm for our infrastructure to fall apart.

Moreover, reliable service providers will not only give you their word but offer you compensation if they don’t meet their guarantee.

Downtime frequency and duration

When checking the hosting provider’s uptime and downtime, analyze the frequency and duration of their downtime. If downtime is not a frequent but stand-alone occurrence, make sure to cross-reference it with external events that may have been the result. For example, during the terrible earthquake in Japan in 2011 and the following devastating tsunami, many of the servers on the island went black. That’s completely normal, and if a hosting provider has only that blackout, then the downtime is completely understandable.

Check the response time

Checking the response time of the hosting provider’s servers is a great indicator of whether their servers are overloaded and whether they have performance issues. A reliable hosting provider will guarantee enough infrastructure to ensure all of their clients are well cared for.

Check the hosting provider’s security measures

The server security features are another crucial factor you must address when choosing a hosting provider. If you want to be a reliable business partner or provider yourself, you must ensure your server’s protection from any DDoS attacks, hacking, and malware. Naturally, as you hire a server from a hosting company, their security affects your overall reliability. All reliable hosting providers have robust security measures to protect their customer website data stored in their servers. So, before you sign up with a hosting provider, it’s wise to check what security measures the hosting provider has installed.

It’s essential to check if the hosting provider offers an SSL certificate with their hosting plan. This will encrypt data exchange with the server and counter most spy malware waiting to copy your customer’s sensitive personal information.

Screen shot of HostArmada's security features

Furthermore, a firewall is a must. This small security detail controls the entrance and exit from your website. Thus it prevents unauthorized access and hacking attempts, and DDoS attacks.

Finally, your hosting provider should constantly scan their servers for malware. This is malicious software aiming at damaging data or stealing information. Naturally, having such protection makes the hosting provider that much more reliable.

Evaluate the hosting provider’s speed

While slow speed doesn’t mean you’ve ended up on a scammer’s website, each self-respecting hosting provider aims to bring you the fastest speed for the lowest price. Naturally, this grants them more clients and, thus, bigger revenue. So, when browsing around for hosting providers, be sure to evaluate the speed in relation to the price of the plan. For example, we at HostArmada, offer lightning-fast load speed as we use a cloud-based technology, which allows us to overcome some of the traditional hosting limitations like Geolocation. This alone significantly raises the server response time.

So, how can you determine whether the hosting provider offers you enough speed? First and foremost, check their website to see what they are proposing and if the pricing plan you aim for will suffice your needs. Afterward, use a website speed testing tool like Google PageSpeed to test the speed of the hosting company’s URL and other domains using the same hosting provider. Of course, the faster a website loads, the more reliable its infrastructure will be. More importantly, it will be much more user-friendly, which will help you with your SEO endeavors.

Screen shot of speed testing

Another crucial metric is the SRT (server response time). It’s the timeframe within which the server responds to the browser. A slower response time can indicate that the server lacks resources or is currently overloaded. Both are not great signs, especially for a hosting provider’s official website.

So, the speed the hosting provider can offer is instrumental for your success. Poor website speed should be a good enough reason to stay away from the hosting provider, even if they are otherwise reliable.

Read customer reviews and testimonials

When it comes to credibility, however, there is no better way to check if a hosting provider is reliable or not than seeing how others judge them. But before you get to independent reviews on third-party websites, check for testimonials. Of course, Testimonials on the hosting provider’s website won’t give you accurate information about their quality per se. Still, it proves that people already trust them, especially if they leave their faces and names underneath.

When it comes to looking for reviews on third-party websites, be aware of bias lists and reviews. Many times competitors will leave bad reviews for the new and upcoming competition, so they won’t be able to grow strong. So, what you need to do is follow the patterns. Disregard the 1-star reviews if they aren’t the overwhelming majority. Check the two and three-star reviews (those in the middle) and see the problems. For example, if a hosting provider has a server problem, most negative comments will be about poor speed or downtime. However, unbiased customers will always try to add something positive, whether it’s the website design or the customer service. So, while 1-star and 5-star reviews are relevant in their sheer number, the most important reviews are the 2-3-4-star reviews, which actually give some information on the service.

Screen shot of HostArmada reviews search in Google

To avoid getting on a biased website, however, the best way to proceed is to simply write the hosting company’s name and reviews. For example, “HostArmada reviews.” If Google doesn’t show any results, this would be a massive red flag. Otherwise, just like with our brand, you will see various reviews, scores, and comments on the hosting provider. You don’t even need to click on any particular website. All you need to do is browse Google and see the overall opinion.

Research the hosting provider’s customer support

Outside reviews, you can always make sure how reliable the hosting provider is by yourself. All you need to do is research its customer support. Start with visiting the website and checking if the provider has a dedicated customer support page. Usually, unreliable providers will avoid talking to the customers and offer only minimal support in the hopes that users will simply quit trying. So, check what kind of support the hosting provider offers. For example, HostArmada offers a ticket system with 10 minutes response time, a chat, a phone call, or email support.

Screen shot of HostArmada's Contact Us page

When researching the support channels, make sure the offered support is 24/7. Some hosting providers will try to introduce additional prices for off-hours support or weekend support. This, in general, is a red flag you shouldn’t miss.

An excellent way to make sure the provider offers quality support is to read reviews and check if “bad support” is not a recurring negative point. It’s typically not a good practice to simply write to the support staff to check if they will respond. Of course, they will, but your IP address can be flagged as an abusive user. So if you want to communicate with customer support, you better have a valid question. For example, “Which one of your plans will best suit my needs?”

Consider the hosting provider’s pricing and refund policy

Pricing and refund policy

Speaking of the pricing and plans, you must also check them to determine whether the hosting provider is reliable. A reliable hosting provider will be fully transparent. They will show you all the information and everything you need to know before you sign up. For example, it’s customary for hosting providers to offer you a huge discount on your initial signing. Reliable hosting providers will not hide their regular price, as this will likely be the price for your next period.

Moreover, a reliable hosting provider will show you all the options and everything you will get with it. But, more importantly, it will show you what you won’t get. This way, you can make a fully informed decision.

Finally, a reliable hosting provider will be absolutely transparent with their pricing policies. They will show all cancellation fees, refunds, and others without hiding them in special terms of use or other obscure places. For example, at Host Armada, we ask for no cancellation fees and offer a 45-day money-back guarantee. Most importantly, we have an unmatched transparency policy, allowing our visitors to see every aspect of our offer before they click the buy button.

Reliable hosting makes for reliable websites.

Taking your hosting provider choice lightly is the first step toward failure. Having a reliable hosting provider is instrumental in making a trustworthy and well-respected website yourself. If the infrastructure on which your website is built is flawed, you have little chance of creating a successful online business. Whether it would be the downtime, security, or non-transparent pricing, your website will constantly suffer from unreliable hosting providers if you don’t make an effort to research them beforehand.

If you want to find a reliable, transparent, and secure hosting provider, check out HostArmada. We offer state-of-the-art cloud-based infrastructure, top-of-the-line security, 99.9% guaranteed uptime, and lightning-fast speed. But there is no need to trust us blindly. We have nothing to hide, and we even gave you a great step-by-step tutorial on how to check if we are worthy of being your hosting provider. So, be sure that our sales team will respond as soon as you contact us. We’re here, waiting.