Shared hosting offers are a dime and a dozen, from hundreds of hosting companies and literally tens of thousands of resellers. Choosing one on these conditions can be pretty hard, but there are ways to do it properly, without regretting it in the future.
A shared hosting package may not offer you a lot of resources, but it is ideal for testing and hosting new sites and services that are just getting started. But you have to be careful to choose a good provider with good offers, so you won’t have to deal with any issues when you need it for work.
Here are some tips and tricks that you can use to make sure the hosting package you just got is good and won’t cause you problems when you need it the most.
The first thing you have to do, even before buying the hosting package, is search for reviews from real users on the Web. There are literally hundreds of such sites, and you can find reviews on any company you want. You need to be careful and check that the review was written for the specific package you want, and also check the reason why the user liked it or hated it. Sometimes people just rate a company negative because they didn’t know how to use an FTP server or set up their WordPress blog (those are really not valid reasons).
Test the server.
If you have SSH access to the server (which is a useful feature provided by many hosting companies nowadays), you should definitely run some tests on it. You can check the average loads (they must be at normal levels, not 20-30 like on some shared servers), view the hardware specs and check the number of users on the system (though not many companies allow that). If you don’t have root access, you can use external testing utilities like McAfee Secure and Load Impact, which will give you a pretty good idea about the overall security and performance of the server. You can also test transfer speeds from another server or online service and see if they’re at least close to what the hosting provider told you.
Find out the real limits.
Often times, hosting companies try to tell you that their shared hosting packages are “unlimited” or have very high resource allotments (500 GB hard drive space, 5 TB monthly transfer speeds), but that turns out to be false most of the times. That’s why you have to find out the real limits. You can start by reading the full Terms of Service, which should contain a clause stating how much is considered fair usage (if you use more than that, your account gets locked). If you can’t find a good answer, you can contact the sales representative or customer support and ask them. Another possibility is to use your root access to find out what the server specs are, as I mentioned above.
There are many other ways you can test a server or a hosting package, but the above methods will help you cover more than 90% of the whole thing. By doing a proper research and having due diligence, you can save yourself a lot of headaches and money in the long run. The hosting market is very competitive, that’s why most companies in the field will do anything to get people to sign up with them, including lying. Just follow the above tips and I am sure you will find a good shared hosting package in no time or find out if your current one is good enough for your applications.