Website hosting comparison, disputing the big elephants
The website hosting industry has seen many years. From the early days, people hosted their own servers at home, made their connections public, and allowed friends or family (the more geeky ones at least) to host simple html pages or to share files. It was not known to many what that was, or the usefulness of the web as a whole and how much it would change their lives. But it kept a steady pace, and the internet has taken over so many parts of our lives, incrementally everyday such that we don’t realize but wake up one day and realize its already all around us.
The growth of big hosting providers like Hostgator and goDaddy did eat up a significant chunk of the market. But as we know, bigger does not necessary mean better.
Some of my clients have recently faced support issues with the big market holders however.
Lets take a look at some interesting figures:
It seems A2 Hosting, InMotion hosting, and HostGator are among the fastest. GoDaddy however, is among the last few, sharing places with BlueHost, Fatcow, and iPage. Load speed is important for users who are impatient, and may exit your site prematurely. It is also a factor in how search engines view and rate your site. Also, this test was probably done in the United States, so depending on the country of your viewing audience, that will play a part as well. You may want to try testing load speed from countries containing your primary user target.
Coming in the top 3 spots are InMotion Hosting (again), GreenGeeks, and Web Hosting Hub. GoDaddy is average, while HostGator support wait time is notoriously slow, sharing spots with BlueHost and WebHostingPad. These companies will need to do something real fast if they are going to keep their business. (I confirmed with webhostingcat that these numbers belong to live chat support wait times)
Interestingly, the top 3 contenders are GoDaddy, BlueHost, and HostGator. With the above results of customer response time and loading speeds however, they will better act fast to get their fat in shape. Dominating the market does not mean forever in today’s web.
Number of Issues
These results were taken from 3 separate studies, so they may not be fair to do any cross comparisons. However a number of issues stand out.
Service – Customers today demand much more than just excellent up-time and price. The ability to provide good customer service stands out as something important to consider, especially during times when users really need help. They can be any place across the world, and they want help now. Now in terms of chat support, and not through some email or ticket system.
Pricing – is rather competitive across the market, and can no longer act to bring you any edge, unless you have something special to offer that justifies that price.
Products – Lots of hosting services tend to try to bundle many solutions and products together as add on items, in a bid to increase sales I assume. It can come off as over sell. Some do offer some value, like malware protection and automated backups. But these services can be hard to quantify in terms of return of investment, and how much and how well they really do them. (eg. how many malware detection was blocked or detected? Is that high or low according to industry norm? Does it just mean your servers are prone to attacks?)
Plastering users with offers and ads – The bottom line may be getting too threatening I guess. But putting pop-ups and big advertisement banners just make your service appear as another marketing bill board. We want to do some serious work on your service guys…
Overloading of shared servers – I know we are not your premium members, but please don’t, don’t overload your shared hosting servers. I bet we as shared hosting subscribers make up a good proportion of your customer base. We just need our fair share. We know and will upgrade to the dedicated hosting plans when our visitor rate starts hitting the numbers.
The one thing I hope they can and should offer:
A good customer experience. Ok, I may be a bit greedy for choosing such a broad request. But I think:
- Reliable support and help, service is #1
- 24/7 help support, because your customers are international
- Good support across all touch points. Meaning if you are a re-seller of another vendor’s products, don’t throw them away across to the other vendor to fend for themselves. Read a story on my experience here.
If you have any interesting experiences, or opinions on great hosts to share, do post them below!
Simplify and gear up your business today.