Selecting a webhost doesn't need to be complicated, but there are a few things you should know before you decide on a web host.
Does the webhost meet your technical requirements?
If you know the web application you will be using then you should have a list of technical requirements for that application. The creator of your web application can provide this information to you, and you should inquire with your potential web host to see if the application can be supported.
If you are building a web application then you should ask the potential web host if they support the framework you are building with including the programming languages and the databases you plan to use if you are using databases.
If you do not know how to install your website and will need help with that, then you might need to enlist the help of a website developer. In some cases the web host may do this type of service also however it may cost extra as building and deploying websites are not normally the duty of the web host.
Does the web host meet your support requirements?
It is important that you have realistic expectations of the duties of your web host. Your web host's main concern is to provide the infrastructure for your website. This includes providing machines, internet connections, power supplies, and maintaining these systems. The maintenance of these systems includes patching operating systems, keeping antivirus up to date, updating software at the server level, and repairing hardware as it becomes necessary. In addition, your web host will provide you with tools to manage your websites, files, and emails. The web host should help to explain how these systems work or provide you with help files so you can learn to operate these tools.
If you do not feel inclined to learn to maintain your website, to manage your email, or to learn to operate the tools provided to you, then you should enlist the help of an assistant that can help you with these technical matters. Some web host might provide this level of assistance for an extra fee as needed, or you may find a more expensive host that has included this type of service in their monthly fees.
Just make sure that you are not expecting to get $150/hour technical assistance for free with your $10 - $50 /month hosting plan. Technical expertise is valuable, and normally billed hourly. If you will need this type of assistance be prepared to pay for it and work with someone you trust.
Does the web host meet your uptime requirements?
Web servers are computers made of 1000's of parts. They are connected together with hubs, switches, and routers that are also made up of 1000's of parts. A connection from your home computer to any website might make 10 to 20 or even more hops, going through multiple carriers or ISPs. There are almost an infinite number of ways things can go wrong. Things will go wrong. Servers will crash. Connections will be severed. In addition to the things that can go wrong already, there is the constant threat from virii and hackers that are determined to interrupt services.
What is important, is if your web host will stand behind their service. If things go wrong, are they knowledgable enough, and do they care enough to fix it. Will they offer you a refund if the downtime exceeds a certain amount of time? Do they have seem to have a problem with being down too often? Are their lots of complaints posted on the internet regarding failures and general lack of concern?
You can find the answers to these questions both on the web host's website, and by searching the internet. Keep in mind that if customers are happy with the web host's uptime you won't find much. If the host has a problem with uptime, you will find lots of complaints.
Does the web host appear reliable?
Reliability means different things to different people. To some it is synonymous with uptime. To some it means you can get assistance when you request it. To us it means both. First you need your web host to do everything they can to keep their infrastructure available 24 / 7. In addition, when you need technical or billing assistance, you should be able to get it within a reasonable amount of time.
We've had customers come to us that told us they'd been waiting a week to get a response from their previous web host for a customer service issue. That blows my mind. Aquest Hosting answers most support requests with minutes, however in busy times it can take a little longer. Our goal is to make sure that Trouble Tickets are answered within 3 hours. We do give support requests of a critical nature priority over non-urgent matters.
We know that your questions are important to you and they are important to us. We consider your success with your website to be a sign of our success so we work hard to respond quickly and thoroughly to our customers.