If it sounds too good to be true it usually is! Don't believe any web hosting company offering you unlimited traffic. Hosting companies must pay for the bandwidth you use, so if you use allot of it they are not going to bear the costs. Take a look at the hosts policies and you will find that they re-define 'unlimited' to be something else, often they are very vague about this and can cancel or charge you more for exceeding your 'unlimited' bandwidth. If the host does not actually state what that 'unlimited' limit really is then you have no way of knowing how much you can use. BoltHost states how much bandwidth each plan can use and you can view your usage from the control panel. All of our plans offer large amounts of bandwidth which you are unlikely to exceed, so our bandwidth is effectively unlimited, but we are honest about what the limits really are.
Just like with bandwidth don't believe anyone offering you unlimited disk space or huge disk space limits, especially at cheap prices! Once again these hosts will redefine what they mean by 'unlimited'. Most sites require no more than a few hundred MB of storage so these hosts are playing there chances that customers will not use much of the data space offered. Often these hosts are overselling their services, meaning that if everyone actually used all of the space offered the host would run out of space for everyone and not make a profit. I do not oversell, the disk space on your plan is allocated just for you.
Servers, disk space and bandwidth all cost money, so the cheaper the web hosting company the more customers they will need to fit onto the same server to make a profit. More sites on the same server will result in slower performance and a higher chance of faults. Some hosts fit more than 2000 customers on the same server! Another factor to consider is support, thousands of customers on cheap plans will stretch support staff and reduce available resources for maintaining servers and software. BoltHost's plans are affordable, but I do not oversell my servers, the disk space offered on your plan is allocated just for you and of course I do not skimp on support or server maintenance.
Be careful about joining a company offering a "free domain". Almost more than not there are strings attached and you may be stung with high renewal fees later on.
Number of sites (or "addon sites")
If you intend to host more than one website, or think that you might need to in the future, check how many sites the web hosting company allows you on each plan and what the cost is to host additional sites. Many hosts only allow one site per plan so you will need multiple plans. Our Standard Plan can host up to 5 sites at no additional cost, our Advanced Planoffers up to 10 websites and finally our Ultimate Plan allows you to host an unlimited number of sites. All of our plans offer plenty of bandwidth for hosting multiple sites and we clearly state how much we charge for additional bandwidth or disk space on each plan. Most websites use only a few hundred MB of space and less than 2GB of traffic each month.
When choosing a web hosting company it is important to know where their servers are located. Hosts are often able to offer cheaper plans by locating their servers in the USA, this is because they pay much less for bandwidth over there. But if your site targets a particular country then it is best to host your website in that country so that it will show up in localised search results. Search engines will use the country that a website is hosted in to determine if it is relevant to localised results. Also the closer your website is to your target customers the faster it will load due to reduced latency.
Another factor often overlooked is the legal implications of hosting your website overseas. By hosting your site in a foreign country it becomes subject to the laws of that country, this could have copyright and privacy implications especially if your website stores personally identifiable information in it's database (as is the case with any online store).
BoltHost's servers are located in Auckland, New Zealand so when searching within New Zealand on Google and other search engines our sites are more likely to show in the local results, should load slightly quicker than sites hosted overseas and are not subject to foreign laws.
Check that the host's datacentre (the facility where their servers are located) has more than one connection to the internet through different providers so that if one line goes down traffic is routed through the remaining connections. Any good datacentre should also have a backup power source so that local power outages don't bring down your website. BoltHost has all of these. Our datacenter is managed by Voyager Internet, another 100% kiwi business. You can learn more about our data centre here.
Look for a host that offers an uptime guarantee, without this there is no incentive for them to keep their servers available. However you should also be wary of any host that claims 100% uptime. All servers need to be rebooted every now and then for security and software updates. If they never reboot that means their server is insecure and they will eventually be hacked. I offer a 99.5% uptime guarantee with a discount for any payment term when uptime falls below this. BoltHost's typical uptime averages for each month are over 99.9%
Not all hosting companies own or lease their own web servers. Some of them are actually resellers for another hosting company. The disadvantage of using a reseller is the possibility that you are dealing with people who don't know much about the system they are selling and who take longer to help you because they first have to ask the original host.
However some re-sellers are reliable and knowledgeable and often sell plans for less than the original hosting company.
If you discover that a host is really a re-seller you will need to investigate both them and the original host to determine that they are both reliable.
We are not a reseller and we know the products we offer inside out.
Make sure the host offers a control panel, these allow you to do many things yourself such as creating email accounts, forwarders, setting up out of office auto replies, password protecting directories, setting up sub domains and additional websites and much more all without needing to ask your web hosting company to do it for you. BoltHost's DirectAdmin control panel allows you to manage all the things listed above and much more, plus you may still ask us to do things for you if you prefer, but often it is more convenient to do these things yourself. We believe that Direct Admin is the best control panel available with many advanced features not found in other panels. Learn more about Direct Admin.
Windows vs Unix and Linux
If you need to run Microsoft Technologies such as ASP.NET then you have no choice but to look for a Windows host. Otherwise you can choose a Linix host running the Apache or Litespeed web server. Often these hosts (like BoltHost) are cheaper, more secure and more reliable because many Linux distributions are free and rock solid compared to Windows (but beware, a server is only as reliable as the person who administers it!). Instead of Microsoft's ASP, Apache and Litespeed server's can run PHP, Python, Node and Perl CGI applications, there is an incredible amount of free web applications and scripts that are written in PHP. BoltHost's Installatron Script Installer inside the control panel allows you to install and manage over 100 free PHP web applications and scripts and of course you can install almost any PHP application you find on the net.
MySQL databases, PHP, SSH, Git, Composer, Node, NPM etc
When choosing a Linux host make sure you choose a plan offering MySQL compatible databases and PHP, these technologies are needed to run common web applications such as Wordpress blogs, online stores, guest books, discussion forums, content management systems etc. All BoltHost plans include these technologies and much more. Our Installatron script installer allows you to install and manage over 100 free PHP web applications.
Often websites are built for a specific version of PHP and may break when the web host upgrades to a new version. Your website might also require specific PHP modules or settings. Look for a web host that allows you to choose your PHP version and select the PHP modules and settings that you require. BoltHost's advanced control panel allows you to mange your PHP version, settings and modules. We use PHP versions supplied by the hardened PHP project, these have been patched against known security vulnerabilities so that you can safely run older unsupported versions of PHP.
If you are a web developer than you may also need to consider technologies such as SSH access, Git version control, Composer, Node/NPM etc, BoltHost has all of these services installed and available to you.
Performance management and security
One of the risks of traditional shared web hosting is that one particularly busy site or site experiencing a DDOS attack can gobble up available resources slowing down other sites on the same server. Look for a web host that offers some kind of performance management where maximum resources such as CPU utilisation, disk speed and entry processes are specified and restricted per account. It may seem counter intuitive to restrict or throttle resources to improve performance but this really does help to keep all sites running fast and reliably. We clearly state the performance allocation available on each of our plans.
Another risk with shared web hosting is that a security vulnerability on one customer's site might give a hacker access to all sites on the same server. To avoid this look for a web host that offers some kind of jailed shell. BoltHost's CageFS is a virtualised, per-user file system that uniquely encapsulates each customer, preventing users from seeing each other and viewing another users sensitive information. CageFS prevents a large number of attacks, including most privilege escalation and information disclosure attacks.
Shared hosting vs VPS vs dedicated servers
There are generally three types of web hosting. Shared hosting places multiple customers on the same server, this is the most cost effective form of hosting and is the right choice for 99% of sites. VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a virtualised server hosted on a larger physical server alongside other customer's VPS. VPS is a middle ground between shared hosting and a dedicated server. A dedicated server is your own physical server allocated just for you. VPS and dedicated servers are necessary if you need to run specific software not available on a shared web host or if you feel that you need the added security of a separate server. However both VPS and dedicated servers require you to have the ability to manage a server yourself or pay for the hosting company to manage it for you. A VPS or dedicated server are massive overkill for most companies.
BoltHost specialises in high quality shared web hosting, we do not currently offer VPS or dedicated server plans but we can arrange these upon request. Our shared web hosting platform offers resource management and security features that give the performance and security benefits of VPS and dedicated servers without the associated hassle or costs.