Recognizing a bad Web host is one of the hardest things that you can do because most hosts now hide behind great marketing terms and advanced terminology that you might have a hard time understanding.
For example, "unlimited hosting" and "redundant servers" might sound great, but are they really? It largely matters on your needs and how the host intends on using these features. Here are a few things to consider when looking at hosts.
While not all unlimited hosts are bad, it's hard to say that they're all good. That's because "unlimited hosting" is nothing more than a marketing gimmick made to make you think that you are getting great service. However, it really just means that the host is keeping the actual bandwidth and disk space values hidden from you.
You'll often get just enough resources to open a fresh website that you don't plan on aggressively marketing. If this is what you want to do, then unlimited hosting is great and affordable. If you want to expand, then unlimited hosting is terrible and a great burden because your website might be suspended for using too many resources.
Most of the best hosts will tell you exactly how much bandwidth and disk space that you are getting so that you can rest easy knowing that your website will be properly serviced.
Customer support is often something that you don't think too much about until it's too late. You don't want to face a catastrophic problem (hacked website, dead server or problematic website) with a bad customer support team. Not only that, but you have to remember that you are putting your business, blog or general website in the hands of these people. You can't choose a host with a bad support team if you want to keep things going smoothly.
Call or contact the customer support team before buying from the host and see how they are. Ask them what they can do if disaster strikes. If you just get "uhhs" and "hmms," then you might want to go somewhere else.
If the host doesn't provide at least 99% uptime (though 99.9% or 99.99% is preferable), then don't even waste your time. You'll be hard pressed to find a host that really offers 100% uptime without spending a huge amount of money because every host is going to suffer some downtime.
However, you should ensure that the downtime is as low as possible. Most hosts offer uptime guarantees, but that isn't enough. Check a third-party source before using the host to see how the uptime really is. You can usually do this by just typing "host uptime" (replace 'host' with the name of the host) into your favorite search engine.
If the host doesn't have 99% uptime or higher, then you've found a bad host. You should only consider slightly lower uptime if the hosting is incredibly cheap, but even then it's a major burden that can keep your website from succeeding.
Most hosts are vague about this because they promise top-notch security, but they rarely tell you what they are really offering. You might have to call about this to see what they offer. You need good security because hackers often go through the Internet with bots to find weak hosts and websites. If your host has poor security, then you are susceptible to being hacked.
The host should at least have a firewall, antivirus software and routine backups.
This is another aspect that is hard to judge without using the host, but it's incredibly important. Poor loading speeds can impact your website because visitors will be annoyed if your websites takes forever to load, and it can hurt your SEO because most search engines consider this when ranking websites.
Clear your cache and visit your website after purchasing a package from the host. Time how long it takes for your website to load. If it's under three seconds, then things are fine. If it takes longer than this, then put serious thought into leaving the host for a faster one.
Knowing the difference between a bad host and a good one is difficult because you often need to buy a package to see if the host is any good. Most of these factors can be checked without even putting down a single dollar. However, if things get bad once you buy hosting, then cancel immediately to get your money back.