How we Test Website Hosting
For the web hosting services test, we first selected a tariff that was as comparable as possible from each provider in the field of competitors.
Usually, the providers recommend the tariff separately or traffic that offers around 100 gigabytes of HDD or 50 gigabytes of SSD storage volume. We compared the traffic of the various hosting provider for different plans in terms of four different test categories:
- Package scope
- Data security and customer service
- Tariffs and conditions
- Features and Addons
Each of the four test categories is included in the overall evaluation of a web hosting service in equal parts and comprises several different test criteria.
We present the meaning and relevance of these test criteria for the test result here.
We summarize all features, tools, and possibilities that a web hosting package brings under this test criterion.
These include critical figures for a tariff package such as the amount of disk space, mail space, the number of databases, FTP access, and inclusive domains.
Since some providers give the webmaster the choice between HDD and SSD hosting, we also list this option.
Some hosters offer a hybrid solution in which only the MySQL databases are on SSD storage media, but the rest of the disk space is on HDD hard drives.
Often the maximum number of possible subdomains, e-mail addresses, and web projects that customers can create is limited, but sometimes the duration for which a domain is included.
The broadest possible selection of content management and online shop systems available for user-friendly one-click installation is reflected positively in our test rating.
Dynamic website projects benefit from cron jobs, but not all web hosting packages can automate repetitive tasks through their application.
If cron jobs are available, this is reflected positively in our test rating.
Advanced users and developers benefit from implementing the scripting languages Python, Perl, and Ruby and the version management tool Git, allowing changes to be made to files in the databases.
In addition, encrypted access to the disk space via a Linux console is possible via SSH access.
We forego short-term performance tests, for example, in the form of measurement of the TTFB since they are generally not very meaningful.
Instead, we carefully checked the various providers' terms and conditions and SLA for the guaranteed server availability.
A positive factor is when the web host issues a guarantee for a specific RAM capacity or limits the number of users per server or CPU core. On the other hand, suppose a provider does not limit the number of customers.
In that case, every web admin can be unlucky enough to share the resources of a server with too many other customer projects, which would have a negative effect on the accessibility and performance of their Website if there were peak visits from other websites.
Some providers offer the option to scale the performance level freely or to increase it temporarily if necessary.
The PHP memory limit should be scalable to enable resource-intensive upload processes and ensure the smooth operation of WordPress and Co.
If implementing the fast Http / 2 network protocol for improved page loading speed is now one of the expected standards, some providers are still disappointing here.
Another must-have is so-called DDoS protection, which protects the Website from an intentionally caused, overload-related collapse.
Unfortunately, some web hosts are skimpy with transparent information about whether DDoS protection is implemented.
According to our research and test calls to the web host's customer support, a lack of DDoS protection information usually means that it is not available.
If websites are to be displayed quickly to visitors abroad, a content delivery network (CDN) is advantageous.
The content of the Website is cached at various locations around the world so that it can be played quickly.
Data security and customer service
Under this test criterion, we check where the web host's data centers are located in which the customers' web projects are hosted.
It is also relevant where the hoster manages the customer data. Sometimes providers outsource such tasks to subcontractors so that web admins quickly lose track of who has access to their data.
Security point of view, we check whether and, if so, how many and what type of SSL certificates a web hosting package contains.
However, this must always be viewed in conjunction with the number of domains because a wildcard certificate, for example, is not sufficient to operate three websites under three different domains.
We therefore also offer the option of booking additional certifications.
Another security aspect is backups. What matters here is which data the web host automatically backs up regularly and whether and for how long the provider keeps the backup copies for access by the webmaster.
Suppose a provider does not offer an automatic backup. In that case, this means that the webmaster must manually initiate backups of the corresponding data records and store the saved data at the expense of his storage capacity.
Some hosters automatically create backups but only grant their customers access to the backup copies for a fee and request.
Concerning customer service, we first and foremost pay attention to transparency.
It is worth taking a closer look at what information a web host reveals on his Website, which he emphasizes for advertising purposes, which he hides deep in the terms and conditions and which he does not display.
Our research shows, a lack of information on features or services also means that these components are not included in the service.
A provider's support should be available via many contact channels and answer customers' questions quickly, competently, and in a friendly manner.
Whenever possible, we tested the support based on several specific questions to the telephone service.
If no telephone support was available, we chose the contact option via live chat to test the support quality.
Tariffs and conditions
As with data security and customer information, transparency is a crucial evaluation criterion for traffic.
We check how the web hosts communicate what services a customer can expect for what price.
Are there any hidden costs for features that are described as part of the package?
Many providers provide their function lists and tables with footnotes or asterisks, which mark certain services as chargeable or specify running times for specific components.
We acknowledge such practices with negative test ratings.
We also list the monthly costs for the web hosting package, the minimum contract periods, the notice periods, and any costs incurred for additional domains, setup fees, or connecting external domains.
We rate it positively if there is the opportunity to test the service yourself as part of a free test phase.
We proceed in the same way if hosters offer to adopt the tariff packages to individual needs.
New customer discounts and satisfaction and money-back guarantees are also advantageous if they are not satisfied.