Signing Up for Each Host:
In order to accurately test each web host, I sign up for each and every one of them that I review. There’s no point in reviewing a web host if you’ve not actually experienced first-hand what they’re like and how well (or not) your website runs whilst being hosted on their servers.
My own website is hosted by SiteGround who I’ve reviewed – I don’t just review these web hosts and dismiss them. If a company provides outstanding service, of course, I’m going to use them for my own projects!
Signing up for each host is the easy part, and actually quite fun. I enjoy looking through the hosting plans on offer and deciding which one I want to test. Full details of the plans I sign up for are included within my hosting reviews.
Once I’ve chosen the right hosting plan, I enter my actual credit card details and purchase a plan along with a domain name (unless a domain name is included for free within the hosting package).
I then go through the process of a fresh WordPress install to make sure each test website is the same. This makes analyzing speed and performance tests fair and accurate. I use the same theme for each and ensure each WordPress website has the same plugins.
In some cases, web hosts like Hostinger install WordPress automatically for you. This saves a few clicks and means your website is ready and waiting for you once you login into your control panel.
Uptime relates to how long your website is online and available for people to view. Most web hosts offer an uptime guarantee of at least 99.9% which is what I recommend people to aim for.
In some cases, hosts like iPage don’t offer an uptime guarantee, but you’ll see from my reviews that they often outperform other hosts and always stand up as a reliable web host. In order to test uptime, I use UptimeRobot to monitor all of my test websites. You can monitor up to 50 websites for free with 5-minute interval checks.
Once you’ve created a free account with UptimeRobot, you can add URLs that you wish to monitor. There’s a simple view that gives you the overall uptime figure as well as the name of your test.
To get a more detailed view of a website’s uptime, simply click on the name and UptimeRobot will display the current uptime status, uptime results from the last 24 hours, 7 days, and 30 days, as well as any downtime and the duration of each event.
Whilst UptimeRobot does show the average response time over a 24-hour period, I tend to use other tools to take this data into consideration as a spike in traffic or an issue with the server could skew the results seen on UptimeRobot.
Testing Response Time:
Response time is the amount of time it takes for your server to respond to requests (e.g. when a user visits your website). The faster the response time the better your site’s user experience and page loading time.
To test response time, I use Bitcatcha which is free to use. Simply enter your website’s URL and Bitcatcha will test your server’s response time against multiple worldwide locations.
As an example, I’ve input my website’s URL into Bitcatcha and you can see where my web hosts’ server is based, in the U.K., is where I’m getting the fastest server response times. Ideally, you want to see a server response time of 200ms or less, however, if you don’t, have no fear, there are plenty of ways you can resolve server response time issues, e.g. by using a CDN.