Thursday 22nd November 2018

Methodology and Earnings

Our service

We monitor the response time and uptime of 17 web hosts on a minute-by-minute basis. This means we’ve purchased and maintain hosting packages with all of the web hosts we review.

We also publish over 50 metrics on each web host we review (everything from CPU usage, entry processes and monthly cost to money back guarantees, HTTP/2 support and annual costs).

This data is compiled manually, updated on a monthly basis and made available through our comparison table.

You can view the full dataset we’ve utilised to form conclusions about the web hosts we review in the comparison table. We deem the metrics we’ve chosen to evaluate capable of giving a ‘general consumer’ a rounded indication on the ‘total quality’ of a web host.

In other words, we’ve included all data we deem pertinent when it comes to a ‘general consumer’ making a buying decision on web hosting.

How we’re paid

We earn money by referring users to hosting companies we review. If a user we’ve referred converts and purchases a hosting package we’ll typically – but not always – make a commission.

The commission rates for web hosting vary, and we aren’t an affiliate for every web host we review.

If a web host ranks prominently in our rankings then they are there on merit (the dataset we’ve utilised to form our conclusions is publicly available).

We don’t rely on a policy of omission, or rather accentuating the positive and omitting the negative. We evaluate each web host against the same factors to ensure fairness and transparency in our ratings.

Who are our ratings for?

We calculate ratings from the perspective of the ‘general consumer’, or rather on an assumption that the person reading our ratings will require all aspects of a web host’s service (eg from website migrations and HTTP/2 support to live chat support and uptime guarantees)

Our ratings are calculated more for the ‘general consumer’ than the ‘technologically aware’ consumer; for example, a ‘technologically aware’ consumer may not factor ‘website migrations’ into the equation, and isn’t likely to disregard a host if they don’t offer this service, while our ratings do.

How do we calculate our ratings?

We aren’t mathematicians; nor do we believe we can reduce the process of choosing a web hosting down to a black and white formula. The choice of a web host will come down to particular requirements and no single web host is capable of facilitating every customer requirement.

Our ratings are based on an analysis of similarly situated web hosts; in other words, we compare like with like. While a web host may be rated favourably for their entry-level packages when compared to similarly situated web hosts, this may not be the case when we apply the same standard to their more expensive packages.

The data we compile helps us form educated conclusions – overall costs, features, customer service and performance ratings – which assist ‘general consumers’ in purchasing decisions.

Cost rating:

Our ‘cost rating’ isn’t simply a reflection on the introductory rates offered by hosting providers but all of the following:

  • Annual and monthly renewal costs
  • Website migration costs
  • Daily or weekly backup costs
  • Domain registration, renewal and privacy costs (eg whether a free domain is included)
  • The relative cost and features of other similarly situated web hosts

Unlike other web hosting review companies we prefer, where possible, to compare like with like.

We believe its unproductive comparing a $250 hosting package to a $50 hosting package however, owed to introductory rates, it’s not always easy – a package that costs $49 in year one can cost $179 in year two (see FatCow).

Performance rating:

Our ‘performance rating’ factors in:

Response time: response time is measured as time-to-first-byte (TTFB). It also includes the amount of time it takes to receive an HTTP header response and the time to load the HTML of the website.

Response time is NOT page load time. A page load time metric typically factors in the time it takes to download a ‘page’ and its dependent files (eg imagery, JavaScript, CSS, fonts, etc).

Uptime: uptime refers to the amount of time a web server is successfully operational (serving requests). Uptime is calculated as a percentage and many – but not all – web hosts offer uptime guarantees.

These ratings are derived from third-party monitoring tools (principally Pingdom).

Performance ratings are usually published on a month-to-month basis, ie the data published will be for the previous month.

Features rating:

Our ‘feature rating’ factors in the breadth of features offered by a particular host relative to similarly situated web hosts. When calculating this metric we’ll factor in all of the features we’ve analysed, and whether similarly priced web hosts offer the same features.

A high feature rating isn’t necessarily indicative of a host that offers plenty of features but rather one which offers more or better features than similarly priced or situated web hosts.

Service rating:

Our service rating is calculated based on a few factors:

  • Customer service response time
  • Customer service response quality
  • The number of channels open to customers for support

With regards to channels we will, for example, downgrade a host’s ‘service rating’ if they fail to offer ticketing support.

Demands for ticketing support varies – some customers prize it, other customers less so; while we weigh it highly, we appreciate some customers wouldn’t be concerned by its omission.

Why do we tell you this? Because it’s important to understand that evaluating a web host can be a very particular process, and that some hosts may be downgraded based on features you don’t value or require.