A little support
Not all support should be free of charge. If you’ve made a major error on your website and need the host’s support to solve a problem that will take a lot of labor and a lot of time, you can expect to be charged for that. However, if your site is running slowly or it’s down and won’t run at all, you shouldn’t be charged for simply putting in a call to your web host. Web hosts, after all, should make their profit from selling quality web hosting, not by talking on the phone.
You can also separate the good web hosts from the bad by testing their support before you actually sign a contract with them. Simply file a ticket with any web host you’re considering and record the amount of time it takes them to respond to it. Also record the quality of the response. Did it specifically address your problem? Or was it a simple automated response such as, “We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.” While these messages are fine, you want to make sure that message is quickly followed up.
Over-selling can be a controversial issue when it comes to web hosting. This is when a web host has sold more resources on one server than that particular server actually has, and some say that you should never use a web host that oversells. However, the chances you’ll find a web host that doesn’t are slim, and truthfully, you shouldn’t try.
This is because overselling isn’t really all that terrible in the world of web hosting and it’s quite a common practice. Say for instance, a web host sells 20GB to every customer. A fraction of those customers would use the maximum 20GB, but the majority would use only a small amount of that. Without overselling however, the web host would have to reserve all of that space for every single customer, even all those not using it. This would result in wasted resources, which is wasted costs for the host, and those costs would inevitably be passed down to the customer. In short, without a bit of overselling, web hosting would be far more expensive than it is today.
The danger lies in web hosts that go too far in overselling their server space and resources, and which results in websites constantly shutting down, not being regularly backed up, or other major problems.
Truthfully, there’s a lot that goes into the making of a good web host. But finding one that will offer the support you need at a price you can afford, and that has the resources available for you is a good start. From there you can determine what web hosts will offer the other features you need.