How to identify reputable hosting providers?

A whole bunch of lightweight web hosting providers have just announced they’re shutting down on Monday, leading to speculation that it might be some sort of take-the-money-and-run scam. Given that online review sites are often gamed by paid-for fake reviews, is there any good way of identifying reputable hosting companies other than spending a lot of time in web searches? I noted that one of the warning signs mentioned in the article was that a lot of the companies didn’t publish any physical address details.

My own choice was made some time ago, when reader surveys in print media still counted for something: I’m not sure how I’d make a choice now.

Funny enough, details such as address work but the screenshots show a genericized logo, similar signature lines and what looks like the same CRM or customer portal signage/template.

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I was hit with this, as one of my VPS’s was hosted with an affected provider. Low cost providers get hit with all kinds of problems - they go out of business, they get hacked, they suffer from reliability issues and so on. I would say that the usual rules of thumb apply - if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is (USD$30 for a full-featured VPS for a year, for example.) Big names are more likely to last longer, although of course there are no absolute guarantees.

For my particular application, the fact that this VPS provider went down wasn’t that much of an issue. I have a full backup of the VPS and there are three VPS’s, all low-cost, all with different providers, doing basically the same thing, so I just switched over to the others and decommissioned the affected system, and in this case I had notice, which made things more straight-forward. I changed some DNS records and tidied up configuration files on the other systems and all was well. But if I had a serious application to protect then there’s no way I’d host it on an ultra low-low-price special-deal VPS. It would end up on Amazon, Microsoft, or some other player that’s been around for a while like Linode (since 2003). If you really want something long-term at a low price, reserved instance pricing on Amazon for 3 years will bring the VPS down to a similar price point to the low-end providers anyway.


Worth noting that Linode pop up regularly as sponsors of various podcasts too. Thanks for reminding me about them.