One of the great things about shared hosting is that a single provider can host hundreds of thousands of domains in a single location. Then again, that can be one of the bad things about it as well.
While combining sites onto centralized server resources is an effective way to manage costs and distribute the requirements of the various websites, having so many neighbors can lead to random and unexpected problems.
So while hosting reviews are incredibly useful for determining which brand you’ll trust with your online data, there is no guarantee that you’ll have the same experience as the next person. If a shared host has 100 servers set up in a data warehouse, a disgruntled customer isn’t going to care that they were only the only one machine that had constant downtime and hardware glitches.
Since individual shared hosting reviews can’t express everyone’s experience, the best way to deal with this phenomenon is to hunt out as many perspectives as you can possibly find. Seek out people using the host and check out their site’s performance for yourself. But remember, even if that one site is slow, that isn’t proof that the entire host will be. And vice versa, just because it is fast is no guarantee that you’ll end up on a machine that quick even if you sign up for the exact same plan. So if a hosting review is treated like the investment it is, you’ll need to diversify by soaking in as many opinions as possible.
Of course, I’d recommend using multiple sources of information & opinion for any sort of product research. X% of the product line is likely to have a glitch, but if there are a hundred happy customers for every angry rant, those are pretty good odds!
In the near future, product recommendations and reviews may be harder to come by. The FTC is contemplating rules that would open up liability to people making online product endorsements. With a threat of lawsuit hanging overhead, people may not be so willing to share what they’ve personally experienced when they have no control over how the actual product ends up being made or provided.
Talk about a potentially chilling effect!
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m biased: I’ve often got multiple business relationships with the hosts I write about. I’m a customer, an affiliate marketer, and I’m keeping an eye on the industry as a whole. If it wasn’t for these business interests, I wouldn’t have the experience or knowledge about the subject of hosting to even have an opinion worth sharing. As long as the reader takes time to understand the perspective of the source and compare the wealth of opinions online, it seems that there’s a mutually beneficial cycle going on that doesn’t cost anyone anything.
So don’t just take my word for it, research your hosting like you’d research a car or a college degree. While it isn’t nearly as expensive, changing your mind can be a hassle and some fly-by-night hosts will just completely ruin your fun. Get all the reviews you can find, and read them with a cynical view.