All around the world, right at this very moment, there are thousands of companies competing for the chance to host your website. Some of these companies are offering great deals, and some of them are offering deals that are not quite as good as they may seem.
It’s really important to understand that choosing a web host is not a choice that should be made lightly. Making the right choice is important from the outset, because wrong choices are often difficult and costly to correct.
One pointer we can give you that should definitely be part of your consideration is that if your business is based in Ireland, it will be genuinely to your advantage to choose an Irish hosting service for your website.
Advantages of hosting in Ireland
There are many advantages to hosting your website in Ireland if your business is based in Ireland. Here is just a short list of a few of those advantages:
• Connect with your customers faster. Most Irish businesses do most of their business in Ireland with Irish customers. When your site is hosted in Ireland, clients connect to your website in the shortest number of hops. It may not be a large difference, but it does make a difference.
• Better privacy. Irish law provides better privacy protection for individuals and corporations than many other countries, including the UK and the United States. When your Irish customers connect to your website entirely within Ireland, the communication has the full protection of Irish law.
• Better accountability. If your web host is located in a distant land, there is not much you can do about it if you’re not happy with the service they’ve provided to you, or if they’ve misrepresented themselves. If your host is located in Ireland, however, you can just as easily take them to court as any other Irish corporation. You can hold Irish web hosts to the promises they make to you.
• Local business hours. Irish web hosts are on the same clock you are. Not every Irish web host provides technical support in-house, however, so it’s important to make sure of this before you commit to any particular host.
• Local location. If your data centre is located in Dubai, Darwin, or Dallas, you will normally have to take on faith any claims they make about infrastructure or personnel. If your data centre is located in Dublin, Derry, or Dooliehikle, however, you can simply drive there and see for yourself.
• Local language. Irish web hosts speak your language, including understanding local idioms and colloquial phrases.
• Simpler billing and taxation. The tax situation in Europe can be mind-boggling. When your business and your web host are both located in Ireland, something magical happens. All the complexity of taxation and billing is smoothed out, so it’s easy to understand and provides maximum benefit to you.
As you can see, there are many reasons why it can be an advantage to choose a web host based in Ireland for your Irish business.
Comparison of Irish vs American web hosts
Top US Hosts by Rank
Top Irish Hosts by Rank
1. Hosting Ireland
2. Blacknight Solutions
Being popular and being worthy of that popularity are two different things. A good web host is one that can provide value for money, where the selling price is an important component of that value, but not the only one.
Overall you can determine value from the combination of price, features, support, and annoyances. If your web host can deliver minimum annoyances while providing good features, excellent support, and an affordable price, then you could assume it is providing value. On the other hand if it lets you down in any of those areas, you could assume it is not providing value.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the top providers:
GoDaddy appears to be all about volume. The low selling price brings customers in, and what usually has those same customers swearing through their teeth moments later is all the bundled deals they find themselves having to opt out of during the checkout process. That checkout process is also frustratingly complex.
All in all, GoDaddy is a service that should be fine for those who know what they’re doing, but most of those who know what they’re doing avoid this hosting service because there’s too much advertising getting in the way at every step.
Probably the most complained about issue regarding GoDaddy is the aggressive use of policy to make money from customers who slip up. Sure, it’s the customer’s responsibility to pay on time and to be aware of their obligations, but very few legitimate web hosts enforce policy as strictly as GoDaddy does.
The best thing that can be said for GoDaddy is that it’s a company that isn’t going anywhere. With over 43 million registered domains, GoDaddy is a living testament to the power of marketing.
Here in Ireland, it’s hardly surprising that the number one website host for popularity is Hosting Ireland. The very reasonable price is the first thing to catch the eye, but by no means the only reason to stick around and investigate further.
What we find with this hosting provider is rock steady performance, stellar customer service, excellent technical support, and a flexible range of options that is not too complex.
Behind the scenes, there’s none of that custom interface nonsense, just all the most desirable features any decent web hosting provider should have available, including an unmolested version of cPanel.
cPanel, makes site management easy, with most functions reduced to simple point and click processes, with minimal input requirements and plenty of automation to assist you.
Through your cPanel interface you’ll also have access to Softaculous, which allows you to easily install applications according to the individual needs of your site. In total there are over 390 applications available to you at no extra cost.
Hosting Ireland also allows you to upgrade or downgrade your site easily as your needs evolve. This is great because you’ll only be paying for what you need, and you can start off with a low cost solution to help you get on your feet, then expand when you’re ready.
Hosting Ireland is thoroughly Irish, with data centres located in Dublin. Websites hosted with this provider will have an Irish IP address, and also will provide lightning fast connections for users visiting the site from Ireland.
Exhaustive searching failed to turn up any rants against this hosting provider, so it seems a fair bet that you’ll be in good hands with Hosting Ireland as your site host.
Over 3 million people call 1&1 home, and with websites starting from USD $0.99 per month, it’s not hard to see why the company has gained a high level of popularity. That popularity was in a steady decline since 2015 before suddenly nose-diving in 2017.
So what’s actually going on? It turns out that quite a number of people have been complaining about receiving unexpected charges after signing up for the ultra-cheap hosting plans. The issue is that people are given add-on packages they have no recollection of having requested.
It all comes down to a tiny opt-in box which is “helpfully” pre-selected for the user when they subscribe, but unfortunately it seems most users never even notice it. Then after the first 12 months at $0.99 per month, the price jumps to $7.99 per month.
In the past, it was easy for certain types of companies to get away with all kinds of things, but with the social media scene being what it is today, those days are long gone.
Apart from these issues over billing, most publicly posted complaints and negative user reviews have focused on customer support, which is rarely described in flattering terms.
Of the user reviews we tracked down, over 85% were describing the service as less than satisfactory, while only around 6.2% were positive.
For customers in Ireland it could be a problem to communicate with this provider, because according to user reviews, some services can only be cancelled by phone. There is only a US telephone number, and reportedly long holding times.
If you’re feeling nostalgic, the site design of Blacknight will take you right back to the early 90s. Enjoy.
The packages on offer are almost as good as those offered by Hosting Ireland, except the bandwidth offered by Blacknight is limited where Hosting Ireland has unlimited bandwidth, and the most expensive plan from Blacknight offers 10GB less disk space than the most expensive from Hosting Ireland.
It’s hardly fair to make the comparison entirely on price, however. There could be other factors that help Blacknight gain some ground. So let’s take a deeper look.
Hosting Ireland provides Softaculous as part of the cPanel suite that comes with every site hosting package from Hosting Ireland, and that gives you access to more than 390 of the most popular applications of interest to website owners.
Blacknight eschews these popular technologies, opting instead for white label solutions they call the “Blacknight Customer Control Panel” and “Blacknight Application Vault” which contains around 20 of the most popular applications.
That does matter if you’re an experienced hosting customer who is familiar with cPanel and needs any of the applications not included in the Blacknight Application Vault. Of course you can still use any applications that will work on your chosen server type, but any that aren’t in the Blacknight Application Vault will have to be manually installed and configured by you.
Customer support is very good with many options available for users. Overall the hosting service offered by Blacknight Solutions is reasonable value, but slightly below that offered by Hosting Ireland, mainly due to offering slightly less for around the same prices.
Names don’t come much more American than “HostGator”, and this is one of the oldest surviving hands in the game. HostGator’s market share has been in decline since 2014, crashing from a peak of almost 3.3 million hosted domains to just under 2.5 million by the end of 2017.
Some of the mystery surrounding this slump may be cleared up if it’s understood that HostGator was bought up by the same company that bought GoDaddy and BlueHost, the standards of all three having noticeably slipped since before they were bought.
HostGator plans start from $3.95 per month. These are cPanel based hosting solutions, but the normal market that HostGator attracts is experienced site owners who don’t need a lot of help to get going.
If you’re just starting out, HostGator is probably not an ideal choice. Customer service was never especially strong at HostGator, but the latest user reviews reflect that the situation has taken a turn for the worse.
One of the oldest of the surviving Irish hosting companies, it continues to be popular, though in some ways may feel a bit antiquated.
The very generic web design of the company’s own home page will be enough to put off many potential customers, but they’re actually not bad at all.
Where you may find fault is the higher pricing compared to most other Irish hosts (possibly seen as a perk of “seniority”), and that by now they’ll be hosting a lot of large, cumbersome, big business sites.
If you’re not sure why that would be a factor, actually there are two reasons. The first is simply that hosting too many sites, especially sites that have been around for more than a decade, is likely to have an impact on page loading times.
The second reason is that, as the American examples have shown, when hosts have too many clients, customer service is often the first casualty. Support staff in larger organizations often don’t have time to provide quality support, and priority is usually given to revenue collection.
MyHost uses Plesk instead of cPanel, and that’s OK, but would make it more difficult to migrate to another hosting service in the future if you needed to.
This Irish hosting provider is quite business-oriented, which is a good thing. The concern is that with this host you’re paying a bit more to get a bit less, and that’s just not good economics.
With good uptime, fast page loading, cheap prices, and plenty of integrated features, BlueHost offers customers quite a lot of bang for their buck (as the Americans would say).
On the subject of money, all is not as it may seem on the pricing front. BlueHost hooks customers with a low introductory price, but that price jumps up after the introductory period expires, and by a considerable amount.
Also on the negative side, many customer complaints searchable online are concerned with the quality of customer support, which is described in very colourful terms by some customers.
It can be a nightmare trying to migrate a BlueHost site built in WordPress to another hosting service, because of the custom interface used.
Migrating in the other direction can be even worse, since most website hosts offer free inbound site migration, while BlueHost currently charges a whopping US $149.99 to bring your site in from another hosting service.
BlueHost also emails former customers with marketing emails long after they have ceased to be customers, which some people may find to be annoying.
LetsHost is a solid contender with reasonably priced packages, though they’re a little less generous than they could be when it comes to allocating storage space.
Just like Hosting Ireland, this is a company that takes pride in being 100 percent Irish, with Irish servers, and Irish tech support. A check did show that in fact the IP address of LetsHost may indicate a UK location (184.108.40.206), whereas Hosting Ireland has a fully Irish IP (220.127.116.11).
This is definitely of some concern if you care about the claims a hosting service makes, and it’s also worth pointing out that under these conditions one of the advantages of Irish hosting could be lost when hosting with LetsHost.
That advantage is being protected by Irish law and European Union law, which is in full effect when your site is 100% hosted in Ireland and routes all traffic through Irish servers. With LetsHost having a UK presence, and routing traffic through Amsterdam and the US, you are not guaranteed the full protection of Irish and European Union laws.
Otherwise there is plenty about the service from LetsHost that looks good. Tech support is top notch according to searchable customer reviews, and the website plans are decent.
One minor quibble about the plans offered is the price jumps too sharply between the different plans, which means when you’re ready to upgrade from a “Starter” site to a “Business” site, your monthly bills would rise by more than 300 percent, while your storage space would only double.
Meanwhile somehow your tech support entitlements change from “full” to “priority”. Not sure what you think, but last time we checked the dictionary, “full” actually meant full, as in total access to tech support, not being stuck in a queue behind people with a Business level account.
What does all this tell us?
It’s clear that the most popular American hosting providers have become victims of their own popularity, in many cases seeming to be unable to provide adequate levels of tech support and customer service simply as a result of their immense size, and in some cases having policies that do not inspire confidence in their customers.
Irish web hosts have some key advantages, and one of the most obvious is their location close to home. Apart from that however, they’re smaller, which means more time to give you personal attention and there is much less strain on their server hardware, even when a service is popular.
Indeed customer reviews for American services and Irish services couldn’t be more different in their nature. The majority of reviews from users with regard to the most popular Irish services have solid praise for the customer service and tech support people receive, while the American reviews, well… not so much.
However if you want to ensure you get the full advantage that comes from choosing an Irish host, you do need to take some care to verify that a company really is as Irish as it claims to be.
There is no real economic advantage to choosing a foreign hosting service, because Irish hosting services are generally now so affordable. Yet there are so many advantages to choosing a truly Irish web hosting service it hardly makes sense to choose anything other than a genuine Irish hosting company to serve the needs of your Irish business.