If you’re creating a new website, whether for work or personal use, the first thing you need to decide is which web hosting to choose. Web hosting is the most fundamental requirement for running a website, but most people choose whatever comes up first in a Google search. This leads to them using flawed hosting services that only take advantage of them.

In fact, choosing the best-known names may well work against you. There have been tons of issues with famous hosting providers like GoDaddy, who are still widely used but despised by those who use them. It is prudent to be cautious, as hosting will impact not only your experience, but your visitors’ experience as well.

Choosing the right web hosting does not require you to have a huge amount of knowledge beforehand. Rather, you simply have to know what you’re looking for, and then to take a look at a list of web hosting companies.

Before you choose your perfect web hosting, use the following top 5 strategies.

Find reliability stats

A web hosting provider can promise tons of features and even great customer service, but it is all worth nothing if your website is down all the time. Downtime is a necessary evil, as even the biggest websites occasionally hit snags despite millions of people relying on them. However, it should be incredibly rare. Look for reliability stats when you’re choosing web hosting. The stats give you an objective idea of how much you can trust a service.

When you do come across stats, make sure to verify that they are compiled by independent sources. The reality is that you cannot trust the company itself to be one hundred percent honest about this. Review websites should tell you if they are being paid commissions by the companies they review.

Also, check whether these reliability issues are across plans. Some hosting providers specialize at higher tier plans and don’t provide the best cheap options. That does not mean they are unreliable in general.

2. Read customer reviews

When you’re choosing which restaurant to visit or which gaming console to buy, you have to tread carefully around customer reviews. Everyone has their own particular tastes, and something which excites one person may do the opposite for another. However, when it comes to web hosting, good customer reviews are incredibly important. These customer reviews will generally tell you how good or bad customer support is. With hosting, customer support is crucial, as you need to know you are in good hands when things do go wrong. Some hosting services treat their customers terribly once they are already locked into subscriptions. Pay careful attention to the experiences others have had before you.

Unfortunately, there is a huge problem online with fake reviews. Many reputable companies pay freelancers to write positive reviews for them. They don’t have to spend all that much money to flood the internet with good reviews. This is why you should always take a long hard look at the bad reviews, even if they are in the minority. If they are really far from the experiences described in the positive reviews, question why there is that disconnect. Of course, there will be a few bad experiences no matter how good a service is. If there is a significant amount of bad reviews that point out consistent flaws, however, you should pay attention.

3. Look out for discounts

Web hosting shouldn’t be particularly expensive unless you’re running a big company. But did you know you can even get discounts on the cheapest web hosting? Most companies offer packages that come with a significant price cut if you subscribe for a year or two at a time. If you’re confident with the hosting you’re choosing, you may as well spend on a package like this, as web hosting is something you’re going to need for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, this does mean you are locked into a contract. If you hit a major snag along the way, you have already paid for a full year or two. You need to decide whether you are willing to take that risk, and whether you will save enough money to make it worthwhile.

4. Review server locations

In general, the closer a server is to you, the quicker it will work. For this reason, you should take a careful look at which locations a hosting provider has servers in. It doesn’t need to have servers in your city or even country. But it should at least have servers in a neighboring or nearby country.

Also keep in mind the locations you expect to get visitors from. You may be building a website that particularly targets visitors from other parts of the world, and will then need to choose a service with servers in that location.

5. Consider specialized hosting

Depending on the purpose of your website, specialized hosting might be the perfect option. There is hosting that is particularly optimized for use with WordPress, for example. You can also get hosting that is optimized for ecommerce websites, which can make a huge difference if you’re trying to sell products seamlessly online.

Specialized hosting is not strictly necessary, but it will make your life a whole lot easier if you prefer to have as few technical matters to take care of. Remember to take a look at whether the CMS you are using offers its own hosting and whether that hosting will provide everything you are looking for. Often, that sort of bundled hosting is great for small blogs but not ideal for bigger websites.

Choosing web hosting should not be a snap decision. You are hopefully going to be using the same hosting for years to come. Missteps are inevitable from any provider, but you can ensure that they are kept to a minimum. Use the above strategies and you will get as close as possible to finding the perfect web hosting for you.