When we look for a potential web hosting service, we have various channels to start with. We can do quick search from google or refer to some professional webmaster forums. However, if you have compared your search results you will find most recommendations are for those big groups who have been in business for years. Very few reference to small providers. So here the question is, will big hosting companies provide us better service than small ones?
Well, to answer the question, we must understand what kind of service we needed. It's hard to tell directly which is better choice. But we can compare in following sides.
The primary and most essential consideration for web hosting service. You don't want to deal with server down multiple times per day. A big hosting company always has its own data center and all hosting facilities. They get side by side control over their service and be able to respond urgently in case problem occurs. Also, because a big group is serving large amount clients in various industry, hosting group must prepare a powerful server system and leading monitoring solutions to make sure their service is always up. For example, they might configure RAID disk storage, load balancing and even cloud environment for max availability.
But we can't get too much information from a small hosting. Because they're either too new or very limited clients being served by their service. We have to try out by ourselves to answer all questions. Because of this, it's more safe to start with a big service provider if you're completely new in hosting industry.
The comparison could vary based the points we focus on. As about server end security, we have enough reasons to believe in a big provider because they have full access to physical server and data center space. However, problem happens on people. For example the previous hostgator employee hacked into hostgator servers after left the group and caused terrible security issue. Because there're always lots of workers in such groups their group leaders might not train every staff so well. So basically, we might get better server protection from big hosting company but we're also in risk of internal hacking!
Similar issues also apply to small providers. But we believe a small group wants to grow up and they have tried everything they could to protect your account data. Actually, because there're less people in the group, maybe two or three people there, internal hacking issues never reported yet.
Small group should serve you better. Everything is configured as it is from those big services. They provide every customer the same service to ensure server performance and security and they don't want to make custom configuration based client requests. A single modification might cause incompatibility with their maintenance plan. Their huge system is always automated by scripts or softwares like daily updates/backup etc.
Things are little different from small server providers. Because they don't have that many clients yet, they can easily configure maintenance plans and do customization for different clients. For example if you need a server end installation or global configuration, they can evaluate quickly then satisify your as more as they can. It's extremely helpful when you're web developer and program different websites to people. You always need some customization on server end to support your projects. You might find how hard it is to make a change from big hosting service but how friendly from a small provider.
A big group provides multiple support channels for 24*7. However, with our editorial experience, most support beyond regular business hours are sales support. Tech support is not always, you have to wait hours to get a response. Also, more and more big groups outsource their support to third party providers which might lead to potential security issues.
On the other side, those small hosting brands are always created by webmasters and they know how bad it is when people can not browse their website. They might could not guarantee 24 hours live support but they'll respond to you as long as they're not asleep. They monitor and fix problems carefully to satisfy everyone as much as they could. Because they want to get more business so they deal with each problem seriously and never outsource to another provider.
As we see, both big and small hosting groups have their own spotlights. You must evaluate your requirements carefully before you make a quick decision. Generally, a small provider is more developer friendly since they can adjust server settings according to requirements. But a big group may bring more trusts because they're serving a large amount clients.