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How We Review Our Web Hosts (95 Test Sites And Counting!)

UPDATED
February 05, 2023

 

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Bitcatcha strives to offer the most accurate and data-driven hosting reviews on the web. We turn data, research, and first-hand experience into accessible and educational pieces that help readers find the right tools for them.

 

Bitcatcha’s been geeking out over web hosts since 2014. We were the first guys to build and use data-driven tools to test out the promises of each host.

 

 

Our goal has always remained the same: produce the most genuine and data-driven reviews to help shoppers make smarter buying decisions.

 

We want to:

 

  • Offer readers the closest experience hosting with any host before they purchase.
  • Provide accurate and data-driven recommendations.
  • Educate readers on what a good host should and shouldn’t do.
  • Help shoppers pick the right web hosting plan for their unique needs.

 

What is our review and research process?

 

We’re firm believers in writing from first-hand experience. After all – the only real way to review a host is if you’ve tested them as a regular customer would. To date, we’ve purchased and reviewed plans from over 45 web hosts, including a mix of big brands and smaller independent hosts.

 

Here’s an overview of our typical review process:

 

  1. Select and purchase a host plan.
  2. Purchase a domain name (from the host, or an external domain registrar – depending on the hosting plan).
  3. Complete set up, install WordPress, and build a basic standard test site.
  4. Install an uptime tracker to track the site’s uptime performance.
  5. Run the test site URL through our speed checker tool to assess the host’s server performance.
  6. Over a few weeks, extensively test the host’s control panel, key features and customer support.

 

Once enough time has elapsed, we write a full review on the host, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and comparing them to similar hosts operating in the same segment.

 

We try to keep our content up-to-date as much as we can. We continually revisit reviews to keep them relevant and useful for readers.

 

 

Why Our Reviews Are So Data-Driven

 

Since, hosting is a tech product, we believe data is absolutely CRITICAL for understanding a web host’s performance in the real world.

 

All hosts on Bitcatcha are put through a vigorous testing process. We build individual test sites so that we can extract 2 important pieces of data:

 

  1. Server response time
  2. Server uptime

 

1. Server response time

 

Any respectable web host needs to deliver great speeds. But how can someone test it?

 

We decided to build a tool that focused on server speed and the speed features of Google’s Core Web Vitals. So our team built the famous Bitcatcha Speed Checker from scratch.

 

This tool helps give you a good idea of the performance of a web host’s servers as well as the loading speed of your website.

 

bitcatcha homepage

A screenshot of Bitcatcha’s Website Speed Checker

 

It’s since been used by folks like LifeHack and HuffPost, and linked to over 9,000 times all over the web from other people looking to analyze their website and server speed.

 

It works by pinging the server of any particular web host from different locations around the world, and recording the time needed to get a response. This helps give you an idea of how long it would take for your website to start loading, if you were hosting with that host. We have 10 different server locations that cover pretty much the whole world!

 

 

2. Server uptime

 

We’re also interested in a host’s uptime performance. After all, an ultra fast server means nothing if it’s not up and running!

 

We measure total uptime using Uptime Robot – the world’s leading uptime monitoring service. It works by checking your website at short, regular internals, to see if the network is up and running.

 

Each time we set up a new uptime monitor for a test site, we pay special attention to the following parameters:

 

Parameter What it is What we implement
Monitor type The type of monitoring method used to
find out a network status. It can check
the HTTP status code, whether
keywords exist in the content, or run a
ping test for the server status.
HTTP(s) monitoring. This type of
monitoring sends a request to the
web server and receives a status
code from the server (e.g. 200,
404, etc.).
Monitor interval How often the software goes to check
the test website and update the
measurement
5 minute intervals
Monitor timeout How long the system should wait for a
response before registering it as
downtime.
 
E.g. if it’s set at 30 seconds, and there’s
no response in 1 – 30 seconds, the
system will mark it as downtime and
notify the site owner.
We use the default setting of 30
seconds (note: being able to
customize timeout period is a
new feature)
HTTP Method The types and parameters of the HTTP
requests sent to your website. The tool
supports these HTTP methods of
monitoring: HEAD, GET, POST, PUT,
PATCH, DELETE and OPTIONS.
 
This gives you options to configure how
you want to monitor your page, or even
API services.
We use the default setting,
HEAD. When we perform a
server request, the HEAD will
return “200 OK”.
 
As long as we get a status code
200, this is considered an “up”.
 
We don’t use GET / POST as it is
a more complicated
measurement.

 

Here’s a look at how that looks in action for one of our test sites:

 

uptime robot settings kinsta uk

Uptime Robot settings for our test site hosted from Kinsta’s UK servers.

 

 

Why We Set Up So Many Test Websites

 

Setting up individual test sites lets us run our testing tools, but also lets us play around with the host’s control panels, test out the speed and professionalism of their support team, and try out their features.

 

This helps us get a realistic feel of the host, and offer readers the closest host experience without having to spend a cent.

 

hostinger US test site

Our test site hosted on Hostinger’s US servers.

 

At the time of writing, we have accounts with over 45 web hosting brands. We’ve set up over 95 test websites on a range of their plans. We even have test sites in different languages – including Spanish, Thai, German and Portuguese!

 

Curious to see a full list of all the test sites we’re managing? See all our test sites here!

 

test sites around the world

A glance at our test sites around the world.

 

 

But How Does Bitcatcha Make Money, Then?

 

All Bitcatcha’s content is completely free for our readers. We manage to sustain the site using profits made when readers make a purchase from our affiliate links.

 

We want to emphasize that these affiliations do not affect the truthfulness and independence of our reviews. All products are evaluated according to the same strict standards. We only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise and experience, are worthy of such endorsement. Visit our Disclosure & Disclaimer if you want more details.