10 Most Important Questions To Ask Your Web Host Now

10 Most Important Questions To Ask Your Web Host Now



So, you’re looking to​ build a​ web site or​ so fed up with your current web host that you are desperate to​ transfer your site elsewhere? You may not even be aware of​ your current host’s vulnerabilities in​ an​ industry where each week there is​ news about a​ host going down for​ one reason or​ another. Your first problem is​ narrowing the​ thousands of​ choices down to​ a​ few that you can research further. Seek friends or​ associates that have a​ web site and​ ask for​ their advice. Visit one of​ the​ many forums about web hosting, ask the​ members for​ advice or​ search threads from those that have asked before you. Once you’ve located a​ few hosts to​ research, the​ ten questions below will take you a​ long way towards making an​ informed decision. You may be able to​ find many of​ the​ answers to​ these questions on the​ hosts’ web sites, but always feel free to​ call the​ host and​ quiz them about their operations. the​ quality of​ the​ answers and​ degree of​ professionalism you get from a​ potential host often transfers to​ the​ type of​ support you’ll receive once you become a​ customer. Without further ado, the​ ten question to​ ask your web host:

1. How long has the​ web host been in​ business?
2. Does the​ web host own its data center?
3. How many upstream Internet providers does the​ web host have?
4. Does the​ web host monitor its customers’ sites twenty-four hours per day? How?
5. Does the​ web host provide 24/7/365 phone and​ email support?
6. What levels of​ redundancy does the​ web host’s architecture provide?
7. Does the​ web host automatically backup customer web sites in​ case of​ data loss? How often?
8. What is​ the​ web host’s billing policy?
9. Does the​ web host provide the​ features that you need for​ your web site?
10. Does the​ web host have the​ products and​ services to​ handle your growth?

1. How long has the​ web host been in​ business?
The length of​ time that a​ host has been in​ business can be related to​ their ability to​ provide a​ quality, reliable product. if​ your host can satisfy its customers, then those customers are likely to​ stick with the​ host’s service. Therefore, stay in​ business. There are, of​ course, situations where this is​ not applicable or​ becomes a​ bit hazy. Be sure to​ also inquire about whether a​ host has recently been involved in​ a​ merger, acquired what was once a​ well-known brand name, or​ launched a​ new brand. if​ any of​ these apply, then delve deeper into the​ story behind what has happened and​ determine whether quality resources are still with the​ company.
• Complete a​ domain name “whois” lookup on the​ web host: http://www.internic.net/whois.html. Type in​ the​ web host’s domain name and​ determine what year the​ domain was registered. if​ only registered in​ the​ recent past, ask the​ host about it. if​ the​ domain name was recently registered this is​ not necessarily a​ red flag. Simply inquire with the​ host about it. They may have recently launched an​ affinity-based brand to​ cater to​ your market.
• Type the​ host’s name into a​ search engine and​ check out the​ results that you get, other than those from the​ host itself. You may run across reviews, interviews, or​ industry articles about the​ host.

2. Does the​ web host own its data center?
A data center is​ the​ foundation from which all products and​ services are built upon. if​ your host owns its own data center, then they are likely quite entrenched in​ the​ hosting business. They also have an​ experienced staff and​ knowledge base from which to​ draw from when supporting your web site and​ building new products. in​ other words, if​ a​ host owns its own facility, then it​ controls more of​ the​ variables that can make or​ break your web presence.

3. How many upstream Internet providers does the​ web host have?
Your web site performance is​ not just a​ measure of​ your web server's speed. the​ ability of​ your web host to​ route traffic through the​ cleanest Internet connections is​ also of​ great importance. it​ is​ crucial that your provider have multiple connections to​ the​ Internet. Accidental fiber cuts in​ construction or​ telecom work and​ data center equipment failure can cause your site to​ go offline for​ an​ extended amount of​ time. This can be avoided if​ your web host has other connections to​ the​ Internet that will reroute traffic that would have normally been carried on the​ failed circuit. Yes, this means your host must also have extra capacity on hand to​ handle normal traffic levels when one connection is​ lost; which is​ another area where a​ host can attempt to​ cut cost. This is​ much like when driving your car, there are several streets that you can take to​ get to​ your desired destination. Sometimes you will encounter construction or​ an​ accident that will require you to​ take an​ alternative street. Well, the​ Internet works the​ same way. There are several routes that traffic can take to​ a​ destination. Your host should be able to​ choose the​ cleanest, or​ most efficient, route to​ your web site visitor. in​ fact, your host should be able to​ continually tune these routes to​ find the​ best path to​ your visitors. Another way to​ achieve this is​ by minimizing the​ number of​ different networks traffic will pass through before reaching its destination. it​ is​ extremely important for​ your host to​ have direct connections to​ networks that have lots of​ eyeballs. in​ other words, your web site will be served better if​ your web host is​ using connections with networks that facilitate Internet access to​ large volumes of​ subscribers.

4. Does the​ web host monitor its customers’ sites twenty-four hours per day? How?
There are a​ couple of​ factors that can influence the​ answer to​ this question. Does the​ host own its own data center? if​ not, then they are physically removed from their servers and​ likely paying a​ co-location company to​ provide monitoring for​ them. When another company controls the​ environmental systems that provide the​ home for​ the​ host, one can argue that you’ve created another potential point of​ failure; that being the​ communication of​ an​ issue from the​ data center to​ the​ web host. That point of​ failure can increase the​ latency between an​ issue and​ its resolution, resulting in​ increased downtime for​ your web site. Second, if​ your web host has an​ issue with its own infrastructure, then there may be travel time associated with their engineers getting to​ the​ data center to​ resolve it​ or, once again, increased latency by trying to​ remotely resolve an​ issue.

5. Does the​ web host provide 24/7/365 toll free phone and​ email support?
You might be surprised at​ how many web hosts don’t provide 24/7/365 support. the​ industry’s hosts run the​ gamut from only email support to​ providing phone and​ email support 24 hours per day and​ 365 days per year. the​ best way to​ eliminate not having support when you need it, is​ to​ choose a​ host that can assist you whenever you need it. When an​ idea wakes you from a​ slumber at​ 3 A.M., it’s nice to​ have your host on the​ other end of​ the​ phone to​ discuss it. When your site malfunctions due to​ a​ programming glitch the​ night before your store is​ to​ open, it’s wonderful to​ have your web host on the​ phone to​ decipher the​ issue with you. When your cat accidentally deletes some important files, know that your host is​ there to​ help recover them. Also make sure that your host is​ providing support over the​ major holidays. Many web hosts will close their support center, decrease their support to​ only email, or​ send their support team home with a​ pager to​ be called in​ case of​ emergency. All of​ these decreases can create latency if​ your web site goes offline. And, holidays are often days which persons will spend time on the​ Internet after they’ve completed all of​ their social plans. Matter of​ fact, word-of-mouth business is​ one of​ the​ most effective means to​ customer acquisition. When people get together, they exchange ideas.

6. What levels of​ redundancy does the​ web host provide?
Failures that cause your site to​ lose connection can happen. Therefore, it's crucial to​ find a​ provider whose hosting architecture provides the​ least-risk of​ failure. Redundancy is​ necessary. Single points of​ failure are very bad, but many hosts attempt to​ cut costs by risking single points of​ failure. Ask your web host about their redundancy in​ server architecture (web, email, and​ DNS servers), load-balancing, and​ file storage.
A web server is​ the​ hardware and​ software combination that serves requested web pages, files, or​ other information. Servers answer requests from web browsers to​ provide information from web sites, email, and​ databases. They then send that information to​ the​ requesting browser. Load balancing divides the​ amount of​ work that a​ server has to​ do between multiple servers, which also adds redundancy, so that more work gets done in​ the​ same amount of​ time and, in​ general, all web sites requests within the​ network get served faster. the​ load balancers stay in​ constant contact with the​ servers to​ determine how busy they are and/or if​ one of​ them has failed. it​ may sound like a​ no-brainer, but having your site connected to​ the​ Internet is​ the​ whole reason for​ having a​ web site and​ a​ load-balanced, redundant network is​ vital to​ that endeavor.

Has your email server ever been down? Redundancy is​ also vital for​ email and​ DNS servers. a​ Domain Name System (DNS) server translates requests to​ locate a​ web site. as​ you can imagine, keeping email and​ DNS servers online is​ a​ mission-critical task for​ a​ web host. for​ file storage, seek a​ host that uses a​ reliable storage solution with multiple auto-fail over and​ hot-swappable drives to​ ensure continuous delivery of​ your web site.

7. Does the​ web host automatically backup customer web sites in​ case of​ data loss? How often?
Backing up web sites should be a​ routine part of​ your web host’s operation. Backup is​ the​ activity of​ copying files or​ databases so that they will be preserved in​ case of​ equipment failure or​ any other catastrophe.

8. What is​ the​ web host’s billing policy?
Look for​ a​ web host that provides a​ money-back guarantee. This will allow you to​ try out the​ host’s service. Should you find that the​ service is​ sub-par in​ site performance, reliability, or​ lacking the​ features that you seek, the​ ability to​ request your money back, within the​ parameters of​ the​ guarantee, is​ priceless and​ liable to​ save you from later trouble. it​ is​ always a​ good to​ idea to​ inquire about the​ web host’s cancellation procedures. There are many out there who require you to​ send them an​ email or​ make a​ phone call to​ cancel, which can extend the​ time frame to​ cancellation. a​ host who is​ confident in​ their service will have a​ cancellation form or​ online avenue within their control panel. Now, they will likely also have a​ retention program, so don’t be surprised when they call or​ email you to​ ask why you are leaving. After all, your feedback helps them to​ evaluate their service.

9. Does the​ web host provide the​ features that you need for​ your web site?
Sometimes people choose a​ host because it​ has the​ exact feature set that they need, but later find that feature set means nothing when access to​ those features is​ unreliable. Make sure that a​ host has your desired features and​ is​ also reliable. to​ make sure that the​ host you are evaluating has everything you need, use the​ following list:
• a​ domain name, but be sure to​ look for​ hidden registration fees or​ renewal fees
• an​ ample amount of​ versatile email accounts including web-based, POP3, and​ IMAP
• Email spam filtering and​ virus protection are a​ must these days, unless you are providing this on your own
• Enough disk space to​ meet your site’s needs
• Monthly bandwidth allotments that will cover your traffic and​ the​ ability to​ increase that allotment based on your site’s success
• Site building tools such as​ extensions for​ FrontPage or​ other online/downloadable site building programs
• Ease of​ upload to​ your site via FTP or​ other means
• Access to​ a​ robust traffic analysis program or​ the​ raw logs for​ you to​ process yourself
• Programming languages, including CGI, PHP, MIVA (if needed)
• Ecommerce shopping cart alternatives
• Database capability, dependant upon your application preference

10. Does the​ web host have the​ products and​ services to​ handle your growth?
You might be surprised how many sites that once started for​ fun or​ as​ a​ hobby have grown into some of​ the​ most popular sites on the​ Internet. Hence, you never know when you’ll outgrow your current product or​ service and​ need to​ move up the​ ladder to​ the​ next rung. Make sure that your web host can meet your anticipated growth, not only within the​ product range of​ shared hosting, but should you ever need a​ dedicated server or​ co-location solution, your host is​ there to​ discuss and​ provide the​ best solution.

Do your homework by using the​ above questions as​ a​ template and​ you will likely save yourself some major headaches down the​ road. if​ you’ve gathered information about multiple hosts, you can now compare apples to​ apples and​ decide on the​ best host for​ your needs. Hopefully, the​ work that you’ve done will avoid forcing you to​ use your gut, but rather make an​ informed decision based on the​ facts. Perhaps, the​ best piece advice that you will find in​ any article or​ forum about choosing a​ host is, if​ something seems too good to​ be true, then it​ probably is.




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