Before Choosing A Web Hosting Provider

Before Choosing A Web Hosting Provider

Not every web hosting plan is​ built alike, nor is​ every web hosting provider. When you start shopping around for​ your next web hosting provider, there are certain criteria you’ll want to​ hone in​ on, namely: disk space, bandwidth, upload/download speeds, security and​ reliability, customer service, references/testimonials, and​ guarantees. We’ll take them one by one below.

Disk Space and​ Bandwidth
Disk space is​ the​ storage space your web hosting provider allows you for​ all the​ files that make up your website (from image galleries to​ databases to​ HTML and​ ASP docs, etc.). Bandwidth is​ the​ amount of​ data transfer your web hosting provider permits you in​ a​ given period (usually a​ month). It’s disk space that determines how rich and​ elaborate your site can be. It’s bandwidth that determines how much traffic you can accommodate. Gauge properly for​ the​ best results -- in​ other words, don’t spend a​ bundle for​ more than you need, but get yourself more than enough to​ allow for​ the​ traffic (and the​ growth) you anticipate in​ your best-case scenarios.

Upload/Download Speeds
When someone visits your website online, how long will it​ take the​ page to​ load? the​ answer to​ this question alone -- and​ the​ consistency with which you and​ your web hosting provider maintain it​ -- can be the​ singular point that makes or​ breaks your business. People have short attention spans, made even shorter on the​ web. the​ longer you keep them waiting, the​ more likely they’ll stop waiting.

Security and​ Reliability
The servers and​ other equipment that a​ web hosting provider uses to​ run your website are housed in​ a​ building called a​ data center. This data center needs to​ be as​ secure as​ possible to​ protect your equipment -- your entire business is​ at​ stake. This means 24/7 365 monitoring by live, trained security personnel and​ security cameras. Certain precautions must be taken in​ order to​ keep the​ equipment functioning properly in​ case of​ emergency, like power outages, fire, and​ other natural disasters. This comes in​ the​ form of​ redundant backup power sources and​ fuel supplies to​ ensure uninterruptible power, state-of-the-art smoke and​ fire detection, alerting, and​ suppression technologies, and​ redundant environmental controls (ie. air conditioning systems).

Customer Service
Is it​ 24/7 365? is​ it​ all free, or​ only certain services? or​ is​ none of​ it​ free? Can you talk to​ a​ human being by toll-free telephone? in​ what areas? (A European toll-free number might not be accessible from the​ U.S., for​ example.) Does the​ web hosting provider use email query tickets or​ live chat or​ both? How extensive are their user guides, tutorials, and​ help docs? Do they use Flash or​ streaming audio/video or​ are all of​ their help guides merely text based?

Who likes them? a​ smart sales site will feature customer testimonials on its very own page. to​ find out who dislikes a​ web hosting provider, however, you’ll have to​ do a​ little broader internet research. Just keep in​ mind however, if​ you look for​ complaints, you’ll probably find them. a​ web hosting provider is​ not immune from the​ old adage that you can’t please all the​ people all the​ time. So take complaints with a​ grain of​ salt, and​ read them carefully. Could the​ issue have been the​ customer’s fault, was it​ something that was out of​ the​ web hosting provider’s hands altogether, or​ was it​ a​ misunderstanding of​ policy or​ technology or​ some other form of​ miscommunication? Far too often the​ only type of​ feedback a​ company will get is​ negative. if​ an​ individual is​ inspired to​ give positive feedback, it​ should be given due weight.

Just like you need to​ test drive a​ new car before you commit to​ buying it, you should be able to​ try out a​ web hosting provider and​ their services before committing to​ having your site hosted by them. Rarely (though occasionally) will this come in​ the​ form of​ a​ free trial. More often than not, it’ll come in​ the​ form of​ a​ money-back guarantee. Fine with us. 30 days is​ the​ minimum. 90 is​ especially nice.

A good web hosting provider will also usually offer some sort of​ uptime guarantee, meaning the​ percentage of​ the​ time your site is​ guaranteed to​ be live when a​ visitor tries to​ visit it. the​ best ones go from 99.95% to​ 99.9999%. as​ long as​ they have one in​ the​ 99% range, you can feel somewhat secure.

One last guarantee you’ll often see is​ a​ Custom Support Response Time guarantee (though it​ may not be worded quite that way). This tells you have quickly they vow to​ have a​ support representative respond (either by phone, live chat, or​ email) to​ a​ “support ticket” or​ “email query” you submit. 24 hours is​ acceptable, though you’ll see 48 and​ 72 sometimes as​ well. 3 hour response guarantees are rare, and​ precious.

Upgrade/Downgrade Policies
Are they free? for​ how long (1year, life)? What if​ you discover you’ve chosen the​ wrong plan for​ your needs, or​ you outgrow your existing plan, or​ you downsize? Don’t sign any contracts with any web hosting provider that locks you into one particular plan with no recourse should these situations arise. There’s no need to​ have to​ pay exorbitant fees to​ get out of​ one plan and​ into another. Especially when a​ decent web hosting provider will allow you to​ change plans whenever you need to​ and​ for​ whatever reason.

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