5 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Web Hosting Provider
by David Bilby
As you scour the internet, I’m sure you are finding tons of resources for finding the right web host that fits your business needs. The terminology alone can be confusing, especially if you are new to the internet world. The bottom line is, if you depend on the right kind of company, they will take care of your needs.
If you have been around the internet world at all, you probably know what a bad hosting company looks like. Not only can a bad hosting company be frustrating, making you feel alone and helpless, it can also cause negative outcomes with your domain. Some of these negative effects can be poor search ranks, downtime of your website, a broken shopping cart and many more issues.
In that light, I will outline the 5 best questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line with a new web hosting company. These 5 questions are what I would ask if I knew what I know now after 18 years in the industry.
1. Will they be responsive to my needs?
The best hosting companies will offer you a personal concierge for your hosting questions. Some of the biggest companies do not offer this kind of premium service. Most of the large companies outsource their support to other countries. Nothing can be more frustrating than having an issue with your site and not being able to explain the issue with the person on the other end of the phone or chat window. Remember that even companies that offer 24/7 support, do not respond as you would expect.
2. Will they support me in my business efforts?
Nothing is worse than wanting to set up a WordPress site with WooCommerce and not feeling supported by your hosting company. Every company builds a web presence for different reasons, to sell something, to communicate information, to gather prospects, to share passions, to offer subscriptions and more. Will the new hosting company help you if your blog does not work correctly? What happens if your email stops working overnight? As a web technician myself, these are the biggest kinds of requests that come my way.
3. How much will it truly cost me?
The past 12 years have seen a commoditization in the web hosting market. It feels like it gets cheaper and cheaper every day. Not only does the hosting get cheaper, the service of the provider gets worse and worse. Cheaper may not be better. Here are a few things you lose when choosing a cheap hosting company.
Speed will suffer. In order to sell discount hosting, companies have to add multiple sites to a single server. Every week, I receive a call from someone who is not my customer asking why their site is so slow. I then make a copy of their site and place it on another server to test the speed. Every time, the site is snappy when looking at the site on the new server. A slow server costs you greatly since your customer will leave your frustrating site.
If you need WordPress support, the cheaper companies will not support your needs. If you are running WordPress, you need a managed service ( which will cost more ).
Consider these factors when choosing a web host rather than price.
4. Does the company I’m looking at give me the service I need?
Will the company offer you quality service such as:
Uptime: It is impossible to have a company that gives you 100% uptime. Downtime happens. Even when a company promises 99.9% uptime, it doesn’t mean your website will always be online.
Personal Support: Work with a company that offers personal support for your website needs. Again, this service will cost more, but it is worth it.
Speed: I’ve touched on this already, but it is one of the biggest complaints I hear about. Load times matter and services with fast load times are not cheap.
5. Will my website security be taken seriously?
Security within the web world almost always causes frustration. Hosts that require you to change your passwords and demand high strength passwords are the hosts you will want. Updates to WordPress should also be required. An outdated WordPress site will surely cause hackers to harm your site. You should also make sure the host offers frequent backups of your site.
Wrapping it up
Many web hosting companies offer unique features, you will need to find the one that best fits your needs. It’s not easy to find a good host. It is only through personal experience that you will find the host that gives you what you need. Remember too, that if you choose a host that you think will serve you, then they turn out not to serve you well, you can also change.
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