Most of us remember the good old days at school when we were given an essay or an assignment to write or present to the class. The first thing we would do is find out some information on the topic. It was important that we understood everything that we needed to know about the subject before we proceeded any further with our task. It was basic research that mattered.
No exception to this is in the very competitive field of web hosting, the most important third party that plays a starring role in the success of our web business. If you are yet to select a web host, or looking to change providers, read on to discover a list of questions that you should be asking prior to signing on the dotted line. Jumping in two feet first to sign up with a web host can get you in over your head very quickly.
Stories of woe abound on the internet from people who have gotten themselves into hot water from just selecting any hosting company, simply because it was a popular provider, had a nice homepage, was the cheapest (ughh) or because, well, one would just be the same as the others.
In this game, a little bit of research can go a long way to ensuring that your online experience is both a safe and rewarding one. Where many new bloggers and budding webpreneurs go wrong is at the very start of their online journey.
They quickly come up with an idea for a website or blog without any thought or plan for the future of their site, and then proceed blindly with registering a hosting account that is completely inadequate for their potential needs.
So with this in mind, your first source of comparing web hosting research is “you”. Before committing yourself heedlessly, take into account any future growth or at least a change in the direction of your website requirements.
With possibly the most important question having been addressed, you should now turn your attention to the research that you need to put some time into, before paying a hosting company a monthly or annual rental fee that might not be right for you.
A good place to start is by eliminating those that have horrendous reviews by current and former users of that company. A simple search for “compare web hosting companies” will reveal a list of “best and worst” providers and the reasons for the findings.
Then, once your short list has been established, you can address each potential host with a list of criteria that should result in positive judgement calls from the following checklist;
Investigate the fine print in the form of “terms and conditions” that tell you in text what you likely won’t get told by anyone in an email. Find out about loopholes that might favour the company when you find that “unlimited hosting” does not in fact mean what it states. Reading this section of a company’s site will also provide you with further questions to be addressed that you would not otherwise have thought about, or seen recorded elsewhere.
Question the regularity of backups and the company’s response plan if something were to happen that caused server crashes and loss of data. Anything captured in backups should also be accessible through the cPanel.
Server downtime can destroy your business. Consideration needs to be given to the provider’s handling of downtime issues and what, if any, backup options for power they have in place.
Know how many files the host can support (disk space) and how much traffic your site can attract (bandwidth) so that you can allow for extra features if required.
Customer and Technical Support
If the host that you are considering does not offer 24 hour support, quickly move along.
If the company is not using the latest in industry standards, including a control panel option where you can personally maintain your site, then give them a miss.
We touched on this in the first instance, meaning that if you have plans to grow, then your hosting account needs to be able to grow with you. For example Bluehost or HostGator lets you upgrade from a shared to a vps or dedicated server plan
By no means have I provided an exhaustive list here, but rather some important elements of hosting that should serve as more than a starting point for your research purposes. Do your homework, search the internet, investigate news items against hosting names, check forums, ask questions and speak to individual hosting companies.
After you have completed that, your chances of getting an “A+” from your diligence will hopefully be reflected in a rewarding long term hosting experience.