9 Things to Look Out for When Choosing Your Web Hosting Partner
Choosing a web hosting partner is a big decision.
It’s a business decision that needs extra attention and research – especially if you’re running an online business.
The wrong choice can affect your website’s traffic, sales, and even your business’s reputation.
To avoid making the wrong decision, make sure you’re looking out for the following things when choosing your web hosting partner:
1. Customer Reviews
It only takes five minutes of search to realize that when it comes to choosing a web hosting partner, the choices are limitless.
Every single web host you come across makes big promises and boasts about a multitude of features – half of which you aren’t even sure you need.
With so many choices, how do you know which ones to shortlist?
The solution is simple. Make a list of web hosts you find the most attractive. Then read up their customer reviews.
Run a Google search for “web hosting partner name + customer reviews” and you’ll find hundreds of user reviews.
2. Hidden Costs
Sometimes, to get people to sign up with their service, web hosts drastically reduce the first year’s hosting fees. Customers sign up thinking “What an awesome price!” only to realize a year later the discounted price was only valid for the first year and they’ll now have to pay full price.
If the web host’s rates are really cheap, they probably have a few hidden costs.
Do they charge you for additional email addresses? What about website backup? Do they have any account set up fees?
3. Customer Support
No matter how good a web host’s service is, the time will come when you’ll need their help in sorting out your website problems.
Maybe you broke your site or had such a huge surge of traffic your website went down. Or maybe you have a spam comment problem. It could be anything.
Sooner or later, you will contact your host’s customer service.
Now imagine the pain of finding out your host’s customer service isn’t competent. From taking their sweet time to getting back to you to being downright unhelpful, bad customer service can ruin your website’s reputation.
Because customer service is so subjective, you’ll find good and bad reviews everywhere. Just pay attention to the ratio.
If you can’t decide, contact the customer service of the web host you’re considering signing up with and ask them all your questions.
How they deal with you will give you a clear idea of the quality of their customer service.
4. Uptime Guarantee
Did you know that a web host guaranteeing 99% uptime isn’t anything to get excited about?
According to this article by Jennifer Kyrnin, it can actually adversely affect your business.
Uptime is almost always defined as a percentage of time. But a percentage of what amount of time?
If JoeBlos Web Hosting has a 99% uptime, that means they have a 1% downtime. Over the course of a week, that would be 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 48 seconds that their server is down.
Averaged over a year, that would mean that your server would be down as much as 87.36 hours per year or over 3 days. Three days doesn’t sound like all that much, until you’re not making any sales from the website and are receiving calls from the VP (or worse yet, the CEO).
And the frantic calls usually start after 3 hours, not 3 days.
Yikes! What a nightmare.
Do yourself a favor and find a web host that guarantees 99.9% uptime at least.
5. Response to Downtime
To be honest, no hosting company can completely guarantee 100% uptime (even if they promise it). Sometimes, problems just crop up. Your host could be targeted by a DNS attack, or their servers could go down, or they might have a major equipment update that’ll lead them to shut down service for a bit.
In a nutshell, downtimes happen. It’s how the web hosting company responds to it that matters.
Does the web hosting company communicate the downtime and the reason for it effectively? Are they providing a timeline of when the problem might get fixed? What are they doing to allay the fears of their customers?
6. Growth Potential
By growth potential I don’t mean your web host’s growth. I meant your own website’s growth with the web host in question.
How does the web host handle a surge in website traffic? Do they simply shut the website down or they give you time to upgrade to a bigger package.
Take the time to think about the growth potential of your own website before looking into a web host’s. Figure out what your needs might be 2 – 5 years from now and see if they’ll be able to cope with your site’s growing demands.
7. Renewal Charges
Even though this falls under hidden costs, it deserves a mention of its own. A lot of times web hosts keep the hosting charges for the first year very attractive.
It’s a good tactic to attract customers. What’s not good is not making it clear that these charges will increase at renewal.
So find out what the web host’s renewal charges are – especially if they’re offering a discount for new customers.
8. Backup Options
A good web host always offers backup options. Whether their options are the right fit or not is for you to find out.
Take a look at the backup options offered by the web host you’re considering. Is it easy to understand? How will you get access to your site’s backup in case your website goes down? Does the web host offer their help with retrieving and implementing a backup or are you on your own?
These are the questions that you must find answers to before making a decision.
9. Ease of Migration
One of the easiest ways to find out whether a web host truly has your best interest at heart is their migration policy.
Do they make migrating your site to another host easy? Or is it a complicated affair that’ll make you wonder why you ever chose them as your host in the first place?
Long-term Business Decision
Choosing a web hosting partner is a long term business decision. Take the time to research your options. If you keep the above nine factors in mind in your research, you won’t go wrong.
Have you ever signed up with a web host only to find out they weren’t as great as you thought they were? What makes a good web hosting partner in your book?
Share your thoughts!