Questions to Ask Your Future Web Host
Whatever you are on the way to switch to a new web host, or looking to start with a website, the decision is tough because there is an extremely large amount of companies who offer hosting services. If you pick an unreliable and unprofessional company, your bad hosting experience will force you switching to a new host, going through all the difficulties that may occur during transfer and on top of this, you will be looking time and money, because most likely you won’t get a refund.
Beside all the techie stuff you will need for your website, there are few questions you should ask the web host before signing up.
Where are your servers located?
Most likely, a small hosting company can’t afford building a datacenter, so they will rent a server or two for reselling purpose. There is nothing wrong with reselling web hosting for a profit, don’t get me wrong here, but it is essential for you to know where the servers are located. For instance, if you are a UK based business and want to build a website which audience will be mostly from the UK, probably you don’t want to have your website somewhere in China; not only because the website will not load as fast as your competitors, but also because you don’t have full control over the server, and in a case of hardware failure it is impossible to recover the lost data.
Another problem could be the lack of security of the servers and therefor a high risk of having sensitive information compromised by hackers or by other type of intruders.
For you as a customer, would be ideal to do business with a company, who owns its data-center, and have full control over their hardware and have the servers located around their offices and to not be very far from you and your targeted audience.
Is there any catch, what about hidden fees?
When purchasing web hosting, you usually pay a flat monthly fee or you pay in advance for a year or two. Usually if you decide to go with a longer period, the price will be less, so most customers prefer to pay less but in advance. Usually, beside the monthly rate, there is no other cost to web hosting. There could be some premium services you can choose on signup, or the company can send you promotional offers with other services you may be interested in, but nothing that force you to pay extra. As company policies are different, in some cases there could be hidden costs along with the monthly price you have to pay.
I came across cases when a company was offering free backup service, but when the user asked for a website restore, the company charged $100 for this service. Another ridiculous case that I met was when the hosting company just sent out a newsletter to its customers letting them know that the company will be closed within 5 days, and everyone should move their websites from their servers, because the servers will be shut down and all data will be erased. Maybe this last case is not something that has to do with hidden fees, but I had to tell you this one as well.
Is there anyone who can help me?
Support is one of the most important aspects of a hosting company. A good and trained support team can really make a difference when comes to a problem that may happen in your journey to build and run a successful website. A company who does not care about their customers or can’t help them with different issues that they have with their hosting account or with their sites, will sooner or later out of business. Poor hosting service and bad support are the most common reasons, why webmasters switch web host. Also note that a professional hosting firm offers multiple ways to contact them, and technical support should be available 24/7, if you can’t find information about this or there is no phone number you can call, you should stop browsing their website.
Can you help me grow my business?
If your business relies on a website, probably you do everything in your power to grow it and make it viral. This is not an easy task and it will burn up a lot of your time and resources, but happens when it hits that critical line, when the traffic is flowing in like you can’t control it. It is time to move to a new level, and upgrade your shared hosting to a virtual or dedicated server. If the company you are hosting with does not offer this possibility, you are stuck and urgently have to look for a new hosting provider. If can’t find a proper one, your website can fall ask quickly as it rise; so be informed about the hosting plans you can access with your current hosting firm.
If you don’t get clear answers to the questions you ask you webhost, probably there is something fishy going on under the hood, and maybe you should consider avoiding them. If looking for a reliable web host, you should check out our review list and decide which hosting plan is right for your needs.