If you are considering launching a website or transferring an existing website to a new web hosting company, you might have a bunch of questions in mind, but can’t really prioritize them or single out the important considerations. It can be difficult to make a decision on which questions to ask a web hosting provider.
Canadian website designer Yuriy Salmin, who has 6 years of experience working with various Canadian web hosting companies, lists the most common and most important questions to ask prior to choosing the right web hosting provider. These seven questions below will take you a long way towards making an informed decision:
1. How long has the web hosting company been in business?
A web hosting company essentially maintains the web server that stores websites’ pages. If a hosting company has been in business for a long time, it’s probably related to its ability to provide a reliable product and service. It’s easy to find out when a web hosting company was founded by completing a domain name “whois” lookup on the web host. If the company’s domain name was registered in the recent past, simply ask the host about it. However, a fairly new domain name is not necessarily a red flag since the host recently may have launched a new web site or an affinity-based brand to cater to a new market.
2. What kind of customer service and technical support does the web hosting company provide?
Nowadays, it’s crucial that the web hosting company is available 24/7, preferable 365 days a year. If your site goes down and you need help at 1:00 a.m., make sure the host is able to assist you. It’s also important that the hosting company provides support through multiple channels, such as toll-free phone, local phone number, email support and online chat. Besides a basic customer support team, the web hosting company should have a proactive technical support team that promptly responds to your queries. The support team has to be knowledgeable and able to handle both server and network related questions.
3. How often does the web hosting company backup your website?
It should be a routine part of every web host’s operation to backup web sites. The backup process is the copying all files, including the database, to preserve them in case of equipment failure or any other catastrophe. All websites should be backed up periodically, but the frequency you choose depends on the size of the website and how often it gets updated (i.e., manual updates such as adding or editing content on pages and blog posts).
4. Is the web hosting company offering affiliate marketing opportunities?
Affiliate marketing programs are a fairly universal tool in the web hosting industry. An affiliate arrangement allows the web hosting company to reach prospects and build its client base and in return, the website owner is offered commission rates or service credits based on performance-based incentives. Thus, affiliate marketing can reduce the costs of web hosting.
5. How much disk space and bandwidth do I need to host my web site?
Disk space and bandwidth refers to the amount of space and data a web hosting account can store and deliver. There is no definite answer for this question, since it depends on the size of the files that are uploaded into your account. Whether you are transferring HTML pages, images, graphics or scripts, they all consume space on the web servers’ hard drives. Depending on your current and future web hosting needs, your account might require 50-100 MB of storage space and 1 GB of monthly data transfer (small personal website with light site traffic) or up to 1 GB and approximately 10GB of data transfer (for medium-sized businesses with a shopping cart).
6. Does the web hosting company own its own data center?
It’s essential that a web hosting company offers reliable front-end features, for instance, customer service and technical support that are available 24/7. However, having a data center defines how reliable and flexible your web hosting service will be, and can be an important back-end feature of a web hosting plan. It’s the quality of the host’s data facilities that determines how good its product and service will perform. A web hosting company that hosts its own data center probably has an experienced in-house team of professionals that can readily support your website and build new products.
7. Does the web hosting company help to monitor websites?
If the web hosting company owns its own data center, it’s allowed to control the environmental systems and servers, which means that it can monitor websites and web traffic twenty-four hours a day. If a host monitors your website, it can decrease the time to resolution between an issue and its resolution since it’s in charge of the communication between the data center and its customers.
I am a website designer at SiberName, a Canadian web site solutions provider, offering Canadian domain name registration, hosting service and SEO marketing. You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and connect with me by email, or by writing comments here on my blog.