There are millions of daily searches on Google each day for the “cheapest hosting,” and there are nearly 31 million results. Hopefully, you aren’t picking your next hosting provider based on who makes it to the top of that list.
While the price is important, it shouldn’t be the deciding factor when choosing which company is going to host your website. It helps to have a few standards, and ask some questions before you make your choice.
And just because you have standards, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to end up with the highest priced web host either. The truth is that too many businesses and website owners have been burned by falling for slick online sales tactics. This is why you need to step back and ask a few questions so that you can determine which provider is going to best suit your needs.
Important Questions to Ask Your Hosting Provider
Most web hosting companies claim to offer everything that a site owner needs. But once you run into issues, or dig a bit deeper, you find out that they either don’t provide adequate services or are going to charge extra for them. Here are six questions you should ask your current or potential hosting provider to ensure that the service you are getting is fast, secure, and reliable.
1. What Sort of Security Do You Offer?
Before you do business with the hosting provider, you need to know that your data, and that if your visitors are secure. This is the first question you should ask.
According to one report, 95% a data breaches come from just three Industries – government, retail, and technology. And 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses.
The best cure for this is to prevent it from happening to both you and your customers. Some of the security features you should be looking for from a hosting provider include:
- Server monitoring – Find out what server monitoring the host performs to protect from cyberattacks. Some providers will leave security up to the client, while others will constantly monitor their servers and perform regular anti-malware scans.
- Manual reboot features – When there are issues on your server that need addressing, or you are making changes to your website, this is a useful feature to have.
- Safe and secure date location – Data centers should be close to your audience and in secure locations with redundant power systems and ideally not in areas that are prone to frequent inclement weather or natural disasters.
- Backup features – If you do get hacked, the best hosting companies will offer backup features to help you restore your data. Ask about the frequency of these backups. Are they daily, weekly, or on-demand?
- SSL availability – Most sites today need an SSL certificate to remain competitive and satisfy the search engines. Find out if your host supports SSL and if there is an extra charge to enable the functionality.
2. How Consistent Is Your Uptime?
You’ll find you’re hosting experience frustrating if your website isn’t available to visitors. Ask your hosting provider how consistent they’re uptime is. Some either can’t or won’t answer this question, but you can verify this information independently.
Most review sites, such as Hostingadvice and PCMag, only offer reviews based on a test from a certain point. It can be difficult to get an overview of a web host’s consistency. But this is something that you can get from HostScore, which offers data on uptime performance over an extended period.
3. What Technology and Web Creation Tools Do You Offer?
When it comes to technology, not all web hosts are created equal. Find out if they offer you the choice of Linux Web Hosting powered by cPanel or Microsoft Windows Web Hosting powered by PLESK. Either should have the latest secure versions of supporting technology such as PHP, MySQL, Apache, and ASP.NET.
Likewise, you want to ask about the availability of web creation and eCommerce tools. For example, many web hosts such as Exabytes provides a free website builder and access to one-click installation of WordPress. Some eCommerce tools that you may be able to obtain through a hosting account include:
- Shopping cart software
- Live chat software
- Payment Processing software
- Shipping calculators
- FAQ plugins
4. Can I Scale Up or Down When Needed?
Expansion is a common goal for most businesses and you might consider switching your website hosting when the time comes. But you may need more or less storage and bandwidth at certain points. If your website starts to get a ton of traffic, needs more storage, or you decide to add some additional sites to your server, how much is this going to cost?
Ask your hosting provider if you are locked into a particular contract or can make adjustments as needed. The best web hosts are more flexible and will offer a variety of accommodations to allow you to scale up or down according to your particular needs.
5. How Experienced and Responsive is Your Tech Support?
Not everyone is a hosting and technology expert, so it’s helpful to have access to a team of IT gurus that can help quickly solve your problems. Whether you need help migrating your website, installing an update, or fixing an error, this generally isn’t something that you want to leave until the next business day.
Ask the host how experienced, responsive, and available their tech support team is, but also check this independently. Look up some online reviews of the host that will generally offer feedback on its tech support capabilities and customer service. Also, don’t forget to go through the support knowledge-based, sometimes you can find your answers faster!
6. Are There Any Hidden Fees?
It can be incredibly frustrating to sign up for a hosting account thinking that you are paying one price and later finding out that there are hidden fees. First, make sure that you understand any introductory offers that you are being given. This means that your renewal rate may be higher than your initial rate.
It’s also important to ask about any additional fees. Some extra charges that you might find from a host include:
- Set up fees
- Additional storage
- Excessive bandwidth usage
- Multiple domains
Your website is only going to be as reliable as the company that hosts it. Often, your businesses and brand’s reputation hinges on your ability to provide a positive online experience.
You already have plenty of work to do to grow your business without having to worry about web hosting. This is why it’s essential that you spend some time choosing the right web host now so that you won’t have to deal with issues later, which might involve moving your site.