A little research into web hosting providers can save a lot of hassle down the road. What do you need to look for in a host? Many offer comparable disk space and bandwidth dirt cheap, so which factors really matter? Here we’ll examine the three most crucial criteria.
1. Backup Support
Your website is the backbone of your company, so a host must absolutely provide a backup service. When considering a web host, look for a company that includes backup services at no extra cost. You'll be surprised at the number of web hosting companies that charge to roll back to a previous version of your website or make backups but won't let you access them if you accidentally delete a file.
Also, daily backups are a must, but more frequent backups certainly won't hurt. When you change hosts or accounts, moving to a company that will back up and transfer your entire account makes the process that much easier. This is possible with hosts that use cPanel, but not every host provides this service.
2. Customer Service
It's 3 a.m. and your website just went down. Do you wait until business hours because you know no one is manning your host's ticket system? Do you send in a ticket because your web host is a small company that only responds via email? When you do finally get connected, will your host work with you to find a solution? How much traffic and money will your business lose during this process?
24/7 customer service isn't a pipe dream, and you should expect as much when you sign up for a hosting service. Whether you're more comfortable emailing, calling or using instant messaging, it's your right. Any company that charges extra for better customer service is a company you’ll want to think twice about before handing over your money.
One way to determine the level of customer service is to talk to a live representative. Ask a question that requires some technical knowledge even if you don't know the answer. Are the answers from a script? Perhaps the rep has to get back to you with answers, but you’ll know they'll do the same once you're a paying customer.
3. Provider Credibility & Reputation
The good thing about the Internet is that you never have to blindly trust a company. Simply perform a Google search for reviews on the company or head over to the forums at Web Hosting Talk to see what consumers have to say about their experiences. If a company has a strong reputation or a history for treating customers badly, you'll soon find out. Previous customers can tell you if a host actually offers “99% uptime.” On the other hand, a host that does its best to help unhappy consumers and mend those relationships is a better bet than those who stay silent or try to squash criticism.
Don't forget to check out what the general public thinks about the company, too. You'll avoid poor customer service and downtime after scoping out the competition.