How to Choose My Hosting Provider - The 35 Questions to Ask
Most people and businesses ask the question “How to Choose My Hosting Provider?” Based on experts advice, there are multiple questions to be asked before choosing a web hosting provider for professional, business or personal use.
Nowadays, Web Hosting services are essential, important and critical for almost every business, startup, professional, blogger, etc. The market is saturated with a huge number of offers and providers. Is this a good or a bad thing? I will say both when seeing it from different angles!
For sure, this pushes providers’ competitiveness, innovation and creativity to the limits. At the same time, this makes prospects and customers lives harder when choosing the right provider who has offers that fit their needs in the location of their choice and within their budget.
From the providers perspective, many of them are facing big challenges and working very hard to survive in this aggressively competitive market.
In this article, we will go through a list of criteria to be taken into consideration when choosing a Web Hosting provider as a partner. This article is based on The Web Hosting Pyramid of Needs™. As the selection process and criteria depends on the needs, requirements, location, budget, context and background, you can pick the ones which are important for your situation.
Which represents one of the most critical aspects. People and businesses need reliable hosting infrastructure in order to focus on their core business and mission. The two elements to be taken into consideration are:
- Network Infrastructure Availability (uptime/reliability/performance): Ask them, check their status page if available and do some online search.
- Server Availability (uptime/reliability/performance): For shared hosting and VPS servers, ask the providers about their standards, check their status page if available and do some online search.
These can be determined through testing, customer reviews and asking some questions to the provider before purchasing any of their services.
You can learn more about the availability related elements by reading The Web Hosting Pyramid of Needs™ - Part 2⁄3
How do providers deal with security issues and abuse complaints? These are some readings:
Web hosting providers take 3 days, 2 hours, and 33 minutes on average to respond to abuse complaints and remove malware hosted on their servers*.
2- Security & Trust
Security and trust are also critical to the success of your business. Selecting the trustworthy provider who cares about security is very important. People and businesses want to deal with trusted professional partners to ensure the security of their valuable data, personal and non personal information, payment information, etc,
These are some hacking and data breach stories:
- Hackers breach web hosting provider for the second time in the past year
- Top 5 Biggest Data Breaches, and What Hosting Companies Learned
- 10 Things We Can Learn from a Website Host Data Breach
- GoDaddy Data Breach Puts the Internet and Your Site at Risk
- Web Hosting Provider Suffers Data Breach Second Time in a Year
- German web hosting firm DomainFactory suffers data breach
- Cloud Hosting Provider DataResolution.net Battling Christmas Eve Ransomware Attack
- Contact Information (Office/Headquarter Address): Could you find the provider’s address (offices, etc) in their website?
- Contact Information (Valid Working Phone Number, email address and/or contact form): Could you find a phone number in the provider’s website if you need to talk to someone? Do they have a contact form or email address to communicate with them? Are they available on chat?
- Infrastructure Security: Is the provider’s infrastructure secure? Ask them and do some research about them.
- Server’s security: If you want to use managed hosting or shared hosting, are their servers secured? Ask them and do some research about them.
- Account Security: Will your information be safe? Do some research about the provider.
- Reputation: You can learn more in this article about Why Online Reviews Are Important? - Online Reviews and Reputation Facts and Stats
- Years in Business: An important element to be taken into consideration as part of the risk evaluation to partner or not with a specific provider.
- Previous hacking & data breaches: Do some research about them.
- Accreditations & Certifications: Ask them or check their website.
- Transparency (Status Website / Status Page, etc): Check their website to see if they have one. If so, evaluate the overall situation about the infrastructure and communication.
- Acceptable Use Policy (AUP): You can learn more about What Makes a Web Hosting Provider Great and Trustworthy - Know Your Provider - Part 1
- Terms of Services (ToS): Do they have well written and clear Term of Service document?
- Team/Leadership: Check their website or external resources (Linkedin, etc) to learn about their team.
- Datacenter’s Ownership: Do they own any data center? Ask them or check their website. You can also check some external resources like Data Center Map.
- Provider’s Website Quality: This is usually a good sign. If they are not able to take care of their website, how do you want them to take care of your stuff and security?
- Social Media Presence: In most cases, this gives you great signals about the provider. (Note that some providers may choose to be or not to be on social media platform for a reason.)
You can learn more about security and trust elements by reading The Web Hosting Pyramid of Needs™ - Part 2⁄3
Every client has specific customer and technical support needs. Businesses and customers who have their own IT teams may not need managed services like non-technical customers. But ensuring a 24⁄7 infrastructure monitoring and support is important if something goes wrong.
Web Hosting providers have to ensure they are providing a quality support/customer services for their customers. This includes self-support via a Knowledge base and other tools, human support via phone, ticket or chat, etc. These are the elements to be taken into consideration:
- 24/7/365 Support: Issues can happen any time, day or night. Hardware issues, data-center related issues, security issues, etc.
- Ticket Support: Do they provide support via ticket or email? What is their response time? What about the qulaity of the provided support? Ask them, check their website and do some search online..
- Chat Support: Do they offer chat support? Chat with them to get a better idea about the quality of responses and their response time.
- Phone Support: Sometime, a phone is better than emails and tickets. Check if they are reachable via phone when you need to talk to someone from their team.
- Multilingual Support: Do they offer support in a language that you understand? This is an important element to check if you want to avoid frustration and mis-communication troubles.
- Self-Service: Do they have an easy to use and secure customer portal from which you can do some basic tasks (like reinstalling a VPS, updating your contact information, etc)?
- Knowledge Base: Great providers have excellent knowledge base systems where they share valuable content. Their goal is to make their customers’ lives easier.
You can learn more about the support related elements by reading The Web Hosting Pyramid of Needs™ - Part 2⁄3
Great providers usually have a robust infrastructure with a range of services. Some of them may be focused and fully specialized to delivering a specific service (like shared hosting, domain name, dedicated servers or others).
- Multi-Service Offerings: Do they have different types of services? This usually helps to get better deals and have peace of mind.
- Multi-Location: Do they have their offers available in different locations or at least in the location of your choice?
- Specifications (Specs): Do they have a range of choices that fit your needs? (Bandwidth, CPU, memory, performance, storage, etc). This allows you to pick the right offers and only pay for what you need.
- Integration Tools: Do they have any integration tools via API to help you integrate with your own or third party platforms?
- Freebies: Do they have any included freebies like a free domain, free DDoS protection, free SSL certificate, free migration, etc?
You can learn more about the features related elements by reading The Web Hosting Pyramid of Needs™ - Part 2⁄3
Getting excellent services with affordable/good pricing is the ideal scenario for customers. But for most people and businesses this is not very critical compared to previously listed needs. Everyone wants to get better for less whenever possible. These are the elements to be considered:
- Monthly Fees: This includes initial term fees and renewal fees. (For domain names, we are talking about registration, transfer and renewal fees)
- Setup Fees: Do they charge any setup fee for their services?
- Money-back Guarantee: Do they guarantee money back and refunds after a certain period of time? This is important if you discover that the service and offers do not meet your expectations.
- Free Trials: Some providers have free tiers for a long term to allow their customers to try and experiment their service offerings.
You can learn more about the pricing related elements by reading The Web Hosting Pyramid of Needs™ - Part 3⁄3
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