Setting up a website or a web hosting account is not a terribly complex procedure. However, it is important that you find the right type of hosting company that will be able to meet the needs of your business. You may need the company to make adjustments to your account as your business grows and expands. There are a few questions worth asking the hosting companies you have shortlisted before making your decision.
1. How much disk space and traffic does the hosting package allow?
Most hosting packages have a limit on the amount of disk space you are allocated. If you have a fairly simple website with a few pages and not too many graphics, you will not need a lot of space. However, if your site is very graphic-intensive with loads of pictures and videos then you will need a larger allocation of disk space. It's generally a better idea to start off with a smaller package and then upgrade as you need to.
2. What happens if we exceed our allocated disk space?
If you exceed your disk space, there is generally a charge. There should be no interruption to your service. Find out what the cost of exceeding your allocation is. It shouldn't be exorbitant but this is where some less than reputable hosting companies make their money. It's therefore important to clarify these details before you sign up for a hosting package.
3. Can I upgrade if I want a larger hosting package?
Some bargain hosting companies only offer smaller budget packages and do not have the option of upgrading. You either have to buy a whole new package or find another service provider. That is not something you want to be doing as it is time consuming and costly. Ideally, you want a service provider that can offer you upgrades or additional services as your company grows.
4. What spam protection do you have in place?
Spam protection is an essential part of a hosting package. Some hosting companies will tell you that you should have your own spam protection on your network or computer. This is true but keeping ahead of new viruses is a difficult task. Most IT professionals will say that you need to have at least two tiers of protection-one on your server as provided by your hosting company and one on your network which would be your responsibility. A reputable hosting service provider will be vigilant about spam protection and those are the companies that should be on your short list.
5. Can I have access to adjust the filters on the spam protection?
Most hosting service providers that have spam protection use filters. These can generally be set to low, medium or high. Often, the default will be medium or high and you can adjust the setting based on what you perceive your level of risk to be. Finding out if you can have access to the filter setting to adjust them is important. It means you have more control over the spam protection of your site.
6. Do you provide statistics on web traffic and disk usage?
Most search engines use keywords to bring up search results. As your site has been built, you should have incorporated keywords into your site content. Having stats will show you how your site is performing, such as how many unique users are visiting your site and the amount of time they're staying. The stats should also show you what keywords and key phrases are being used to access your site. These stats can be invaluable in helping you to search engine optimize your site and improve on the keywords that you use.
7. What uptime warranty do you have?
Some budget hosting service providers oversubscribe their hosting services with the result that server response is slow and irregular. A good hosting provider will have an uptime guarantee. They will also generally notify you in advance if server maintenance is to be carried out and if the server will be down for any period of time.
8. What support or helpdesk facilities do you have?
A good helpdesk or support facility is essential. Most hosting service providers advertise a helpdesk but not all are properly manned. You can possibly do a quick check by calling in and pretending to be a client to find out what type of service you can expect. When asking these questions, you should be speaking to someone on their helpdesk. Their response should give you an indication of their level of expertise.
9. Do you have hosting packages specific to my industry?
Some hosting providers have specific hosting packages for ecommerce sites or specific industries. Having a hosting package that is specific to your industry can save you time and effort in the web design process.
10. What are the costs, requirements and time involved with setting up a new hosting account?
How long does it take to set up an account and what is needed? Are the additional services offered worth paying extra for? That is something only you can decide on. Ultimately, you want to find a hosting provider that can meet all of your needs and fit into your budget. By working through all of these questions, you should have a much better idea on the right service provider for you.
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