How to check in 12 steps if your web hosting company will be fine for your business?
1. Customer support
Friendly and caring
You may be surprised but many hosting companies don't care about their customers right after they receive the payment from them. You may ask 'How can it be?' but unfortunately this is the sad truth. Attract, take money and forget (ATF). Customer support may be arrogant and treat you without respect if you just ask them anything. A good customer support should be always friendly and willing to help their lost customer. They should also keep in mind that some users may have problems with understanding all the nuances concerning servers, DNS, bandwidth, server side operations etc.
Resolving problems fast
They should always resolve the problems fast and if for some reason it is impossible to do it quick then they should inform the customer about it in detailed way. Some of them may have a pre-prepared lame messages for customers such as 'Our server is on a scheduled mainteance and it should be back in 1 hour'. Of course if it happens more than once then it means that something is starting to be smelly about them.
Avaible real 24/7
Problems appear unexpectedly, sometimes at strange hours. A good customer support should be avaible a REAL 24/7 which means that you'll never experience to see a message stating that 'We're avaible online but all our departments are extremely busy and come back to us later or leave a message'. Remember that you need to have your problems resolved quickly. Sometimes problems may mean no customers for you (if you are running a business) or search rank drop. Such a problems can't wait until next day afternoon.
Providing with knowledge
Your web hosting's customer support should always patiently explain to you nuances of their actions, tools and instruct you how to do things by yourself.
2. Engagement and discounts for loyal customers
Promotions, contests and discounts for loyal customers
Wouldn't it be nice to receive a little gift sometimes for being loyal to one company? Of course it would! Review their offers very well, inform yourself about the ability to obtain a discount code, learn how can you benefit from staying with them longer than 1 year.
Being active in blogosphere
Check if they are engaged in writing useful articles and tutorials on their blog or as a form of guest posts. If yes then most likely they are being quoted on serious websites. Besides it may proove that they have a proper knowledge on what they are doing and how they are doing it.
Advertising on serious portals such as google or smashingmagazine
It would be nice to know if they spend money to be better recognized over the internet. This will simply mean that throughout all the years they have gained reviews and possible awards. The more - the better.
Being active in social media portals such as twitter, facebook or linkedin
Checking if hosting company is active on social media will show you what kind of relations are between them and their customers. If they participate in discussions and listen to their customers then it is a very good sign.
3. Price to quality ratio
They say that you get what you have paid for.
If you have a feeling that you have too much for too little then pay close attention to all the tiny '*' near their advertising banners. Not always a hosting company wants to be a good friend with you and give you anything to make you a happy customer. If you don't feel over-excited with their offer plus they offer one more additional feature that their competition doesn't for the same price then it means that it is less dangerous to trust them.
You can't pay much and have problems with them.
If you are one of those users who think that the more they'll charge you the better the service then just for your information, it's not always working this way. Sometimes web hosting startups are charging more for the same low quality services just to make themselves sustain in the market in the first months of their existence or improve their datacenter with greater amount of servers. It's important to precisely review what will you get for the amount you are prepared to pay. Certainly you don't want to raise your frustration in trouble situations by realizing that you have paid for it THAT much and still have to deal with incopetence.
4. Server downtime and company's policy
No hidden fees
It's quite important that your web hosting company will not charge you additional fees for any help or features that should be by standard in your hosting plan. This can be really frustrating in some moments, especially if you are facing some technicial problems with your website. In my opinion support or resolving server problems should not cost you even a cent.
You should have clearly listed things for which you are paying.
Again knowing for what you are paying is the most important element of your perfect web hosting company research. An honest and fair hosting company will list it in a clear way telling what will and won't be included in your hosting plan.
How and in what cases server can be down.
It's good to know in what cases your website can appear as offline and for how long it can stay like that. The reasons of downtime should be clearly explained to you as well as approximate time of coming back online. Terms of Service should clearly state the downtime policy. Again, they should be customer friendly and allow you to request a repair within certain amount of hours. Besides, each mainteance operations on servers should be scheduled and visible online for their members.
How quick they are in resolving problems with Servers
The faster the better but we should be aware that some things cannot be repaired in 5 minutes. However, extended time needed for repair should be a warning for you.
5. Server response time (machine overloaded with thousands of websites)
Get yourself informed about it with reviews and people's experiences
You're probably not their first customer which simply means that many before you have tried their adventure with them. Thanks to this, it is more than sure that they have been reviewed numerous times for all the years for which they have been operating. Users often mention about fast or slow servers, downtimes and other things worth checking out.
Do they pack 10 000 websites on one machine and expect it to run without hickups?
A common practice of web hosting startups or amateurs pretending to operate a huge company. You should be aware that effectiveness and speed of your own website may decrease with each additional website placed on a one single machine. Those are the cons of a shared hosting if it's done in a wrong way. Some companies were known for utilizing their hardware to it's maximum and allowing thousands of websites to be stored just on that one poor server. Now I hope that I don't need to explain what happens if even 5 - 10% of those pages are opened at the same time.
Try to find a random website hosted by that company and perform a ping test
This may be a good resource of information before you'll decide to order any hosting plan. Simply find a website that is hosted at their company and perform a simple ping test. Then compare results with other websites hosted elsewhere. Try to choose a one that in your opinion has a lot of traffic. To perform a simple ping test under Windows operating system, you can click Start and enter 'cmd' in command window. When the commander will open you should write a command 'ping' and the name of the website or server you wish to ping. For example "ping google.com". After the job is finished, you should review your results. Packages that are lost or long server responses will simply mean that you should search for a better quality company.
6. Additional features such as daily backup or cpanel (some are standard some not)
Do they offer any additional features? Are they already in your hosting plan?
Read carefully what they offer for the price that you're ready to pay. It would be marvelous if a daily backup or whois domain name protection would be included in the price.
Do they match the niche standards ? (Cpanel in standard for example)
Some things nowadays should not be seen as 'additional features' or 'paid features' because they are simply the standards that every hosting company should have. Such an example can be CPanel.
Do they offer luxury addons such as SSD drives to handle your websites?
A good hosting company should expand it's services by offering modern technology at customer's reach. An example can be utilizing SSD drives which will dramatically improve your website load speed.
7. Location of the server
Will it be beneficial for you?
Of course it will. Imagine you want to target USA with your services. Now you won't be sending them pages from Europe am I right? Simply because page load speed will be extremely big without Content Delivery Network (CDN). Always host your website in the country you wish to target.
8. Turnaround time when buying additional features or renewing the plan
Are they sleeping on the opportunity to earn money?
Do they appear like 'whatever'? Update to a better plan takes ages? Hard to believe but some hosting companies are so sleazy that they don't care about what you want and when you want it. Even if it means additional money for them. Funny but known from experience.
9. Money back policy (100% money back guarantee but...)
Do they offer any money back policy and is it customer friendly?
Just because someone advertises that he'll refund you 100% it doesn't immedietaly mean that he'll do so. For example a known company - webhostingpad.com - is offering a 100% money back guarantee but if you'll get deeper into their Terms of Service, you'll notice that they'll give you only 60% of what you've invested in them. Simply because they do not refund domain registration, cpanel licence and few others. Also it's important to know how long are you eligible for full money back and are there tricks included in it. Some companies used to offer full 100% money back guarantee but their ToS (Terms of Service) was constructed in such a way that customer was never eligible for a full refund. Watch out on that when choosing a good web hosting company.
10. Terms of Usage (or Terms of Service) - how friendly they are
Do they want to rip you out on anything according to their terms of service?
Do they have the right to suspend your account without any notification or message sent to you ? Do they need to provide a reason for it?
It's very important that you read their policies and inform yourself well about their account suspending policy. You need to know in what cases account might be suspended. Please note that if they give away an information that they can suspend your account anytime without informing you about it or explaining reason of such action taken then it's better to stay away from such a company unless they have really good and real customer reviews. You don't want your account to be suspended just because one of your plugins have performed a security scan at the moment of higher server resources usage. If you will agree to such a Terms of Service then it's equal to giving them right to do whatever they want with your website and account (Remember that in extreme situations they can not even backup the data on their server before suspending your account).
How much harm they can make to your website visibility if they don't like something?
Better know if they just send a warning and advice you what you are doing wrong or they put offline your website without further notice.
11. Secured data on servers, second server handling the website if first one is experiencing downtime. How long they can sustain websites during electricity blackout and do they have their own power source.
How well they can handle electricity blackout? Do they have their own sources of energy?
UPS systems, Power Generators, Solar batteries. All of these three can handle the servers for a certain amount of time. If company is large then it's more than sure that they are equipped with modern technologies allowing them to sustain the website's uptime at the time of electricity blackout.
How can they sustain the data online if one of their servers is damaged?
Do they offer parallel working server (duplicate) that will hold exactly the same copy of your website?
Do they keep your data fully secured? How well are they protected against hackers ?
Do they offer daily backups for free? Do they offer firewalls with your hosting plan? How well are they prepared for hacker attacks?
12. Company's Eco policy (Do they use wind technology, solar panels?)
Are they pro-Eco ?
Do they utilize the newest trends in saving energy? Are they 100% harmless to the environment? Do they use wind energy or solar panels? If you want to give your kids the opportunity to breathe fresh air then please consider this section :).
We hope this comprehensive article will assist you in choosing the right web hosting company for your future corporation or blog :)