Asking the right questions is an important part of choosing a hosting provider
Choosing a hosting provider is a big decision. It’s certainly possible to pick a provider after a quick Google search, and they’ll likely make it sound quick and easy to get you set up.
Having the right hosting provider is incredibly important to the day-to-day workings of your projects and your team, however. It’s therefore well worth taking the time to learn what each provider is offering in order to decide whether they are the right choice for you and your organization.
That’s why we’ve put together these five questions to ask during your search. If you get into the discipline of asking each provider these same five questions as part of your fact-finding, then you should gain a good idea as to their suitability for you. If the providers can’t answer these questions or choose not to respond, then that should be a red flag in itself.
1. How long have you been in business?
With the advent of instant website builders, easily accessible online advertising, and impressive graphics, anyone can offer hosting. That means that unfortunately for the industry, many companies will entice you into giving them your business by offering cut-price deals.
These companies tend to pop up quickly and disappear almost as fast, however, and may not be a reliable long-term partner for your business. It’s worth investigating their history to learn a bit more about the background and legitimacy.
Have a look at the ‘About’ pages on their site, research their company history through portals such as the Better Business Bureau, or get in touch with them through email or a phone call. If there’s something that doesn’t seem right, it’s worth moving on.
2. Is technical support available 24/7?
Your hosting should be online 24/7, but can the same be said for your hosting company’s support team? Consider the nature of your projects. Do they typically follow the traditional Monday to Friday 9 to 5 pattern, or do they run at all times of the week, day and night?
If it’s the latter, then you’ll want to be sure that support is available when you need it. You certainly want to avoid the worst happening, where an issue arises on a Friday evening, but there’s no support available to resolve it until Monday morning.
The best way around this is to be crystal clear with the provider when you’re considering your options. Tell them exactly when you might need support, whether that needs to be 24/7, and ask what they can do to support you.
3. Can you grow with us?
The hosting package that you’re considering at the moment isn’t likely to be the package that you need in a year, or two years, or five years’ time. Chances are you’ll require larger capacity and have a higher demand on your hosting resources.
What might be a small requirement now can quickly snowball into a far larger one in the future. It’s essential to know that your hosting provider is able to scale with you.
Choosing a provider who can only offer a limited service means that you will be looking for a new solution again sooner than you’d like, costing you time and money. It makes sense to find a company that can partner with you for the long term.
4. How many customers are on each server?
The number of customers who share the hosting environment with you may impact on the service you receive. If you’re the only corporate user, then you’re able to make full use of the bandwidth and storage available. If you’re sharing with multiple other companies, however, then your share of resources decreases.
Finding out how many other clients are on the server with you and what the server capacity is will give you an indication as to whether your services will be affected. You should also ask if that number is likely to change.
Generally speaking, the fewer other clients you have to share with, the better. It means a hosting experience for you.
5. Are the fees variable? Will I face up-charges?
The price on the offer at the start of a hosting deal isn’t always the price that you end up paying. Sadly, there are many hidden costs out there, but most of these can be avoided by asking the right questions upfront before you sign on the dotted line.
You should be clear on their charging structure. Is it a fixed monthly payment regardless of use, or is it variable? Are there charges for changes to the server structure? Are there additional support costs?
Some companies will offer incredibly low monthly charges with a considerable amount of added-on extras, which can rapidly amount to more than you expected. The easiest way around this is to ask for a full price list of their services. That way, you’ll know exactly what you’ll be paying and when.
You should expect simple services to be included as standard and not be charged as optional extras. New users, small patch installations, updates, restorations; these should all be included.
Asking the right questions now will save you time and headaches later
Picking the right hosting provider is a critical task, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you keep these 5 questions in mind, then you’ll be on the right track to making the right choice.
If you’re looking for professional advice on expert hosting solutions, get in touch with DRMcNatty and see how our secure, dedicated hosting environments can help your business succeed.