Tips for Choosing a Webhost

by Melissa K. Vassar-Belloso

In light of my recent situation I thought I’d share some things every person should know before investing in a webhost.These are just some brief things you should consider when picking a webhost

1.What you need the host for/Type of site

There are as many different types of sites as there are people so there’s no cookie cutter hosting solution.When you’re choosing a host know what services you need to get your site where you want it to be.If you have existing scripts you want to use make sure they are compatible.Check the PHP versions.Decide if you need databases or additional services.This will help you determine if a host has the resources to service your project or site.

2:Do you need Premium Services?

Some sites only need a basic setup.Don’t jump the gun on buying anything until you know you need it.If you don’t need advanced services like sql or ftp then save your money.A simple website with text and pictures may not require you to buy into anything at all and save you some dough.Find a reputable host with a good free service.Just remember that it would still be a good idea to still go with a host you’d trust with your money in the instance you did need to upgrade or pay for it.

3.Check the business’ reputation and way of doing business

Make sure the company has a good reputation.Check for reviews on their services.Make sure when you do this you check 3 or more service reviews and don’t forget to check listings specifically dedicated to webhosts.If you google “so and so incorporated reviews” or something to that effect you’ll get results.Secondly check their policies on the page.Read their Terms of Service and don’t skip the fine print.Read all the information on their about page.Make a special note of any claims such as “99% uptime” or “24/7” support.I would even recommend printing this page.It may serve as a makeshift contract in a legal jam related to service problems and help you prove false advertising.

4.Take a test drive

Use the free service before investing money.A quality free service usually indicates good premium services and reputable business practices.It also shows the company cares and not just for the people throwing them money but for their whole customer base.They care about the products and services and that’s a good indicator they might be a good place to establish your site.If the company has a huge gap between free and paid services or charges a little too much or promises way too much you may want to take a careful look before paying them anything.Again…a reputable company will put their best foot forward in all their services,free and paid.

5.Develop a budget

Decide how much you want to spend on services and what you feel is reasonable.Most companies charge under $100 for a year and most of the time not over $200.In your budget factor in other fees like scripts,additional service subscriptions etc.If you have a low budget take baby steps.You can progress from free to premium as you need to,subscribe for a shorter more affordable time period of premium services such as a month or half a year,or even watch for promotional offers.A lot of hosts will offer deals at times to have so much taken off a monthly fee for a year or something along those lines.Also you can wait on a domain or save money on the domain by getting it from an affordable place like GoDaddy.You can have a host and domain from two different services with little to no conflict.Some premium accounts on sites even include a free domain registration.If you really can’t stand the free domain name format try a redirect such goto. Also you can manage a low budget by starting out with free or open source scripts until you can afford the nicer ones you have your eye on.

6.Survey current customers

Now when I say this one I mean real customers.Ignore the customer testimonies on the site and get it from the horse’s mouth.This way you know you’re hearing the real opinion and not just what the company wants you to hear.You should also check sites currently hosted by them.See the quality of them.Check the loading time.Make any notes of instances where you get a 404,504 or other error.You also have a right as a customer to inquire of the company some professional references or contacts.You need to take your money and time seriously and a webhosting company should still be concerned about good business practices.

7.Establish that the company has a presence

Make sure the company has valid contact information.They should have an e-mail,physical address or at least a geographical location,and be able to tell you where they house servers or what company maintains them.In addition they should be completely okay providing names of their staff to you.Any company that makes it hard to find them is probably hiding for a reason.A company running properly has no shame about revealing who they are to you the customer.If they don’t respect you enough to be up front and honest but they’re all about collecting your hard earned money there’s a problem.

8.Save your correspondences and receipts

Accidents happen so make sure you follow the basic practice of CYA.Keep your e-mails,receipts and even printed copies of your forum and support center posts.The more proof you have the more likely it is the company will not be able to pass you over.You can’t depend on the company keeping records because one crooked or stupid person in the ranks of the company could make those records vanish or say they never got them or saw them and all you’ll have is your word against theirs.Paper will never lie and will be your best witness in a legal encounter. In addition keep printed copies of the Terms of Service ,the service packages and even the about page or the “why you should choose us” page.The more proof you have on the backburner the better.As I’ve learned personally you can’t depend on the business to take care of you no matter how good  they are.

9.Check out the support systems and hardware specs

A good webhosting company will have no problem telling you about their servers.At the very least they can describe to you the kind of drives they use and how they are stored and maintained.If they can’t tell you this or they seem to waffle a bit when it comes to discussing the servers something is probably off.You also want to make sure they actually have technical savvy staff on board.Webhosting is technical and expecting people with no IT knowledge to run a server is like paying someone who isn’t a mechanic to fix your car.In addition you should make sure there’s a good support system.Most webhosts will at the very least have a support forum but ideally you should look for a ticket support system and also a direct e-mail for support.You can even test their support a little by asking them a question prior to joining the service.You can base a lot of your decision on how promptly and professionally they handle customer inquiries.

10.Take your time and form you own opinion

Don’t rush your decision  and make your own decision.Don’t just pick a host because someone else says it’s good.It’s fine to factor that in to your final choice but make sure the majority of the decision is coming from you and you feel good about it.Take your time and money into consideration and take your website seriously too.

11.Know your rights as a customer

As a customer using any service you have rights and you shouldn’t forget that.You have a right to ask questions,request any service promised to you by the company at the time of registration and you also have a right to be upset when you get the brush-off.Don’t be afraid to speak up if a company is treating you poorly or not giving you what you signed up for.They have an obligation to treat their whole customer base fairly or at the least they should feel this way if they are a reputable company.If you have been treated poorly by a company you can help others out by spreading the word about it.Consumer reviews are a great way to help your fellow man and save them an unneeded headache.Also you can search out organizations that can act as advocates and also help spread the word and protect users considering that company.Places like the Better Business Bureau do this sort of thing and I’m sure you can find many others via google.Writing reviews on your blog or on webhost top 10 lists or search engines is also a great way to save someone else from having your bad experience.It’s a courteous thing to do and people will appreciate keeping some money in their pocket.It also makes it a lot harder for the company to continue doing bad business as word builds up and will gradually lower the rating of quality on their service.

To close out the bottom line is that no business deal is perfect.Even these steps won’t make a problem-free experience for you but they will definitely help you choose your webhost in an effective and educated manner and it will definitely reduce your problems.

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