Monday, May 30, 2011

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Web Host

Choosing a web host is probably one of the most important decisions you will make a business owner. Today, a website reflects so much on an individual business and hosting is an important part of that. You want to have a website that is accessible all the time and one that mirrors the values you promote as a business. You therefore need to have a web host that is reliable and takes their role and responsibility seriously. If you are new to the process of choosing a web host and setting up a website then the task can seem quite daunting. There are many technical terms and figuring out what is important can be confusing. Here are a few questions to ask your web host so you can make sure they are a reliable and efficient company for you to work with.

What Hosting Options Do They Offer?

Some hosting companies specialize only in one type of hosting. This could be either shared or dedicated hosting. Ask the web host if this is the case or if they offer both options. It is preferable to work with a company that has a expansive range of services. The reason for this is that over time your business may grow and your hosting needs may change. A company that can offer you more than one type of hosting solution will be the better company to work with in the long run.

Can You Migrate Between Hosting Packages?

It is unlikely that your web hosting needs will stay the same over time. Having to change your web host simply because you need a larger hosting package can be time consuming and frustrating. It will also affect the design and operation of your website. Most reputable web hosts will give you the option to upgrade your web hosting package. The process should be relatively affordable and free of hassles. The web host should be able to assist you with an easy migration to your new package. They should also be able to make recommendations as to what type of package you should upgrade to.

What Servers Do They Use and When Were They Last Upgraded?

A reputable web host will be diligent about keeping up with technology. At the pace at which technology advances, web hosts should be upgrading their servers every year or two. If they leave it longer than that then it is possible that the technology they are using will become outdated. This can in turn affect the functionality of your website. They should also be able to give you specifics on the capacity of the servers. If they give you the names of the particular servers, you can quickly and easily read online reviews of the servers. This will allow you to establish if they are reliable machines.

Is There a Support Desk and When Are They Available?

A support desk is probably one of the most important aspects of web hosting. Even a business owner that has some technical knowledge will not have the same level of expertise as people who work in the industry on a daily basis. In addition, the help desk will have access to the server and is able to do diagnostics should any problems arise. Having access to an efficient help desk will help you maintain a professional website. Their hours of operation are important because your website will be online 24/7. If the support desk only operates during office hours, it may mean that problems with your website lie unattended for a period of time. Any time that your website is not operational reflects badly on your business. You therefore want to ensure that if there are any problems, you can get them quickly and easily resolved.

What Anti-Virus and Security Measures Do They Have in Place?

It is vital to have good security on your website, especially if you are being hosted on a shared server. Remember that your website is the face of your business. You want it therefore to be as professional as you are. You don't want your clients logging into your website and then being concerned about the security of their personal details. You also do not want your website unknowingly spreading a virus. The web host should perform regular virus scans and take analytics of the server to make sure that it is clean and the risk of infection is minimized.