Top Five Questions to Ask Your Web Hosting Company

Top Five Questions to Ask Your Web Hosting Company
 by: Derek Vaughan

Each day many new and existing webmasters either launch a new web site for the first time, or transfer their web site to a new web hosting provider. In preparation for this important process, there are five important questions that should be asked prior to signing on with a new web hosting company.

1. Do you have a trial period or money-back guarantee?

Okay, so that's technically two questions. The point is, no matter how much homework you do, or how much research stands behind your decision - it's still possible to make a mistake. Also - the company could change policies or services, or management - prices can go up, call wait times for support can spike, and things can just generally go bad. With the assurance of a trial period or money-back guarantee, you won't end up paying over and over again for that bad decision.

2. How does your customer service and technical support system work?

I don't care how smart you are, how much programming you know, or how many web sites you've set up in the past - you are gonna have to call support eventually. There are just too many weird little things that can derail a web site or email. Many reside on the web hosting company's side. To figure out what's up - you need to get in contact with them. So?will it be by email only, during the hours of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm eastern standard time or via a toll free phone line that is available 24x7? Make certain you understand when support is available - and how you actually reach someone with real knowledge, not just a "knowledge base" or "canned" response.

3. Can I view a sample site that is hosted on the same server that my web site will be on?

Sure, the main company web site has nearly 100% uptime. That's because they have their web site on a separate server than their customers. Viewing an actual customer site potentially tells you many things about the web hosting company and their web hosting services. You can check the load times of their pages easily by using a tool like Alertra (www.alertra.com). You can also send the webmaster of the site a nice email asking about their experiences with the hosting company.

4. Are they a web hosting reseller or a core web hosting provider?

Not that there's anything wrong with buying services from a reseller, but you should know for sure whether your company contact can really do anything to solve problems, or if they have to pass your concerns along to a "parent" company. Also, why buy services from a middle man when you can go straight to the source?Here are some examples of reseller hosting companies.

5. Will you waive set up fees or give me some other special incentives to sign up with you today?

In the highly competitive business of web hosting services, each customer sign up is precious. You will often see special offers listed on the company's web site or in advertisements. Unknown to each buyer is the fact that sales people are often given "extra special offers" to close sales of customers that are right on the edge of buying, but are resisting. The special offers are designed to close the sale. Make sure that you ask for each and every special offer they can give you. You have nothing to lose, and you may find that the offer that's being given today is fairly generous.

This article was posted on January 22, 2005

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