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7 Questions to ask your web hosting company before you sign up

There are so many web hosting providers out there, it is up to you to do well calculated research before you make a choice. There are also many questions you can ask - here are a few to ask the top web hosting companies you are considering.

  • When is technical support available?
  • If you are going to be working on your site after hours or on weekends, you need to make sure you can reach customer support then. And this doesn't just mean firing off an e-mail - you want a response sometime within a couple of hours (sooner if possible). See what the web hosting providers say, then test it yourself. Try to open a live chat on a Saturday, or pick up the phone one evening. A top web hosting company will live up to its promises.

  • What is the level of security?
  • Do the web hosting providers have their own data centres or do they lease them from somewhere else? In either case, are the servers monitored around the clock? Is there backup power in case of an outage? Is your data safe with them? Are there firewalls in place? Secure web hosting is very important these days, for the benefit of you and your business.

  • Can you keep your domain name?
  • An important part of launching your site is selecting a domain name. It should be easy for you and your clients/site visitors to remember. Once you find a domain name that is available and that you like, you want to be able to keep it - even if you change web hosts one day. Make sure this is an option.

  • What kind of contract do you have to sign?
  • Signing on for multiple years with web hosting providers may net you some savings, so you may decide to do this. However, in all cases, make sure you know the cancellation policy. Is there a money-back guarantee of any length? Will you pay a stiff penalty if the host doesn't offer what you need and you want out?

 

 

  • How much disk space and bandwidth is offered?
  • Many of today's top web hosting companies offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space. This is great but, in most cases, hardly necessary. The average site might use 50 MB of disk space; 100 MB would give you plenty of room to grow. More than that is just gravy - unless you expect a lot of heavy traffic or plan to develop high-intensity pages.

  • What tools are available?
  • While there is plenty of excellent open-source software available, its use is made all the easier if your web host supports it fully. Top web hosting companies will give you what you need to build, grow and maintain your site. Make sure the control panel is easy to use (watch a demo first, if one is available) and that the multi-media or e-commerce functions you want, now or in the future, are also supported.

  • Are there any extra costs?
  • Find out if there are any extra costs for things like set up, maintenance, e-commerce, extra email address or technical support. web hosting providers should be up front about all of these. If they are not, look elsewhere.

    Of course, depending on your website's purposes and your own needs, you may have other questions you need answered, regarding search engine optimization, marketing and design services, and more.

For more on this topic, check out our article on qualities to look for in a web host as well as some of our top web hosting companies.

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