How To Choose The Right Web Hosting

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Selecting a web host for your organization’s site is an important and at times, daunting undertaking. Beyond finding which Web hosts are out there, it’s a matter of digging through different plans, comparing inclusions, and checking customer reviews. But beyond that, it’s important to look for what isn’t said. This explains why ten of thousands of visitors come to our site for hosting guides and reviews.


There are hundreds of questions that you could ask your potential web host, but by getting the answers to these 30 questions before you sign on the dotted line, you should get a clear picture of what you will receive, what the provider offers long term, how they treat their customers, and if they are an organization you can trust and truly want to work with:

  1. What is their uptime guarantee? (Anything less than 99.9 percent is unacceptable)
  2. What is the average monthly uptime?
  3. If you are looking at a tangible data center/ service model, where are your servers physically located? Are you given a choice in location?
  4. What level of customer/ technical support do they offer? Online only? Phone? Email? Etc.?
  5. What are their customer service/ technical support hours by method? If online chat is available 24/7, what are their phone support hours?
  6. What type of set-up assistance is included at no additional cost?
  7. What types of e-commerce features are included with the plan that you are considering
  8. What payment plans are available? For example, if you sign up for a two-year subscription term, do you need to pay that full amount upfront or is it divided into increments?
  9. What are the renewal terms and fees? (Know that if you are a first-time subscriber, you will likely sign up at a discounted rate that the changes when you renew your contract – make sure that you know the full ramifications.)
  10. What type of scalability potential is there? For example, if you start with a shared server plan, are you able to expand your space later or even switch to a dedicated server environment? Or does the provider you are considering specialize in one environment?
  11. If you are looking at an unlimited hosting plan, exactly what does that mean? All unlimited plans have limitations – it’s just a matter of what those limitations are.
  12. Are they the original hosting provider or a hosting services reseller?
  13. What are their security measures and server back-up protocols?
  14. If you are considering a dedicated hosting environment, who is responsible for managing the servers? Is the plan you are considering one in which the hosting provider will fully manage and service the server or is it one in which you basically rent their server and are responsible for maintaining it and your data?
  15. How long has the Web host been in business? Have they changed management/ ownership in that time or, more importantly, recently?
  16. What are their server upgrade protocols? For example, are they able to update and upgrade their servers without downtime? If so, how? During what hours of the day/ night do they make those updates?
  17. What are the provider’s requirements to cancel a hosting contract? What is their required period of notice?
  18. Does the provider offer a free trial? Almost every provider offers at least a 30-day trial, but some offer longer terms – keep your eyes and ears open and take advantage of the no-commitment period to test every facet of the service.
  19. What is the refund policy during the trial period? Most providers’ trials are not truly free – you’ll end up paying for the service, but get your money back if you are unsatisfied. That said, what does that refund entail?
  20. What are the ramifications for organizations that eat up bandwidth and storage in a shared hosting environment? How does the hosting provider mitigate these types of issues?
  21. What does their set-up/ installation process entail? What exactly are you responsible for and how much support do they provide during the process?
  22. Is their support center outsourced? Where is it located?
  23. What is their policy if you need to change your hosting configuration mid-contract? For example, if you start out in a shared server configuration and need to move to a dedicated or VPS environment during your contract term, is that allowed? Are there penalties
  24. Are there limitations to the types of software that you can run or install?
  25. If someone does manage to hack their network and servers, what is their guarantee of being able to restore your data? What measures do they have in place for this?
  26. Are there set-up fees? If so, what are they – and are they waived for first-time subscribers?
  27. How are spam complaints monitored and dealt with?
  28. In a shared hosting environment, how many clients are assigned to each server? Is there a maximum? (This can be helpful in determining whether the host oversells space as well as whether you are likely to experience bandwidth or space issues)
  29. What is their privacy policy and how is your personal data managed?
  30. What specifically is included in the plan that you are considering? Sure, you know that it includes X RAM and Y bandwidth – but what does that mean? Make sure that you understand what you’re getting from the storage through the number of email addresses, quantity of domains and subdomains included, and beyond.