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Many organizations are faced with the shortfalls of their web hosting provider only when a problem arises that impacts their business. Choosing the right web hosting plan and provider for your needs is a crucial part of your online presence and must to be a part of your processes long before issues arise. When selecting a hosting provider, you need to carefully do your research and ask lots of questions. The following checklist gives you the topics that you should discuss and the questions you should ask any provider you are considering…

Reliability

Of all the factors in selecting a web hosting provider, reliability tops the list. So what should you look at when assessing the reliability of a web host? First, you need to find out about their redundancy. How well equipped are they with added resources to provide adequate backup in the event of a utility malfunction or failure? Reliability also depends on having what you need when you need it, regardless of unforeseen circumstances that can throw a wrench into things. Find out more about backup plans and how the web host in question handles disaster recovery and business continuity.

    Questions to ask:
  • Tell me about the reliability of your network.
  • What kind of backup will I have if something fails?
  • What additional resources can you offer?

Availability

Another very important area to carefully consider is the Service Level Agreement (SLA) and availability being offered. Scour the details and find out what will happen in the event they don’t deliver on the level of service agreed to. Uptime is another crucial topic. Any sort of downtime affects your business – you need full-on availability. Find out about the web host’s maintenance windows. Ask about downtime reporting. What type of monitoring will they do to ensure that you are getting the performance and level of service you are paying for? How do they communicate this to you?

    Questions to ask:
  • What are you accountable for? What will you deliver?
  • What will happen if you don’t deliver what is promised in the SLA?
  • What kind of uptime do you promise?
  • How do you tackle maintenance?
  • Tell me about how you monitor your network.
  • What is your downtime reporting like?

Support

When it comes to web hosting, another crucial thing you need to find out is what the support is like. Are they reachable at any time of the day? What if your site goes down and you need help at 1am? You should also look for support with varied channels, such as phone, email, and online chat. 24/7 support is increasingly the norm, but make sure the quality is the same, no matter what time of day disaster strikes. The service provider must have a proactive technical support team that can promptly respond to customer queries. You want to be confident too that the support team is knowledgeable – you need technical experts that can handle queries, whether they are server or network related.

  • Questions to ask:
  • When is your support team available?
  • Will I get the same quality of service no matter what time I call?
  • Where is your customer support team based?
  • What if I need advanced technical support?

Security

Last but certainly not least, you should have security at the top of your mind. What is their hosting environment like? Are there dedicated servers available for those with more robust security needs, such as e-commerce sites that transmit personal information through their payment processing? Your web hosting provider should work to block hackers and protect your site from theft and privacy isolation. Ask them about IPS, firewalls and compliances. There should be no hesitation when it comes to the protection of your business critical data.

    Questions to ask:
  • Tell me about the security infrastructure of your network.
  • What kind of technology do you use for security?
  • If I need more security features, can you accommodate?

Once you’ve carefully weighed all the above factors, you should be in a great position to make an informed decision about the web host that is the right fit for your business’ needs. But you don’t just need to save this discussion if you’re looking to change up hosting providers. It’s valuable to ask your current provider as well. Even if you’re not looking to move, it’s good to ask these questions because it helps your host understand your needs better and deliver.