Many individuals and businesses take their Web host for granted. After all, if you have the experience you need to run your site without help, you may never need to contact your hosting company. Add in decent prices and it’s easy to understand why you might not give host shopping much thought. However, if you’ve ever dealt with downtime, missing emails, hacking due to outdated software or trouble tickets that went ignored for weeks, you understand how important it is to research your host. Knowing a company’s reputation can save a lot of hassle.
Read Before you Buy
Sure, some people will make a big fuss because they believe the customer is always right, but if you’re seeing consistent complaints about the same issues, take note before you sign up for several years of hosting. Check out some review sites and look at the uptime, cost, services offered and reliability of each Web hosting company. Pay attention to the number of complaints, any response from the company and the date. A host that received high praise in the past could be on the receiving end of scathing criticism now.
Join in on the conversation and talk to existing customers if you’re unsure where a company currently falls on the spectrum. If your host is new or smaller, there might not be much chatter on the bigger websites. A search for “[Company Name] hosting review” can bring up third-party websites and independent blogs that can shed some light on a host.
Don’t be Afraid to ask Questions
Communicating with a host before you become a customer is a good way to get a feel for them. Do they have 24/7 support? Does the staff member on call actually have the answers to your questions? Can a host adequately explain issues previous customers have experienced?
If it annoys you when support personnel read from a script, take the time to find a company with a more personal approach. However, prompt response is about more than feeling like just another number. If you ever run into problems with a script or find your website hacked or email down, being able to contact your host is of utmost importance. If your host doesn’t have time for you in the beginning, they won’t be there when you really need them.
Take it with a Grain of Salt
People are more likely to speak up when they’ve had a bad experience, so judging a host on the number of negative reviews alone isn’t the best way to go about it. Furthermore, you should be cautious when it seems that the reviewer is affiliated with the company or otherwise compensated for writing their opinion. Finally, if you land on a review where the writer is unfamiliar with hosting, remember that the writer may just have avoided problems with the host or not have the same needs as you.
When in doubt, only go with hosts that offer a money-back guarantee, and don’t underestimate your gut feeling.