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6 Critical Questions to Ask Your Web Hosting Provider

5 Oct 2016 by Shay Moser

This article originally appeared on June 1, 2015, and has been revised to bring our readers the most up-to-date technology information.

It’s not uncommon to meet Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs) that have been burned by web hosting providers. Before you make the commitment to specific web hosting services, here are six questions you can ask your candidates to best determine which provider is the right fit for your needs.

1. What kind of security features do you offer?

You receive a lot of data through your website. What happens when there’s a systems failure? Will your website be able to recover and resume operations as normal? What if a hacker breaks into your coding? Is your website capable of detecting and preventing a cyberattack? Finding out what security features web hosting providers offer is one of the most important things you can do when conducting a comparison. Site security is incremental in today’s age, and lack of security can result in irreparable damage to your business. According to HostAdvice, SMBs should look for a secure data center location, uptime, back-up and manual reboot features when reviewing hosting providers.

2. Can I scale up or down when needed?

At times, you may need more or less bandwidth and storage, depending on the market. Finding out whether you’re locked in to what’s outlined in a hosting provider’s contract or able to make adjustments as needed can be a game changer. The best web hosting sites are flexible and tend to offer a variety of packages to accommodate different SMBs. A good hosting company will automatically scale up your web server during traffic spikes, and scale it back down once normalcy returns. It would also be beneficial for you to invest in  hosting provider that provides regular feedback on how busy your site is, so you can better anticipate how you will adjust bandwidth moving forward.

3. How responsive and experienced is your tech support?

Having 24/7 access to a team of IT personnel that will be able to solve your issues rapidly is a key advantage of working with experienced web hosting providers. A simple way to find out how capable a provider is at technical support is to look at their online reviews. Most reviews offer feedback on the customer support and technical support capabilities of any given provider. You may find that some offer assistance via a ticket support system while others use live chat. You want to make sure you choose a provider that offers adequate support in a way that matches your expectations.

5. Do you offer web creation tools?

Some web hosting providers come with tools to help you customize your website and edit it as you grow. Ideally, you want to be able to easily add pages when you have new offers you’d like to display or remove outdated ones. The ability to adjust your website in-house, in real-time can save you the trouble of transferring data from one provider to another.

5. Do you provide SSL?

A Shared Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate consists of small data files that are used to secure credit card transactions, data transfers, log ins, and more for businesses that sell goods or services online. Finding out if the web hosting provider you’re looking at offers this feature can be critical for sales-focused SMBs. Although SSL protection is the current industry standard, the levels of protection vary between providers. By implementing tools that help you secure data on your website, you become a more trusted resource customers will want to return to.

6. What if I’m dissatisfied?

Before you sign a contract with a hosting provider, make sure you don’t have to pay a fee when you leave. In addition to exit costs, moving to a new web hosting provider can result in downtime, missing links or database corruption. But, it’s the best thing to do when you are dissatisfied with your web services. Before you make the transfer, you should ask your new web provider if they offer migration services and then back up your data as a precaution.

When it comes to finding the right services and solutions to support your growing business, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. You’ll have a more comprehensive understanding of any web hosting provider’s services and business practices if you ask these six questions.

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