Small Business Websites

How to Choose a Web Hosting Service Part 2

Written by Charles Mburugu for Gaebler Ventures

Care, curiosity and caution are advised when choosing a web hosting service. Don't be quick to jump at any web host available. Shop around for one that offers most of the qualities you are looking for, and at a price you can afford. What guidelines can you use when selecting a host for your website?

Continuing on from the last article, these are things to consider when choosing a web host.

Check the references

When you have a shortlist of web hosts that you are considering, find out what others are saying about them, especially the current users of their services. Reputable hosting services may have a client list of companies that they serve. If they don't, request the web host for them in a test email. Get in touch with these clients and find out their opinion of the services provided. Ask about any problems encountered, how the technical support and customer service is, and if they would recommend the web host. Most web hosts will not list their former dissatisfied customers in the client list, so it is up to you to discover anything the hosts may be trying to hide. Make sure you check web hosting guides and directories which will often have reviews of hosting companies, forums and even blacklists.

Evaluate support and service

This is a key factor when considering a web host. Most times, you will need efficient, personal and accessible customer and technical support. A truly committed, professional company would invest in establishing and maintaining high quality support departments. Assess whether the company cares about its customers, or if they make every effort to avoid contact with them.

Send a test email

Using your shortlist, write an email to your potential web hosts. This will help in various ways. First, it will help you identify and articulate your needs. After writing the email, you will have a good idea of what you are really looking for. Second, your email will help in assessing the web hosts' quality of customer service. Hosts that do not respond to your inquiry should be immediately eliminated from your list. The web hosts who deserve your business are those that show that they are wiling to take time to build relationships with clients. Just because a host talks about 24/7 customer support does not necessarily mean that they offer that level of support. Send them your test email after working hours or on Saturday afternoon and see how long it takes for the response to come. Besides the speed of response, judge the competence, care and quality of their response. Test them further by asking to be assigned by a real person with a real name to administer your account.

Check the bottom line

After confirming which features you really need from a host, you need to consider the price. If the web host's packages are scalable, you could always upgrade to other features later. Select a host that offers most of your needs at the best price, and with the option of upgrading later at reasonable rates. Most web hosting companies have monthly, quarterly or yearly payment options, so make sure you ask about the minimum commitment period, as well as cancellation and refund policies. You should expect a discount when you pay for longer time periods.

Make a decision

After all the above considerations, you will be better able to make a decision. Once you choose the web host, place your order and then upload your site.

Charles Mburugu writes for us from his home in Nairobi. He has a graduate degree in Business Management from Kenya Institute of Management. He is interested in writing about branding, CSR and intellectual property.

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