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10 Questions to Ask Before You Pay for Web Hosting

Published on 9/3/2010 by

When you first set out to find a new web hosting company, it can be a little overwhelming.  Do you go with the small, personable, but expensive host or the huge company that offers unlimited everything for less than the price of a cup of coffee?  Each web hosting client, including you, has different needs.  In order to meet those needs, you’ll have to do some Q and A.  Find a host you really like?  Great, now send them an email and make sure they’ll be a perfect fit for your online project.  Here are ten questions you should always ask before paying for a web hosting account.

1.  What’s your uptime guarantee?

The majority of web hosting companies today offer an uptime guarantee.  With a guarantee in place, that means your website can only be offline a certain amount of time each month or you’ll be given a refund.  Learn what the guarantee is and how it’s enforced. 

2.  Do you offer a money back guarantee?

You’ll find that some web hosting companies are so confident in their ability to please you and meet your hosting needs that they offer a money back guarantee extending 15-30 days after you purchase a hosting plan.  This gives you, the buyer, a little insurance that if it doesn’t work out, you can get your money back and find another host.

3.  What data centers are used?

Some larger web hosting companies own their own data center, but many lease server space in various data centers around the world.  If you’re planning a website about the 4th of July, you know that most of your incoming traffic will be from the United States.  For that reason, you want to go with a host who also uses data centers in the U.S.!  The closer the data center is to your actual users, the faster your content will be shared.

4.  What kind of support do you offer?

Web hosting support can come in many forms, including:

  • Email
  • Help desk system
  • Telephone
  • Live chat
  • Online forum

Some companies are staffed 24/7 and others only work business hours. 

5.  Do you offer backups?

Some web hosting companies do daily onsite or offsite backups, which ensures that if there’s hardware failure on your server, your data will not be lost.  While it’s a good idea to always backup your own data, many hosting companies are happy to help with that process.

6.  Can I upgrade or downgrade my account?

If your website suddenly takes off, you’ll want a way to increase the amount of space and bandwidth allotted your domain name.  A host who’s willing to grow with you will offer free upgrades and downgrades.

7.  Is my software supported?

If you’re running a Wordpress blog, make sure you find a host who supports Wordpress.  This goes for whatever software you use.

8.  What control panel is available?

Web hosts offer either custom control panels or commercial control panels like CPanel.  It’s good to familiarize yourself with the control panel before paying for your hosting.  Many hosts will give you access to a control panel before you buy hosting so that you can test it out and make sure it’s a good fit for you.

9.  What’s the setup time on new accounts?

With some hosts, account activation is instant, and the moment you pay for your hosting you’ll have access to your control panel and account details.  Other hosts manually set up accounts and can take as long as 48 hours to get you online.  Know what you’re getting into by asking ahead of time.

10.  Do you have any current specials?

Web hosting companies advertise in different locations all over the Internet.  It can’t hurt to ask if they’re running any specials that may save you a few bucks.

Remember, you’re paying a web hosting company to help you get your website online.  Take your time, find a reliable host, and ask as many questions as you need to.