Blogging is an exciting and rewarding endeavor – but for first-time bloggers, getting started can be a bit like navigating through a field of landmines. Pick the wrong route and it jeopardizes your entire mission… and no choice is more important than your web host. Let us see the points to consider before buying web hosting.
Shopping for a web host is a critical part of getting your blog up and running – but can also be stressful, and to be honest, a bit frustrating.
Beyond wading through the various providers and types of hosting plans, there are plenty of features to choose from and add-ons that many first-time shoppers simply don’t know whether they actually need.
Get your blog started on the right foot by asking the right questions to narrow down your options and help you avoid some of the pitfalls and bad apples.
- 1 Points To Consider Before Buying Web Hosting
- 1.1 How long has the web host been in business?
- 1.2 What is the server uptime guarantee and record?
- 1.3 Where are the data centers located and who runs them?
- 1.4 Are there discounts available for payment terms?
- 1.5 How do cancellations work?
- 1.6 Do they charge for excess bandwidth usage?
- 1.7 What is the backup frequency?
- 1.8 Is there a referral program?
- 1.9 If you need to upgrade your account, how does it work?
- 1.10 Are one-click app installations available? If so, for which platforms?
- 1.11 Do you host my email addresses?
- 1.12 What is the money-back guarantee?
- 1.13 Does the provider support PHP/MySQL And Cron Jobs?
- 1.14 Are e-commerce site features supported? What features are included?
- 1.15 What makes you the best choice?
Points To Consider Before Buying Web Hosting
How long has the web host been in business?
Longevity is often a great indication of whether the host is reliable and a quality provider. Newer providers may be good providers, but aren’t yet proven and are a bit more of a risk.
Many new providers advertise with flashy banner ads and promo rates – keep an eye out and keep it in mind as you search.
Also, keep in mind that there are plenty of mergers and buy-outs in this business; too many transitions may indicate trouble, but in general, one or two isn’t a bad thing necessarily.
What is the server uptime guarantee and record?
As a bottom-line rule, do not ever work with a provider who guarantees any less than 99.9% uptime.
Uptime is the time that your site is up and running – if it isn’t uptime, it’s downtime which means lost traffic and business for you, so that guarantee is huge. But beyond the guarantee, make the effort to find the provider’s actual uptime record and average – it will provide a better indication of their actual service quality and whether they deliver on their guarantee.
Where are the data centers located and who runs them?
Some web hosts run their own data centers while others outsource.
It stands to say that providers who run their own data centers have more control over your hardware which can be useful in downtime events, not to mention for general maintenance and service.
Sure, outsourced centers can still be quality – but it’s one more level of communication that must occur to mitigate problems.
Are there discounts available for payment terms?
Some providers offer discounted rates if you pay your full-service term upfront, rather than in increments.
For example, your 12-month contract might be $6 per month – but if you pay annually, it might drop to $4.50 per month. Not all providers offer this discount, but it never hurts to ask.
How do cancellations work?
Some providers will let you out of your contract while others assess penalty charges.
Though hopefully, you will be happy with your hosting decision, should it not work out for any reason, it’s important to have an “out.”
Find out before you sign what the requirements and repercussions are for
Do they charge for excess bandwidth usage?
Many shared hosting plans are deemed “unlimited,” but nothing in hosting is truly unlimited…
Providers base these plans off of “normal” usage – should you exceed that range, there are likely repercussions.
Find out what “excess” means for your plans and what types of repercussions you will experience should you go over the allocated amount.
What is the backup frequency?
Backups are an important defense for your site, protecting it against hacking, data theft, and data loss.
Should anything go awry, you will have the backed-up version of your site to work from, ensuring that you do not start back at square one.
Most providers include some sort of back-up with your hosting agreement, but the frequency of those back-ups varies. Weekly is a good start, daily is better. Know what you’ll receive.
Is there a referral program?
Some hosts offer incentives to their clients for referring other clients – these bonuses are a great way to get some perks for yourself while, of course, helping the host to grow their business.
It’s a win-win.
Not all hosts offer them, but again, it never hurts to ask – particularly if there’s an opportunity to score a freebie.
If you need to upgrade your account, how does it work?
Some hosts have more plan options and upgrade potential than others and, as your site grows, it makes sense to work with a provider who can easily accommodate that growth.
Find out not only how you might grow within their infrastructure, but also the process for doing so. Are there fees for changing your service and are you able to upgrade at any time within your service contract?
What is the migration process? Would you receive support from the web host? It’s theoretical, but still important to know before you sign up.
Are one-click app installations available? If so, for which platforms?
One-click installations are a handy feature that many, but not all hosts, offer.
This feature saves you buckets of time otherwise spent manually setting up and configuring apps to your hosting environment with – as the name implies – an easy, one-click installation.
Do you host my email addresses?
Hosted email addresses give your blog a great amount of professionalism by providing a domain-specific email address.
Many hosts include a specific number of accounts with each hosting account – find out if this is included with the host you are considering as well as the number of accounts included in your plan.
What is the money-back guarantee?
Free trials in the way of a money-back guarantee are pretty standard in the hosting arena – make sure that the host you are considering offers one.
Thirty days is the industry standard, but on occasion, a host will offer 45 or even 90 days.
Rare, but it’s out there.
However, remember that these “free trials” are not really free service periods — they’re a paid part of your subscription during which you can cancel without monetary repercussion. However, setting up your hosting environment takes plenty of time and effort, so the more you can avoid moving it, the better.
Does the provider support PHP/MySQL And Cron Jobs?
Different web hosts support different types of languages, databases, and command automation – some hosts support nearly all, while others are quite limited.
If you plan on running PHP/ MySQL or Cron Jobs, take a second look to ensure the host you are considering supports them – these capabilities are becoming increasingly important to running a dynamic website.
Are e-commerce site features supported? What features are included?
E-commerce sites require base hosting services, but also payment transaction support, site builds SSL certificates and a slew of other handy features.
Some web hosts support this e-commerce functionality and even include tools; find out if this is the case for the provider you are considering as well as whether there are upcharges.
What makes you the best choice?
There is no one “best” provider – finding the best provider for you really depends on your unique needs.
That said, in speaking with the provider, they should be able to tell you why they are the best for you.
Do they offer 24/7 US-based phone support? Will they help you set up your site? Do they complete daily backups? What is it that sets them apart – and how does it relate to what you need?
Protecting Yourself from a Bad Web Host
If you do your research, odds are that you will find a web host with whom you will be quite happy – however, you never know until you’re signed up.
Take precautions upfront to protect yourself when you are submitting your credit card details. A few things you can do easily are:
- Register your domain separately from your web host (most hosts include a free domain, but that doesn’t mean that you need to use it as your primary domain);
- Ensure that you will not be run on a blacklisted IP (you can run a quick check on the Spam Haus Block List by visiting http://www.spamhaus.org/lookup/);
- Learn how to switch from one host to another – do not hesitate to jump ship when you are stuck with a bad web host;
- And finally, do due diligence to learn what others are saying about the web host – forums and trustable review sites are both great ways to learn about others’ experience with your potential host.
And that’s all for my web hosting tips for you today – I hope you find this post useful. I look forward to your comments and questions in the discussion section below.