7 Questions to Ask Your Web Host… Before You Click “Buy”

Shopping for web hosting is a lot like shopping for coffee. “This one is $X for 33 ounces, but this one is $Y for 35 ounces, and oh, this one over here is…” What happens next? Many people get so bogged down in the numbers that they finally throw up their hands and say “Fine – I’ll just take this one and get it over with.”

But what about the actual taste of the coffee? While choosing a web host is undeniably a numbers game, here are 7 questions you should ask to get the best brew for your bucks:

  1. Will I be a chicken – or a pig? As they say (who is this “they,” anyway?), the chicken is involved in breakfast, but the pig is committed. Does that drool-worthy monthly hosting price come with a truly hoggish contractual commitment for you? A cheap host isn’t so cheap if you have to bail three months into a year-long contract.
  2. What’s it going to cost me if I luck out and hit the Digg front page this month? Forget overnight – your data transfer totals can spike way over your allotted bandwidth in only hours. I know it’s a problem you’d like to have, but humor me.
  3. Will you hold my hand? If a host’s tech support pages remind you of SNL’s Nick Burns (Your Company’s Computer Guy), you can bet you won’t get much better when you call.
  4. Will you hold my hand without reaching for my wallet with your other hand? Yes, hosting company margins are probably skinnier than a MacBook Air. Yes, knowledge comes at a price. No, you shouldn’t pay through the nose to find out how to set up Joomla on your server.
  5. Do you have shopping carts available? Or will I have to make do with one of those little basket thingies from Yahoo! Stores? You may not need ecommerce capability now, but it might cost you if you don’t have access to it down the road.
  6. Will you remember me tomorrow? Check into your proposed host’s backup frequency, methods, and so on. Many hosts back up nightly, but not all do.
  7. What’s in it for me if I set my sister up with you? Affiliate programs and referral kickbacks are a near-effortless way to defray your hosting costs or even add to your bottom line.

Sanka or Starbucks? Depends on your website, but if you don’t ask the right questions, all you’re going to get is a cup full of headaches.

Oh, and you’re welcome.

Emory Rowland

I'm editor and keeper of the flame at Clickfire. I consider myself a fanatical blogger, entrepreneur and builder of Internet things from way back. My love for social media and success with organic search led me to start a SEO consulting venture. Apart from the Internet, I could be considered pretty worthless. More...

9 comments

  1. 0bones - Free social web host

    Another question that can go a long way is How long have you been in business? This will weed out all the 4 month startup hosts who may not be in it for the long run

    • Emory Rowland

      Yes, I agree, having been the victim of a newbie host who decided to get out of the business when the going got rough.

  2. HTML Coder

    Most of the companies have bad tech support which is awful in case of any urgent issue.

  3. I’m enjoying 1and1 – the service has been very consistent.

    The biggest issue is something not on your list. Yes, they have vouchers for paid ads on search engines like Yahoo and MSN. But for someone like me, who makes no money, starting a keyword campaign doesn’t look like it’s something that I want to play around with.

    If a web service provider can do a little bit of promotion for those of us using their service – “here, check out some of the sites who use our service” – that would do a world of good.

  4. Emory Rowland

    ashok, I think you are right. It’s so easy for most of the large hosting companies to set up a blog for customer appreciation. A hosting customer of the week post that features someone and links to their site would go a long way.

  5. Cheap Web Design

    Also making sure that they have an up to date CPanel interface and support the things you need eg. PHP is a good question to ask. I think you have nailed quite a few basics that most people should ask themselves before committing or even signing up to a web hosting company though. Great job!

  6. Hi,
    Its necessary that ask all the query to webhost before giving the project.
    Thanks for information.

  7. Joshua Choo

    Strongly agree to all the 7 points.
    Especially backup frequency. you never know when hackers come.

  8. Talking Ava

    Those are thoughtful pauses to consider indeed! With money tight these days, it doesnt hurt to be careful before making any purchases.

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