By Sue Poremba
Sue Poremba is a freelance writer focusing primarily on security and technology issues and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.
In the days when everyone shopped downtown, store owners depended on their window displays as a way to attract shoppers inside. The idea was to make that space at the front door attractive and inviting.
Now businesses depend on websites to attract new customers and build sales and relationships. Customers will judge you by how easy your website is to navigate and how reliable it is.
You should understand what you are getting. As Christopher Null wrote in PC World: “Web hosting services are rapidly approaching commodity status, as providers offer many of the same features while racing to the bottom on pricing. But although many Web hosting services look alike and cost about the same, appearances can be deceiving — there are nontrivial differences, particularly among higher-end plans.”
So before signing up, here are a few concerns that you should take into consideration when you look for a cloud web host.
1. Pricing. This has to be an important factor, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Know what you can afford to pay and think around that amount. Don’t forget to ask about and to include any additional fees, as well as to ask about ways you can cut costs.
2. Support. What kind of support system does the web host provide? Is it 24/7? Does it cost extra? What does it cover?
3. Back-up and recovery. Find out how often the web hosting service provides a backup of the site. And, says Inc., “Find out what your host’s disaster recovery plan is, as well, to ensure that they are backing up their backups.”
4. Email concerns. PC World recommends considering two services: a routing service, so all email goes into one inbox; and whether the host offers an email auto-responder to respond to incoming mail.
5. Company history. While you may want to give a start-up a chance, you may be better off with a web host that has built a reputation. As Blogging Pro pointed out, “According to WebHosting.info, there are 19,913 web hosting companies registered in the United States as of May 7 2012 but not all the companies that get registered survive through the first year.”
6. Exit strategy. Nothing lasts forever, and you may need to shut down your site or move it to a new host. You should know exactly how the host handles concerns like moving domain names or data you’ve posted.