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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.