Choosing The Right Web Host

I’ve been using various website hosting services for many years and have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Great customer service is what helps top-notch companies stand out from the rest. Here are some tips to help you find the great ones and steer clear of the not-so-great.

If your company, organization or business is located in Canada, you might want to choose a Canadian web host with servers located in Canada. Sure, there may be cheaper services from other countries but if there are ever financial or other issues, it’s easier to resolve them in the country you are located and with rules and processes you’re familiar with.

As a consumer, if you can’t find something as basic as an address, this could be an indication of potential problems down the road if something happens and you need to connect with someone at the company quickly. Personally, any hosting company that does not list a physical address as part of their contact information sends a big red flag. Most reputable companies have no problem providing this.

If you think you’ve found a host, try running the company name through the Better Business Bureau. The company may not be listed but it’s a quick way to check for any complaints against the company and other important information.

You should also do an internet search on the company and read any reviews. But make sure those reviews are written by “real” customers who actually use the services. There are websites out there that benefit from promoting hosting companies, even if their service isn’t very good. A great place to see reviews and other information on hosting companies is Web Hosting Talk.

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Some companies provide domain name services along with their hosting. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to have both with the same company because it’s easier to keep track of. Once you’ve narrowed your decision to a few potential companies, try sending them an email with a few questions (e.g., What’s your average support request response time?) See what type of a response you get and how long it takes the company to respond to your email. This will give you an idea of how much of a priority you are and how potential clients are treated. If it takes them a long time to respond to you as a potential “new” customer, the odds aren’t very good they’ll become more responsive once you are a customer.

If you’ve done these things and everything seems like a good fit, don’t sign on quite yet. Take a trial run. Most reputable companies offer a variety of terms for sign up, such as a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can also opt to pay annually, semi-annually, quarterly or monthly. I suggest that you only pay monthly for the first few months you sign on. That gives you some time to assess the services you’re receiving so you can see if you want to continue the relationship for a longer term. It gives you some flexibility without locking you in.

And beware of companies that oversell their services, meaning they sell more services than their servers/hardware can successfully manage. If a website is consistently experiencing slow load times with re-occurring timeouts, overselling services might be to blame.

Ultimately, you deserve a hosting company you can trust – one that provides great support from respectful and knowledgeable service providers in a timely manner. You deserve a service that compliments your website and allows your audience quick access. Unless you have a content-heavy site with lots of images, your website should load in no more than a few seconds.

You deserve the best and I hope you find it.

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