Choose your hosting service with as much care as you would when choosing a shopfront, a warehouse or an office. In those cases, you want to know what the footfall is like and how easily customers and staff can get there. Questions to ask when choosing a web host are different, but every bit as important.
And don’t take the information from reviews on the web host’s own site because (a) those are probably paid for and (b) even if they are not, there may have been negative reviews that were not allowed to remain. Use search engines to find references to the service you are considering and see what people are saying about them. If there is a user group, and as long as it looks as though it’s reasonably separate from, and not run by, the web host you may also find reliable information there.
How often is the server off-line?
No web server is available 100% of the time, because they need downtime for maintenance and while software upgrades are applied. What you need to know is: does the web host you are considering have uptime of at least a MINIMUM of 99%?
What is the technical support like?
You’re going to need support and from time to time you’ll have questions that need answers. Does the company have target response times and do they keep them? What will be the first language of the person dealing with your enquiry and is it the same as yours? Is support only available during certain hours; if so, are those hours also your working hours? (This can become important when you and the host are in completely different time zones).
What’s the user interface like?
Take a look at the page – often called a Dashboard or Control Panel – that tells you what’s going on. Is it understandable, or couched in technical terms that you don’t understand?
Is there an e-commerce function?
This is such an important matter that we’ll deal with it in a separate page.