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Questions for Web Hosts

Questions for Web Hosts

December 26, 2002
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" You need to find out who to contact if you have a problem with billing and what is the process for resolving problems. "

One of the most confusing aspects of starting any online business is the selection of a Web hosting company - the business that actually makes your pages available online. Newbies can easily make a costly mistake while shopping for a host that will provide them with the level of service and availability they need, at a price that they can afford. To make the process smoother for you, here’s 9 Questions You Should Ask Your Internet Hosting Company:

1. How often do you back up the files?
The answer you should be looking for is that they backup every night. You should also keep a up to date copy of your site on your computer to be on the safe side.

2. What sort of equipment and software are in place to ensure that my site is up?
Most Internet Hosting Companies use some combination of equipment and software to ensure that the servers are up and working. You want to make sure that the server is hooked up to an UPS (uninterrupted Power Supply). The UPS is just a big battery that will provide the server with power for 30 minutes to several hours. Also most Hosting Companies have software and equipment that monitors the servers and restarts them if they quit serving pages. You will also want to know if this fails, does the company have a way to restart the server manually.

3. How many domains can I host per account?
If you have 2 domain names, say joestools.com and cooltools.com, and wanted them to both go to the same site, would they charge you extra for the domain names or since it all goes to one site will you be charged just for one. If you plan on hosing several sites to see which ones will be successful, you might want to ask for a volume discount or ask if they have a reseller package.

4. What are their billing policies?
You need to find out who to contact if you have a problem with billing and what is the process for resolving problems.

5. What is the procedure for uploading files to your account?
You want to know if you will have 24 hour FTP access. Some hosting companies restrict how you can upload files to the servers.

6. Do they provide log files or Stats?
Hosting companies usually do one or the other, either provide you with the raw logs for you account or provide you with some sort of online statistics. You will want to make sure that the logs contain information from search engines on the words and phrases used, how long the visitor stayed at the site, entry page, number of page visits, broken links and errors, and exit page.

7. Do they provide Form to email processing?
Nearly every hosting company will provide at least a basic form of this. You will want to know if there are any limitations on the size of the form. Also you might want to ask if there is a way to encrypt the form. If so you could use this for an e-commerce solution until you are ready for a shopping cart.

8. What exactly is included in the monthly charge?
You want to know what the features of the account are, but you also want to know if you need them to do something extra whether there will be a charge for it.

9. How quickly they respond when you have questions?
Before choosing a hosting company call them up or email them with a question and see how quickly they have an answer for you.

I hope that asking these questions, and understanding the answers you receive, will help you to make a more informed decision when it comes to selecting a Web host. Remember, when in doubt, ask!


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