Ask Your Prospective Web Host the Right Questions - Framing the Email
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Before I go into the email itself, let me tell you something you should do right after you send it: note the date and time. When you get the reply, note the date and time as well. That will give you some idea of how fast you can expect a reply when you need service. Also note whether all of your questions were answered, and how thoroughly. Were you satisfied with the responses you received?
Now we’ll move on to the email itself. Introduce yourself. Tell the web host that you are looking for virtual web hosting, and what kind of website will be hosted. Describe the website. If it’s for a business or organization, sum it up in a sentence (and do mention if it’s a not-for-profit or charitable organization). List your most important needs in a couple of sentences.
If you already have an existing site, include the URL. The host’s customer service representative can check it out then. If they’re really on the ball, after checking out your site they might ask you a few questions that will assist you in getting what you need.
Finally, let’s look at the questions themselves. Note that not all of these questions will apply to your website, and you might have others that I don’t mention here. Use this list as a guideline.
While you shouldn’t base your decision on price alone, you can start with a variety of price-related questions. Does the host have a special price for not-for-profit or charitable organizations? Some do, because it’s good for business (and can be good publicity). Does the host offer a discount if you pre-pay for a certain number of months in advance? If so what is it? What payment methods does the host accept? Must you pay a certain number of months in advance if you want to pay with certain methods (i.e. six months in advance if you pay with a credit card)? Is there a setup fee? And is there a trial period or money-back guarantee?
Questions about bandwidth, transfers, and site hits are related to price, because some web hosts charge more as those items increase. Does the host have a bandwidth/transfer/hits limit? If it does, you need to find out what it is. Is it monthly or daily? Be aware that many hosts advertise “unlimited” bandwidth, but rarely mean it; you should ask for an explanation or clarification if they use that word. Find out what restrictions the host has put into place, and whether (and where) that information is posted. If the host does charge if your site goes over the limit, find out how much.
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