Choosing a Web Host, Get What You Need - Customer Support and Price
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For casual sites like personal and hobby ones, customer support isnít a big factor, though it is nice to have somebody there to guide you through anything. But for commercial websites, perhaps one of the most important factors in choosing a paid host is the service. Most hosts have email support, but keep an eye out for hosts that have phone numbers listed. These are obviously more valuable. Though some hosts have excellent turn around on email service requests, thereís no substitute for actually being able to talk to somebody if you need to. Also, be certain that the service is available 24/7, even on holidays. Thereís no telling when your site may run into trouble and you need somebody to look into it.
You can do a bit to research the speed and quality of customer service. First, if you have the email and phone number available, use them. Send them an email with a small inquiry to see how fast you get a response and how well they answered your question. Also, call the phone number to see if you connect to a person or a machine, and see how long you have to hold. However, one of the best ways to judge the service is through customer reviews.
Also remember that customer support goes hand in hand with price. The less you pay, the less can go toward keeping somebody skilled in server support available to help you.
The cost of web service can vary from free to more than fifty dollars a month, depending on the company and the services. Donít let price be the primary factor in your decision unless you are launching a personal page. For ecommerce, businesses and organizations, the quality of the service is more important.
Keep in mind that the most expensive plan is not necessarily the best, and the biggest name company may not be the right match for you. Established web hosters are naturally more expensive than smaller companies with similar service. You can get good hosting for a lower price, but it come with a risk that the host isnít as good as you planned or they may go out of business.
Also, be aware of resellers. Resellers buy space from a larger company and do not host their own sites. Their services can be much cheaper than even the companies they lease space from, but there are potential drawbacks. If you make a customer service request, it must be routed through them to the actual host, making the requests take longer. Resellers can be good companies, but make sure you look into them and those who they are buying space from.
If your website is important, beware of cheap plans, free plans, and some reseller plans. Your website may end up on a server with a lot of other sites. How fast your site responds will be influenced by the traffic on the other sites hosted with yours. You can ask your hosting company what other sites are being hosted with yours.
Before You Commit
Before dealing with a host, you will want to find user opinions on them. Keep in mind, no host can please everybody all of the time. Some people have very high expectation and become irate if issues are not fixed immediately. On the other hand, you may notice recurring problems with particular companies, or you may notice there are more complaints than praise. Take note of this.
One resource for finding user opinions and inquiring about hosts, as well as finding hosts, is our own web hosting related forums (forums.devshed.com). On that site, you will see several forums related to web hosting midway down.
Only caution you may use: hosts often have reduced prices for plans if you sign up for a year. If you are uncertain of the host, you may want to stick to monthly or quarterly terms until you trust them.
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