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How to Find a Dependable Web Host
by: Lois S.
Your new website is ready to upload, and now you need a web host. Or perhaps you already have a web host, but uptime and support are lacking. Of the thousands of web hosts to choose from, how do you find one that you can depend on? Know what can go wrong and what to watch out for, and research prospective web hosts carefully.

What can go wrong with web hosting

Too much downtime

Problems happen, and even when they donít, server maintenance results in a minimal amount of downtime. A dependable web host not only maintains servers well, but also monitors the servers and fixes problems immediately. With the type of web host you want to avoid, however, your site may be down for days.

Features that donít work

When your email doesnít work, your business shuts down. Problems with databases and other features can also slow down or stop your business. Most web hosts understand this, but some donít place a high priority on keeping not only your site online but everything working as well.

Poor support

Dependable web hosts answer tech support questions within hours. Other web hosts, however, have been known to take days. And when those responses come, sometimes theyíre canned responses that donít address the issue.

Poor communication

Support people with good communication skills help keep problems from becoming bigger problems. Being told, ďEverything looks fine here, so the problem is solved,Ē leads to frustration. So is having your site shut down because it used too many resources rather than the web host contacting you about the problem first.

Billing problems

Even after you cancel your account, problems may continue. Some less-than-dependable web hosts donít honor their refund policy. Others donít stop automatic billing after the account is cancelled.

What to watch out for

When you see the following at web host websites, consider them red flags to warn you of possible problems.

Unsustainable pricing

If the pricing looks too good to be true, it probably is. Is it enough to pay for server maintenance and tech support? You get what you pay for.

Unlimited bandwidth

Nothing is really unlimited. If you sign up for an account offering unlimited bandwidth and then use a lot of bandwidth, expect to have the plug pulled on your site. The web host may find another explanation for discontinuing your account, but ďunlimitedĒ typically means ďas long as you donít use a lot.Ē

An unprofessional-looking website

Consider how much effort the web host put into providing a usable website with informative content. Does it give you confidence in the web host, or is it full of unsubstantiated statements and grammar and spelling mistakes? A web host doesnít need to be a spelling expert, of course. But if the company hasnít put much effort into telling you about their services, will they be conscientious about meeting clientsí needs?

How to research web hosts

Finding web hosts is easy enough. Search engines can take you to the websites of thousands of web hosts. But after youíve narrowed down your list by features and price, how do you find out which web hosts are dependable?

Read web host package details and TOS

If the hosting packages offer huge amounts of disk space and bandwidth for very low prices, consider yourself warned. Donít expect the company to have enough money for maintenance and support.

If you want to be sure that you can get a refund if you want one, check what the Terms of Service (TOS) says about refunds.

Read the web host forum

What is the ambience in the forum? Are clientsí questions answered satisfactorily? Donít be concerned if you see problems; instead, be concerned if you donít see any problems. Some web hosts remove posts that donít show their company in a positive light. If posts about problems remain in the forum, you can observe how the host handles problems.

Read web host reviews

Client feedback at the web hostís site may or may not be valid. Itís possible for hosts to make up feedback, and some have even copied feedback from other sites. Look for feedback with links to the clientsí sites, and check via Whois Source to see if the particular web host actually hosts that site.

Numerous forums allow people to post web host reviews. When you read reviews, consider the posterís credibility. Some people bash their hosts just because theyíre unhappy about something. If the host posts in response to a problem, observe how the host tries to resolve it.

Check the company background

The ďAbout UsĒ or ďCompany BackgroundĒ page at the web hostís site should answer these questions.

How long has the company been in business? A new company may be excellent, but itís good to keep in mind that a lot of businesses fail within the first year.

Does the company publish a privacy policy? Does this policy clearly protect clientsí privacy?

Where are the servers located? Ideally, they should be in a datacenter, and not in someoneís basement.

What are the server uptime statistics? If the web host doesnít publish a link to a server uptime monitor, ask for a link to one. Uptime of about 99.7 percent or higher is generally considered good.

Does the company publish an address? You may never need it, but when youíre placing your company website in another companyís hands, you want to know that the company is legitimate and accessible.

Email pre-sales questions

Answers to your pre-sales questions tell you a lot about the web host. Youíll see how fast the company responds and how well they communicate. Ask questions about any of the above points as well as questions specific to your needs.


Finding a dependable web host takes time, but dealing with problems and moving your site takes more time. The time spent looking for a dependable web host is a worthwhile investment.

About the author:
About the author: Lois S. is a Technical Executive Writer for Website Source, Inc. Her established writing skills coupled with experience in the website hosting industry have provided internet professionals with marketing, product and service ideas for many years.

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