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Questions to ask before choosing a web hosting plan

Choosing a web host for your website should not be a decision that you take lightly. In fact, your chosen web host can be a deciding factor of how successful your website is. A web hosting provider is responsible for the performance, security, and stability of your website, so you should carefully consider all your options before committing to a hosting plan. 

If you’ve decided on which hosting solution to use for your website and have an estimate of how many resources your site requires, then you’re extremely close to finally choosing the right web host for your website. However, before determining where to host your website, we’ve selected a list of important questions that you should be asking your hosting provider candidates. So, here are several questions to ask before choosing a web hosting plan to help you determine which hosting provider is best suited to your needs. 

As of January 2021, there are over 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide which is equal to 59.5 percent of the global population! What are you going to do to draw these users to your website? 

What you should be asking a web host before paying for one of their plans. 

Before you commit to any particular web host, there are several questions you should be asking your candidates to help you determine which is the best choice for you. We’ve laid out 6 important questions to ask before choosing and paying for a web hosting plan.

1. How quickly do web pages load?

Page load time is a major factor to consider before selecting a web host. Internet users love to dart between websites and web pages to quickly find exactly what they’re looking for. If your website loads noticeably slower than others then users will become frustrated and are less likely to visit it in the future. 

Bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who leave a website before completing an action such as clicking a link or completing a form. A high bounce rate is bad because it means that visitors are not staying on your website which means you’re likely not gaining many paying customers. The average bounce rate is around 41% — 55% but this can vary depending on the type of your website. For example, blogs will have a much higher bounce rate of around 65% — 90% due to visitors leaving a page after reading a specific article. 

Page load speeds can drastically affect the bounce rate of your website. A study from Google has found that as page load time goes from 1 second to 5 seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 90%. This can negatively impact your website’s reputation and cause you to quickly lose visitors and subsequently potential sales. 

Ideally, your website pages should load within 2-3 seconds. You should check with any web host candidates how fast their page loading speeds are, so you can ensure that you won’t lose any visitors with subpar performance. 

2. What are your uptime scores?

Your website’s average uptime is highly important as it can affect how much traffic you get. Uptime refers to the amount of time that a certain server stays up and running and is usually a good indicator of how reliable a web host is. You should pay attention to your chosen web host’s average uptime because a large amount of downtime for your website can result in you losing both customers and credibility. 

An uptime of 99.9% is equivalent to almost 9 hours of downtime per year. If any user tries to access your website and they discover that it’s down, then they’re much less likely to return to it in the future. You should never opt for any web host that has an uptime of less than 99.9% as this can result in you losing a ton of potential sales. Ideally, you should choose a web host that has an average uptime of 99.99% as this is equal to less than an hour of downtime each year. 

A selection of web hosts also offer their users an uptime guarantee. An uptime guarantee means that if your website experiences more downtime than promised by the web host, then they’ll deposit credit into your account. 

3. How easy is it to scale up/down?

At any given time, your website may require more or fewer resources, including bandwidth and storage. Websites can have sudden and unexpected growth for a variety of reasons. For example, if you’re running an eCommerce store, then you’ll likely find that during the festive season or during other public holidays, you’ll have an increase in both traffic and sales. If this is the case, or if your website has a traffic spike for any other reason, then you’ll need a web host that can adequately support you.

Before paying for a plan, you need to find out how easy it is to scale your plan up or down with your desired web host. The ideal web host will be highly flexible and will be able to easily alter your plan without you needing to pay a huge additional fee. A good web host allows you to easily add bandwidth, storage, or any other resources immediately to meet the new needs of your website. Additionally, if you find that your website doesn’t require all the resources you’ve paid for, then you should be able to downgrade your plan without being charged. If you find that a web host won’t downgrade your plan free of charge, then it’s best to avoid them altogether. 

4. Which security features do you provide? 

Security, of course, is an incredibly important concern when it comes to hosting a website. When choosing a web host you’ll want to check which security features they provide for free and which come at an additional cost. 

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks happen when a hacker will target and deliberately overload a server by sending multiple requests at once. Eventually, the server will crash and any website relying on it will become unresponsive and effectively shut down. A DDoS attack can damage your reputation as well as costing you time and money, so you need to prevent them as much as possible. Many web hosts provide free DDoS protection that can help identify and prevent these attacks from happening. These web hosts are ones that you should opt for as it shows they care about their user’s businesses and will spend extra money to help prevent common cyberattacks.

Another security feature that should be included in any web hosting plan is an SSL certificate. Instead of http your website starts with https. In fact, SSL encryption it’s a must these days and it even affects your Google ranking. A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) helps to secure sensitive information such as credit card transactions and log-in details. An SSL certificate is necessary for any business that’s planning to sell or buy goods through their website, but should really be used for any sort of website, eCommerce or not.

You can actually tell if a website has an SSL certificate by looking at the top left of the URL. If you see a small padlock icon then it shows that any information you enter is secure and not susceptible to hackers. Google has also begun to flag any website that does not have an SSL certificate with a red text that reads “not secure” in the URL. If you want to protect your users from risks such as identity theft and credit card fraud, then you absolutely do need an SSL certificate. Additionally, this will help your customers trust you more if they know you’re taking the proper precautions to ensure their online safety. 

Before paying for a web hosting plan, you should check that your chosen web host provides security features such as DDoS protection and SSL certificates. Some web hosts will add these on for an extra fee whilst others will include it with all their base plans. 

5. How responsive and experienced is your customer service?

Having 24/7 access to a customer support team is vital when it comes to hosting a website. Issues can pop up at any time, and you’ll want them to be resolved as quickly as possible. In addition to this, a web host’s support team should have technical experience, so they can assist you with more complex issues too. 

Most issues you encounter can likely be resolved quickly, so you won’t want to waste time sending back and forth emails over the course of several days. Instead, you’ll want a customer support team who can reply within minutes via live chat. Live chat support is the most helpful and fastest form of customer support and you should avoid any web host that doesn’t provide it. 

Having a support team that can respond quickly at any time of the day is terrific, but it’s practically useless if the team is unable to actually resolve any technical issues. A well-trained and knowledgeable support representative is easy to identify. You just have to send them a chat message with one of these questions to see if they really know what they’re talking about or if they’re just sending you canned responses. 

6. Do you provide a money-back guarantee? 

No matter how much prior research you do before paying for a web hosting plan, you may still be dissatisfied with your service. If this is the case, then you’ll want to easily cancel your subscription without any additional fees. Many web hosting providers offer a money-back guarantee which allows you to try out their service for a set number of days before having to commit to an annual or triennial payment

It’s important to check if a web host provides a money-back guarantee before selecting any plan. This guarantee not only makes it much easier for you to get a refund, but also adds credibility to any web host. If a provider is confident enough about the quality of their service then they will have no issue offering you a chance to get a full refund if needed. It’s a great way for customers to build trust with web hosts and shows that the host can prove that their product really is as great as they market it to be. If a web host does not offer either a free trial or a money-back guarantee then they may not be completely truthful about their promises. 

Utilizing a money-back guarantee is the best way to reduce risk and make sure you don’t get ripped off. This is especially important if you’re new to the world of hosting and don’t fully understand all the buzzwords used by web hosting providers. Most money-back guarantees typically range between 30–45 days, which is plenty of time for you to test out features and performance. There is a wide range of web hosts around that do offer a money-back guarantee, so we suggest that you completely avoid any who don’t.

How to choose the best web host?

Time needed: 20 minutes.

Here is a quick checklist how to find the best web host for your needs

  1. It needs to be fast!

    Speed is essential — your websites need to load fast.

  2. Uptime is significant!

    A website is useless if you can’t reach it. Take a web host with at least 99.9% uptime!

  3. Scale up and down on the go!

    In peak times, you may need more resources. Some web hosts allow you to scale up and down on demand.

  4. SSL certificate is a must!

    Google gives you credit if your website starts with https instead of http. Make sure your web host offers SSL certificates for free.

  5. Good customer service!

    A qualified customer service that you can reach 24/7 is a must when you run a eCommerce website.

  6. Test before you buy!

    Ideally, take a web host with a money-back guarantee. In this case, you can test risk-free before you commit to the service. During the test phase you can check, if the five points above are covered.

  7. Good luck!

    We wish you all the best and maximum success with your website and your web host! Go, get them! 🙂