The convenience of the digital age and the ease with which we can navigate all corners of the Internet at any time has given many users slightly skewed expectations. Think about the last time you lost your Internet connection or a website took longer than an instant to load. It’s infuriating, right? It’s also normal and to be expected, sometimes.
Websites will occasionally load slower than we want, web hosts take down sites for maintenance or updates from time to time, web servers, can, and will, encounter errors that may cause a site to be temporarily down. Are these things ideal? Of course not. But they are part and parcel when you market or run a business online. Last year, popular web host GoDaddy experienced a site outage that also caused many of their customers to experience outages to their sites as well. Even HostGator sees the occasional snafu. The trick to finding the right web host is to understand what is normal versus what is just bad business, and to manage your expectations based on those norms, not on expecting perfection from technology.
Consider these points when choosing a web host:
- Uptime. Uptime is the amount of time that a server is up and running. Most web hosts claim a 99% uptime, but what does that really mean? And what happens in that 1% of downtime? While 99% uptime sounds great, it could mean the server (and potentially your site) experiences the equivalent of a 3-day outage every year. It can be difficult to verify claims of uptime, so it’s more important to look for other good service indicators.
- A Good Rep. Satisfied customers speak volumes. Search the web for a host’s customers’ experiences. LinkedIn is a great resource to seek input on what others are saying. Are they singing the host’s praises? Or do you see more complaints than kudos? Also remember, no track record online doesn’t mean the company has no faults; it may mean that the host is new and untested. Place your bets on the host with the best reputation.
- Customer Service and Support. This is another aspect that should be easy to find in a Google or social media search or by diving into the host’s support forums. Your website is a huge part of your business, so you want a web host who responds to any issues promptly and handles your case efficiently. Check forums, Facebook, and Twitter to see what kind of responses customers receive from the host’s support network. Does the host provide a canned response, or are they actively working with the customer to find a solution?
Managing your expectations with a web host can save you a lot of worry and headaches whenever issues do arise (and unfortunately, they inevitably will). Doing a little research and knowing what to expect in terms of uptime and overall functionality can help you set reasonable expectations, but finding a host who will keep you informed and work with you through any issues will provide the ultimate peace of mind. Technology is really wonderful, when it works.