Web hosting, it’s a requirement of the industry. You want to focus on your business. Reaching out to clients with good content, scaleable design, and uniform contact information is the fun part. Site creation is new and exciting, but once it’s all done and the glamour has worn off you still need to find hosting. Since it all takes place on the back-end, with file transfers you’ll never see occurring on servers that can be oceans away, it’s easy to think it’s all the same. If you don’t know how it works, you might think one company is as a good as another. You’d be wrong.
Ignoring the inner workings of web hosting is only possible when everything is working properly. Once you have a problem, you realize that the web company you were so happy with moments before might not be all you thought it was. Hosting problems mean lost business, lost revenue, and lost time. We recently encountered one such instance.
A Sticky Web Hosting Situation
Tales from EWS Part 1:
Server Administrator Alex Bear received a call from a client who’s site had gone down. They were hosting with an incredibly popular hosting company who also sell domain names. What should have been a routine phone call and inquiry had turned into a nightmare, and by the time he called us he had already been offline for four days. He had to find out it was down on his own, because his hosting company lacked one of the most critical components of a good host, managed hosting.
Alex says of managed hosting, “There is somebody watching over your account or server at all times.” If something goes wrong you want to know that someone will be there to catch it. Having a company with an excellent record for up-time and preferably a guarantee, is critical. Outages cost you money, and it’s important to know that if one server goes down, your site is on another server that your hosting company can shift traffic to in a flash.
Tales from EWS Part 2:
As it turns out, there was not a readily accessible backup of the clients current site. Though the hosting company had access to one, he was unable to get to it. Backups can be the difference between life and death on the web. If your hosting company isn’t backing up your site, there may be no way to recover lost data.
Many WP sites allow for plugins that provide you with the direct ability to backup your site, even independently of your hosting company. This puts some of the power in your hands. An even better option is to choose a hosting company that regularly backups all your work. When you handle user accounts and daily transactions it’s even more important that this occur regularly. Alex advises, “Make sure there is a recovery system in place that backs up everything monthly, and if it’s a WordPress site to have more frequent backups, weekly or twice a week.”
Tales from EWS Part 3:
When we said the client was unable to access his site, we meant it. Customer service wouldn’t even speak with him. This was because he didn’t have administrative access. This can happen many different ways. Sites can change hands and the rights don’t get transferred. Domain companies can maintain rights to a domain name, contractually renting it instead of providing you with true ownership. Sometimes the employee who originally purchased the domain name has left the company, and never bothered changing access rights. These are all different ways to reach the same end, and all of them are avoidable.
Domain Name Ownership
Having true ownership over your domain keeps this from every happening. As the owner of your company, make sure that access is in your name. Hosting companies are very particular when it comes to this issue, and cannot legally budge on it. If they didn’t exercise extreme caution it would easy for someone to sabotage a website by pretending to own it and requesting unwarranted changes.
Tales from EWS Part 4:
Imagine needing support and not having access to it. Many hosting companies will funnel you through a web of automation, confirmation, and department changes before you can get anything done. The whole entire time you are losing customers. Alex was able to recover our clients site from his other hosting company, and put it onto our own. Now in addition to frequent backups, the client knows the name and number of who to contact if something isn’t working as it should.
You want to make sure your hosting company offers personal support. That doesn’t necessarily mean speaking to a live person every time, but speaking to the same person. Alex says of expansive hosting companies, “They have so many clients, when something goes wrong you have to get on the phone and wrangle with customer service. You want to have one contact person that you can trust.” You don’t want an automated system, you want to know there is someone you can reach 24/7. Support may change hands for the night shift, but a hosting company that is invested in your success will ensure you can reach someone when you need to who personally knows your site.
Tales from EWS Part 5:
After saving his site, our client left us with a glowing review and interest in expansion. Doing homework on your web hosting company might not be any fun, but it can save you so much trouble in the long run. There are a few other considerations to think about when looking for a hosting company.
- Accessibility Parking – Can you control all your site URL variations from one place, or are they spread out and difficult to work with simultaneously?
- Hosting Setup – Are you using shared hosting (and sharing the problems of other sites) or do you have a Virtual Private Server? (keeping you safer and increasing performance)
- Scalability – Can your hosting provider accommodate increased traffic and spikes during peak seasons, or will you need to change hosting companies after experiencing growth?
All these need to be taken into consideration. An exceptional internet marketing company can help you identify the best hosting company for your perfectly search engine optimized site.