8 Questions to Ask, When Choosing an E-Commerce Website Hosting Company.
Choosing your own hosting company, can often be a daunting task – especially if this is your first website.
Making sure that your website is hosted with the best hosting company, for you is one of the most important steps, in setting up your new store. Whether you get 50 visits a month, or 50 million, ensure that you check out multiple hosting companies, before signing up to one and remember, a low price doesn’t always mean you’re getting a great deal.
We’ve outlined 8 questions that you should ask and check, before signing up, as well as including the basic server requirements for running your online store.
What level of support do they offer?
No one wants to be stuck alone, when something goes wrong. It’s important to check how much support you’ll receive, if your website ever goes down, and who you can contact. Make sure to check:
Support hours, availability – if your website goes down at 3am, will someone be available to put it live again?
Average response time – how long will it take an issue to be resolved?
Available options for contacting – e.g. email, phone, ticket system, live chat.
Language – if you’re using a hosting company from another country, ensure that they offer support in your language.
Do they take regular back ups?
If something goes wrong with your host’s servers, it’s important to know, that your website is still intact. Back ups of your website are especially important, if you don’t have the ability to take them yourself, or you don’t have a developer to do it for you. Check to see how often they take back ups, and if there are any hidden costs involved.
What is their average percentage uptime?
When looking for a new host, ask them what their average percentage uptime is – this is the amount of time that their servers will be working as normal, without going down. Ideally, you should look for a hosting company, which offers 99% or higher uptime.
Will my site be on a shared, or a dedicated server?
There are two main options available when signing up for hosting: a shared server, or a dedicated server. While this is a personal choice, and is highly dependant on each individual site, it’s important to know which option you’ll be using.
Shared hosting is where multiple websites are hosted on the same server. This tends to be significantly more affordable, (especially for smaller E-commerce stores) but can be unreliable, as a problem or security issue with another website on the server, can cause issues with the whole server – including your website.
Dedicated hosting means, that you’ll be the only website hosted on the server, and often allows you to have more bandwidth, or disk space, as you won’t have to share the resources with other websites. However, dedicated servers can be a lot more expensive than shared hosting.
Do they offer scalable hosting plans?
As your company grows and gains more visitors, you may need to increase the amount of bandwidth or storage that you’re allocated to keep up. Check to see how easy it is to move up and down hosting plans, – most companies allow you to simply switch your plan from within your account area. Remember to ask, if there are any additional costs, or admin fees for changing plans.
Are there any hidden fees?
As with anything, make sure to read the small print before signing any contracts, with your new hosting company. As well as costs for moving up and down plans, check to see if there are any sign-up fees, or exit fees that may be hidden in the terms & conditions.
What will happen if I go over my usage limits?
A sudden increase of traffic is always great, for business & sales, however it can come with some harsh ramifications, from your hosting company, if you go over your monthly allowances. Every hosting company is different, so check what their policy is, for going over your limit, – will they immediately cut off or take down your site, if it goes over the limit? Will they send you a pre-warning notification, to let you know that you’re getting close to your limit? Are there any additional charges for going over your limit?
Where are the servers based?
As a general rule, you should always aim to be hosted on a server based in the country, where your main target audience is located. This can help your website to run quicker, in your target audience’s location, and can also help boosting your website’s search engine optimization.