Services -> Consulting
By: Dominic Monkhouse, Managing Director EMEA, PEER 1 Hosting
Published: 16th June 2011
Copyright PEER 1 Hosting © 2011
There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings that make finding the right provider very difficult. Questions that always arise are - how do you know you’re getting good service and value for money? What should you do if you suspect you’re not?
Here are the basic facts you need to know about hosting:
What goes on behind closed doors?
Many hosting providers do not make it a policy to notify customers when they experience downtime. What this means in reality is that your website was out of action and you didn’t even know. For e-commerce businesses, SMEs outsourcing software or white-label web services, this isn’t just an inconvenience, it can hit profits. Finding out revenue has taken a hit due to faulty web availability is never an easy thing to take—nor should it be accepted.
Make sure your hosting provider reports regularly on uptime—don’t take their ‘uptime guarantee’ as gospel. It should also live by its SLA (Service Level Agreement) and provide regular reports, rather than granting credits retrospectively for downtime. It’s also worth noting that large chunks of downtime are often excluded from credits under the guise of ‘trouble-shooting’. Have a conversation with your provider and agree how uptime will be proved, what the process is, and what the definition of ‘downtime’ actually is. This way you’ll know exactly what you’re entitled to and it’ll be difficult for your hosting provider to get away with poor service.
Know what you’re paying for
Many hosting providers will give you an all-in fee for set-up, hardware, operating system, support and bandwidth. This may seem like an easy option but the problem with these deals is you can’t see exactly where your money is going, and so can’t see if you’re paying for things you don’t need. The best way to ensure you’re not taken for a ride is to ask for a breakdown of services and individual quotes for support, bandwidth, additional hardware etc. It’s the only way to know what’s being delivered, what isn’t, and what is surplus to requirements.
Always ask about pricing for over-usage. What happens if you exceed your allotted monthly bandwidth? And how much more will it cost to add an extra Gig of RAM? Over-usage pricing can be horrendous and a sharp shock if you weren’t expecting it. You need to know what’s included and, more importantly, what isn’t. Ask for the extra cost of things like memory, hard-drive, bandwidth per Gig and back-up to be quoted separately, as they could come back to bite you.
Know who is really hosting you and do your own research
In some cases, a hosting provider will actually have a host itself. This means you may be paying a margin when you could get a better prince and SLA by going direct. The closer you are to the host, the faster the fault resolution so it pays to do a bit of research.
One of the best tools to discover your real host is the anti-phishing toolbar from netcraft.com. It allows you to see who is hosting your site and the other sites they are hosting. If you don’t want to ask your provider for a reference, but you do want to find and contact some of its customers, this is the perfect way to do it.
References are always good. One way to avoid being conned is the Alphabet Test. Ask for your provider’s references, ignore them, then choose any letter of the alphabet and ask for three references beginning with that letter. If you don’t get any, you know the initial references weren’t exactly robust.
Understand your contract and your exit options
Many hosting providers will offer a discount on longer term contracts which may sound like a good deal. But if the provider isn’t delivering within the SLA, you’re stuck with poor service or forced to pay a hefty exit fee. Instead, sign a month to month contract. You may pay a little more, but you will have the flexibility to leave or alter your hosting agreement at any point which will make life easier in the long-run.
If you are stuck in a long contract with a bad provider, it’s often worth paying the exit fee to switch to a month-to-month contract. Moving between hosting providers is not hard or difficult, there are many digital agencies that can handle migration projects without difficulty, so don’t be put off about changing things and never resign yourself to bad service.
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Published by: IT Analysis Communications Ltd.
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