Having a host who “only” offers hosting is like going to a restaurant that only serves one dish—and a bland one at that. A good web host should offer a variety of accoutrements to make one stop shopping as easy as possible. However, customers should still shop around. Just because a company offers web hosting and domain registration doesn’t mean they’re guaranteeing the best prices or service for both (or either!) of them. Comparison shopping is wise, but whenever possible it’s convenient to get as much as you can from the same, sole provider.
It’s not just additional features that should be plentiful from your web host, but also the quality of their service and products. “Web hosting” can mean many things, can come with a variety of uptime guarantees and may or may not come with the level of customer service you want. Before agreeing to anything, make sure to test out their support features as if it were actually crunch time. If you have an etail shop and Cyber Monday is your big day each year, what’s going to happen if the host goes down? Will you be able to contact someone and get back up and running in a reasonable time?
Here are a few things a great web host should offer, and why you should demand it:
- Domain registration: Offering web hosting without domain registration is like offering a burger with no fries. The two go hand in hand, and both require ongoing payments. You want to make this part of website management as easy as possible. Domain registration is usually very affordable unless you’re going for a very in-demand URL (in which case it’ll be a high price no matter where you shop). For extra protection, pick up all related domains such as the .org, .net and the like, especially if you’re a celebrity in the making, politician or otherwise slated for greatness.
- Management in a single click: The technical side of things should largely be handled by your web host. However, you’ll still want control over certain aspects—and it should be as simple as possible. One click management is a must, since you don’t have the time (or perhaps the tech know-how) to ultimately be your own web host.
- Around the clock support. Websites don’t only go down between 9 and 5 on weekdays. You should be able to connect with a real person 24/7, including weekends, holidays and in the middle of the night. If there is customer service automation, it should be minimal and easy to navigate. The last thing you want is to get stuck in a maze of button pushing when your site is down.
- Total root access. Even though you’re relying on the experts to manage and maintain your hosting, you still need total access to servers and your website around the clock. This is “Full root access,” and both you and your web host should have it. It will never come down to this, but you should maintain “veto power” since it is, after all, your site.
Remember that not all web hosts are created equally, and some have many more features than others. Rely on a local provider that puts the “customer” back into customer service.