Unfortunately, there are still a lot of hosts out there that don’t offer virtual private servers/VPS hosting. If you’re ready to upgrade from a basic shared hosting plan, there’s a good chance you’ll be shopping for a brand new web host too. It can seem like a daunting task, but there are a few ways to spot a good host from the start. Transparency is key, as is speaking in laymen’s terms if you’re not a techie. There are some hosts who literally bank on your lack of knowledge, and you might end up overpaying or adding on features you don’t need.
Make your own checklist of what to ask and where you need more details, but use this as your starting point. If your potential web host can’t at least answer these questions clearly, how do you think troubleshooting in the future will go? Their job is to educate and inform potential customers like you.
- Uptime/downtime: How much uptime you’re guaranteed makes a huge difference, especially if your visitor rate is steadily growing. Your web host should be able to tell you a guaranteed uptime down to a percentage point. Every little bit counts. You should also be told what compensation you’ll receive if they don’t deliver, how they track their uptime, and how you can access those figures. Otherwise, how will you know if you’re really getting 99.6 percent uptime?
- Scalability: Are you able to scale up or down your VPS needs as your business changes? Can you do so at a decent price and without any added fees? Or are you locked into a contract with only a certain amount of bandwidth, etc. and will scaling up or down cost you dearly? These are key questions that you should have answered before switching hosts.
- Details about the physical server: While your “cut” of the server is virtual, the quality of the one physical server you’ll be sharing with others still matters. What’s the make/model and how is it maintained? Is the host planning to upgrade hardware any time soon, and if so how will that transition impact your service? You want a host who cares for their server and other hardware, otherwise that lack of maintenance will trickle down to you.
- What’s their security like?: This goes for security of the server as well as software security. You want to be certain the physical server isn’t in Tornado Alley and that hackers don’t have an impressively high success rate of getting into this web host’s data. Security is a shared responsibility between you and your web host. Make sure they’re holding up their end of the bargain.
- Customer service quality: It’s best to speak with an agent on the phone before changing hosts because that’s likely how you’ll want to reach them in an urgent situation. You deserve 24/7 customer service and options from phone to live chat (whatever works best for you).
Take this opportunity to match yourself and your needs with your future web host. Your website and your online visitors depend on it.