5 Questions to Ask Your Website Host
I live in the Philadelphia area, and I have a confession to make… I LOVE Philadelphia cheesesteaks.
Warm, shredded beef piled high with cheese, onions, peppers and gravy (also called red sauce if you’re not from around here). But the best part is the bun. Cheesesteaks are served on these special buns that are soft and chewy on the inside and have just a bit of resistance on the outside.
They are like a little piece of heaven…. And sometimes I end up craving that taste of home, when I’m not home.
A while back I was traveling for a speaking gig at an event and I was craving a cheesesteak. I made a huge mistake…
Instead of waiting until I got back home to get one, I ordered what claimed to be a “Philadelphia Cheesesteak” off the menu at the restaurant I was at (dumb, dumb, dumb).
What came to my table wasn’t a Philadelphia Cheesesteak at all. It tried to be a Philly Cheesesteak, but it just didn’t measure up. The beef wasn’t right. The onions weren’t caramelized. And worst of all, the bread was all wrong. I could barely eat it.
The people in the restaurant THOUGHT they knew what a Philly Cheesesteak was supposed to be like, but they had no idea. It was described in pretty terms and had all the right stuff on it, but it was some kind of lowly beef sandwich – certainly not the real deal.
Now, that was just a cheesesteak. So I ate it (not very happily) and got on with my life. I also vowed to only ever order Philadelphia Cheesesteaks when in Philly from then on.
So what does a Philly Cheesesteak have to do with you and your online business? I thought you’d never ask…
When it comes to business decisions, some of them can be quite a bit more critical, and it’s important that you know what you’re ordering right up front (and not to be fooled by pretty descriptions).
One of the places that it’s really important to understand what you’re ordering is website hosting. Hosting is where your website lives online and not all hosting providers are created equal. If you’re considering a new hosting account, then you want to make sure it has several important features. Because these features can make your hosting amazing or make it really stink.
Here are five questions you should ask any place you are considering hosting your website.
Is your web hosting reliable?
This is by far the most important question to ask. You need to know what the uptime is for your host. In other words, how often will your site be off the web because your hosting is down. Most reputable hosting companies have very high percentage of uptimes. You want it to be 99.9% or greater.
Does your hosting have cPanel?
Not to get too geeky with the technical stuff, but you’ll want to make sure your web host has cPanel.
cPanel is a nifty little interface that lets you do all kinds of things with your website, remotely, from any computer in the world. You can upload and download files. You can see what your visitors have looked at and you can tweak a wide variety of settings. It’s so much better (and easier) than standard FTP – file transfer protocol – that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
But not all hosts have cPanel. I can think of two very popular, highly advertised hosts that don’t right off the top of my head. So make sure you ask this question… Do you have cPanel? If the answer is no, run away.
Does your hosting have Fantastico?
Fantastico is a little smiley faced icon that represents a kick-butt program. You can find it in your cPanel.
Fantastico lets you do a bunch of really cool things, but my favorite thing to do with it is install WordPress. And it lets you do it in just three or four clicks, which is far easier than any other method I’ve come across. But not all companies that have cPanel have Fantastico (Bluehost – the web hosting company that I use is one that does). So be sure to ask.
Is your hosting reasonably priced?
Hosting your website shouldn’t break the bank. Especially when you first start out and don’t have a lot of volume yet.
One of the things you want to think about is price. Usually the very cheapest plans aren’t so good. But there are many plans out there that are under $10 a month that work very, very well.
Can your hosting grow with your business?
This is a super important, but often overlooked question. When you’re starting out, you want the best price, but as you grow you will want faster, better servers that can handle the traffic you are sending them.
The company you choose should have a host of options that allow you to expand. Typically you will start with a starter account, then move to a reseller account, and then possibly dedicated servers. All of this should be offered in house, with simple transitions between each.
My web hosting recommendation
There are lots of hosting companies out there, but my favorite is Bluehost. They have kick-but customer service. They do a great job of expanding as you go and they have Cpanel with Fantastico, which lets you easily install WordPress.
If you’re starting a new website or blog and in need of a web host (or looking to switch to a new provider) then you can go wrong with signing up for an account with Bluehost.
See my article on How to Start a WordPress Blog with Bluehost to learn more.