Choosing an E-Commerce Web Site Hosting ServiceJanette Toral
Around seven years ago, it is hard to identify an honest, competitive, and legitimate web hosting company. While most local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer web hosting services, a big bulk of Philippine web sites are hosted in the US for reasons such as downloading speed, affordable rates, availability of software and tools, among other things.
Nevertheless, the web hosting business has become competitive. If you’re planning to put up a web site and have many web hosting services to choose from, several criteria can help you decide as to which web hosting service is best for you. Please note that this does not apply to all. Your needs will be more sophisticated if your Internet requirements are far more complex.
1. Technical Support
Do they have a personnel available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (24/7)? When putting up an e-commerce web site, it requires you to be online on a 24/7 basis especially if your products are targeted to global Internet audience.
Does the web hosting offer guaranteed response time on emergency support request and email to technical support? The web hosting service should be able to provide information as to how soon can they act on technical support related matters or any other queries.
At the minimum, there should be direct telephone support or live chat available for at least 8 hours. If phone calls are answered by an answering machine system, response time should be mentioned.
Incremental backups at least once every 24 hours, with full backups weekly. In case your web host server crashes, they should have the capability to restore its content. As a precautionary measure, make sure that you have back-up copies of your site. I’ve seen site owners who weren’t able to back up their content for quite sometime. As a result, when the web server crashes, so goes their entire content.
A page on the web site where customers can check network/system status will be a nice feature but it is optional.
The company must be in the business for at least 12 months. Start-up companies can also be considered provided they can demonstrate their stability in terms of resources and infrastructure. Ideally, they should offer a 30-day or longer no-questions-asked money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.
If web hosting service is offered by a reseller, it must offer full-time hosting support and meet other criteria mentioned here.
It will be good to see that the web hosting company already has a track record. Check their currently hosted professional web sites with contact emails as references so you can verify them.
The web hosting service must be able to provide you an outline of their connections, T-1, T-3, etc. They should be able to identify their Internet backbone providers with contact information, if necessary, for verification purposes. Web hosting companies who are hesitant in providing such information are highly questionable in terms of its reliability.
You should find out as well if the web hosting service has backup power plan if normal electricity goes out.
These are some nice to see although unnecessary such as downtime statistics for past year posted onsite (kept up-to-date), and information on speed of internal network.
The web hosting service should offer services, although this may vary, such as auto-responders, unlimited alias forwarding, explain various accounts and expandability options, client’s use of own CGI Scripts, software tools, DNS parking, web-based account management area, secure server for e-commerce, NT and/or UNIX hosting.
5. Usage/Access Logs
Access logs must be available for client’s information. The log analysis software can be provided by the web hosting firm and there should be a minimum time that these access logs are kept and accessible.
6. Payment Options
Web hosting services should be able to provide a variety of options where clients can make payments. They can either be online, check/money order, credit card.
Bottom-line, it is all about due diligence. Don’t just avail a free or cheap offer without thoroughly checking their capability to support you.
7. Highly recommended
If the platform I am using is endorsing a web host, it is likely that I will use that. It minimizes the screening process as someone has done that for you already.