It doesn’t matter how good your website is, how perfectly optimized it is for search engines or attractive to visitors, if you haven’t got a good web host, you might as well not bother.  If your website is constantly crashing or unavailable, or if you’re constantly on the phone to your host trying to resolve technical problems, your business will suffer.  It pays to make the right choice at the outset.

So what makes a good web host?

Very simply, an absolute focus on their customers and what they want.  Although that sounds obvious, sadly a lot of hosts figure that there’s an endless supply of clients out there, so they’re not particularly bothered about looking after the ones they’ve got.

Before signing up to a host, look very carefully at its customer service and technical support capabilities.  You want real people who can sort out your problems as quickly as possible.  Most web hosts have a support ticket function, which allows you to report problems via an email “ticket”.  This is useful, but it does depend on you being able to accurately describe your problem in an email, and response times are inevitably a little slower.  Many web hosting companies now offer a “live chat” function, which enables you to talk to a real person in real time.

Obviously, you don’t set up a website in the expectation that things will go wrong.  Nevertheless, this is technology, and technology does go wrong from time to time.  It’s only sensible to make sure that you have the right sort of back-up if the worst should happen.  After all, it’s not the fact that things go wrong which should concern you, it’s how quickly they can be put right.

Dig a little deeper.  What type of hardware does the web host use?  How secure is the data center that’s storing your information?  How experienced are the technicians and support team the company employs to look after your site?  How quickly fo they respond to enquiries, and what sort of problems do they have to deal with most frequently?  No reputable web host will mind you asking these sorts of questions.

In the end, a good and reliable host means so much more than price.  “Cheapest” isn’t necessarily “best” – but then neither is “most expensive”.  Instead, look at the company’s commitment to customer support.  You need to know that you can pick up the phone or chat to a real person at any time of day or night to get your problem resolved.  A website that can’t be viewed is a website that is losing traffic, and potentially losing money.

Without the reassurance of reliable hosting and quality customer support, any money you save will be very false economy indeed.

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