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Business on the web: How good is your hosting?

Facebook website hosting farm

If your business depends on your website, how reliable is your web hosting company? I was thinking about this today because of the news that GoDaddy has been attacked by a member of Anonymous (the hacking group). Around 5 million websites are currently offline. You can read more about that at TechCrunch (GoDaddy Outage Takes Down Millions Of Sites, Anonymous Member Claims Responsibility).

GoDaddy doesn’t have a good reputation as a web host. Yes they offer cheap domain names but they have been criticised for poor customer service, bad hosting and supporting the SOPA bill. My own experience of GoDaddy was not a good one either.

The problem is that the action against GoDaddy has affected far too many innocent site owners and businesses. However, if GoDaddy has better infrastructure, would of it been affected as badly?

If you are a business and your web site is your shop front to the world then you can’t afford any down time at all. I am currently reassessing my hosting requirements not just because of the troubles with GoDaddy but also because of the recent troubles my client experienced with their hosting.

I have certain critera that I feel is important when comparing hosts. Do they match up with your own?

Location, location, location

Where does your target audience live? For me it’s mainly the UK. So my next web host will also be in the UK. There are three good reasons for this;

  1. The webservers are located in the same country as the intended audience, that means web pages are seen faster.
  2. Google will feel the web pages are more ‘local’, web pages served from the UK to UK searchers – relevancy.
  3. As their time of day is the same as mine, they are contactable during my office hours, not only that we will speak the same language. Good for sorting out technical problems.

Phones, email and support tickets

I want to be able to call someone in support and explain urgent problems to them. Support tickets are a way of indicating there is a problem or a technical issue that needs sorting out soon.

Hosting Cost against services

I have a budget, as we all do. However, I am willing to pay more if the offered services keeps my data safe and my web site online. How much would it really cost if your site was offline and not taking orders? It could cost you more by being offline than paying for a great service.

Keeping things running

One thing I want is a reliable backup of my sites. Yes I do keep my own because it’s my insurance policy in case the worst happens. However, if it costs a bit extra for reliability, redundancy and fast response to problems, then it’s worth paying for.

Being on the ball

Despite covering all the bases, things will go wrong. It’s how you deal with them that counts. The experience that my client went through was an important lesson. The hosting company clammed up, no twitter updates for weeks, nothing on Facebook or anywhere they have a presence. Not ever on their own website. If they were to busy to talk to paying customers and to reassure them of what’s going on…time to change.

I tweeted that I was looking a good UK based hosting company. One English company responded within the hour and a few US based ones shortly after. Guess who I will be discussing my business with.

Are you getting what you paid for?

I can’t say this enough, as a business you need to ensure your web site is online reliably 24/7. So when was the last time you checked things over? Are you paying too much for the offered services? Or more importantly, are you paying to little and getting a crummy service?

(The main picture was taken inside the Facebook data cente. More can be see on Time.com)

About the author, Bob Toovey - I have been active on the Internet since 1998, a blogger/writer since 2006 and started dabbling with programming when I got my first Sinclair ZX81. I love to blog about social media, marketing and food. You can find me on Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter