The type of business you are in will greatly affect who you host your website with and who will be your technical support partner. Choose wrong and it won’t take long for you to realize and regret your choice.

How to know you’ve chosen the WRONG partner:

  1. Your site goes down (a lot more than desired) and at the wrong times. If you’re selling online and it is peak season, a few hours of outages means lost revenue and lost customers. Not good for your business.
  2. Your site goes down (or gets malware) and you’re on a self-maintenance program. Now, instead of running your business, you’re dealing with a general support number and doing all your own troubleshooting…which is never fun.

So, how do you choose the right fit? Below are 3 key considerations when it comes to your web hosting.

How Much Downtime Will You Tolerate?

What kind of business are you? If you sell online and your site is the key generator of sales, can you afford to be down? Or if your website is critical to customer support or lead generation, what does your website being down say about your brand?

Every minute down will affect your goals. But, how many “nines” do you need? To get an idea of what difference a single “nine” can make, let’s see some examples.

  • Four Nines – 99.99% Uptime. At 99.99% you could possibly sustain 52 minutes of downtime per year within the service level agreement (SLA) terms. This allows for you to sit comfortably and know that your website won’t be down for your customers.
  • Three Nines – 99.90% Uptime. Three nines gives you an estimated downtime of 9 hours throughout the year. Unfortunately, you don’t get to choose the downtime so even though this is pretty good, it can still affect your business in a negative way.

Let’s say you are a food company and you have a recall webpage. If you have a food recall, you need to make sure that your site can handle the amount of traffic it will take in during the recall as well as know your website will be up the whole time. With 9 hours of downtime, you do not have that guarantee. However, 99.90% might be enough of a guarantee for an informational website.

  • Two Nines – 99.00% Uptime. At two nines, you are at risk of experiencing up to 87 hours of downtime throughout the year. We highly recommend not choosing this for any business or brand who depends on their website for growth and revenue. Perhaps if you are a small hobbyist who gets less than a few hundred visits a month, sure; but if you’re a legit business, this level is not for you.

What Kind of Service Do You Expect from Your Web Host Provider?

Are you looking for a high level of service that provides quick response time and constant availability? If not, then you can pay less for your service, however, you also cannot expect to call someone and have your issue be resolved right away.

There are many different support options available. You need to understand that higher levels of service will cost more, but afford a much faster response time. For the sake of comparing services, let’s use “threes” to demonstrate varying levels.

  • 3 Minutes. If you are a company who wants immediate help when an issue arises (day or night) and speak to a real person on the phone, then this is the option for you. This is the service where you can call the hosting partner 24/7/365 and they will answer to help. This is critically important if you want your hosting partner to be able to fix issues whenever they arise, even during ‘after’ hours and even if the issue is not that critical.
  • 3 Hours. This is the service option where your web host provides a ticket for you to fill out online, and they will get back to you with a response within 3 hours or so. If waiting for 3 hours on any issue (big or small) relating to your business’ website is fine with you, then choose this. With this service, however, you should keep in mind that if you encounter a bigger problem, you won’t get a response right away. Instead, there will be downtime for a few hours while you wait for your response to resolve the issue.
  • 3 Days. This level of service is when you submit your issue online and they will respond within 24-48 hours. The problem with this option is that even when you get a response, it might be generic and lead you to a game of emailing back and forth until you get the answer you need. In most cases, this service will take several days to get the issue resolved. 

What Level of Involvement Do You Want from Your Hosting Partner?

How much expertise does your own team have when it comes to the website and how much involvement do you want from your web hosting partner? Do you want your web host to provide full-service, where you can call them and have them not only put your website up and host it, but also perform other ancillary services?

A full-service hosting provider should be able to provide the following:

  • Domain registration
  • DNS hosting and management
  • SSL certificate services
  • Monitoring system levels
  • Email service management
  • Infrastructure monitoring
  • Multiple backup tiers
  • Source control (version control)
  • Coordinate front-end and back-end development resources
  • Security management and monitoring
  • Patch maintenance of systems and applications

Three levels of service your web host can provide:

  • Monitor and React. This is full-service involvement. Your service provider will not only put your website up and host it, but will also monitor your site, notify you of any issues and react to those issues right away. This option is best for most businesses if they do not have the expertise to do this themselves. This level of service gives you the peace of mind that your site is taken care of.
  • Monitor and Notify. This is where your web partner will monitor your website and notify you if there is an issue, but not actually fix it. This is a good option if your team has the expertise to handle the issues, but not the time to monitor the website.
  • No Involvement. This is when your web host partner will simply stand your site up and host it. There will be no involvement from them in monitoring or reacting to your website needs. This could be a good option if your team has the expertise to do all the services as well as the time to monitor your website regularly.

Remember, You Get What You Pay For

You need to make sure you are choosing the right host that is going to support the goals you have set out for your business and your site. Take a close look at your business and decide what level of services and availability you need from your hosting partner in order to be successful.