A few weeks ago, a friend of mine went through what might just be my worst nightmare — her hosting company’s servers were hacked. They told her that she needed to download all of her stuff, but by the time she got the message and got online, her site was GONE.
GONE. Every last single bit of her work, sites she paid for, a custom designed blog, her blog posts, all of it – GONE.
Needless to say, she was in a bit of a panic at first. Me? I was FURIOUS at her hosting company. Livid. Stunned that in this day and age, a hosting company could be run so poorly.
I ran the front end of a hosting company for over 4 years. I’m pretty darn picky when it comes to my hosting. When I got out of the hosting business, I sold my company to Hosting Matters, who had been running the back end for me all along, because I trusted them 100 zillion percent. When you’re putting your business website into someone’s hands, you need to have that much faith in them. (Want an unmetered hosting account with them for $10/month? Click here.)
Some companies cost $2.95 a month for a good reason — they aren’t running a proper business. And if you’re putting your online image in their hands, is shopping for the cheapest deal you can find a good idea? No, it isn’t. You need to make sure your host is the best, that they will keep your site up and running no matter what. Because in the end, that is all that matters to your clients. And you don’t want to be like my friend and out hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars because your hosting company isn’t running their business on the up & up.
Some things to look for:
– Where is their data center at? What are they set up to withstand? HostingMatters is in Florida. My site has been on their servers through countless hurricanes. BIG storms. It has never once gone down due to natural disaster. You can learn all about their facility here – and I love that they are transparent about this information. Is your hosting company?
– What is their backup policy for their servers? How often are they backed up? HostingMatters does daily, weekly & monthly backups. I’ve had to have them pull daily backups before for clients, and weekly backups as well. Only once in 7 years have they pulled a monthly backup, and it was due to a site being overwritten by a client on just the right day and time so that the daily & weekly backups had the new data, not the old. Definitely not the norm.
– Do they charge you to pull a backup? I learned a few weeks ago that GoDaddy charges $150 to pull a daily backup. I’ve never paid to have a backup pulled, and I think $150 is a rather high price.
– What happens if your server gets slammed with traffic? Can they handle the load? Yesterday I saw someone’s site go down because the traffic that they got was overwhelming to the server. They couldn’t recover fast enough. If your business is online, you’re dead in the water. You want to get traffic. They need to be able to monitor the load hitting the box and recover – it is a scramble for them (and you should let them know you appreciate their hard work!), but make sure you won’t be shut down just because you got discovered on Digg.com or you blogged about a celebrity wedding.
– How can you reach them if your site is down? Do they have a helpdesk? Is it hosted with the rest of their servers? Do they have a phone number you can call? I’ve always contacted HostingMatters through their Helpdesk, and their responses are always timely. They have a status page that isn’t hosted with all of their other sites. They have ways that you can contact them if everything else is down.
You are trusting your hosting company with a lot of responsibility. Make sure they deserve your trust. And no matter what, find out what you can do to do a FULL site backup – including Flash sites, MySQL databases, your entire blog including your blog theme, comments and posts – so that if your hosting company lets you down, you’re prepared.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back up my site…