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Web Hosting The Only Feature to Look For

by Chuck Brown

Most people looking for a web host think only of the technical features a web host advertises: "Go with XYZ hosting because we have triple-quadruple-redundant, laser-guided RAID array servers sporting the latest Perl necklaces made by authentic Apache handlers smoking PHP 5.0."

If you've spent even ten minutes comparing webhosts, no doubt you were romanced by ads full of techno-babble. About the advanced server technology each host has, and all the cryptic software run on them. At least most of the stuff is cryptic to me, except for PHP. 'Cause when I was a kid, a tried PHP myself, so I know what that is ;)

Or how about all the plans? You can drive yourself nuts comparing Host A's servers to Host B's which seem faster than Host C's, but Host B has a cheaper plan but Host C has a reseller program, but extra bandwidth is only $25 on Host C, etc. Meanwhile, you've wasted precious time and still aren't sure you've made a wise choice.

I think it was Armand Morin who said that no matter what else, make sure your host has good customer service. Specifically, that there will be someone available 24/7 to answer the phone.

When I heard that, I thought, "Yea right, like there will be someone who is technically savvy who's gonna answer the phone at 0330 on a Sunday night, and be able to turn Safe Mode off on my server if I want." Which is exactly what I needed done but couldn't get done because my (then) host company was home asleep. Meanwhile, all calls were routed to their "24/7 - 365 phone support."

...in Taiwan! (Which means only general questions can be answered.) I cannot tell you how valuable 24/7 - 365 telephone support is when it comes to your webhost. Especially if you are not an experienced webmaster!! However, remember that you don't want just a live human being on other end, you want one who is technically savvy and familiar with your system! Which is an impossibility with outsourced phone help.

Note: Just because a webhosting company advertises "24/7 - 365 phone support" doesn't necessarily mean squat. Make sure you test their "phone support" before signing up and laying down your money. How long do you have to wait before someone answers? How about after hours? Is the phone help made up of trained webmasters who are actually on site?

But I believe that many hosting companies are starting to catch on; I think more hosting companies realize that people want to speak to a live human when they call tech support. Nevertheless, be sure to test them out like mentioned in the above paragraph. You stand to save yourself so much time and stress by having a web host who is there for you. Just a phone call away is not only a real help, but a comfort to you when you're working after hours. Words do not do it justice...Armand was right!

By the way, "Live Chat" help is not even in the same league as live phone support. No way. Email doesn't cut it either, when you want an answer NOW.

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Monday, May 28th, 2007