Is Your Web Host a Good Digital Landlord?

Web Hosts are Landlords

Web Hosts are Landlords

The definition of a landlord is:

One that owns and rents land, buildings, or dwelling units.
alt. – one who owns and leases property

On the internet, the digital equivalent of a landlord is a web host. Web hosting companies lease or rent space to website owners so they can have their website online. That’s why it’s wise to think of your host as a landlord, especially before you choose one to open up shop.

You wouldn’t lease office space without doing your due diligence, would you? Then apply those same rules when selecting your host.

What are the lease terms?

When looking at leasing office space, you typically want to know how long the lease is for, what the payment terms are, penalties for leaving early, etc… The same holds true for your web host. Before you sign up, verify:

  • What are the terms for signing up? Are you locked in for one year?
  • Can you cancel early and get a refund for unused hosting?
  • Any pre-payment discounts without being locked in?

The price per month is important, but only in the sense that you can afford the rent. You don’t want to choose the cheapest host right off the bat, as other issues may crop up that can make this “cheap” host more costly in the long run.

Can you contact your landlord at any time?

When you have a problem in your office, you want to be able to contact the landlord day or night, or on the weekend to get things fixed. It’s not different with your web host:

  • Is the host reachable via email or phone?
  • Do they respond to emails and support tickets quickly?
  • Are knowledgeable people available to handle more complex tasks correctly?
    This is quite an important one as many hosts may have front line techs that can answer questions from a script, but there may be limited availability of senior technicians that can accomplish more involved support requests quickly.

Is the landlord quick to fix problems?

When problems occur (and they always will, even with the best landlord/host) is the landlord able to solve the issue quickly and correctly? With hosting, especially business hosting, you need a problem solver that is effective and punctual. Any host can give you space and features galore. But the truly exceptional ones will work with you to keep your space running correctly, and address issues in a professional manner.

Does the landlord keep the power on and perform maintenance on the building?

You can have the nicest office on the block, but if you lose power or the plumbing leaks, what good is it?

  • Near 100% uptime should be assumed
    Your website should be available at all times. Factors that can affect this are overloaded servers, poor maintenance and lack of timely updates/patches, or a sub-standard network
  • Core software should be kept up to date
    Your host should be keeping server software (Apache, PHP, MySQL, etc…) up to date after performing adequate testing. Patches should be applied quickly to keep the server secure and taking advantage of the latest enhancements.

Are you kept informed of changes and improvements?

Does your landlord communicate with you about upcoming events, improvements made, etc…?

  • Network issues and outages are announced and explained
    Your host should have a mechanism (email, off-site status page, twitter, etc…) to communicate when major problems occur. It should be easy to find this information, and your host should be timely in providing updates for long running issues.
  • Newsletter and/or Blog for announcements
    A good host will be proactive about communicating updates, changes, new offerings, and other important events to their clients. This should happen on a regular basis.

Choosing a web host is not much different from choosing office space to lease. Do your research, and make sure you and your host are on the same page when it comes to your expectations and requirements for a successful website.

Have other tips for choosing your host wisely?

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3 Comments

  1. Janine says:

    Hi! The “landlord” is really a great metaphor to use in explaining the issues one has to consider in choosing a web host. I found it very easy to understand. The tips are very practical. One has to read through slowly any terms and conditions before agreeing to any web hosting arrangements. Some hosts (and suppliers in general) are such scrupulous business people. They try to cover up or disguise some provisions in the agreement which will turn out to be fees later on. It pays to double check contracts and be more careful.

    Janine

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