Friday, September 19, 2008

E commerce Web Hosting Should be Cost Effective, not Cheap

by Joel Sussman


Everyone who has a web site or an ecommerce business needs a reliable web hosting service -- but with all the choices and options out there, how do you choose? While price is certainly a consideration, "cheap web hosting" can often be more of a headache than it's worth. From a business management point of view, saving $20 or even $50 a month isn't going to be much of a consolation if your company is losing thousands of dollars in sales due to excessive downtime, functionality problems, or horrendous customer service.

For most ecommerce web hosting users, satisfaction is based on two primary expectations: reliability and customer service. While no web hosting service can guarantee 100% uptime, it's not unrealistic to promise 99.9% uninterrupted service. Something is inevitably going to come up, every now and then, that will cause a brief interruption in service, but it's the responsibility of the web hosting company to make sure that those interruptions are resolved efficiently, quickly, and with as minimal of a disruption to your web business as possible. Even more important, is whether your ecommerce web hosting service provider has safeguards in place that will reduce or prevent the likelihood of technical problems taking place.

When weighing the benefits and features that are offered by different web hosting services, here are some important questions to keep in mind as you compare your options:

Does the web hosting service you're considering monitor their servers on a 24/7 basis, and have measures in place to prevent, detect, and respond to fires, vandalism, and other emergencies?

Do they have backup systems for both data protection and power supply continuity. In other words, if your web hosting provider's facilities experience a total power outage, what provisions do they have in place to ensure that your data isn't lost and that your web site doesn't go offline? One good sign that a web hosting provider is both reliable and service oriented is that they feed their servers with conditioned UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) that will continue to run even if there is a local power outage. They should also have an on-site diesel generator that will run indefinitely in the case of an extended power failure.

Other indications that the hosting service you're considering has your best interests in mind is that they conduct nightly off-site data backups and have an off-site disaster recovery system. Since "Murphy's Law" dictates that problems will inevitably crop up (and will do so at the worst possible time), your best bet as an ecommerce business owner is to sign on with an e commerce web hosting service that is geared up for providing the best possible service while being prepared to handle the worst catastrophes. In addition to the likelihood that they'll be reliable, their level of preparedness is also a reflection of their professionalism, their technical savvy, and their dedication to customer service and satisfaction.

Assuming downtime, pricing, or disc space are not going to be issues, the items near the top of your checklist will undoubtedly be the quality of customer service and the level of technical support. Bandwidth, user friendliness, and email accounts are also key considerations in choosing a good service provider, but after all is said and done, if you can't depend on your ecommerce web hosting service to be responsive, available, and helpful, then sooner or later, you're going to be shopping for another web hosting solution.

About the Author

Joel Sussman is an SEM specialist with Mountain Media, a PCI compliant/CISP-certified ecommerce web hosting, web design, and SEO company, based in Saratoga Springs, NY.