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How to choose hosting partners?

October 9th, 2018

Data visualizationI was one of the panelists at Turku WordCamp 2018, speaking on what things to take into account when choosing a web hosting partner. Here’s some of the things I tend to compare:

Support

Problems raise their ugly head, sooner or later, one way or the other. It makes sense to test hosting providers’ support practices early on, before any real trouble begins. This way you get a good idea of how quickly the support reacts and how helpful they are.

It’s worth remembering that usually problems occur when you least expect them. So make sure the hosting provider provides some kind of assistance in the off-hours and weekends too.

Security

Naturally, all elements of the service must be, by default, as secure as possible. For instance, logging in to the control panel must be protected by two-factor authentication.

Uptime

Sneaky hosting partners don’t always report about downtime. We keep an eye on them, however, by using Site24x7‘s automated ping service. Every few minutes we ping every production server we have, to verify they’re all running as they’re supposed to.

Performance

In addition to analysing uptime, we also make sure every production server delivers content speedily. Site24x7 provides this data, and Google Analytics gives info on this aspect as well.

Control panel

Hosting partner’s control panel must be easy and intuitive to use.

Documentation

I don’t need much documentation; in my opinion, excessive documentation is a sign of poor design (see Google Analytics). If you need a full-blown manual to use some service there’s something wrong with usability. However, I appreciate having a thorough documentation on security – this is something our clients ask often when they want to know if we (and our subcontractors) can be relied upon.

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