It's Time to Dump Your Web Host
:: By Peter Prestipino, Editor-In-Chief ::
Most Internet professionals don’t give their choice of Web hosting a second thought — at least not until something goes wrong. A rather severe outage at several popular Web hosting providers including HostGator, BlueHost, JustHost and HostMonster in July 2013 brought the issue into greater focus, but there are often subtle warning signs that it may be time to dump your Web host well before your digital heart gets broken.
IT’S SLOWER THAN SLOW
Downtime happens — it’s a digital fact of life — even for those with a five-9 assurance in their service level agreement (SLA). In many ways today it is actually expected by Web hosting consumers (e.g. in the case of planned outages for maintenance) and you can tell quite a bit about a company just by watching how they handle those situations. Most often however, hosting customers suffer from something that while less noticeable is equally (if not far more) damaging to a brand.
The most common complaint from those
considering breaking up with their Web hosting
provider is that the response time, the length of
time it takes to fully load a page in a user’s browser,
is simply too long.
“While my current provider offers very high levels of customer service and the rates are competitive, my page load times have been terrible since a recent change to their network,” said Realtor Karri Flatla of RE/MAX Real Estate in Alberta, Canada. “As a busy real estate agent whose key competitive edge is a modern and interactive Web presence, I simply can't afford to annoy even a handful of my online viewers. Just today I was in fact asking my Web technician if she would recommend we switch ISPs.”
And that’s just how quickly Web hosting companies
can find themselves without clients.
“We’ve had to move hosts before just because
pages took much too long to load there, compared
to other hosts,” said Tom Bowen, founder of Web
Site Optimizers. “This can be due to their Web
server or because of their database server. If a host
has issues only rarely, that might be one thing, but
if it seems to be happening repeatedly, it's time to
start looking for something better.”
There’s little tolerance for slow response times — whatever the reason. Jeff Kear, co-owner of PlanningPod.com had a nightmare scenario a few years ago when his hosting provider didn’t take action to fix an outage until 14 hours after the fact.
“We run a software as a service for creative
professionals and have global clients, so if our
service is down any time, our customers can't run
their businesses,” said Kear. “On this occasion our
server went down at 1 a.m. mountain time. We
started calling our hosting company shortly thereafter,
and after multiple calls and emails we
reached someone who could not fix the issue until
the day shift came in. So we waited and waited
until it was finally fixed.”
Kear and PlanningPod fired the hosting company a few weeks later and made sure to hire a company that had true 24-hour support. According to Kear, “They are more expensive and worth every penny.”
A better support experience in this scenario might have kept Kear and his websites as clients of the hosting company, emphasizing just how important a knowledgeable support team can be. There are obviously other signs that it’s time to switch your Web host, but measuring website response times should be the first practice you engage in if you’re thinking about making a switch.