The following is a guest post by Karen Gomez.

Is a 30 percent discount from your vendor on goods and services for a limited time a good enough offer to counteract hundreds or thousands of dollars lost from that same vendor?

That's the not-so-hypothetical question faced by hundreds of website owners questioning the offer made by web-hosting firm GoDaddy to its customers after an hours-long server outage in September.

After the outage, some disgruntled customers felt that a short-term 30 percent discount offer wasn't enough, and started to look for new web hosting companies. At least one class-action lawsuit was even filed against GoDaddy.

Many small businesses started to consider a change in web hosting companies after the GoDaddy outage. With a plethora of companies offering web-hosting services, from basic hosting to more secure VPS hosting services, it should be a pretty easy switch for small businesses to move their web host. And in most cases, it is- but you have to know what type of hosting services your sites will need, and what kinds of questions to ask. Here are some tips to begin the process.

 Uptime is Better

Guaranteed hosting uptime is an absolute must for website owners. Many web hosts measure the efficiency of their server running successfully without going down as uptime. So if a server has an uptime of 95 percent, it basically means that all sites on the server will have guaranteed 95 percent live uptime and about 5 percent downtime.

This was the key basis of the GoDaddy lawsuit. The claimant said in the filing that GoDaddy violated its terms of guaranteed uptime to its customers. If your web host cannot deliver a written guarantee of 95 percent or higher, then you should definitely look around for more web host options on the web.

Good Customer Support

In the event of any kind of server outage, you need to have prompt, action-oriented customer support from your web-hosting company. When your site is down, you're losing sales from customers, and it's imperative that your customer support have a plan in place for server outage. Some web hosts keep a B-server ready if the main server goes down. In some cases, you need 24-7 support.

E-Commerce and Shopping

Using web hosts that support your e-commerce functions and payments is an important step for any business. It's better to pay more per month for strong hosting customer support, rather than paying for cheaper hosting with a company that won’t provide you with assistance or information outside of standard working hours.

Bandwidth and Storage Space

Bandwidth is the term for the amount of data downloaded from a server to a site visitor's Internet point. When new pages are clicked, more data is downloaded from the host server. Basically, more site visitors and more page clicks on your site means higher requirements of bandwidth.

It's worthwhile to know any bandwidth limit on certain web hosting packages. Some companies put a limit on bandwidth, and if you exceed the limit, you have to buy more space. An unplanned controversy might arise that spikes up the traffic to your site, and drives it over the limit. You'll be paying extra to keep your site afloat during this heavy trafficked period. This might add up over time and can put the budget of a startup or small business in jeopardy. However, new trends in cloud computing allow website owners to scale the size of information needed. So if size is an issue for your website, whether too much or too little, cloud computing may be a viable option.

Be sure to research your options and the rules to follow (and those rules not to follow) in choosing your next web host.
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Maddy Miller

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