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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Does My Web Host Have Good Support?

When selecting a web host it is very important to ensure that they have an adequate support system in place. Here are some keys to making sure your new host is going to have the ability to support your needs.

#1 Do They Have Toll-free, 24/7, Native Language Support?

Nothing is worse that spending money on support that isn't always open when you need it and where you can't understand the support personnel. And if you've ever had to deal with a long wait time while a critical feature or aspect of your company website is down you'll know how important fast response times are. If your host can't get to you in under a few minutes then you'd best be prepared for frustration on those days when everything seems to be going wrong. Fast, free, and intelligible support should become your mantra.

#2 Test Their Response Time

The easiest way to test a given hosts support hold times is to call them up yourself. Don't simply rely on the reports of the various hosting review sites out there. Make your own calls. Try to make the calls at several different times as well as on a weekend. Some good options would be early morning, around dinner time, and during the weekend. Consider how long you were on hold and how difficult it was to actually get connected to the support team.

#3 Test Their Knowledge

Now that you've got someone from support on the line, you should test their knowledge. It's not enough to simply connect to someone if that someone doesn't have the skills and ability to help you. Here are a few questions you could try out. How do I set up a cron job? I want to backup my database, how do I do that? What scripting languages do you support? Questions like these will quickly let you know how knowledgeable the support team is. If it sounds like they are looking up answers or they have to put you on hold then they might not be as savvy as you need. Even if you don't know the answers to the questions you are asking you can learn a lot about their support staff by just observing how they respond.

#4 Are There Other Support Options?

Sometimes using the phone may not be an option or you might simply enjoy a little bit of do-it-yourself research. If so your new host is going to need the ability to help you out in these areas as well. Take some time to figure out what other support options your potential host offers. Do they have support forums? Do they have live web-chat? Do they have a fast response email team? If they are taking longer than a few hours to respond then they had better have fast phone response times or you're going to find yourself frustrated that day where everything goes wrong.

Support Isn't Everything, Is It?

Support definitely should not be the only thing you consider when finding a new web host, but it definitely should be near the top of your list. With web hosts competing so vigorously these days for new clients support is an area that will vary significantly from one host to the next. Take the time, do your research, and then you can rest assured that you are in good hands when trouble strikes. The short time you spend in advance will give you the confidence you need going forward!

By: Ed Grier

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