Deciding on a Web Host for Your Online eBay Business
If you're looking for a Web-hosting service for your eBay business, before deciding on a company, you need to check it out thoroughly. Go to that company’s site to find a list of features offered. If you still have questions after perusing the Web site, look for a toll-free number to call. Here are a few questions to ask before you sign up:
How long has the company been in business? You don’t want a Web host that has been in business only a few months and operates out of the founder's basement. Deal with someone who’s been around the Internet for a while (and hence knows what he or she is doing). Is the company’s Web site professional-looking? Does the company look like it has enough money to stay in business?
Who are some of the company's other clients? Poke around to see whether you can find links to sites of other clients. Take a look at who else is doing business with the hosting company and analyze the sites. Do the pages and links come up quickly? Do all the images appear in a timely manner? Web sites that load quickly are a good sign.
What is the downtime-to-uptime ratio? Does the Web host guarantee uptime? Expecting a 99-percent-uptime guarantee is not unreasonable; you’re open for business — and your Web host needs to keep it that way.
How much Web space do you get for your money? MSN gives you 30MB for free; you’d better be getting a whole lot more if you’re paying for it!
What’s the host's data transfer limit? Data transfer is a measurement of the amount of bytes transferred from your site on the server to the Internet. Each hit transfers a certain amount of bytes from your host’s servers to the viewer’s computer.
Does the Web host offer toll-free technical support? When something goes wrong with your Web site, you need it corrected immediately. You must be able to reach tech support quickly. Does the Web host have a technical support area on its Web site where you can troubleshoot your own problems (in the middle of the night)?
What’s the policy on shopping carts? In time, you’re probably going to need a shopping cart interface on your site. Does your provider charge extra for that? If so, how much? In the beginning, a convenient and professional-looking way to sell items on your site is to set up a PayPal shopping cart or PayPal Pay Now buttons. When you’re running your business full-time, however, a shopping cart or a way to accept credit cards is a must.
What kind of statistics will you get? Visitors who go to your Web site leave a bread-crumb trail. Your host collects these statistics, so you’ll be able to know which are your most and least popular pages. You can know how long people linger on each page, where they come from, and what browsers they’re using.
Are there any hidden fees? Does the Web host charge exorbitant fees for setup? Charge extra for statistics? Impose high charges if your bandwidth suddenly increases?
How often will the Web host back up your site? No matter how redundant a host’s servers are, a disaster may strike, and you need to know that your Web site won’t vaporize. Redundancy is the safety net for your site. Ask how many power backups a company has for the main system. Perhaps it has generators (more than one is good) and more.