1 – Is it a HK registered Web Hosting Company?
If it is a local Web Hosting Company, make sure it is a registered company, e.g,. with Business Registration (BR) and a real office address… Unlicensed ones are not monitored, so there are cases of unregistered company charged and disappeared. You can see from their website whether they are registered or not. HKIRD made it a requirement to provide the registered name at the bottom of the webpage for all registered internet service companies.
If you don’t know much about web hosting companies, once again like what I’ve mentioned, you can consider those more reputable ones (get an IT magazine to see which ones are placing ads, at least that shows they have some extra cash to promote). Larger hosting companies always have their bank accounts, if you are sending cheques, banking in or paying online, the receiver would be the company itself. If the account does not belong to a company, stop your transfer, do not pay for it. Otherwise, it would be problematic to chase back the payment.
2 – Do they have good technical support?
Good technical support can definitely help you solve any problems while you create your website. Quite a number of hosting companies only support by email or instant messagers, why not provide telephone support in real person? Improper hosting providers could be students or individuals running the business as a part time, they cannot handle phone calls during work or class. Or some unscrupulous companies’ servers are always down, they do not want to receive complains all the time – just get paid and ignore their clients.
A telephone number can really mean something – better ones have 24×7 supporting technicians answering your phone calls to solve your problems. So, while choosing your suitable web hosting company, you can randomly email them and see how quick they can reply you. If they have service hotlines, go ahead to see if their answers satisfy you or not. If you maintain your website out of office hour, you can try the hotline at 3am to see if anyone would actually pick up your phone, and to see if that technician sounds like asleep or not.
3 – Are the servers in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is one of information hub in the world, with more than 105.2 Gb average information flow per second. Some hosting companies famed themselves having overseas servers, but in fact they are slower than local servers, which brings down your website. If the server you rent runs out of service, this could be worse, since you cannot fix an overseas problem immediately. Your website could disappear from the cyber world on spot.
To check where the servers locate, you can go to www.DomainTools.com for the web hosting companies, the results page would show where their servers lie.
4 – Is there any regular or manual update service?
Even the best server in the world could have downtime moment. If a hosting company does not provide backup service, the consequence could be disastrous. It stands a chance your website cannot recover for good, and the lost cannot be compensated even if the company is willing to pay.
5 – Does the hosting package support your need?
Some hosting companies change their faces after payment received, especially to forum makers. You would have to confirm whether forum can be supported and how many concurrent flow (number of users online) would be allowed. Generally speaking, unlimited flow means not having specific restrictions on the server setting, but that does not mean literally “unlimited”. Each of the servers has its restriction, take forum as an example, if the forum has over 300 people online, hosting company HAS to lower your usage, or else other clients would be affected (either you bring down the traffic rate or the whole server). This could be of importance, so ask before you pay. Some companies would deliberately be vague to deceive you, and when your forum user number reaches 20-ish, they’d ask you to change plans, and restrictions would be added if you do not yield.
6 – To whom does the domain belong?
Some unscrupulous hosting companies would register your domain as their own, keeping you to use their services, or you have to pay huge ransom fee for your own domain. Make sure your domain belongs to you before you pay, then you can switch service providers when needed.
7 – Price is not everything
Some hosting comapnies charge cheaply, but we all know there’s no free lunches in this world. They price their service unreasonably and at the end, some complained to me they receive no services at all! Beware of super-bargain companies, they may run out of business suddenly due lack of income, and you’d found your website gone.
Isn’t it all known that website shutting down very commonly these days?
8 – Website of the hosting companies’ other clients
A good hosting company must have quite a number of existing clients, you can ask for some websites as examples. If they cannot provide reputable ones, it means their client base is fairly small, so is their business model.
9 – Importance of being stable for servers
It is important for a server to be stable. It would directly affect the uptime and access speed. If your website is a commercial one, you have to consider the server’s uptime. Hosting companies with strict terms and flow restrictions usually would have higher stability, since the server’s resources can be better distributed evenly. But if your website needs more resources or traffic flow, you can consider those with unlimited flow and unlimited functions, though of course the stability would be affected. You could ask the hosting company whether they have Firewall, Data Backup, Redundant Power Supply and UPS Power Supply, how many servers are there and where are they. Also ask for some of their client websites as examples, test the website’s download speed. Also see if they have any server uptime guarantee, like 99% or 99.9%. If not, better not to choose them.
10 – Others
See if the server can provide SSL certificates, whether they have traffic reports and clearly listed additional service charges.