This morning my website had an error. Not just a little error in the background causing a few niggling issues, it was a proper complete shut down of my website. When you loaded the site this is what you could see:

So what happened?

You may recall from my webinar on maintaining your site every month (now available in the free WordPress maintenance course), I recommend being ready to deactivate any of your plugins you are updating in case they break your website. Well this is basically what happened but whatever the error was, it stopped me from even getting back in to deactivate them.

It’s at this point I get to the limit of my knowledge and I need to escalate to some geeks.

Your website hosting provider will usually be able to help you with this kind of thing if they provide a good customer service facility.

I was able to get in touch, they restored my site from a backup and it was all ready to go again! Within 10 minutes my site was back up and running; plus it was before 7am to boot.

When you can’t get help

When working with clients over the years I’ve seen some pretty questionable customer support from website hosting providers. Some will provide a service to run your site and leave the rest to you. This has caused me a few headaches when I’m migrating people away from their service and we can’t get any support at all. At times like this when your website goes down completely, this is when you need a decent support line to call.

What good looks like

So what does good look like when you’re comparing hosting companies?

Here are a few things I personally look out for:

  • Online reviews showing positive feedback (just Google the company + review and see what comes up)
  • A telephone number or an online chat service so you can get an immediate answer if needed
  • A good track record of security on their servers – websites are prone to hacking attempts, your website host should be providing you with good security to lower your risk
  • Fair pricing – some companies charge an awful lot for their service and don’t even provide customer service, while others may be cheap as chips, but you’ll be pulling your hair out if you ever need to speak to someone in Plain English! For me, I feel that what I’m paying is fair: £10 a month for multiple websites, and for many of my clients who decide to go with the same provider as me, it’s around £8 a month for a single site. 
  • High speed service – you don’t want people to have to wait around for your site to load
  • Free security certificates so your site can load using https:// before your domain name – this means when people access your website using Chrome or Firefox they won’t see security warnings

So, who should you go with?

There are a few great providers out there and I don’t tend to recommend one solely – I do love my provider Siteground which ticks all the boxes above.  I have also had good experience with my old provider TSO Host but they don’t have all the features that Siteground offer like the super security, speed or quite as high a service when it comes to customer support. If you are looking for a new hosting provider and not sure who to go with, take a look at the checklist above to assess their service.