Obviously there are a ton of questions you could ask. However, I wanted to include 4 very important ones that are rarely asked by newbies. Many newbies often go by the census. Meaning they go by what everyone else has told them. People will tell you things like, “it’s cheap”, it’s easy to use, and the most popular one,”i’ve never had a problem with it”. These are all good things to know.
However, neither of these things will help keep you safe. As I stated in my article, nothing is 100% safe. However, you should do everything you can to create a secure environment for both yourself and your visitors. When I self hosted a WordPress.org site during a class with Skillcrush, I used WP Engine. As they were recommended by Skillcrush. For me, they were a role model hosting service. In fact, working with them was part of my inspiration for this article.
Here are your top 4 questions:
Is Secure Socket Layer Certificate included in their package
If you are a newbie you are probably reading this like WTF is that! Here’s the thing, this feature is so important, that I will tell you not to sign up with any hosting company that makes you pay for it separately. As that means their priorities are completely out of order. Check out this article from Google where they talk about why they started to label any site that is not secure as unsafe. To skip right to the good parts of the Google article “HTTP” is not secure. “HTTPS” is.
If you are on an “HTTP” site someone can easily manipulate the data before it gets to you. Having an SSL Certificate encrypts the data, which makes it not so easy to manipulate. I say “not so easy” because again nothing is 100% safe. You just want to make sure you are not making things easy for hackers. As a user, I personally jump right off sites when I see “HTTP”. If you are a site that is selling something, I really don’t care if I can got to your site and get “HTTPS” on checkout. I’m not coming back if the rest of your site is “HTTP”. I want your entire site to say “HTTPS”.
Do they perform any security testing for new plugins or themes
Just because somebody created it and you’re allowed to install it, doesn’t mean it is safe! This should be a common thing for any Self Hosting Service that you utilize. Self Hosting allows for a lot of open source work to be done. When the term open source is used that means that anyone on the internet has access to it and can manipulate it whenever or however they want.
In simple terms that means any hacker can write code and put it in a plugin or a theme. Since you most likely have no way to confirm what is safe and what isn’t, you need to know someone is doing that for you.
How will they protect you if your site has been hacked
This is not just what’s written on the website. You should actually ask questions about this. Ensure that they can tell you about the steps they will take you through if you contact them and say you have been hacked. The conversation should start off with them telling you how they will verify you. This should include but is not limited to; how they verify you every time you sign into the portal, call in with a question, or how they verify you when using their online chat support.
So basically, you need to know if they are going to help you. Or if you are going to have to pay 30k to get your site back like this young lady. To which I sincerely appreciate her sharing her story. She shed light on so many things. Some things she mentioned about her hosting companies will shock and disturb you.
How great is their customer support
It’s nice that the site says 24/7 support, but you should know exactly what that entails. If you’re site is self hosted, that means you are always trying out a ton of new things. At least that’s why most people choose self hosting, as they want the flexibility to do whatever they want. You need to sign up with a self hosting company that doesn’t just say they have 24hr support, but actually does. As a newbie you need to know if you will be able to get someone on the phone when you call in. This should be in addition to the online chat support.
Please note that this article is not an advertisement for any particular service. This article is to get newbies to start thinking on their own feet. No matter what service you choose. Do your research. You can also check for local hosting companies in your city or state and possibly support a local small business if they are good.
Check out my article, “Here’s why WordPress.com is more restrictive than WordPress.org”