Choosing a Shared Hosting Provider - Tip #4

by demtron on Monday, November 10, 2008 10:34 AM

Upgrading to a New Plan

So, what happens when your site becomes fantastically popular and your need more storage space, bandwidth, or features?  Often, when starting out a new site, a site owner will intentionally choose a low-cost plan to save a few bucks.  When more resources are needed, you might need to upgrade to a better plan.

Each host handles this process a little differently.  Here are a few questions you might want to ask.

How do I initiate the upgrade to a new plan?  Some hosts offer an on-line form to automatically request the upgrade.  Others require a phone call.

What happens during the upgrade?  For many hosts, the upgrade is completely transparent to you and handled automatically.  For others, or if you are moving from a now-defunct plan to a new plan, the host needs to have a technician move your site to a new server.

Will your site be moved to a new server?  Some hosts will cluster sites with similar plans on the same server, so when you upgrade to a new plan, you may also be moved to a new server.  Be aware that your site’s performance will often increase (but sometimes decrease) when it’s moved to a new server.

When will the upgrade be completed?  Most hosts I work with tell me that an upgrade will take 24-48 hours to complete, while one in particular can get upgrades completed in 12 hours or less.

Is there a fee associated with upgrading?
  Usually not, but I’ve found two hosting companies recently that charge $10 and $20 for a plan upgrade.

What testing will the hosting company perform after and upgrade to ensure that the upgrade was successful and that the site, database, and e-mail plans work correctly?  When I have asked this question, I often get an uneasy silence and an answer like, “Well, we’ll check that the home page comes up.”  If your site uses database access or more sophisticated features, you’ll want to have a plan in place to check all major functions of your site.  If you use a designer, make sure your designer is on-call to put out fires.

How will you be notified when an upgrade is complete?  Surprisingly, some hosting companies I work with don’t send a notification upon completing an upgrade.  I’ve also found that these hosts are poor when it comes to sending notifications for events like planned outages, upgrades or support follow ups.  (I wish I could switch these clients to different hosts, but that’s a story for another day.)

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