One of the biggest selling points web hosting companies often advertise is their outstanding uptime. Many will even go as far as guaranteeing 99.9% uptime or some percentage close to it. The problem with these promises is that you will never find a web host that promises 85% uptime or even 95%. If you believe them, they all are essentially flawless. When you have a blog, particularly a high-traffic one, uptime is essential, and you really need to spend some time evaluating the promises web hosts advertise.
The Track Record
In web hosting, the phrase “what have you done for me lately?” is entirely relevant. You need to find out if the numbers actually add up to the percentages a web host is promising. There are a few ways to do this. You can contact current and former users, particularly those with sites similar to yours in terms of server load and bandwidth. You can also request the company’s own data. They may have network graphs that display uptime. It may be even more helpful to check the numbers on some of the websites that track web hosting uptime, as long as you can verify that they are impartial.
“Guarantee” is not necessarily a legal term. If you actually read a web host’s terms of service, it will usually use every type of language humanly possible to remove any responsibility from itself for downtime, especially if it involves “acts of God” such as thunderstorms that knock out electricity. A real guarantee needs to be in writing, and if you can afford it, an SLA (service-level agreement) is definitely in order. In the event that your host is unable to deliver the percentage of availability it has promised, you will be reimbursed or otherwise credited for that time when an SLA is in place.
Finally, you should know that uptime is not everything. Some servers may have been running for two years straight without rebooting, but that means their kernels are out of date and likely have security holes. Use uptime as a gauge for reliability, but be sure to check other factors before choosing your blog hosting provider.