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Note: The cloud is great solution for many companies with varied requirements. However, when a heavier hitting server is needed, try NetHosting’s dedicated hosting for raw power at a great price, with unparalleled customer service.

Whether you invest in a cloud hosting solution from NetHosting or another company, we think it’s important that you know some basics that are really crucial when getting into a contract with a hosting provider. Our biggest tip for today is: make sure that whatever functionality you want or expect with a provider gets recorded exactly as you want it in your service contract.

What some companies (not just hosting companies) try to do is write a contract that is ambiguous enough so as to include the fact that you do business with them, without specifying what that business might be. For example, ABC Web Hosting Company might try to simply state in their contract that you are purchasing a service from ABC Web Hosting. All this means is that the company isn’t at fault when it changes your service, even though you bought that service for a very specific functionality. ABC then has recourse to argue that you just bought service from ABC Web Hosting Company, and they then dictate what that service is.

Other tricks hosting companies might try to pull over on you are forcing updates on your cloud server. While being as up-to-date as possible is always ideal, the reality is that’s not always the most cost effective choice. Sometimes internal software that companies use aren’t compatible with the next version of whatever software your provider wants to update your server with. Forcing updates without letting companies choose whether to do so or not can potentially break internal systems causing a lot of hassle for your business’s IT folks and potentially your customers. Be sure in your service contract you specify the details that work for you about updating your server. At least be sure that if the update is critical to the vendor’s security or operations and must happen, that they are required to give you a healthy amount of notice, enough to either change vendors or implement an alternative solution.

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Next, it’s also important to consider access requirements in your contract. If you have a unique channel or avenue set up for your users to access your service in the cloud, you want to make sure your hosting provider will allow that to remain open and accessible. Again, if your vendor will need to make any changes to that, require that they give you enough time to either move entirely from their service to another company that will be more accommodating, or to implement an alternative solution.

Note: If you can’t get honest answers and genuine assistance to your questions or problems from your hosting provider, the chances are high they’re not worth your money. Talk to a Dedicated Expert™ at NetHosting today to experience true customer service.

Another important section of a contract that should be well-defined is anything regarding application programming interfaces (APIs). If part of your service resides in the cloud and parts are still on your company’s in-house servers, you’ll probably have to do a lot of work with your provider’s APIs and making sure all of your legacy software works with their hardware and yours. Were your hosting company to suddenly change their APIs or policies surrounding their APIs, your applications could be non-functional, affecting your workplace productivity or worse, your customers. Make sure that your contract states that your provider must give you ample notice before adjusting their API, i.e. enough time to go to a more user-friendly provider.

Be sure before you sign up for a cloud service that you are well aware of the storage limits that are in place on your cloud server and what fees apply to it after you passed that storage limit (if you are even given the option to pass that storage limit). This is extremely important to get in your contract to ensure that if your hosting company’s services change, you aren’t forced to pay more automatically; you can decide if staying with that particular provider is worth the extra money to you. The same goes not just for the base services and storage charge but for the overage fees as well.

To learn more about how to tell if your hosting provider really cares about you and your business check out our white paper, “Does Your Hosting Provider Love You?”