Always ask a webhost what kind of servers they are using. Make sure they have powerful servers for two reasons: power, and the fact that to have such powerful servers, the hosting company must be financially stable. But beware of hosting companies that spend too much money on server “names” they really don’t need. Also, some web hosts with less powerful servers will claim they don’t need more because web hosting is not CPU intensive. Don’t listen to that! A powerful server will deliver your pages faster than a less powerful one, whether it is CGI or a static page.
A server’s CPU power is not much without proper RAM. A web host could have quad Xeons on their servers, but if the servers have just 256-512MBs of RAM, all that power will go to waste. If a webhost has less than 1GB of RAM on the server where your site will be hosted, stay away from it.
And the last thing to take into consideration in a server is its storage device. It must be fast, must be reliable and MUST have protection against data loss. Ask if they use RAIDs on their servers. This is a MUST.
Always ask what type of connection a web host has, how much of it are they using, how many of them they have and who provides them. Hi-quality bandwidth is a must if you want your website to be accessible at fast speeds from everywhere in the world.
Ask how fast a web host can respond to an emergency. Do they have spare parts on site, or even better, a spare server on site? How often do they do backups? Are the backups made to SLOW tape or FAST hard storage media? What are their backup recovery procedures?
Technical Support and Customer Service
Ask if they guarantee fast response times for all service requests. Be aware that some hosting plans from provider may receive slower response over other plans.
Ask about their operations center and/or network topology. Make sure it is of the highest quality possible.
Ask if they do backups on time, how often or if they have RAIDs to prevent data loss due to hard drive failure as well as if they use tape or some other [faster, more reliable] media for backup storage.
Ask if they lock in your rates which can protect you due to lower supply and higher demand of resources (drives, RAM, etc) needed to provide hosting. Also, if there discounts for prepayments on your hosting plans before, during and after you sign up.
Ask if the provider has a blog, forum (some forums viewable by clients only) and FAQs section on their site since it can help reduce a bottleneck with support along with showing how knowledgeable they are. The blog can also shows how often they communicate with the public and learn of outages and downtime mentioned and how quickly they got up.