In an ideal world, the company that provides you with your hosting services should provide you with everything that you pay for. This means that your website should maintain an up-time percentage of at least what your provider specifies, you should be able to use as much bandwidth as specified, and you shouldn’t have to worry about doing your own backups.
The unfortunate and all-too-real fact is that service providers don’t always deliver on what they promise. That makes it vital for you to know your service-level agreement (SLA) to the letter, as it’s one of the few things that should describe the services that your host is required to give you.
What is an SLA?
A SLA specifies an agreement between you, the client, and the provider of your hosting services. It’s usually legally binding, which means that it can be used as leverage to recover fees and damages when your provider doesn’t give you the quality of service you need.
Your SLA should cover the following basic things:
- The basic statistics of your host’s service specific to your level of service, including allotted bandwidth transfer, maximum storage and up-time amounts.
- The technology underlying your service, which should include both the specifications of the hardware, the environment that runs it, and what system redundancies are in place that will prevent data loss and service interruption.
- The security procedures and services put in place to prevent data theft both off- and on-site.
- Support procedures and service, including when support should be able to be reached and how you can do so.
Why Keeping Track of an SLA is Vital
Keeping track of your SLA can only be done after you understand the terms of your service-level agreement. Doing so will allow you to hold your hosting provider to the terms that they agreed to while giving you a way to seek compensation for any damages caused by a failure to deliver the appropriate quality of service.
The other major reason that you should keep track of your SLA is to prevent damages and other unfortunate incidents from occurring in the first place. Your provider should live up to their promise of providing you with the service, availability and security that you think your website needs from the time they begin providing you with service onwards.