Article by Jerry Low
Geek dad, SEO data junkie, investor, and founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Jerry has been building Internet assets and making money online since 2004. He loves mindless doodling and trying new food.
It’s no secret that not all web hosting companies run their business with honesty and dignity. Shoppers should be aware that some research works are necessary before buying a web host. Forums and blogs can be good places to ask for advices but nothing’s better than understanding the hosting industry yourself and making own purchase decision.
By revealing the nine most common pitfalls in web hosting industry, I hope it clears your doubts and helps you to make better decision.
1. Web host with short or no trial period at all
Do not be surprise to see hosting companies that offer no trial period at all. Be sure to check on a web host’s return policy for its trial period. Any hosting companies with less than 30 days trial period are simply unacceptable. I suggest you to avoid them at all cost.
2. Outdated software and web application
No kidding – there are still hosting companies that limits their users using PHP 4, WordPress 2.2 (Fantastico installation), and Joomla 1.2(Fantastico installation). Outdated software are weak against hacking. So in case you are stuck with a web host that’s reluctant to upgrade their software (or in Fantastico), simply snub them.
3. Hidden charges or enormous cancellation fees
The most common catch-22 behind cheap hosting deals is hidden charges (extra cost for scripts usage and stats reporting) and enormous cancellation fees. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for you to determine such pitfall yourself. All you can do to avoid this is to read around the Internet and look for recent testimonials for a certain web host.
(This is why independent hosting reviews are important.)
4. Terrible customer supports
Ask presell questions, check with related forums, ask around on your social network friends – these are some of the methods to determine whether the hosting companies are responsive in term of customer supports.
As experienced webmaster, you might not need much supports from the hosting providers; but how well the company performs in customer supports reveals their service quality.
5. 100% uptime guarantees
No web host can sustains its server uptime perfectly in long run. There are too many factors (power, networks, human errors, software errors, equipment failure) that decide a server’s stability and it’s just impossible for any hosting company to assure they will have 100% uptime in long term (yes, not even Google!).
Thus, hosting companies that promised 100% uptime are actually lying – avoid them at all cost.
6. Unlimited hosting
It’s common nowadays to see an unlimited hosting offers. You should understand that such unlimited hosting is only ‘unlimited’ because the hosting providers are managing their servers usage closely and avoid any significant shortage of hosting capacity. These unlimited offers, after all, are offered based on combination of limited resources.
As most hosting companies (good and bad) are using unlimited hosting as their marketing gimmicks, I can’t tell you to pass on all of them. However, as a smart consumer, you should take time to learn about the issue and avoid over-trusting your web host.
More readings: Is unlimited disk storage and bandwidth for real?
7. Use of green hosting as marketing gimmicks
Nowadays ‘Go Green’ is a heated phrase in marketing. Beware of irresponsible web hosts that use ‘Green Hosting’ as marketing gimmicks and make sure the web host is certified by related authorities.
8. Overpriced hosting plans
How cheap is cheap? Apollo Hosting is telling everyone that they are offering cheap hosting but their hosting plan is extremely high when compare to others.
Please guys, don’t get fooled by the marketing words and always look with your own eyes.
Check the hosting price with other companies and review their hosting plans thoroughly. How much disk storage are you getting; how many MySQL databases are allowed; how many FTP accounts are allowed; how many addon domains are allowed; what is the inodes limitation – these are the questions to be asked before handing out your credit card information.
9. Unmanaged overselling
I’m fine with well-managed overselling web host; but not with unmanaged overselling.
The differences? A well managed overselling web host allows you to enjoy low cost and reliable hosting service; on the other hand, an unmanaged (or terribly managed) overselling web host is a nightmare – you’ll get hosted on a server that’s unreliable and slow.
To learn if it’s well managed, pay attention to its server load, memory usage, and disk storage capacity. Such figures reveal how well is the hosting company managing their servers when you first subscribe to a new hosting service. Stay away from web hosts with irrational figures and ask for a refund if you already subscribed to their service (this is why a long trial period is important in the first place).
More readings: Understanding the numbers in server status report.
Wrapping things up…
Well, that’s 9 items to be added in your shopping check list. Do keep in mind that hosting companies are in the business of making money. As a smart consumer, reading reviews and comparison guides are a must. Considering that I have been hosting websites for more than 5 years and testing web host services for more than a year – I believe reading my hosting review is a good place to start. These reviews are written based on my true hosting experience and I offer nothing but the truth.