Any issues with your web hosting company as an entrepreneur will affect your bottom-line. There’s nothing as bad as having your server crash with no explanations and then taking forever to restore services. If you’re purely an online-based business, this could be catastrophic for your business. Buying a service isn’t exactly like buying a commodity because the quality of such services heavily impacts the kind of service you’ll be able to give to your clients.
The following are some tips to help you when choosing your web host.
1. Read reviews
So you’ve gone to this hosting company and their server packages are just dreamy – so perfect for such little money! This, of course, should be the part where you get suspicious. Checking reviews is the most trustworthy way to find out whether a company truly delivers what they have promised you.
It pays to be cautious about where those reviews come from because some companies actually fill up fake reviews all over the internet. What you’re looking for is an independent, third-party review site. You can find honest web host reviews at WHSR. Unlike many other reviews on the internet, these reviews come from technical writers that have actually used those hosting companies.
It isn’t always easy to know which reviews are from real clients and which are ads by the company. There are some red flags to look out for:
- Complaints regarding unexplained and/or extended downtimes
- Complaints regarding customer service
- Recent complaints in close succession (can indicate server overload because of too many clients)
- Complaints regarding malware, viruses and other security breaches and vulnerabilities
For best results, search for “negative reviews/complaints about Company X” or “blogpost reviews about company X”. Reading through those, it will be easy to distinguish paid reviews and ad reviews from real reviews.
2. Consider restrictions
Many companies are tricky in their language when offering hosting packages. For instance, you’ll see unlimited being thrown around, but looking more carefully, you will realize that unlimited isn’t actually unlimited at all.
The reality is that there’s really no such thing as unlimited hosting. There will always be a line beyond which you cannot cross, simply because all servers are limited to a certain bandwidth or capacity – physically.
You will find details on the space and bandwidth you are entitled to before the business cuts you off. Think of it just like the internet service providers that promise unlimited browsing, but after using up a certain data amount, they cut your speeds to near-zero. You want to be very aware of these restrictions because once you approach the cut-off point, you risk having your site shut down for unspecified periods or losing your hosting privileges.
Some other restrictions to be aware of include:
- Not having SSH
- Not allowing multiple POP accounts
- No adding statistics
- Not allowing proprietary software installation (some security restrictions are okay, but disallowing all software is a red flag)
Take note, that you won’t find these restrictions anywhere on the signup page. You need to ask as many questions when assessing the provider and read through all the fine print in your terms and conditions before going for any provider.
3. Avoid free hosting
If your business is new or very small, it might be very tempting to go for some of these servers which give a little free space. Remember the old adage though, that you always get what you pay for. Any ethical SEM provider will tell you that if you choose to use free space, you’re just one among hundreds or even thousands clambering for the same free space. And as we said earlier, hosts usually have limited server space, even if it’s a lot.
Free hosts usually have a huge list of restrictions that will end up doing more harm that good to your business. Your web host will have the freedom to use your site to display their advertisements, and you can’t stop them. Your visitors can easily be drawn away from you through these ads and your business won’t gain anything from the process. In addition, customer support in the event of downtimes is often wanting.
Even though you’re still competing for resources with other businesses through shared hosting plans, free hosting plans put you in competition against virtually anyone that chooses to sign up. Even if you’re choosing a paid package and the business has free plans, you should ask the following questions:
- Will you be sharing servers with free hosting clients?
- What happens when there are some free websites utilizing too many resources? What about paying websites? Will you get options for upgrading before being shut down?
- Will ads be placed on sites with free hosting only? Paid hosting packages should never include ads from the host because this draws your traffic away from your site without any gains for you.
There are many other aspects to consider before signing up with a web service provider. For instance, don’t choose new companies whose track record isn’t long enough for proper assessment. Also, be sure to test their customer service; don’t take their word that they’re always available. You should be able to receive prompt answers before you sign up. If they can’t be bothered when wooing you, don’t expect them to change once you sign up.