More and more small businesses today are taking the next step in independence and self-sufficiency by designing and managing their own web presence. Today’s web market has a myriad of web hosting services available, some free, some budget, some costly, and many business owners make a costly mistake right from the beginning when hunting for the best deal. This article will outline five of the most common mistakes new website owners make when selecting web hosting providers.
Choosing a Free Provider
Early in your research, you may discover several web hosting providers that boast free web hosting. When you see an offer like this, remember TANSTAAFL—there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. These providers are able to provide a very limited amount of free web space, but the restrictions will be massive. You’ll be limited to a small amount of traffic, and they’ll shut the site down when it exceeds this amount, offering paid upgrades to make the site live again. You may find yourself paying each month to keep your site open and available to the public, perhaps even switching to a costlier monthly plan than you would’ve had if you’d selected a paid plan with another company in the first place. And even worse, often these free web hosting providers operate on shared servers. This means that if any of the free accounts exceed the capacity of the servers, all of the free accounts are shut down. Additionally, in order to make use of the free account, often you must agree to obtrusive advertisements on your content.
Not Checking Restrictions
Similar to choosing a free provider, another risk might be choosing a provider that charges very little. Often, they are able to charge a lesser amount because they’ll place restrictions on your content. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s good to be aware of what content could be prohibited. For example, a popular restriction placed by cheap web hosting providers is limiting the amount of database / MySQL connections. Although the web hosting provider may advertise unlimited storage and transfer capacity, they may be able to fine you or shut down your website if there are too many simultaneous database inquiries. This is of special importance to those operating sites with search functions or sites that need the ability to process online orders. Another common restriction is CPU usage. In addition to storage and transfer, each time a site loads it uses the server’s CPU. If your site uses Java or Flash or is designed with a flashy template, this could use more of the server’s CPU than the company is willing to provide at the low rate it has promised.
Forgetting your Provider
This tip is pretty straightforward: write down the contact information for your web hosting provider in a safe place. You may not need this information now, but suppose in a few years, long after you’ve forgotten about where you set up your web hosting, your customers begin seeing an error message when they log on to your site. You need to have the ability to contact your web hosting provider to investigate these issues. And if your web hosting provider does not have or provide a telephone number or ability to chat live online, steer clear!
No Customer Service
Just as important as verifying that the web hosting service has a telephone number—it’s important that they do actually have a customer service department. Test their live chat, or call their phone number, and see what it takes to communicate with a live person. Let them know that you are considering purchasing a hosting plan and would like to learn more—any company worth its salt would be thrilled to chat about their services with you. And if they are willing to go the extra mile for a potential customer, it’s a good sign that they’ll do the same to keep an existing customer.
Not Checking Reviews
After you’ve settled on a provider, it’s important to do a little bit of research outside of what they provide on their website. Make sure you fully understand what sort of web hosting service you have selected and then begin reading reviews. A resource trusted by most professionals in the field is WHSR, which stands for Web Hosting Secrets Revealed. On this site, professionals meticulously document the performance of over 60 of the major web hosting providers, rating them on a scale of one to five stars, and listing each in an easily readable table that demonstrates the storage and transfer capacities, the price, the length of the free trial period, and even provides a coupon code when one is available.