Web hosting is big business, with most sites carrying ads and affiliate links for one hosting company or another.
You will see a few concepts common to most hosting sites; unlimited bandwidth and disk space.
Neither disk space nor bandwidth has been limiting factors for the past twenty years. If you need a guide to technical terms, this Weblizar post is a good reference.
When you buy a motorbike or car, the retailer will only ever tell you the positive points. He won’t tell you about the astronomical depreciation or the exploding fuel tank. Web hosting is the same. You have to know the questions to ask and where to find the answers.
This one is your top priority.
If site owners who are using a service are unhappy, then it’s one to avoid. And just because a company’s ads are all over the Internet, it doesn’t mean it has satisfied users. Quite the contrary: If current users are leaving, then the company needs more ads to find replacement customers.
Look for independent advice. If you plan to build your site using WordPress, then look for independent WordPress hosting reviews. Be wary of hosting companies’ own sites and of any site that recommends one or two websites without published comparative data to back up the decision.
When you find a hosting comparison site, look at the numbers of favorable and unfavorable reviews. Of the three companies in the screenshot above, only the third is worth considering.
The more reviews are shown, the more likely the results are to be reliable.
Hosting companies pay bloggers and others to promote their services by linking to them through special links called affiliate links. It doesn’t cost any extra to buy hosting through one of these links, but some sneaky sites don’t tell readers that every link is one that pays a commission if you follow through and buy hosting.
Some web hosting companies concentrate on other marketing techniques, so appear rarely, even on comparison sites because there is no incentive to list them and no payback for the research hours that go into compiling league tables.
Getting your business online is more complicated than choosing and buying a domain name, though that is important. When you have made that decision, you must find a web hosting company you can trust and set up email addresses from your domain. If you are using WordPress, you need to install the software on your site, choose a theme, and then install and configure plugins.
A simpler way to proceed is to use the free website builder the hosting company provides.
Every website has an IP address. What your host won’t tell you is that you share your IP address with up to one hundred other sites and that some of those may be websites with values opposite to yours, or could be competitors.
If you want your own IP address, you have to pay extra to get one.
Disk space and bandwidth are cheap, but the demands you place on the server are never mentioned, even though limitations on CPU usage are common reasons companies have to upgrade their hosting from a shared server to a virtual private server (VPS). Many companies make it difficult to find the number of server requests your sites make, so you can’t even monitor the situation.
Things will go wrong. You will lose your password, install conflicting WordPress plugins and lose access to your site. In every instance, access to reliable support staff 24/7 is crucial to reducing your stress levels and getting your site live again. Ideally, you’d want to get a local support team that is available to you as a part of the service, as to make getting assistance within working hours more palpable. Just to namedrop; LCN is a UK web hosting provider with an appropriate UK-based support team. WPEngine, on the other hand, is a US-based provider and has US-based support teams.
There are only 24 hours in a day. Nobody has the time to develop more than one website. Consequently, you don’t need to pay extra to get a hosting plan that includes unlimited sites.
You can find low-cost reseller hosting that looks good on paper. But it won’t include 24 hours a day support because the person you bought it from often has to refer your problem to the company he is leasing space from.
Chrome and Firefox flag sites as insecure unless they use the https protocol. Some hosting services include a basic SSL service without charge, meaning your site will have https:// before it and will be marked as safe in browsers. And there are ways to which you can get free SSL certificates.
If you are unhappy with your chosen host, then get out. All you lose is money.
Find a new host and that company’s support people will even move your account for you, usually for free.
Avoid lengthy 36-month deals, even if they look cheap. It’s money down the drain if the service isn’t good enough.
Exercise your due diligence when choosing the infrastructure for your website. Ask the right questions before you buy and be cautious about buying without customer satisfaction data. The largest companies have poor customer retention figures because their support and services are sub-par.
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