Selecting a hosting plan is a crucial part of building a successful website. Whether you are setting up a blog, e-commerce site, company website or otherwise, you need to be sure that your host is reliable, efficient and available to support you when you need them.
Unfortunately, all hosting packages are not created equal, and there are some all-too-easy traps to fall into as you are trying to come up with the best host. Here are some of the most common hosting mistakes that you don’t want to make:
1. Opting for a Free Host
Fortunately, I see very few free web hosts lately. Yes, there are free hosting packages out there. No, you don’t want to choose them. The ridiculously “good value” might seem genuine, but it’s guaranteed to cause all kinds of problems further down the line:
- Your site will be painfully slow, and could even shut down entirely if it exceeds bandwidth. This would cause you and your business to suffer, as you’d be completely at the mercy of a very subpar hosting service.
- The host can, and will, put 3rd party ads all over your site without your permission, at any time.
- You can’t scale up your website as your business develops.
- Your SEO may be adversely affected.
- You might not be able to run the scripts that you need.
If you want control, reliability, and options for growth, don’t fall for the deception of “free” hosting packages.
2. Neglecting to Check the Quality of the Host’s Customer Service
An excellent way to find out if a hosting package is right for you is to test their quality of customer service first. If you fail to do this, you might find that somewhere down the line, when you have issues with your site, there’s no one to help you out. A host may claim to provide support 24/7, but it’s worth trying this out before you make a commitment to them.
Have a look at the company website, read their FAQs, etc., and come up with a set of questions that don’t appear to be answered already. Use every option available to contact them with the questions – phone, email, live chat, whatever they suggest – and see how effectively and efficiently they respond.
3. Selecting a Host that Doesn’t Provide a Refund Guarantee
Once you have signed up to your host, you might still discover later on that for one reason or another they aren’t right for you. If you were smart enough to select a host with a refund guarantee, then you can decide to leave without losing the money you have spent. It’s also something to keep in the back of your mind in case your site grows and develops, requiring you to switch hosts.
Read through the terms and conditions carefully so that you are 100% sure about the time-frame for refunds, as well as the amount that they would reimburse if it came to it.
4. Not Recording Contact Details
It’s all very well having an excellent and responsive customer service system, but what happens if your host’s server crashes and you need to get hold of them? If you at least have an email address or a telephone support line, you can still contact the host even if the website is down and the general forums or live chats aren’t working. The quicker you can get hold of answers and fix your site issues, the quicker your site will be back up and running, and you won’t lose sales.
5. Failing to Research the Restrictions
Hosting companies try to draw you in by offering shiny, seemingly limitless options and extras. It’s worth checking these out before you sign up because inevitably, those ‘limitless options’ will, in fact, have limits. These restrictions won’t be laid out for you, so you need to read the site carefully to find them:
- Bandwidth is one of the most common deceptive factors on the initial spec of hosting packages – while it might say ‘unlimited bandwidth,’ this isn’t usually the case. As your site gets closer to the bandwidth limit, you will find that the speed and efficacy suffer terribly. That can affect your user experience and your sales.
- You may find that it’s not allowed to install your software, no SSH and no options for multiple POP accounts.
6. Forgetting to Read Hosting Reviews First
As with many services, reading customer reviews is often a good way to get a sense of the quality of a service. Reading web hosting reviews is no exception, and can often help you rule out hosts immediately, particularly if they match any of the following:
- Poor customer service – if people are complaining about this, it’s a definite red flag.
- Slow loading speeds and frequent site crashes – again if people have noticed that this is a recurring problem, it’s likely to affect you as well.
- Security issues – you need to be sure that your site will be safe, so if any concerns are being raised about this, it’s a no-go.
Bear in mind that if all the reviews seem to be amazing, they might be planted there by the company to flood reviews with positive, raving comments. Look for reviews by tech writers and website builders as they are blunt and honest, and will tell you what’s what. We do have reviews on HostingManual.net here.
7. Trying to Operate All Your Sites on One Host
You may well be wanting to run and manage a range of sites, and it might seem like a good idea to have them all hosted under one account. The benefit of this would be simpler billing and a better deal all round. However, what happens if the server crashes? All of your websites will go down at the same time. This downtime could cause a major headache if you’re relying on generating income through those sites.
So, either ask your host if they can split your account across multiple servers or use separate hosts for different sites.
8. Not Making Regular Backups
It shouldn’t happen that you lose all your data. But unfortunately, it happens from time to time with even the biggest names in the hosting industry. If you don’t want to dig out your content from Google’s cache or Archive.org, it’s essential to have regular backups.
9. Registering Your Domain Name at Your Web Host
Diversification is the name of the game here. You want to spread the risk across as many providers as possible. If your web host goes down for some reason and you have registered your domain name at another registrar, you will be able to change the DNS server of your domain instantly.
This step may sound like overly cautious, but just recently I had a terrible week with a hosting company. They got hacked to the point that even their control panel was unreachable. After a day of downtime, I decided it’s time to move. I took my backups and quickly set up shop at another web host. That was possible because I had a separate registrar for my domain.
Some web hosts will offer you a free domain name, but it can be used later on to chain you to their hosting. They will give you a hard time if you want to use it with another web host or if you want to transfer it out.
Keep these mistakes in mind and try to avoid as many of them as possible. You will thank me later!