One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make when starting an online business is which web hosting provider you’re going to choose for your website. To avoid problems that could disrupt your business, it’s essential that you select a hosting company whose service is easy to use, secure, dependable and able to deliver fast page load times. If you’re new to web hosting, you should take the time to do your research before you make a decision.
By doing so, you’ll get a better understanding of what the technical jargon really means, what specifications you’ll require from a hosting package and how to get good value for your money. Here are eight things you should do or avoid when looking for a web host:
1. DO Use Different Providers For Your Domain and Hosting
You don’t need to register your domain name and buy your hosting from the same company. Many domain registrars also offer web hosting, but their services are often overpriced and lacking in features. It’s also very common for web hosting providers to include free domain registration with their hosting services if you pay for more than a year of service when you sign up with them.
Having your domain and hosting from the same company may seem convenient, but it can cause problems if you’re not happy with your hosting service and want to go elsewhere. Some companies intentionally make it as difficult as possible to transfer a domain to another registrar. They may also charge a fee if you opt to do so.
Another issue with free domain promotions is that while hosts prominently advertise that they’ll register your domain at no cost, you’ll have to dig into the fine print to find out that this is only good for the first year and that renewal fees apply after. Often, these fees are more than what independent domain registrars charge.
2. DON’T Opt for Lengthy Service Contracts
The vast majority of web hosts offer big discounts if you pay for one, two, three or more years of service when you sign up. Some hosts give you the option of paying by the month, although the price will come up to be a bit higher. Others have a minimum contract term, such as one or two years of service payable in advance.
Paying for several years of service in advance isn’t a wise move, as you may later become dissatisfied with the company or your needs may change as your business grows. While you may take your website elsewhere, very few hosting companies will refund the money you paid in advance if you no longer use their services.
3. DO Research Hosting Providers Thoroughly
Before you begin, make a list of the features you’ll require from your hosting service. Then, look at the service packages offered by various hosting firms, as well as reviews left by people who used their services. Take the time to read many reviews and pay special attention to those that mentioned bad experiences.
It’s always a good idea to exercise judgment and ready reviews on different websites before coming to a conclusion. Be aware that highly positive reviews may come from the hosting company’s employees who pose as satisfied customers, while very negative ones might be left by unscrupulous competitors. As a general rule, if you see that many people on different review sites all had similar negative experiences or problems, it’s likely that you’re dealing with a hosting firm to avoid.
Always prioritize reviews left by individual users over “professional” ones. Though there are reputable technology-related websites whose authors write up truly unbiased reviews of online services like web hosts, some hosting review articles, social media posts and videos are created by affiliates who only care about earning commissions by promoting many hosting companies. They often exaggerate the positive attributes of a host, while glossing over or completely ignoring anything negative.
4. DON’T Choose a Hosting Provider Based on Price Alone
Very cheap providers may try to sell you the idea that their service is excellent and that more expensive hosts are overcharging. On the other hand, there are overpriced hosting providers who sell completely average hosting services, yet use marketing to make it look like you’ll be getting “premium” quality service by going with them. Don’t make the mistake of assuming all hosts are the same and choosing the cheapest one or thinking that high prices mean high quality.
Some cheap hosting providers offer excellent services, while some of the more expensive ones may include features that will be highly beneficial to your business, such as improved security or automatic backups. When choosing a provider, think of what your minimal requirements are, and compare the prices offered by different hosts. When you’ve narrowed down your selection, read some customer reviews to see which company offers the best service quality.
5. DO Pay Attention to How a Host Handles Support
Even if your website is rather simple and the host you use has a stellar reputation, there’s a high chance you may run into a problem or have a question about how a hosting feature works. Getting immediate help will be even more important if you run into a problem that results in your website going down.
When selecting a host, you should go with a company that has 24/7 support available to answer tickets or emails. Some hosting companies may offer additional support options, such as priority phone support, at a slightly higher price. This is worth considering if your business depends on your website.
6. DON’T Pay For Products You Don’t Really Need
Hosting firms often try to “upsell” their plans on the checkout page. While you may just need a basic shared hosting plan for a small business, they’ll often try to get you to upgrade to an “enterprise” plan at a higher cost or sell you products like website templates and directory submissions that you don’t need. Be careful to unselect any of these upsell options before you click the “continue” button.
7. DO Read the Fine Print For Hidden Charges
Some companies may offer you a fixed amount of monthly bandwidth and charge you extra if you exceed it. Others may not fully disclose VAT charges, setup fees and domain transfer costs. It’s also highly important that you be aware of what the regular price of the service is after the first contract term if you prepay for your hosting. In many cases, hosts will charge you several times what you initially paid when signing up when renewing your service.
8. DON’T Believe In “Unlimited” Hosting
Many companies claim to offer “unlimited” hosting in terms of bandwidth and storage. But if your read their service terms, they state that they may cancel your service or make you pay extra for a higher package if your site uses too much resources, in order to ensure that all customers get a consistent level of performance.
If your website is simple and receives less than a few hundred visitors a day, these “unlimited” shared hosting plans should be adequate for your needs. But you should be prepared to upgrade to a more advanced type of hosting service if your business grows.
Choosing a good hosting provider is crucial to the success of your online business. As the hosting industry is very competitive, you should take the time to compare what different providers offer to ensure your needs will be met and that you’ll get a good experience with the host you use