No one likes to be scammed online (or scammed in general), but some web hosting services are doing just that with fine print. For those who are just setting up their websites and are looking for the right web hosting service, they are going to be faced with a challenge. No matter what they say or the articles teach, the search is difficult to do, especially if you were not familiar with the reliable and accredited services.
There is no denying that the internet is filled with web hosting companies. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a host is good or not. They all look good from a glance. But, doing your research makes a huge difference when choosing a web host. You can pay attention to the fine print or TOS, though. Other than this, you need to look for the things listed below so you can run like hell if you see some potential red flags.
Do Your Research
First, look at the platform which the service can support. Look for a service that supports the Windows platform (see Windows pros and cons); will they allow your site operate on settings like ASP, Cold Fusion, Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL database, and Visual Basic scripts.
You should also make sure they support the Unix or Linux platform which is useful for programming languages like CGI, PHP, and others.
It’s important that they offer Windows and Linux if your not sure which one you need. Sometimes different host will start you off on certain rate for a Windows or Linux plan, but it will increase later on down the road. I know of number of host that do this. ServerPronto is a company that has been know to this.
Secondly, you need to think about the technical considerations like disk space and bandwidth requirements. I get asked this question all the time; “I’m starting a small website what hosting should I get? The clear answer is “shared.” Should you wish to open a site which does not have a lot of contents in it like articles or images, then you don’t have a problem. But if you want to have a lot of content and images on your site then you need to consider a disc space ranging from 1 GB to 2 GB. If you use too much storage, this can cause your account to get suspended for using too many resources.
The bandwidth requirements depend on the traffic expected. If you expect to have a lot of traffic, then you need to have a lot of bandwidth ranging from 40 GB to 100 GB every month. Please note that any shared plan should be able to handle 2 GB of bandwidth per month. It’s unrealistic to think otherwise. I don’t care what they tell you, if you use that much on “unlimited plans” they will shut you down in a heartbeat.
I know they say unlimited, but there is a limited amount for shared plans. If you choose a service which would only have low disc space and low bandwidth, you may end up spending more in the end if your website kicks in and gets a lot of traffic. On the contrast, I like to start low and upgrade to a VPS if I have to (but only when I HAVE to). More money is always better to work with when you’re starting out right?
It’s really about inodes when you sign a web hosting contract. Inodes are the ‘fine print’ that you can commonly find in their TOS page. If you don’t see it there, then jump on live chat or send support an email and ask what their inode limit is. If you use too many inodes, the web hosting company will shut you down quickly. Typically, a shared host will allow you 100,000 – 300,000 inodes. These will vary from host to host.
A lot of times hosting companies will limit you to CPU usage. A prime example of this is WireNine (it states it clearly on their site; it’s not just put in the “fine print”. For dynamic websites, they are going to be using more CPU cycles than static websites. Once you are using more than 25% of the CPU on your server, don’t be surprised if your host will require that you upgrade to a plan with more resources.
Nearly, all web hosting companies put RAM usage in their TOS page. If you exceed these numbers, they will require that you upgrade your web hosting plan. It’s a good idea to ask them how much RAM is on the server you are using if you don’t know what it is. Remember that all the RAM on that server is shared (unless you have a dedicated) server, so if you’re using a script that is a RAM hog you might be asked to upgrade your hosting plan.
MySQL Databases or Databases
A lot of newbie webmasters will make the mistake of signing up for a web hosting company that tells them they can use unlimited databases. However, you can’t expect to have 75 databases on a single shared server. There is a limit to the number of databases that a server can accept at one time. If there are too many requests in a given period. I’m sure you will see a database error. Make sure you read the TOS to see how many databases you’re allowed to have on your server.
A lot of web hosting companies will limit servers to a certain amount of domain names per account. Meaning they might tell you, you can have an “unlimited” amount of domain names, but realistically you can only have 10 or so before they terminate your account. Also, watch out for domain transfers because a lot of times if you leave the company they will charge you an outrageous amount of money to transfer your domain name away from them. For example, if you buy a domain name at 1&1 for $1.99 and you want to transfer away from them it will cost you $25. (Please see these best practices for buying a domain name).
The Customer Support
They have to have a good customer support service accessible 24/7. Make sure you contact them before buying any plan. Nothing is worst than beginning your website only to find later on that they are insanely hard to work with when you have issues. Normally, a good host makes it easy to get ahold of them and doesn’t just point you to some articles which might be way over your head. But, also look out for business hours for technical support. Believe me; there is nothing more frustrating than having a technical problem on the weekend and waiting all weekend for support to get back with you. Also, look out for customer support that charges you extra for more help like Network Solutions does.
Free transfers are great if you already have a host and are migrating over from one host to another. In fact, one of the best things about WebHostingHub.com is that they provide free transfers. It saves you a lot of time and if you have limited technical knowledge that too. However, a lot of web host charge you to transfer your files to even small sites. Make sure you’re aware of the cost if they do require a fee for transferring your site’s data over. Also, a lot of them have a team that will do this for you, so you don’t have to mess with the transfer.
Control Panel Fees
For shared hosting, a lot of companies will allow you to use cPanel for free. Some of them will go ahead and charge you for it. They undershoot the price and once you start designing your website you realize that Cpanel wasn’t included. However, there could be some “fine print” that states you need to pay a yearly licensing fee. Typically, these are found with VPS and Dedicated plans. I have seen some companies that charge a licensing fee for shared plans, though.
Don’t Over Look The Money-Back Guarantee
Money-Back guarantees are put in place to build loyalty between the business and the customer. However, Virpus.com is a company that is known for a horrible money-back guarantee. Meaning they offer a three-day money-back guarantee which is extremely short. But, the sad thing is you got to read some of these companies TOS because they state that their money-back guarantee only gives you credit back to your account. Therefore, you don’t get your money back. It’s a very sneaky tactic that I have seen many web hosts use over the years.
Trust Is A Must
You need to have a trustworthy web host provider. Nothing will rack up your bill faster than extra charges for “essentials” that you need to operate your website. It almost seems criminal how some of these hosting companies sneak little extras in their TOS. I’m sure that if you have been designing websites for awhile, you have seen web hosting companies sneak stuff in over the years. Please let me know what you have found companies sneaking into their TOS. Please leave your comments down below.