Web Hosting Consumer Guide: 9 Tips You Should Know

By Raja. Filed in Web 2.0

A good hosting is very important to any website. They are foundation of your website, your brand and your business. Any server downtime could potentially hurt and ruin everything you’ve developed over years. If you are serious about your website, you need to make sure they are in good hands.

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Image credit: Tom Antonis

It is really hard to choose between web hosting companies these days especially as we are constantly overwhelmed by tempting promotions web hosting companies are throw at us. If you are looking to get a web hosting account, here is an article we figured you might take a look before getting carried away by tempting promotions and marketing gimmicks.

Here are some guides to make you a smarter consumer when it comes to getting your own web hosting account.

1. The "Free Domain" Gimmick.

A free domain certainly sounds nice, however here are some things you might need to take note of before agreeing to the free domains provided:

  1. Who owns the domain? The domain is free but the hosting company retains the ownership. What it means? You’re either stuck with the company forever or you need to pay a hefty sum to buy the domain back.
  2. What about the next few years of renewal? The first year is free but when you want to renew it, they’ll charge $19.95+ for renewal. That is like a 200% mark-up over the average domain name cost.

It’s better to ask questions during the research process to know who will own the domain and also make sure that the standard renewal fees costs are acceptable.

2. Separate Domain and Hosting.

Domain names don’t have to be registered at the same company. Don’t take us the wrong way, we are not implying that your current web host is not trust-able; it’s more about finding a dependable and trustworthy registrar right from the start. After all, domain name is your online identity, the most expensive and irreplaceable asset while hosting services are just there to accommodate website.

You may argue for convenience sake. Of course, web-hosting companies would prefer to have your domain registered with them, as it is their other profitable revenue stream. However, it won’t be that convenient if the web hosting company decides to go down together with your domain.

3. Read That Bandwidth and Disk space Terms.

Bandwidth and disk space are terms often ignored by people shopping for a shared web hosting. You should ask yourself, "What if my website becomes really popular overnight, and draws in thousands or millions of visitors? Will I pay hefty charge for the huge data transfer?"

Of course, most websites won’t go past their bandwidth quota by high traffic alone, but if you provide some files for downloads in your website, it can potentially happen.

4. Unlimited Storage’s Catch.

Unlimited Storage seems like a great offer doesn’t it? That’s what some web hosting services want you to think. But, there is no such a thing as "Unlimited Storage".

Unlimited Storage seems like a great offer doesn’t it? That’s what some web hosting services want you to think. But, there is no such a thing as Unlimited Storage.

Have you ever study the TOS of your web hosting service completely? If you’re like many people, you‘ll scan it and don’t read it carefully. Somewhere in the TOS there is a section that mentions CPU/Server Usage. To sum it up, basically it says if your web site uses more than a certain amount of storage, it violates the TOS and will subject to termination. Of course, it is necessary for just about every hosting service to have something like that in their Terms of Service to protect resources on their servers from improper usages. However, many web-hosting services are using the CPU/Server Usage to get around their Unlimited Storage promises.

5. Research and Find out More About Them.

One common way is to insert the following query "web_hosting_company sucks" and see what are the results returned. You’ll be surprise by the amount of consumers that had complained about their web host.

This list may give you an idea but you should not take it for granted because:

  • Unfair count. Large companies tend to disappoint more people because they have more disgruntled customers, although they might be only an extremely small percentage of the overall customer base.
  • Bias and subjective verdicts. Statements on personal blogs can sometimes be highly subjective, biased and influenced. Any rebuttals can potentially deleted by the site owners to give one-sided impression.
  • Complaints are common. It is easier for some people to rant than to praise. In general, if a web host performs smoothly, they’re just doing their job and if it doesn’t, then it deserves all the bad reviews. That’s just what we do :)

6. Buy & Save with Commission Rebates or Coupons.

In an online business like web hosting service, where companies are ready to pay one year of revenue for one customer, it might be unwise to go shopping without finding for commission rebates or coupons. Of course you’ll find many hosts that don’t give out coupons, or don’t even have an affiliation program, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good hosts.

7. Do Your Own Backup.

The following question might have crossed your mind – Should we trust and rely on our hosts to backup our files? Of course not. While the host needs to perform regular backups, it can be considered unwise not to do off-site backups.

The following question might have crossed your mind – Should we trust and rely on our hosts to backup our files? Of course not. While the host needs to perform regular backups, it can be considered unwise not to do off-site backups.

8. Use a One-Time Credit Card or PayPal.

Always use PayPal for transaction if you are not an American and PayPal is the only US Dollars you have. It may be impractical, slow and costly to ask your local bank do the conversion. If you have no choice but to use your Credit Card, make sure the company is a reputable one to avoid ending up an unpleasant ride.

9. Avoid Long-Term Contracts Unless You Trust them.

We’ve seen how companies giving us ridiculous discount for paying two years up-front. Unless the web host has an excellent track record, else think twice.

Editor’s note: This post is written by Raja for Hongkiat.com. Raja maintains the community-powered web hosting reviews site HostWisely.com. He regularly publishes interesting articles on web hosting, web development and the latest hosting deals and coupons.

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