Web Hosting Consumer Guide

A good hosting is very important to any website. They are the 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.

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 throwing 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 does it mean? 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% markup 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, the 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 a 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 website 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 surprised by the number 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 delete 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 the 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 a 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.

Choosing a web hosting company is a vital phase in the launch of any digital project. With so many different aspects to take into consideration, ranging from security to up-time to support, it’s difficult to sift through the thousands of web hosting companies offering what seems like a similar level of service.

But in fact, there is a method to the madness, and we’ve spoken to industry experts to understand what brands should look out for when choosing a web hosting company.

1. Evaluate and Understand Your Hosting Needs
First things first, you need to know your requirements as an online company. “It is the most important to prepare at least rough estimations of what resources will be required to keep the site running. Starting with daily visitors estimate is a very healthy practice,” said Daugirdas Jankus, Head of Marketing at Lithuania-based Hostinger International.

Without at least a general understanding of how many visitors your project will get, you’ll end up either paying far too much for an unnecessarily large (and expensive) server, or far too little for a server that can’t keep up with the amount of traffic your website or application generates.

2. Scrutinize Security Measures
Cybersecurity is a major concern for small and large companies alike. When it comes to selecting a web host, you need to ensure their security track record, as well as the protocols they have in place to defend against cyberattacks in all their forms. Dalerie Wu, Senior Marketing Manager at Diamond Bar, Calif.-based Zenlayer, highlighted this point. “Many companies have experienced downtime due to DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks, including Amazon, New York Times, Airbnb, GitHub, Pinterest and WIRED. [Brands need to ensure] their chosen web host offers DDoS protection, as well as other security services like web application firewall and encryption,” Wu advised.

As a side note, if you will be sharing customer data with your web host, you’ll also want to be sure of their GDPR compliance. As the GDPR points out, a brand can be held responsible for sharing data with non-compliant third-parties.

Related Story: How Will the GDPR Impact Third-Party Lead Generation?

3. Inspect The Infrastructure
The state and strength of the infrastructure of a website host is incredibly important. Jankus pointed out that nowadays, it is relatively easy to set up a server and start hosting websites for people, “but it’s difficult to do it well”. The difference between the best and the rest, is the infrastructure that the web host leans upon. Wu listed a few different questions that brands should pose to potential web hosts concerning their infrastructure.

How many uplink carriers does the hosting company have at each hosting location?
What is the total bandwidth that the company has at each hosting location? This will help to determine peak time performance.
What is their network topology? Here, we’re looking for redundancy, and preferably with diverse carriers, to ensure up-time.
How many peers does the hosting company have? More peers usually means lower IP transit cost, better user experience and increased network resiliency.
Does the company offer dedicated connections/lines to provide more reliability and security? This one isn’t a must, but it’s a bonus.
Finally, David Vogelpohl, VP of Web Strategy at Austin, TX.-based WP Engine, mentioned that, “the geography of the hosts’ data centers also influence their ability to serve your customers.” So, if your customers are predominantly US-based, it’s best to stick with a host that uses servers inside the United States.

4. Factor In Scalability
Scalability is another key dimension to consider, as your requirements (which you should have ascertained before you began your search, as previously mentioned) may change. When that change occurs, you don’t want to be forced into switching your web host. Instead, it’s wise to choose a hosting company that can accommodate your growth. “Scalability of potential hosting provider must be evaluated. We all plan to grow our businesses. It is important to have the partner which is flexible enough to support your growth by handling increasing “hunger” for resources of your infrastructure,” said Jankus.

Related Article: 13 Headless CMSs to Put on Your Radar

5. Consider Specialist Hosting Companies
Some hosting companies are welcoming to businesses of all forms, But some have niched down, specializing in working with brands using certain technologies or working within certain industries. This is a point that Vogelpohl emphasized to CMSWire. “Brands should consider the business focus of the host to see if that aligns with their business and technology [stack]. Determine if the host is focused on your particular size of business or the technologies you use to support your website. Managed hosts which help you manage the performance of the application layer (such as WordPress, Adobe Experience Manager or Sitecore) often include products and performance features which can give you an advantage over a generalist host,” he said.

6. Before You Jump, Test The Waters
It’s also wise to remember that choosing a web hosting company doesn’t have to be impulsive or based purely on a sales pitch. In some cases, the company will allow you to test their service — which is definitely an option you should consider before taking the plunge. “While you can do due diligence on all the points made above, the easiest way to determine if a host is good for you is to sign up for the host, clone your site, and test to see if the platform will deliver a ‘performant’ experience, said Vogelpohl.

Web hosting — it’s the phrase of the hour nowadays,  and it’s what you really need to create a website. The process of choosing a web host company is not that easy. The market of these services has grown a lot in the last few years. You will have a ton of options to choose from.

The severe competition on this market makes different companies provide free bonuses to attract more customers. Now, not all companies can afford to offer such conditions and use some tricks that show themselves in better light—and some web hosts just play dirty.

Tips for Choosing Proper Web Host

Protect yourself from the most common tricks by following our tips.  You will know what features to pay attention to and what requires more research when looking for a truly reliable web host. With that said, keep in mind that we are presenting the most widely used tricks and scams, but there are plenty more out there. Thus, checking the web for web host reliability info is a must.

Traffic Speed and Capacity

Many web host companies will tell you they have unlimited bandwidth/traffic/whatever. Some truly have that great feature, but other will provide you “limited unlimited” bandwidth. How does it work? There are several options.

In most cases, you will be offered unlimited volume of traffic, but the transfer speed will be restricted to something like 1Mb/s. If your project is brand new, that restriction will not affect you, but you will definitely see the effects of this restriction as your project grows.

Some other web hosts will give you great traffic speed, but with some capacity limits, while. a small group of web hosts will really provide you with no limits for traffic speed and capacity, but will set a definite number of users who can access your website monthly. Make sure  you examine your user agreement closely–especially the paragraphs regarding traffic speed.