Site Hosting - What to look for and what to avoid
a web site hosting company is easy. There are thousands of
them, over 16,000 by one report with more being added all
the time. They range in size and the services they offer.
Finding a dependable hosting company, however, is not as easy
as it looks. Too many hosting companies are the electronic
equivalents of the worst used car salesmen. They lie on what
they offer with no intention of delivering on what they promise,
sell you a clunker that doesn't work as promised, overcharge
you, and ignore your messages when you e-mail or call trying
to resolve a problem.
Internet and its relative anonymity offer the opportunity
for people to pretend to be something other than what they
seem to be. Children can pretend to be hosting companies,
people with a computer in their bedroom or basement and a
DSL or cable modem line pretend to be hosting companies, people
with a shared server reseller account pretend to be companies
with their own servers, people using tools like Front Page
and others and templates pretend to be site designers even
though most have no knowledge of HTML and other important
design elements. Only movie making can surpass the kind of
illusion that the Internet makes possible.
of companies that promise unlimited resources, especially
bandwidth or data transfer. They lie. Unlimited bandwidth/data
transfer is an impossibility. Much of the time, they are gambling
that the offer of unlimited bandwidth or disk space will get
your business (money) and that you may not even approach the
very real and finite limits they have. There are a few places
that legitimately offer some unlimited resources under particular
conditions, but far fewer than advertise them. Along with
bandwidth use is cpu /resources usage. Many hosts have limits
mentioned in their terms of service.
of companies that treat your site creation and hosting as
a package deal. Some will refuse to give you access
to your site so that you are forced to have them perform any
changes and redesigns. They often overcharge for their work,
which is why they hold your site hostage.
of the companies that rate hosting companies. For
the most part, those ratings were bought with advertising
dollars. Many of those rating companies are owned by a hosting
company. No big surprise there. Even if the rating company
doesn't rate its host, it may have a reciprocal arrangement
with one of the other rating companies, trading a high rating
of each other's hosting companies. None of this is speculation
but has been confirmed in our research on the subject and
candid admissions by some individuals in that business.
The only reviews and rankings on WebHostingDeal are those
submitted by users. WebHostingDeal does not review, rank,
or recommend any hosting companies. For more information on
how WebHostingDeal provides the most accurate and unbiased
information available please see the following page.
of the companies that charge for a year in advance or obligate
you to a year long contract for a shared (virtual) server
account. It's a sweet deal for them, and often a
sour one for you. A company that is long on promises and short
on keeping them, benefits greatly when you pay for a whole
year. Remember, many of these companies make their money from
a constant influx of new customers, not by providing service
to the ones they have. When you pay for a year in advance,
you make it easy for them to fleece you. Some offer discounts
as an inducement to have you pay yearly, while others simply
require it. If you read their Terms Of Service (TOS), chances
are they say no refunds are allowed and that they can close
down your account for a variety of reasons, even penalizing
you for your success (referred to as using an excessive amount
of resources, what they term as abuse). You can look at it
this way, if they are as good as they say they are , you'll
probably stay with them anyway. If they aren't, you've either
lost money by prepaying that far in advance, stuck with a
bad host for a year, or both.
that this does not apply as regards dedicated servers. Because
of the committment of hardware and other resources, a six
or twelve month contract is typical for dedicated server hosting.
of the companies that hide their Terms Of Service (TOS).
Terms of service are the web hosting equivalent of reading
the fine print on a contract, with an important distinction.
With the fine print, at least you are aware of its existence.
Not so with TOS. Many companies fail to disclose them until
you violate them, which is too late to do you any good. That
is when you often find out that the unlimited bandwidth and
traffic they advertise has very definite limits. However,
once your account has exceeded those limits and been disabled
is not the proper time to learn the terms of service. The
proper time is right up front before you have committed to
them as a customer. Some refer to their TOS as Acceptable
Use Policy (AUP).
can't judge by appearance. This simple premise applies
to many things in life and applies as well when selecting
a hosting company. Some of the worst hosts have an attractive
web site and offerings and would indeed be excellent if their
service and attitude were equal to the impression their web
site is meant to give. Some hosting companies have started
in garages (our first host started in a bedroom) and do not
have the facilities or equipment to ensure your site will
remain operational to the fullest extent.
can't trust the claims made by many. They advertise
their servers are up 99.9% of the time, but how do you know
for sure? Nobody monitors these companies so they can claim
whatever they want to. The testimonials on their sites, if
not fabricated, are only from satisfied customers. Do you
think they would print the truth from any of the customers
they have abused? One of the hosts we used in the past shut
our account down when we challenged them to print our testimonial
to their ineptitude. Many advertise a 30 day money back guarantee
and don't keep that promise either. Once they have your credit
card number, they begin charging far more than they told you
some seemingly legitimate companies lie, and it can cost you
in many ways. Most will have stated policies against spamming
(the sending of unsolicited bulk e-mail) simply because it
is expected that they have such policies. Unfortunately, some
companies are hypocrites and do not honor those policies.
They tolerate spammers on their system or may spam themselves.
Choosing such a host can cost you in many ways.
You may find yourself cut off from a sizeable portion of the
Internet. Your e-mail may be blocked and rejected by many
servers that block all e-mail coming from systems that tolerate
abusers. Approximately forty percent (40%) of servers subscribe
to the MAPS RBL alone, though there are other ways of blocking
sites. Be sure to check The Spamhaus Project to see if any
host you are considering is listed there. It is one of the
steps in keeping you from making a bad choice.
(often, actually) big is too big. Some sites boast
of thousands of accounts that they host. This is meant to
impress you and suggest that if 50 or 60 thousand other customers
have chosen them, that you should too. What they don't tell
you is that they may have lost 20 or 30 thousand of those
customers, or they may have turned over many more times that
amount in dissatisfied customers. Many of these companies
make their money from getting new customers, not from keeping
the existing ones by honoring their commitment and providing
good service. They load hundreds of accounts, even thousands,
on each server, all sharing many of the same resources, which
affects your site and all others you share the server with,
especially if you have any cpu (processor) intensive programs
or functions. This is one of the reasons many of the advertised
unlimited resources are not unlimited. They may disable your
account when your site uses more than its fair share of resources
(we've had that happen too), or start charging your credit
card for more than you bargained for.
companies can offer something the large ones can't, personalized
service. That can make a big difference in helping your site
make the most from being on the Internet.
that are Internet access providers do not offer any advantages
over companies that are solely in the hosting business. Their
core business is providing access and even many companies
that excel at that are deficient in their hosting service.
Some have file restrictions that make them impractical for
all but the simplest of sites, those where no additional programs
will need to be added. There may be attractive financial packages
from combined services, but these can be secondary or tertiary
to more important concerns.
cheap is too cheap. It is perfectly natural, even
expected, to seek the best deal one can get. For a business
site, the best value may be much less expensive than the lowest
price. Remember, many sites advertise low prices to get a
constant influx of new customers. They have to as many of
their present ones leave them. You get what you pay for. The
poor service at so many companies means frequent changes from
one host to another in search of a decent one. That can be
costly, between the time lost in transfers, reinstalling and
reconfiguring your programs, down time of your site, lost
sales, lost exposure, inability of certain programs to operate
bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness
of the low price is forgotten.
What to look for
may want to choose a host that you can grow with, one that
you can afford now, can handle all your site requirements,
and one that can handle any growth you may experience. This
includes e-commerce, databases, and keeping abreast of Internet
technologies. Having a plan for your growth and how to accommodate
you is certainly a desirable feature and indicative of a host
looking towards the future and betterment of your company.
will promise that, so you will want a hosting company that
is the opposite of the ones to avoid, one that does not make
false claims and does not promise you any more than they are
prepared to deliver, one that gives you access to your site
and files even if they perform all design work for you, one
that cares about its existing customer base and proves it
through its actions, one that can furnish references of customers
you can communicate with directly, and one that you can communicate
with and not be ignored.
wisely. Whatever amount of time you spend in selecting a proper
host will be well worth it.
might start by making a list of your needs. Keep in mind that
the great majority of sites use substantially less than 1
gb of transfer per month and less than 5 mb of hard disk space.
Disk space is cheap enough that offering as much as most sites
may need is not a problem. Many hosts offer far more than
you may need and it can be less confusing if you know what
your requirements are.
additional disk space is cheap and can be included at no additional
cost, bandwidth must be paid for. Please see our information
on bandwidth for a greater understanding of it. You should
know which method you host uses as it will affect you.
expect to get reliable or prompt service from a free or too
cheap host. You might, but the odds are against it. Many hosting
companies make their money from a constant influx of new customers
and are not at all concerned with providing proper service
to their existing customer base. On the other hand, you could
pay too much. There are companies that charge an exorbitant
amount for hosting a simple web site. This may be due in part
to offering more services than you need, especially programs
that require a license fee every year. You may be subsidizing
the cost of these services for others. Regardless, you might
simply be paying too much. There are many companies that set
their prices high and take advantage of the ignorance of customers.
too often, this is one of the last things many people consider,
if they think of it at all, yet it is one of the most important
factors. Typically, a lack of support is a precipitating factor
in finding a new host and is a more important factor the second
or third time around.
is not the job of hosting companies to teach basic web design
elements, assist in installing scripts, and other services.
Some will have information and links on their sites for the
convenience of their customers. Nevertheless, there are some
smaller hosting companies that offer personalized service
and will assist you with any needs. If you are a novice at
web and hosting related matters (as most small business people
are likely to be), you may prefer such a host.
you talk to a real person when you need to? If you need help,
an answering machine or e-mail may not be up to the task,
either of solving your problem or solving it with expediency.
Sometimes, there is no substitute to speaking to a person,
yet this is not possible at many companies, even if the problem
could be solved in a minute or two.
is a multi faceted issue and deals with the reliability of
the company as well as their hardware and Internet connections.
Just as a preponderance of HTML editing tools has allowed
most anyone to label themselves as web site designers, though
they may have little knowledge and skills, so too do many
people call themselves hosting companies. Some are children,
teenagers, and host from their bedroom or basement using DSL
or cable modems as their connection. Others may have marginally
better connections. Some will host on a shared server and
are resellers for the actual hosting company. A more professional
company will have their own dedicated or colocated servers
at a network operations center (NOC).
should be aware of the hardware and connections to the Internet
a host has, even if you aren't very familiar with what they
mean. In the course of your investigation, you can ask others
who do know. As far as connections, you should expect multiple
T3 or OC3 (or above) connections.
guarantee is only as good as the company behind it. Don't
be fooled by the presence of a guarantee. It cannot compensate
for an inferior company. A reputable company will seek a reasonable
solution regardless of guarantees. You should base your decision
on other factors and not rely on a guarantee. If the company
is not trustworthy, a guarantee won't change that. It is nothing
more than a promise from a liar. If a company cares about
giving good customer service, it will do it regardless of
the presence or absence of any guarantees.
may wish to select a host that offers statistical reporting,
as many do. This will allow you to track many things, from
how visitors are feinding your site, to where they come from
and what keywords they use in search engines. Programs such
as Webtrends and Wusage report on this information and much
are other, minor factors that might be taken into consideration,
though the information above should prove useful to the majority