Learning to understand advertising jargon is essential whenever you are looking to buy a service or product. The process of “selling” themselves to the consumer is no different for web hosting companies; everyone wants your business, and they’re prepared to promise you the world in an attempt to get it.
Spotting web hosting companies advertising jargon is fairly simple. The most obvious ruse is used on pricing.
For example, a company may bill their web hosting as “$9.99 per month” – which may sound like a good deal. Many people starting up with their own website will like the idea of paying monthly for their web hosting, as it is less of an financial outlay initially.
However, in most cases, the “per month” figure is just the year figure divided by 12 – you still have to pay up front for an entire year, which in this case would be $119.88. That is a substantial financial outlay; and by that point, you might be ‘sold’ on other aspects of the plan and will just go ahead and pay it – even though you may be able to find cheaper elsewhere. The initial low figure of “per month” is used to attract the eye and drag you in, and then hit you with the full price when you don’t expect it.
Always watch out any asterisk use in web hosting advertising. Most companies will cram the truth of what they are offering underneath the main sales text; so if you see asterisks, go and find their corresponding section in the terms and conditions. That way, you’ll always be immune to flashy advertising banners, and will get a better deal because of it.
When you have made the decision to invest in a website for your business, service or even just personal use, it’s time to start looking for a web host. Of course, everyone wants the best web host in the world, but with all the options out there, how do you know who to choose?
Hopefully, this list should provide some answers to that very question…
- Check webmaster forums.
Webmaster forums are the best place to get recommendations for web hosting providers. The users of the forum rely on their website as their income, so they’ll know who is worth hosting with and who is a waste of time. Start a thread asking for recommendations, or just browse through until you have a general idea of which companies are worth trusting.
- Run Google searches.
As soon as you find a company you are interested in, it’s time to start checking them out. Run a Google search for their company name and sift through the results; if there’s anything bad to be said about them, you’ll find it. Add in words like ‘bad’, ‘poor’, ‘terrible’ and ‘useless’ to increase the chances of finding any poor user experiences of the company.
- Read the small print.
This is a truism in life, and it applies to web hosting too. Before you hand over your money to buy web hosting, you should always read the terms and conditions of the arrangement. If there’s anything you don’t like, either contact the web host for clarification, or go elsewhere. There are good web hosts out there, and by being diligent and following the above steps, you’ll find one.
Although free web hosting exists, there is no getting around the fact that a company has to pay for it somehow. This tends to result in you having to make do somewhere along the line. Yes, you’d like to have a website without ads on it, or at least have some control over what is being advertised. But if the hosting is free, then you may have to make do with distracting and potentially off-putting ads on your site. You’d hope for good tech support, but they have to pay for that “free hosting” and good tech support doesn’t come cheap.
However, not everyone has the budget to go with the more established, well-reviewed companies, so there has to be a third way, and that comes in the form of cheap web hosting. Yes, “cheap” is a relative term, but if you’re paying something to them, and a lot of other people are too, then it at least gives them a budget to spend on important little things like tech support people who know what a computer is and servers that don’t explode when someone actually visits your site.
Cheap web hosting has this in common with the more expensive type – there are good providers and bad providers. The more established big names in the sector are, generally, well-liked by those who use them and while you might not expect as much from them as you would from a blue-chip company there is a lot to be said for a fresh, inexpensive option – especially when you’re starting out.
Web hosting is a subject that divides opinion more fiercely than you might think. When people are arguing about what is most important in a web host, you can prepare for some strongly differing opinions. While there will be many who prefer that the web host has good tech support, and others will prize webspace above all else, a significant number of people will plump for uptime, every time. If your web host provides the right amount of uptime, the tech support won’t be so necessary (and you can always add more webspace later on).
Uptime is, however, essential no matter who you are and what your site is about. You might as well not have a website if it is going to spend more time displaying error messages to the people who want to read it. Most web hosts will promise in the region of 99.9% uptime. None can promise a hundred per cent, as this is an impossible promise, but you will note that the sites that offer 99.99% or 99.999% will be more expensive than those offering the simple 99.9. Nines are costly.
It is worth asking for proof if none is shown, or asking an impartial contact if the hosting company is as reliable as they say they are. It is one thing to lay claim to excellent uptime and quite another to reliably provide it.
There is evidence to suggest that, with the energy demand placed by web hosting and the increasing popularity of running your own website, the web hosting industry could be one of the larger polluters in the world within a decade. That, at least, is the claim being made by some of the newer web hosting companies on the block – and their claims are backed up by research. If you want your online endeavors to be green compliant, it may well be worth seeking one of the increasing number of green web hosting companies to host your site.
The idea behind these companies is that they purchase green energy credits which go towards creating energy through renewable sources. All the energy created – from whatever source – goes into a central grid, so although the demands of web hosting may be creating a negative environmental effect right now, they will at least be funding the increasing use of green energy sources – with an eye on making this the most common source of energy in time, and reversing some of the negative effect of web hosting at present.
It is particularly beneficial if you are running a site which reflects green interests, or are working in an industry with an eye on the environment, as you can display your green credentials at the foot of your site, showing that you are using an environmentally friendly web hosting company. The more people that do this, the better chance there is that the technology will improve in the future.
When you are running your own website for the first time, it is something of a rite of passage and what you want more than anything is for things to go smoothly. However, the old problem exists that those who are in something for the first time will find themselves facing a confusing situation, which can easily lead to them making the wrong decision. One place you can’t afford a bad decision is in your choice of web host.
A quick hunt around the Internet with the search term “Worst web host” and “web hosting nightmares” throws up some quite illuminating information. While the hosts themselves must remain nameless on this site, there are endless stories of awful tech support (not being able to get through, having an impossible time getting anything fixed when you eventually do get through, and plain rude staff), of unscheduled downtime, and in the case of one host porn being placed on the servers.
If you are paying for web hosting, you have the right to expect that it will do what it is sold as doing. Therefore, it is advisable to shop around for a host that offers what you need (in terms of bandwidth, pricing and customer support) and then looking for independent testimonials on the Internet. Don’t be put off by one story of poor service, but if it becomes a theme you should begin to wonder why that is. You’re entitled to expect good service, and if they can’t supply that they are no use to you.