Why Web Hosting Companies Tend To Lie? Or How Not To Be Mistaken When Choosing A Shared Hosting
The question of choosing a high quality web hosting sooner or later come up as a problem for any webmaster. The total number of websites in the world is growing rapidly and every website should have its own server space. This factor makes hosting to be the most popular online service, along with the development of the website. The simplest type of hosting is shared web hosting. It is available for most users, thus when speaking about hosting in general, it is meant shared hosting by default. In this article, I am going to share my own experience of cooperation with hosting providers, tell about some specifics that users should know before choosing hosting, debunk some hosting companies’ myths, and give some more interesting things that might be useful, but are commonly not talked about.
About ten years ago I had to find a webhosting for my own project for which I had high hopes. I was convinced that people would be spending days on my website and there would be, if not millions, then at least thousands of them for sure. It was fare to think that such huge traffic would require a powerful dedicated server. I’ve analyzed the most popular offers of the US hosting providers. By the way, I haven’t searched the topic of choosing a hosting before and oriented in the question only superficially. But knowledge comes with experience, and now, when I’ve tried more than a dozen of different hosting companies (Shared, VPS, Dedicated hosting), I can expertly point out the problems, that a person, who needs a hosting, can face, and how hosting companies exaggerate their positive aspects of service and hide the negative. And the existence of negative moments is huge. So if you don’t want to waste money – you should read this article to the end.
But let’s look at the story step by step. In 2005, wandering around hosting companies’ sites I saw an offer that surprised and made me laugh at the same time. A kind of hosting offered UNLIMITED Sites, UNLIMITED Bandwidth and a lot more UNLIMITED stuff in a usual shared hosting plan for only 9.95 USD! WOW!! Why should I purchase an expensive dedicated server that have a monthly cost higher than a cost of a shared hosting for a year? I’ve called to the tech support and asked if it is true that Bandwidth will be unlimited? An assistant on the other side of the wire ensured me that everything will be exactly as described in the plan on the website. Then I asked if I can buy their wonderful plan for my website and explained that it has thousands of visitors every day that constantly download video, photo and other content. The voice of an assistant changed rapidly and she called a senior assistant. He explained that unlimited was a suppositive condition and Bandwidth is limited by the server’s CPU load. Also as a client I am allowed to use only 3,5% of the power of the CPU. Unlimited Sites as well had an explanation – yes, I could place as many websites on this hosting as I want, but the limitation considered the number of MySQL Database – no more than 10! Thus, I could place only 10 websites with CMS and plenty of static websites. Of course, if I haven’t made the call, I would simply lose money and nerves.
About hiding the negative specifics or even simply lying to clients I found later when changed one hosting provider to another, then after a year another, and so on. I’ve also tried different hosting services for my new websites and by making mistakes I found out more and more about specifics of shared hostings. So, these are my own 10 recommendations in relation to the choice of a shared hosting:
1. Don’t get distracted by a low price
Often in the header of a website you can find a very tasty offer – “only 2.99 per month – and only now”! This means that you will buy only a first month or couple of months for this price and no more. Then you will pay the full cost of hosting that already includes the difference in the first few months of a price on sale. There also may be the situation when you buy hosting for a year at a price cheaper than a regular. But the prolongation of the hosting for the next year will cost you much more, and sometimes even more expensive than buying a hosting for the first year even without the discount!
Many webmasters can say: “Then I will simply change a hosting provider!” In practice, this often does not happen – there was no time to find another web hosting, I forgot my password in the web hosting account, I do not know how to transfer the site to another hosting provider, and sometimes – just pure laziness. Thus, 80% of clients continue to renew hosting despite the high prices. The same applies to “Free Domain Name!”. Yes, many hosting companies give a domain name for 1 year to customers who purchased their shared web hosting. But very few hosters renew domain names at fair prices, and you will again have to pay more because you are already sitting on a hook and it is easier to enter your credit card number to the already familiar space for you than looking – and where do I enter the new NS servers? and etc. So do not get fooled by super low prices – often it’s not just that simple.
2. Hostings’ ratings are a waste
Yes, it’s so – all hostings’ ratings are a simple waste! If you really want to use a recommendation of some kind of “TOP Best Web Hosting Services” then choose the second or a third position on the list, but not the first one. The top spots are usually given to the most profitable affiliate commission or just to those who paid for being on the first position. Generally it is even a monthly payment – only business baby, nothing personal!
Note, hosting companies on this image were taken at random – it doesn’t mean that all of them provide bad services.
Rarer is case, when marketers working on the hosting companies create their own websites ratings specifically for the promotion of its services. All hosting ratings have a desire to make quick money as an intermediary between the client and the hosting provider. He who pays the piper calls the tune! In one popular hosting rating site (I will not provide the URL so not to do negative advertising) sold five first places out of 10. And it is almost impossible to buy first and second place – they are sold by hosting companies for many months in advance.
3. Don’t rely on feedbacks and reviews
The reason – big money! Hosting industry revolves a lot of money and people, who supervise the business, will not allow the dissatisfied customers to write negative feedbacks and thereby reduce the profitability of the business. In marketing, there is even a corresponding service – Reputation Marketing. The essence of the service is simple – web pages with positive feedbacks are promoted by a search engine on request: “<Name Company> user reviews” and alike. And vice a versa, web pages, with the negative feedbacks are being removed or at least reduced by a search engine to place these pages in Google somewhere on the distant pages, where users rarely go. I know that many hosting companies also purchase Crowd Marketing services and use them not less often than the Social Media Marketing. Crowd Marketing – explains why there are so many positive and even enthusiastic reviews about some hosting companies in the network. Dozens or even hundreds of marketers write false positive reviews, many of which look as realistic as the real thing.
The goal is one – to get the audience believe in the extraordinary quality of the hosting provider, even if it really is not true. By the way, these marketing techniques are used in other niches.
4. Your friends can actually say the truth, but your experience can be way different
And this is true – your friends doesn’t wish you bad (more likely), but their experience can be not working in case of hosting. Large hosting companies have hundreds of industrial servers and host thousands of customers on each. Some servers are overcrowded with websites that have the old set, or simply technically weaker than others. For this and many other reasons, you can successfully buy a hosting and your friend buys a hosting in the same company but on a different server and will be disappointed by the quality of this hosting. And vice a versa. The fact is that it is impossible to guess at what web server your website would be placed and how well will this server be. Unfortunately hosting companies often do not bother with concerns about the actual performance – Up Time and the speed of your website.
For most hosting providers it is enough that your site is easy to open – about how much time it is needed for a page to load, and whether your visitors are eager to wait – it does not care.
5. 100% American tech support
Not always a claimed “100% American tech support” is really located in the US. To have a qualified tech support in the US is expensive. If at the same time it is 24/7 with thousands of clients – it is very expensive. But the modern outsourcing solves the problem – much cheaper is to hire the support somewhere in India, Pakistan and Ukraine, where the level of English language can be very high. So what’s the problem? – The problem – qualification. Such tech support often is unable to effectively solve your problem. Not because these guys from India are bad – they just do not have the necessary skills (those who have – are working in other positions) – their knowledge is usually limited by a FAQ database and no more.
Therefore, if the hosting provider as a justification for the high cost of its services states the “100% American tech support” – remember that it may be a lie.
6. Chose a hosting that will correspond to your goals
You have a WordPress website? – Choose a WordPress hosting – you will feel how comfortable it can be. You have a lot of visitors? – Use VDS/VPS or even a Dedicated server. Do not skimp on features of your hosting, but do not overpay for something that you do not need. For example, you have a commercial project and it is important for your website to work not only smoothly, but as well very quickly – pay attention to the SSD hosting and also make sure that your server is located at the same country as your business. Or another example – you have a small website but it has a lot of valuable content and its preservation is important to you. – Make sure that your hosting provider offers a service – Daily Database Backups. If it is done correctly – your data will be stored on an external server, but not on yours.
Most likely you will need to write each time a request to the tech support to get an access to their data, but in the case of technical problems with components or a server that hosts your website – you will always be able to restore a backup copy, because all the time your data was stored on another server. Most Shared web hostings provide free backup storage – but they store data on the same server. Yes, it is convenient, because you by yourself can go and take what you need, but in the case of serious problems – you will lose both the website and its backup copy.
7. Check the server load
Since many hostings guarantee refund within the first month – it makes sense to test your hosting properly, so that it would not face difficulties from the side of your hosting provider in future. First of all – check the server load. A server oversaturated by sites – the first reason why your website may operate slowly or periodically be offline. You can do this in two ways. The easiest is to measure changes in the loading speed of your website in normal times and during rush hours. You can use online software: www.speedtest.net and tools.pingdom.com/fpt.
The last one along with the website speed allows you to monitor many other parameters of your website. For example, to calculate the Up-time by pinging your website from various points around the world. If your website is out of reach for one or the majority of regions in the world – you’ll get a notice about it in the mail, phone or Skype. The second way is more accurate, but suitable for more advanced users. It requires the installation of special timers to the scripts of your website. By collecting and analyzing statistics on the time of loading web pages it becomes possible to precisely determine the load on the server at different times of the day. And if the web hosting provides SSH access – it is appropriate to use the command top. It is worth noting that this method requires your website to have at least a small traffic, and you to have at least some basic system administration skills.
8. Check the tech support
Remember – the professionalism and qualification of the tech support is what you can rely on in critical moments. If tech support remains silent for 20 hours and then gives a banal template response: “We checked your website and at the moment it is working without any problems. Let me know if I can help you in any other way.” – This is obviously not your hosting.
This is an example of conversation with one of the famous hosting companies that had just stopped to answer on tickets and solve the problem that appeared from their side.
I wasn’t able to take my money back – but now you know exactly which company is better not to buy hosting from.
Evaluate the work of the tech support by such parameters as: speed of response; utility; goodwill. Try in the first month of hosting purchase – access the support to clarify any issue. For example: Which versions of Php does the hosting support? or a question about backuping data and an access to them. To complicate the task – ask it at night or on the weekend. Remember that the pre-purchase tech support and tech support after you have purchased Web Hosting – are two different services. And if the pre-purchase tech support can answer your questions immediately and super professionally, when you become a customer – you are unlikely to get the same service.
9. The convenience of a cPanel, functional abilities of the hosting
Before buying hosting make sure that all the necessary software is installed on it. For example, you have an Asp website – check if hosting supports Asp. Most of the major web hosting companies have already taken care of the needs of customers – their servers have very different software and applications, but if your site requires special applications – you should think about it in advance. The presence of a functional and intuitive cPanel is a huge advantage for hosting. If there isn’t one, and it’s not the cPanel hosting – you should think again about the necessity of buying it.
10. Don’t hurry to buy a hosting for a long period
Despite how tempting is the hosting provider’s offer, and what discounts it gives on purchasing for a year, two or three – refrain from it. For a start buy hosting for a month or six months maximum. Make sure that the web hosting is really of a high-quality and fully satisfies you. And only after that, buy hosting for a long period. By the way – the best discount you can get on holidays: Christmas, Halloween or Black Friday.
Which Hosting I recommend? I am not comfortable to give a definite answer to this question. Today a good hosting can be provided by “this” company, a year or two – the quality of its services, unfortunately, can be much worse. There are a lot of such examples from my experience. Among the companies that please me for a long time (and I very much hope that this will continue) I can point out – https://mediatemple.net. In my case, it is a lucky variant for cooperation. Before making a choice of a hosting, think about it critically – make sure, that what it offers is what you need. After that, buy the hosting for a minimal period and test it. Everything ok? – Use the hosting further, if not – continue the search for a better hosting provider.