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5 common mistakes to avoid when choosing your web hosting provider

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You have a lot on your plate when you start a new business. Choosing the best web hosting provider for your company website can seem like a chore, especially when you realize how many different options there are out there to choose from. There are thousands of web hosting providers vying for your business, each with completely different plans, and each of them can tell you precisely why they’re the best choice for you and your business.

Choosing the wrong web hosting service can prove disastrous down the line. In this article, we’ve put together the top five mistakes new web hosting buyers make so you can avoid falling into the same traps.

1. Using a free hosting service 

Free hosting services certainly seem like an impressive deal at first, and they can indeed be good enough for a basic personal blog or hobby website. But they’re a terrible choice for a business website. 

Many free hosting services survive by injecting pop-up ads and banners onto your site, making for bad customer experiences when people visit your website. Search engines like Google penalize websites residing on free hosting services in their search engine results, so you’ll get less traffic. With free web hosting, your website will typically be hosted on a sub-domain like yourcompany.myfreehosting.com, which does little for your reputation and is very off-putting to potential visitors.

As you might expect, free hosting services rank poorly for speed, reliability, uptime, and availability. And since you have paid nothing for the service, you can’t expect to get any compensation if the hosting service just disappears overnight, taking your website with it.

Free hosting services mostly exist to hook you into their services so you end up choosing their paid packages. These paid packages are usually more expensive than those offered by established web hosts, and you’ll be sharing a web server with hundreds or thousands of other free users. While some reasonably free hosting services do exist, we recommend you look at low-cost web hosting services instead if you’re on a tight budget.

2. Choosing a web hosting package with no refund guarantee 

A website hosting service that doesn’t have any refund guarantee is difficult to trust. There are so many variables in web hosting that it’s quite easy to choose the wrong package and quickly realize you’ve made a mistake. Any good hosting company will refund your money if you’ve made an errant purchase or you’re not happy with the package you’ve chosen. Stay away from website hosting companies that don’t.

Almost all good hosting companies offer money-back guarantees, but the guarantee length differs greatly. Most will offer to refund you in full within the first 30 days if you’re not happy for any reason, but some excellent web hosting companies offer a generous 90-day money-back guarantee.

3. Choosing a shared web hosting package when you need a VPS, or vice versa 

Most small businesses choose between shared web hosting and a virtual private server (VPS.) When you’re first starting out, you won’t notice much of a difference in the service you’ll get from shared web hosting and a VPS. With a VPS, your website is still hosted on infrastructure shared with other people, but you get your own private set allocation of resources such as CPU time, storage space, and bandwidth.

We advise you to opt for a VPS if you expect to quickly get high levels of traffic or if you want to install applications not supported on shared web hosting. Otherwise, you should just save some money and choose a reputable shared web hosting provider.

The more important consideration is how easy a web hosting company makes it to upgrade your plan in the future. Can you upgrade from shared hosting to VPS? Is it easy to add more bandwidth or storage to your hosting plan? Watch out for hosting companies that have excellent prices on their introductory web hosting packages but charge much more when you need to expand.

4. Buying based solely on price 

Some people think all web hosting is essentially the same, so they should choose the cheapest plan they can find. Others believe the best web hosting packages must cost more, so they choose a higher-priced package expecting a better service. So, which is the right approach?

There’s truth to both arguments. The cheapest web hosting plans have to scrimp on speed, storage, features, customer support, and infrastructure to offer such compelling prices. Don’t be fooled by low banner prices. You’ll often find many features you need have a hidden extra cost. On the other hand, some more expensive web hosts will tempt you with marketing jargon and features that don’t apply to your business.  

Consider where you expect your website to be one or two years from now and choose a web hosting package that’ll cover all bases. Avoid any cheap service you know you’ll outgrow soon, but there’s no need to overspend on a web hosting package with all the trimmings if your company won’t be ready to use all the features, bandwidth, and storage for a few years. Choose a web host that makes it easy to expand your plan when your business grows.

5. Not knowing your limitations 

Again, we stress that scalability is one of the most important considerations when choosing a web hosting service. You need to choose a plan that can grow with your business. If there are hard restrictions on how much bandwidth or storage you can use, for example, then you’ll experience great difficulties when the traffic to your website really takes off. Moving a website from one web host to another is tricky, so try to avoid it at all costs.

All website hosting providers have a long list of terms and conditions. It’s important to understand what you can and can’t do with the service before you sign up for a lengthy web hosting contract. For example, many hosting providers don’t allow you to use web hosting for personal file storage. Most will stipulate limits on streaming, prohibit the storage of certain types of media, and restrict certain applications that will put a strain on their infrastructure.

Some important features may be restricted, especially on cheaper hosting plans. Check with your web host if they allow you to use multiple POP3 email accounts, for example. Can you see usage and traffic statistics on your account? Can you install any WordPress plugins you want? Is e-commerce supported, or does it cost extra? Can you automatically schedule backups of your website? Cheaper hosting plans will look to charge you for these extra services whereas most hosting plans will include them automatically.

Finally, what level of support will the web hosting provider offer? Some managed hosting providers are there 24/7 to help you out on any technical problem relating to your web server, whereas others take a completely hands-off approach. The support you will receive from the web hosting provider makes a big difference to the amount of time and money your in-house staff will spend administering your website, and will therefore affect your bottom line.