If you’re just starting out on the Internet and don’t know what Band-Aid is, choosing the right web hosting for your website can be a daunting task. If you’re a complete beginner, the only thing you’ll be able to compare is price. But if you do a quick Google search for web hosting, you’ll see ads for everything from $10 a year to $25 a month. Do you want to go for the cheapest option because you want to save money while you’re getting your business up and running? The first thing you should rule out is free hosting. There are plenty of great free resources online, including great anti-virus, anti-spyware software. But if you’re running a hobby website, free hosting won’t do you much good if you want to achieve credibility with your visitors and search engines.
I learned a hard lesson: cheap web hosting isn’t always as good as it seems. When I first started looking for web hosting for my new site, I had top-notch hosting that came with my first site. I could add on extra domains for $5 a month, which was pretty cheap, but I figured it would be better to host my new website all on my own (you know the old “all in one basket”). As soon as I started looking around, it seemed like there were a million web hosts out there offering what (unbeknownst to me) looked pretty much the same but at wildly different prices. So I decided to go with a cheap web hosting package. It was £1 a month (which at the time was around $1 a day) and I got exactly what I bargained for. At first, everything went smoothly: I paid, they took care of my website, and then things started to go wrong. You don’t realise you’ve bought rubbish web hosting until things go wrong.
The first sign of trouble came a couple of months later, when I couldn’t find my site. I filed a support ticket, waited four days, and got a reply “everything seems fine now”. Four days of not getting a word from support left me more than a bit worried. After that, things seemed okay for a while, but then I logged in to my control panel and got a message saying the license fee hadn’t been paid. I filed another support ticket, and this time the reply was quicker (it only took me two days). Still, it didn’t do much good. The reply said “It looks like it’s a whole site issue”. Did I feel better because it was a whole site issue, not just my site issue? I don’t think so. They must have finally paid the license fee, because after a couple of days, I was able to log back in.
After this, I wanted to migrate to a new host, but I had never migrated a website before and thought it would be very difficult and technically difficult (it’s actually very easy). Because of this fear, my website stayed where it was. Then, when my domain name went up for renewal, I went to the hosting company’s website to make the payment. I went to their website and their PayPal link and their credit card options didn’t work. I saw several error messages on the pages I went to. I sent emails to the support and billing departments of the hosting company, but they didn’t get back to me. The only way I could arrange payment was through their website. Every time I went to the website, I saw more error messages. Nothing worked. It started to look like the site was melting down. It looked like the company just packed up and walked away.
Inquiries showed that I could only renew my domain ownership via the hosting company as they registered the domain name on my behalf. They retained control of the domain. Since I couldn’t get in touch with them, I had only two options: One was to pay a very expensive (and non refundable) agent to try to get in touch with the hosting company to negotiate the purchase of the domain name. The other option was to forfeit the domain ownership. The first thing you should look for when choosing web hosting is quality support. The easiest way for a company to keep prices down is to provide poor support. Forget about unlimited bandwidth, 100’s of emails, spam filters, etc. If support doesn’t exist, don’t give this company a chance, no matter how great their other terms are.