If you’re like most website owners, you took advantage of that free or low cost hosting offered when you registered your domain. Especially if it was for a free shared hosting package, it just made sense at the time to tick one more item off your to-do list. Unfortunately, not all hosts and servers are created equally. In fact, if you go with a subpar web host, you might be losing revenue and customers without even knowing it.
There are many ways to start an online business without breaking the bank, but remember that sometimes you really do get what you pay for. Don’t go with free or cheap hosting based on the monthly price alone. Figure out what the guaranteed uptime is, what compensation you’ll get if the host doesn’t deliver, how many other clients are sharing “your” specific server and how easy it is to get customer service.
Unfortunately, you might find out too late (like when the server’s down) that you got stuck with a loser of a host. Here are a few signs to watch out for:
- Beware of Free Hosting
There are some instances when free hosting is perfectly fine—like when you just want a personal blog to create a cat fashion gallery for Fluffy. However, if you’re depending on your website to turn a regular profit and need to ensure guests can checkout with minimal disruptions, think twice. Compare statistics, promises and fine print amongst web hosts to find a solution that works for your business.
- They Have Banker’s Hours
Is the server only going to have issues Monday through Friday from nine to five? That’s doubtful. In fact, if Murphy’s Law has anything to say about it, your server will go down at 5am on Cyber Monday (assuming you’re in the e-tail space, of course). Ideally, your web host has 24/7 support and prioritizes customer care.
- There’s Only One Way to Contact Them…
…and that way doesn’t work for you. What it you travel internationally frequently, don’t like talking on the phone, or a videoconferencing method is just what you prefer? A good web host will cater to their clients, and that means offering a variety of ways to connect. If there’s only one method and you don’t like it, you’re really not going to like it when you find out the server’s down during a rush.
- They Try to Upsell
Did it feel like you were going through an old school car sales gauntlet when you set up your hosting package? It’s going to be like that every time you need to contact them. Whether it’s adding on search engine optimization services, pushing you to upgrade to a dedicated server when you can’t afford it, or trying to get you into a contract when you prefer month to month, you shouldn’t dread talking to your web host.
- Their Reviews are Terrible
It’s unrealistic to expect 100 percent glowing reviews of every business (in fact, if that’s the case, that’s a red flag for review bombing in itself). However, if the reviews are dismal and many reviewers complain of the same thing, what makes you think your experience will be different?
You deserve a host with the most—or at least a reasonable approach to customer service and support. After all, if your host drops the ball, your audience will blame you (not them).