There are thousands of web hosts out there—some of them are quality yet still offer free services, some charge an arm and a leg yet still give subpar service, and most are somewhere in the middle. However, most website owners don’t even know what web hosts do, let alone understand what kind of power they have. Chances are, someone who built a website cheap (or free a la WordPress and other such platforms) isn’t going to be quick to pay for quality hosting.
The good news? There are plenty of budget-friendly hosting packages out there that’ll treat you, your website, and your visitors right. It’s pretty easy to get unlimited storage and unlimited traffic, but you have to read the fine print. It’s not enough to assume you can add pages, images, and get more traffic with nary a bump.
For many web hosts, they have a “resource usage clause” which defines the percentage of your website which is loaded. If you start getting too crazy with the size, their server’s CPU usage and memory can get overwhelmed.
One Strike, You’re Out!
It’s nearly guaranteed that you have “shared hosting” since only big sites that get thousands of visitors per day need dedicated hosting. This means you’re sharing your server with other websites—sometimes hundreds more. Some budget web hosts save money by cramming as many clients onto one server as they can. This helps cut down their costs, but you’re the one paying (even if it’s “free”).
However, it’s not enough for some web hosts to play Jenga with their clients. If you start using too many resources or your site gets too demanding, it can be shut down without warning. After all, your web host doesn’t want your high demands to impact the sites you’re sharing the server with because that means complaints will start rolling in. Others might cancel their packages. You’ve become a liability.
Act Now, Assess Later
The first clue you get is when your website seemingly disappears. Most often, if your web host isn’t forthcoming with this clause, this will happen when your first traffic boost occurs. Obviously, the timing couldn’t be worse for you. However, that’s what you get when you choose a web host with little technical support. It could take hours or days to get an explanation. In really bad situations, you might even get blamed for “poor website design” and get told your web host “had” to take down your site.
The worst part? You’re just one of many clients, so web hosts might not care that you’re in a jam. This is especially true if you’ve already paid into a contract. You have to options: Upgrade or renege. Either way, they’re getting more out of you or getting rid of you. Luckily, you can easily switch hosts with tips from Life Hacker.
A few bad apples
This is a worst case scenario, but it happens more often than you think. Some web hosts take advantage of the fact that most people don’t know much about hosting. However, there are quality hosts out there who won’t kick you to the curb as soon as you get popular. Ask questions, do your research, and find out about any clauses. If the web host isn’t forthcoming, that’s a red flag.
You can get quality at a cheap price, but it doesn’t come easily. Think of it as a treasure hunt—would that chest of gold really be sitting in the open?