Comparison shopping when getting a new web host should be taken seriously, but you need to do more than make sure they offer virtual private server/VPS hosting. In fact, know what to watch out for and you’ll find that web hosts let customers know—sometimes subtly—exactly what they have up their sleeve. For example, contracts should be very clear and straightforward. You need an easy out clause with no excessive fees if you want to scale up, down, or leave that web host. If it reads like Greek, trouble is brewing.
The good news is that most web hosts are straightforward with what they offer. If they only have basic and dedicated hosting, not VPS hosting, they’re not going to beat around the bush. However, here are the biggest red flags in addition to shady contracts customers should be on the lookout for:
- Less than 99 percent uptime: Every percentage point counts when you’re talking about uptime and downtime. There’s a big difference between 99.1 percent uptime and 98.8 percent. If a web host can’t guarantee at least 99 percent uptime, complete with an acceptable compensation package if they don’t deliver, keep shopping.
- Disk space: The reality is that you don’t need much disk space at all, but hosts will tout the hundreds of thousands of megabytes you’ll get because it sounds impressive. Basic sites don’t need much at all, and many big sites don’t gobble up gigabytes like you’d imagine. If your website is rich with a lot of videos, PDFs, and photos then decent disk space counts—but those websites are few and far between.
- Bandwidth: Since most people don’t really know what bandwidth is, it’s easy for subpar web hosts to manipulate you with this terminology. It all comes down to how many visitors you have on your website every month. Bandwidth is how much data is transferred from your site to those visitors per second. A lot of bandwidth, like disk space, isn’t necessary for the majority of website owners. Paying for more is usually a waste of money.
- Customer service: Always call a web host you’re considering because that interaction will tell you a lot. Ideally, you’ll never have to call your web host in a panic. However, if the worst happens (like a server crash), you want to ensure you’ll be treated kindly and professionally. Don’t find out that your web host has poor customer service the hard way.
- Types of hosting: There are three major types of hosting—basic, VPS, and dedicated. Within these three, there are various levels of managed or unmanaged hosting available. Almost nobody needs dedicated hosting (plus it’s very expensive). This leaves you with basic or VPS. Nowadays, the two cost the same (or very close). However, you get more control, security, and speed with VPS. Choosing it, and finding a host who offers it, is a no brainer.
Don’t get blindsided or distracted when shopping around. Keep this list handy, and you’ll become a pro at picking out red flags.