The holidays are in full swing, and that means you’ll be seeing all kinds of deals and discounts from web hosts around the world. However, how can there be killer deals when free web hosting is rampant? Web hosts, for better or worse, often rely on the ignorance of their customers to build a client base. Web hosting and servers are confusing, brimming with jargon, and for the most part people don’t really understand what’s making their site slow—is it the web host, the design, or a poor Wi-Fi signal? Unless something drastic happens like hours of downtime on a regular basis or a security breach, people don’t do much web host research.
However for those who are “kind of” shopping for a new web host, the holidays are ripe with offers. You can get deals of 50 percent off, free web hosting for a package that’s usually paid only, and a bevy of other alleged bargains. How can you tell when it’s really a deal or when it’s just good marketing? Here are a few clues to help you out:
1. Ask how many clients you’ll be sharing with
Most website owners rely on a shared server. However, sharing a server is kind of like sharing a pizza. It’s no big deal when there are just three of you, but what if 20 people want to share that pizza? Someone’s going to be going hungry, or maybe you’ll be democratic and everyone will get just a single bite. If you want to get the most out of your free hosting, make sure you know how many hands are in the pot.
2. Find previously written “proof” of the non-discounted price
It’s pretty easy for anyone to slap on a price with “35% off” and call it good. Do you know for sure that this is a discounted price? Try searching for cached versions of landing pages, or do a simple Google search with the non-discounted price plus the domain name. If you can find evidence of a previously higher price, you might really be getting a bargain.
3. Read the fine print
You get free hosting or a certain percentage off for how long? How much uptime is guaranteed? What does their contract breakage policy look like, or what kind of security are they promising? You wouldn’t sign any other contract without actually reading it, so don’t make that mistake with your web host.
4. Read their reviews
Perusing the testimonials on the web host’s website is pretty useless (after all, they’ll only post the best). There’s a reason the vast majority of people trust online reviews according to Search Engine Land, so do your research. Remember that no reviews (for an established company), 100 percent glowing reviews, or less than 90 percent positive reviews are all red flags.
5. Be wary of urgent sales tactics
If the pitch starts to sound like an infomercial, be wary. It’s of course common to have a deadline for deals, but if you feel rushed and bullied into signing up, it might be because the web host doesn’t want you to discover their flaws. Take your time, and remember that “act now!” tactics are usually all fluff.
Do you need a new website? Maybe, especially if you’ve had too much downtime, a slow website that’s not on your end, or you feel like you’re overpaying.