Searching for cheap hosting plans reminds me of the old story about the lady who found a beautiful snake dying by the side of the road. Entranced by the snakes beauty she picked the poor reptile up and carried it home where she lovingly nursed it back to health. She was so pleased when the snake recovered that she hugged him, and the snake promptly bit her. As she lay dying, she asked the snake how he could bite her after she had treated him so kindly. The snake replied, “not my fault lady, you knew I was a snake when you took me in.”
The moral of the story is that just because something looks good on the surface it does not necessarily mean that it’s good for you. Some cheap hosting plans are like that. On the surface they appear to be a great deal, but if you look closely at the offer you will find the true nature of the beast. Here are a few things to watch out for:
Some cheap hosting providers offer what appears to be huge quantities of web space and bandwidth plus the ability to host unlimited domains on one account. On the surface this appears to be a great deal. However, once you begin adding additional domains with moderate to heavy traffic, your bandwidth may not support the load, resulting in a complete shutdown of all your web sites. In addition, if your hosting provider limits the quantity of files on your account, the addition of more domains could easily exceed the file limitations in a very short time.
I recently read a statement on a popular cheap hosting site which boasts over a million customers. The owner stated that should you have an unresolved problem, you simply had to contact him and he would personally see to it that the issue was resolved for you. Amazing! Let’s look at that offer closely. Let’s say that on any given day only one percent of the million customers were dissatisfied with the support they received and took the owner up on his offer. The owner would receive 10,000 emails which, if his claim is to be believed, he would have to deal with personally. Could you give 10,000 people your personal attention every day? Frankly, rather than finding his offer of personal intervention reassuring, I found it a bit disturbing. Why, I wondered, did the owner feel the need to make such an offer? Does he or she have doubts as to the competency of the support staff to satisfy his customers? Has the company lost customers because of dissatisfaction with the support system. Although the company may indeed offer excellent support, claims such as this could indicate the need for closer scrutiny.
Every cheap hosting provider splashes the low priced cost of their hosting plans in big bold type on the web page. But is that the actual price or a special discount price you get for paying up to three years in advance? Some cheap hosting providers only offer annual payment plans, while others charge a higher fee if you prefer to pay on a monthly basis. In some cases, you would actually have to pay up to three years in advance to obtain the advertised hosting price.
Before selecting a hosting provider, you should do a search for reviews of the company. An old adage in marketing is that a satisfied customer may tell one person about a company while a dis-satisfied customer will tell five people about their experience. Failure to find any reviews at all is not necessarily a bad sign, since this can be attributed to several factors, such as the company’s size, age, and whether they offer an affiliate program. On the other hand, if your search reveals a substantial number of bad reviews then that hosting provider is probably not the right choice for your web site.
Almost every hosting provider limits the quantity of emails you may send out per hour. The reason for this is that sending out emails in large quantities can substantially slow down the server’s response time. On a shared server, this can affect not only your own site but many other customers sites as well. Not all cheap hosting providers tell you this in advance. Some wait until you exceed your limits then promptly suspend your account and even charge you additional fees for the excess emails you sent.
Frankly, If you will be sending out mass mailings then you should use an auto-responder service for the tasks. In addition to saving a great deal of time on your mailings, auto responder services offer a host of features such as scheduling your mailings to go out on specified days, tracking capabilities and spam bot workaround software that will help you increase the profit potential of you emails.
As stated earlier, some cheap hosting providers also set limitations on the quantity of files you can upload to your site. If you operate a large web site, you could find yourself dealing with sudden shutdowns of your web site and lost data since some providers have been known to erase files when a customer exceeds their limits.
Another often unadvertised limitation is the use of scripts. Before purchasing your hosting plan, make sure the scripts you want to run on your site are allowed by the provider, otherwise you may find your site shutdown and your account suspended until the script is removed.
If the hosting provider offers templates for building your website, be sure to read the fine print carefully. Some providers only allow you to use the templates while you maintain an account with them. If you decide to move your site to another provider later, you may find you have to rebuild your entire site from scratch.
Read the contract or Terms of Service carefully before you commit to purchase a hosting plan. Some providers require written notice in advance of cancellation of your account. Others may delete your files after a specified number of days past due. If you decide to switch to a dedicated server, some providers will demand payment for the full term of your shared hosting agreement.
As with any business arrangement, take time to read the fine print carefully before you commit yourself to an agreement to purchase any cheap hosting plan. The small amount of time you invest now could save you hours of time and quite a lot of money in the future.