If you’re thinking of taking your business online, one of the things you absolutely need is good web hosting. But looking for a hosting company that won’t let your business down is easier said than done.
It isn’t surprising to find sub-par web hosting services with shady practices, i.e. hidden charges, forced upgrades, etc. In fact, even the most popular hosting services today will promise you things they can’t live up to. So, more than just finding out which hosting services are good and which ones are bad, it’s better to get acquainted with the specific practices of these companies that will cause more harm than good to your business.
“Preparing for the worst isn’t pessimism. It’s called being a realist. And realists are usually the best people to run a business.”
To help all of you digital marketers and business owners out there, we’ve rounded up all the worst practices you may come across when dealing with hosting companies. Of course, we’re not telling you this to discourage you. Our goal is to help you out, even if that means revealing web hosting’s dark side to let you see the light.
The 15 Worst Practices Web Hosting Companies Are Doing Right Now
1. They brag about having fast-performing servers when they’re actually painfully slow.
Bluehost, Godaddy, and Hostgator aren’t exempt from this problem. They’re really aggressive with their advertising. But you’ll be surprised to know how many people complain about their server performance, making them a not-so-good choice for businesses who want to cater to large volumes of traffic.
2. A really bad user interface that isn’t worth the service’s cheap value.
The purpose of UI is to make it easy for customers to do something in a timely and elegant manner. But if you’re experiencing a lot of errors and the page content doesn’t make any sense, or worse, if they don’t even have Cpanel, it just isn’t worth those few dollars that you’re saving.
Don’t know how to tell a good UI from a bad one? This post gives you a lot of great insight on how to spot the difference.
3. They take hours for you to get connected to someone to help you out on an issue.
Some hosting companies think that once their product is sold, it’s sold. They don’t prioritize managing customer concerns. In fact, they probably have low-cost call center representatives who aren’t even qualified to solve your problem. Imagine the frustration of waiting for an hour to chat or talk to someone, only to end up with zero satisfaction and no resolution.
4. They charge you for things you had no intention of buying.
Imagine being billed for a bunch of domains you don’t even want to renew. Of course, there’s a chance you agreed to it without you noticing because it’s buried deep within the fine print of their terms and conditions. But still, it would be good if they give you a heads up. Or at least getting a confirmation email before they start billing you would have been good.
Not used to reading the fine print? Check out this article that tells you how skipping reading the T&Cs can lead to bigger problems for your website in the long run.
5. They offer you unbeatable prices but make you regret it once you find out how crappy their server performance is.
Unless you don’t mind having a website that’s frequently down and the pages taking forever to load, cheap hosting just isn’t an option. Paying a couple of extra dollars for stable and quick hosting is the smart way to go if you’re serious about giving your visitors a good experience on your website.
6. They charge you a month earlier than mentioned without warning and then ignore you.
One below-the-belt move some hosting companies will pull on you is to charge you for something without you knowing. They may send you an email telling you about an optional service and include a “click here for more” link. And you, thinking it was harmless, click it… only to find out it was a buy now link. Next, you end up being debited for a service you don’t even want. Talk about a pain in the neck (and wallet).
7. When you run into trouble, they try to upsell you on a website builder promising that everything should work fine afterward.
It kind of makes you think that hosting companies want you to have a hard time just so they have an excuse to upsell you on something. Unfortunately, this is often the case, especially with free hosting services. The headaches you get from using their service are there for a reason, and it’s to convince you to pay to get rid of it.
8. They make it hard for you to tie a domain name purchased from somewhere else. Or transfer a domain out.
Another common strategy used by free hosting companies is to make it almost impossible for you to find the DNS settings. On top of that, they strongly encourage that you just get a domain name from them instead.
similar common strategy is paid web hosting providers make it pretty much confusing to transfer a domain you’ve registered through them to another registrar. This often happens through complicating the transfer process or burying their tutorial about domain transfers in a pile of Knowledgebase entries usually under the “Miscellaneous” section.
9. They offer their hosting for free but you have no control over most of the back-end (and even front-end) stuff.
Unless you’re a professional developer and know all the tricks to get the most out of free providers, you’re probably better off with a paid hosting company. For a decent price, you can already get plenty of the tools that can make your life easier. Moreover, you’re almost always guaranteed better server performance. With free hosting, you’ll need to suck it up and settle for whatever they give you.
10. They sell you on “unlimited” hosting, but they’ll force you to upgrade once your website stops being a ghost city.
One horror story from lifestyle blogger, Lisa Koivu, shows just how sneaky some hosting businesses are. Recounting her experience with Bluehost, she describes how she was having trouble with her site loading. Bluehost then told her she was better off upgrading to a VPS because she was getting too much traffic. So, she did.
Unfortunately, that just led to more problems and even more downtime for her site. And on top of that, she now pays more for hosting only to have nothing resolved. So, no, don’t always believe your hosting provider.
11. When they offer “unlimited” packages on a shared hosting, it isn’t unlimited and you’ll eventually suffer from too much usage.
Some companies will advertise too-good-to-be-true deals, promising you the world when it comes to hosting. But anyone who’s familiar with hard-selling knows that you can’t trust these types of offers at all.
Choosing an unlimited plan and expecting it to be really unlimited is setting yourself up for disappointment and a lot of headache in the long run. Instead of just relying on the information they give you in their marketing copies, get in touch with someone who’s in a position to explain to you all the ins and outs of the deal. At least then you can dive in with a better understanding of what you’re getting into.
12. They still give you the same problems even after switching from a free to a paid plan.
You may think upgrading to a paid plan gets rid of all the error messages. For some people, it doesn’t go away even after shelling out the money. Error messages still get thrown here and there, making you question what you paid for in the first place.
To be fair, I don’t think there’s still a free web host out there that deserves your attention if you’re serious about your website. After all, a paid shared hosting shouldn’t cost much. For example, you can get a year of hosting from HostGator for only $31 when you use this discount code. There’s also a bunch of other cheap alternatives you can research as I’m not a big fan of HostGator myself.
13. When there’s a problem, their support team will put the blame on you, your plugins, theme, and everything else rather than acknowledge that something is wrong with their server.
One of the red flags to watch out for when dealing with a hosting company is when their support team just won’t accept that the problem is with their hosting. No matter how much you argue with these people, you’ll never get anywhere. In these cases, the best thing to do is to just move on to another web hosting company that will take your concerns more seriously.
14. They use annoying and cheap advertising methods that over-promise and under-deliver.
We don’t need to tell you how often this happens. And it’s a problem with both small and large hosting names. They tell you all these great things such as good server uptime, top security, and a 24/7 support team. But ask even the most experienced host service users. They’ll tell you that these advertising pitches are mostly untrue and they had to find out the hard way.
What you can trust in most cases, however, are the reviews. So don’t ever think it’s a good idea to just choose a hosting service without at least doing your research first.
15. They don’t place enough attention and effort on improving security to protect their users from hacking and identity theft.
If you’ve read complaints about people getting hacked while using a specific hosting company, that’s probably a sign that they’re not providing the right level of security. If you want to own or already own a growing business, security should already be one of your main concerns today. Remember that it doesn’t take much for your website to be completely wiped out or hijacked if your hosting service doesn’t provide adequate protection.
Web Hosting Companies Aren’t All THAT Bad
Straight to the point, fellas. No hosting company is free from weaknesses and shortcomings. With that said, they’re not all generally bad. However, trusting a company to host your site is a big decision, so we urge everyone to take the time to do their research first.
Go through as many reviews as you have time for. Get in touch with people who have first-hand experience with the company. Do whatever it takes until you can finally decide on a company you’re confident you’ll be happy with, limitations included. Because let’s face it, there’s no perfect service out there. You can always make the most out of whatever hosting service you get, but it’s just better to have more advantages than disadvantages.
Recommended Hosting Companies
Given what I’ve just talked about above, it would be remiss of me not mention some web hosting companies that I have had positive experiences with, and am happy to recommend:
These guys really have great customer support with a real human face – while talking to one of their representatives it’s reassuring that you can see their profile, including technical background and years of experience. With data centers on 3 continents, 99.9% uptime, and managed WordPress hosting, it’s hardly surprising that their customer reviews speak for themselves.
WP Engine is all about innovation, which they aim to deliver at a faster pace than any other hosting provider. Utilizing over 30 open-source technologies means their platform isn’t stuck with closed, proprietary systems.
Kinsta managed WordPress hosting boasts some big name clients – Ubisoft, TripAdvisor, GE, and Ricoh to name a few. If that’s not enough to show that these guys can be trusted, they also boast premium features and a purpose-built WordPress hosting tool, making it easy to oversee and manage all your sites in one place. Throw in speed, security, and support and you’ve got a managed WordPress hosting solution we definitely recommend.
Kinsta offers a free migration service if you are currently hosting with other WordPress hosting companies such as WP Engine, Flywheel, Pantheon, Cloudways, and Dreamhost.
You may want to start off by reading their ultimate guide on improving your site’s performance. That should give you a good idea of the quality of host you’ll be dealing with.