A disgruntled observer summed it up in one phrase, “Overpromising and under-delivering”. With the number of web hosting providers in the market today, you would think that the competition would drive service providers to up their game. But this isn’t the case.
This article looks at the main problems you may face with hosting providers today and provides tips on how to avoid them.
Poor Customer Support
If you have a hosting subscription, you know how important customer support is. Many hosting companies simply do not pay enough attention to customer service and customer experience.
You will find hosting companies being proactive in sending you marketing emails and upselling products you don’t need. But, when you have a problem, they find communication a strange concept. In some cases, clients find that they do not even know whom to contact for specific problems.
Why is this such a big deal?
More internet users – Today, there are over 3 billion internet users in the world. This means more traffic on websites, more demand for applications and more media usage. Heavy traffic, especially for a client on a shared hosting solution, invariably means your site or some features on your site may experience lags. You need your hosting provider at such hour.
Complex solutions – VPS, Dedicated Hosting, and Cloud Hosting are some of the solutions available to clients today. These solutions can get quite complex, and even very tech-savvy clients will need help now and then. VPS and Cloud Hosting, especially, are notorious for the amount of support they need.
- Ask questions. Read independent reviews and never neglect the comments section on tech review sites.
- Look out for hosting companies that answer the phone and have live chat. Email can come later for record keeping, especially if the problem is not resolved immediately.
- Go for a host that is in your country for easier reach.
- Avoid hosts that are located in a country with a different language. Communication won’t work.
- Avoid hosts who take complaints through contact forms or resolve complaints mostly through forums and FAQs.
- Avoid hosts that speak to you as though you were a tech professor.
If a provider can’t communicate in simple, clear terms, they are no use to you.
Web hosts are notorious for giving potential clients limited information. A hosting service is free for a reason. No hosting provider is so benevolent as to let you use their costly server and network resources for nothing. Nor can you have unlimited space on their server. Here’s a few things you need to know.
Space – Unless you’re hosting your site only to keep it live for a period, do not go for free hosting. You will have access to very limited disk space.
Many free hosting solutions have disk space capped at 1GB. Some limit their page size to 1 or 2 MB. What will you do with that?
Nothing, and so they’ll ask you to upgrade if you want more. You should have done that in the first place. Top hosting providers in the market today like Freeparking.co.nz have flexible and affordable options in terms of space.
Limited functionality – Free hosting services will not allow you to have the dynamic content that matter on your site. Plugins, widgets and media are restricted. Also, many of them restrict the ads on your site to Google ads. If you are looking to generate income through ads on your website, free hosting is not for you.
Also, web hosts use your website as free advert space. And when you want to transfer your site to another host, you are likely to encounter all sorts of hitches.
- Avoid web hosts that do not spell out the conditions of your hosting solution before engagement. Read the fine print on your contract and have a clear knowledge of what you are paying for.
- Resist the lure of “unlimited bandwidth”. There is no such thing. Traffic on your site will always be capped.
- Avoid free hosting. Paid hosting is affordable and you can get the plan that suits your needs.
In April 2016, 123-reg accidentally deleted a number of websites from its VPS servers. It was an error, 123-reg was only “cleaning up” its servers. What’s worse? They did not have a backup copy of all of the customers’ data.
This may be shocking, but general incompetence is somewhat common in the hosting industry. You will see it when customer service agents make answers up when do not know how to respond to your question.
Many hosting solution providers have cropped up simply because more people are owning websites. They do not have the technical knowledge and infrastructure to support their clients’ needs.
You may want to know that very many of these hosts actually host sites on datacenters that don’t belong to them. This means that they do not have any control over the performance of your site as they rely on their providers.
Downtime costs businesses millions of pounds every year. And a large part of downtime is due to incompetence. If the server serving your site is down, here is the possible impact, according to Gartner. And you may never regain some of the clients you lose to downtime.
Tips: Incompetence is a very broad subject and covers many aspects of web hosting. While you may not be able to tackle each of these aspects, there are general things you should look out for
- The web host must have all the infrastructure it needs to serve clients. This should not be a trade secret. If the host isn’t straight with answers, insist on site inspection or find another host
- Ensure that they have a robust, working backup and disaster recovery procedure. Don’t get too impressed by the promises on print. Verify everything.
- Evaluate the security measures of the host. Your host must have adequate security to secure their servers. Also look out for compliance to these regulations.
- Scour the internet for negative information regarding the host. Use search queries like: “hostname” AND “problem” AND “complaint” AND “failure” AND “error” AND “incompetent” AND “fake”. This is due diligence; you want to be as sure as you can.
- Pay attention to reviews. Get on social media and ask questions. If the host boast about the clients they have, contact those clients and find things out for yourself
- Go for a host that supports a wide range of customer needs and hosting solutions. They are usually a safer bet than the host that seems made just for cheaper budgets.
- Do not commit for the long term initially. Give the host a trial and see how it goes. If you have a good feeling about them in the end, go for it.
Your website and the internet are probably your best business assets in today’s globalized world. You need to ensure that you are in safe hosting hands to enjoy the immense benefits of being online.