It’s hard to separate fact from fiction in advertising, and certainly no less so when dealing with web hosting providers. Bold, broad-sweeping claims are endlessly repeated in a shameless effort to keep you from reading the fine print. In an age where it seems there are almost as many web hosting providers as there are websites to be hosted, competition is fierce, and competing web hosting providers will say almost anything to get you to sign up with them.
That’s why you need to know what to look for, how to read between the lines, so that you don’t fall victim to any of the most common scams that plague the internet in the guise of once-in-a-lifetime offers you absolutely can’t refuse.
Free Web Space: Yes, some web hosting providers will give you 5 or 10 MB of web space for no charge, however (and we know you’ve heard this phrase before…) certain restrictions apply. Make sure you know what they are.
Unlimited Bandwidth: There’s no such thing, plain and simple. The web hosting providers themselves have limitations imposed on their bandwidth; how can they offer you any more than that? They can’t.
When web hosting providers offer “unlimited” bandwidth it means they’ve estimated how much usage their average customer could ever possibly need, thereby giving the illusion of unlimited bandwidth.
Free Domain Names: Sure, they’re free, but so’s dirt. You want some free dirt? We didn’t think so. Free domain names are about as valuable. First of all, they look something like this:
www. webhostingprovidersname.com/user/usersname.html (or some equally excruciating variation thereof).
Now, consider this:
First, most internet surfers are wise to these types of URLs; people know that companies with domain names like these are not usually the most well-established or reputable businesses online.
Second, the more slashes your URL contains, the lower your page rank.
And third, no one will remember the name of your website!
These are just a few of the reasons why free domain names aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
Domain Registration: Now, this by itself is no scam; to the contrary, it’s a useful and convenient feature many web hosting providers offer. Some, however, will actually register your domain in their name. This way, they locked you into service with them as switching web hosting providers now means losing your domain name.
Web Templates: Don’t mistake us, web templates are great. How else can the average computer user whip out a website that looks halfway decent without spending a fortune? But what web hosting providers don’t tell you about these templates could end up costing you later.
Any images or page designs or web forms or any other objects that originated from your web hosting providers database belongs to them. They own the copyright. If you ever switch web hosting providers, you can’t take any of it with you.
Not to mention, if you ever decide to hire a professional webmaster, many will refuse to work with template-driven websites, as they’re (ironically) harder to manage.
No Contact Information: If you can’t find on their website at least one way – email address, query ticket, phone number, mailing address – to get in touch with the web hosting providers you’re considering, stop considering them.
Discounts for Long Term Contracts: Before falling prey to this alluring gimmick, ask yourself, even if your website lasts as long as your contract, are you sure your web host will? Web hosting providers (like websites) are born and die every day, and they know it. That’s why most of them include somewhere in their Terms of Service that they won’t be held liable if they can’t fulfill their end of the contract.
So, if they go under, so does your website. And if you go under first, say goodbye to the money you paid for the long term contract. Either way, it’s no bargain. Stick with a year or two at most.
No Guarantees: Whether for web hosting providers or wetsuit manufacturers or weight loss programs, they’ve got to have a money-back guarantee. These days, it’s essential. And there’s zero reason you should ever pay for a product or service that doesn’t offer some form of money back guarantee or another. Really, now.