The old and familiar term “You get what you pay for” is alive and well in the world of website hosting, as is the term “There’s a sucker born every minute”.

Website hosting should be thought of as space to rent on the internet. Your website is much like a brick and mortar building. You had a webmaster design and construct the site, and you also need a place to put it (the website and your email) on the internet. This is where hosting comes in. Paying for hosting is a recurring expense, and as expenses go, most would like to minimize this one. Web hosting is one expense you do not want to simply minimize without knowing all the facts.

There is an abundance of web hosts out there that charge miniscule amounts to host your web site. Here is why you should avoid them like the plague.

Cheap Website Hosting = Cheap Service

Most cheap website hosting services are completely self-serve. Self-serve is OK if you are competent in website hosting. You decided to go with discount hosting, you got discount service. However, most people just see the cheap price and go for it. They find themselves in a bind when something goes down, or they don’t know how to access something, try to call someone and lo and behold, no phone number exists for this hosting company, only an email address! If the reason you need to contact them is because your email doesn’t work, this is a deadly catch-22. Now, even if the company has a phone number, the service usually isn’t very responsive, because at such a low price, you are at a low priority for them.

Here’s my cheap website hosting customer service nightmare. When I first started this business I had 8 customers on one very cheap web server. I am of the type that whenever something is down, my anxiety levels are code-red until it is completely resolved. One day, all sites were down. I understand that things do go down now and again, so I went to call my host provider, but found they had no phone number. Anxiety is in the orange stage now. I saw they have a support form on the web site. A little calmer. I fill out the form, mark it “URGENT” and wait for response. 1 hour goes by, 2 hours, 10 hours…12 hours later, I am absolutely furious, and having sent several emails to the provider, turns out the hard drive crashed and they will “work on to fix of this soon”. Luckilly I had backups of all my customers data and bit the bullet and got with a more service-oriented website hosting provider. I paid a lot more, but ever since, our website hosting has been rock solid.

The Overselling Scam

Overselling is a sadly popular method of attracting customers. The basic idea of overselling is that most of the host’s clients are only going to use a fraction of the resources available, so there’s going to be a lot of wasted/unused bandwidth and diskspace. The host is essentially gambling and selling more than they have under the assumption that the unused portion will provide the insurance. They further this insurance by stating the legal agreement that they can delete your account without warning.

I’ve seen many hosts offer 300 GIGABYTES of disk space for $9.99/month. To put this into perspective, most servers come with entire hard drives smaller than 300 GIGABYTES. It would be physically impossible to allocate enough (or even ONE) accounts at $9.99/month to even cover the expense of the server, let alone make a profit, or pay technical support people. Simply put, it’s a lie. Well, maybe lie is too strong of a word. After all, if you read the host’s Terms of Use or Terms of Service, in most cases they will plainly say (in the fine print) that your account will be terminated if your disk space increases beyond a point that they deem too large. Well whats that number? They don’t say, and I assure you it is well below 300 GIGABYTES. At this point you may be wondering if you’re reading this correctly. You are. They offer 300 gigs, you upload 50 megs (possibly) and your website, email everything dissapears without any warning or backup. You are offline and your customers assume you’re out of business. You’re in blackout, and they owe you nothing, no money, no explanation, nothing. You’re just done.

Your business is too crucial to be in such a volatile situation where it can go away without you knowing about it, and for no reason.

Don’t be that sucker. Don’t build your most powerful marketing tool on a spoiled foundation.