Every website needs a host, but not all hosts are created equal. Picking a winner can actually be pretty difficult. Even the big-name companies don’t have spotless records. The last thing you probably want to do is go through the hassle of setting up shop only to find out your new company has server problems, can’t keep your site up consistently, and always has an excuse for why things don’t work the way they should. While you shouldn’t necessarily sign on with the cheapest hosting company you can find, you also don’t have to pay through the nose for a good one.
Get Discounts With Coupons and Rebates
Believe it or not, most good hosts offer coupons for web hosting services that you wouldn’t believe. Sometimes, you’ll get the first month free. Other times you’ll get a discount on an entire year’s worth of hosting. Watch out for “too-good-to-be-true” deals though.
If a web host is heavily discounting your hosting if you pre-pay, make sure you know the company. It has to be a well-established company with a good reputation. Do your homework. Troll forums. Grill customer service about uptime and guarantees. Are you locked into a service agreement? Can you back out if the host turns out to be a dud?
If they don’t offer a money-back guarantee (yes, even with the discount), and they lock you into a contract, tread lightly. It’s not a sure-sign of a scam, but this is the kind of field shady companies love to play in.
Keep Your Domain Separate From Your Host
Most of the time, it pays to shop around – buy your domain from one company that is really great on pricing, and then buy your hosting from another company who has that service down pat. That’s not to say that all domain companies make bad hosts or that all hosting companies make bad domain companies. There are certainly examples where a company does both ends of the business well.
However, don’t get hung up on having everything with one company. Your most important asset is your domain name. Get a good registrar right from the get-go. Hosting companies are easily replaceable.
Stay Away From “Free Domains”
These deals are usually a huge red flag. While free domains sound nice, there are a couple of questions you have to ask before signing on for a deal like this. First, who owns the domain name? If it’s free, but the hosting company retains the ownership, you don’t really have a brand to build on. Plus, you’re either stuck with the company forever, or you’ll need to pay a steep price to yank the name away from the host – a name that you’ll undoubtedly work hard to build up.
The other “gotcha” on free domains is the renewal. Some places charge $20 or more for it – that’s a 200 percent markup over the average. Yikes. Usually, it’s better to ask these kinds of questions during the research phase – don’t be shy. Grill the sales department.
Watch Out For Unlimited Storage
Companies that offer “unlimited storage” usually add a stipulation concerning bandwidth usage. To get around their “unlimited” promise, they cap your data transfers for the month. If you exceed the set amount in your contract, sometimes the host has the right to delete everything. Ouch.
Make sure you ask before you sign on for a deal like this. Better yet, avoid it altogether and go with metered plan. Like anything else, you get what you pay for.