As you’ve probably realised by now, cheap web hosting plans will never be perfect. They may be low cost and some are really great value for money, but at the end of the day if you pay $5/month then you get $5/month in service. There are quite a few potential issues for you if you choose to go down the route of cheap web hosting, and there is often a way round them all.
Here 10 of the most significant things that could go wrong, and how we would deal with them:
1. Sneaky software charges:
If you find yourself signing up to some recommended additional feature for your hosting plan, then STOP! Freeze. I bet you don’t need it. Cheap web host companies often offer or recommend extra add-ons or “useful” software to their clients, throwing it into the buying or registering process in a subtle way so that many buyers don’t realise it is optional or just a suggestion. Many companies force or suggest their customers to sign up for free trials of things when they purchase a plan, and apart from being confusing to deal with, this can end up costing.
SOLUTION: know what you need before you buy. Check with your hosting company when you sign up that you aren’t being registered for anything you don’t want, and be careful with any emails you might receive from them.
2. Poor uptime rates:
No matter what kind of guarantee your company gives you, chances are that if you are buying a low cost web hosting plan the uptime you will receive won’t be as good as you had hoped for. This isn’t across the board – some web hosts are better than others.
look at reviews before you buy a plan. Also search for uptime reports
and expert opinion
on a range of web hosts, and simply avoid the hosts that have a bad record. Of all the things that could be wrong with your site, a poor uptime rate is potentially one of the most damaging (especially if your website is for a business) and definitely the most annoying. There are actually some great tools out there that you can use to analyse the uptime of web hosts, both free options and rather pricey options. Some great free resources are Uptime Robot
, and Pingdom
, while the more costly end of the spectrum (but also the more powerful) include Nagios Uptime
3. Being hacked by shared clients:
If you buy a low cost web hosting plan, chances are it will be a shared plan. Shared plans (you can read more about shared plans here) offer web hosting on one server to a huge number of clients – this means that many, sometimes thousands of websites will share the storage space and resources of one server. In the past it has been very easy for “neighbours” to hack into the backend of a website via the shared server, but this is becoming less and less common as web hosting companies tighten their internal security.
SOLUTION: if you’re unlucky and this happens to you, simply complain, and get your web host to shift you to another server block.
4. Black-holed IP:
This is a difficult issue, and would mean total downtime for your website until your IP address was removed from the blacklist.
SOLUTION: As soon as you get your account with a cheap web hosting company,
check for your allocated IP address on SpanHaus Block List. Even better, ask your web hosting company for a range of IP address options to choose from before signing up, and check them before you commit. If you find your server on the blacklist, either request your web host to white-list the IP or ask for a change of address.
5. Disappointing technical support:
Some cheaper web hosts are also cheap on service, and this can be a real issue for their clients – especially if they cater to first time users or web development novices. And most cheap web hosts do!
SOLUTION: Unfortunately the only thing you can do about this problem once you’ve signed up for a web hosting plan, is leave. So the best way to tackle it is to do your research properly before signing up. Ask around, read reviews, talk with the support department before you place your order and ask them technical questions with plenty of tricky jargon (or get a web dev friend to do so). It’s also a good idea to think about what you might need from a customer support team. For example, will email or chat support be enough or would you want 24hr phone support? Pick a plan that caters to your needs.
6. Hidden cancellation fees:
Some web hosting companies will let you sign up for cheap, but if you ever want to leave they will charge you a goldmine!
SOLUTION: Make sure you read the terms and conditions from any web host that you consider, and make sure that you are clear on how they handle cancellation before you go anywhere near the “buy” button.
7. Limited MySCL databases:
Be careful on this one, since MySQL can often be the key to speed on your website. 100 databases is the lowest acceptable number for a cheap hosting plan.
SOLUTION: well, as with many of these issues it’s a good job we are warning you now because there isn’t much you can do once you’ve already invested in a plan! Be a wise internet shopper and do your research first. Ask the customer support team if you can’t find MySQL on the TOS, and read reviews.
8. Costly renewal fees:
When it comes time to renew your web host plan, it can often cost more than the original price. This is an issue, and while a higher cost is to be expected (especially if you bought your original plan on a promotion) there is a limit.
SOLUTION: do a spot of “web host hopping” – when it comes time to renew your plan, hop to another cheap web host to buy a new one instead. You could also choose web hosts with longer-term contracts since you’ll be able to enjoy the cheaper costs for longer.
9. Very long-term contracts:
As mentioned briefly in point 8, this can sometimes be an advantage! But it can also be dangerous – imagine a hosting company offers you 50c per month but only if you sign a 5 year contract. Seems like a bargain! But do you have any idea what will happen in that time? Where will your business be? Will you need more resources? Also, the web host might just take your money and close shop!
SOLUTION: Unless refunded cancellations are available during the subscription period, any contract that is longer than 2 years is not a wise investment.
10. Poor server-side security:
If a web host costs a lower price chances are you get lower quality resources, and when it comes to security this is the last thing you want! Poor server-side security is the main reason why most hacked websites were penetrable at all, and this security measure can only be managed by those who can access the server for your site. In cheap hosting plans, this is usually only accessible to the web host.
SOLUTION: if you buy a plan with cheap web host, be sure to understand how they handle server-side security first – read reviews, check out the specs and look at advise from experts. If you find out the hard way that the security measures employed by your web hosting company were dodgy, then leave and make sure you let the world know in an objective, very factual review!