People are always asking me what hosting company to use to host their website; even more so lately it seems. This is probably because just about every hosting company they’ve tried has let them down in some way. Downtime, double-billing, website slowness, loss of passwords, forbidden access, inconsiderate support techs, the list goes on and on.
My usual recommendations include HostGator, BlueHost, DreamHost if you absolutely positively MUST host with a big company. Some feel there’s security in that. A long time ago, one of my websites (a big one with 5,000+ pages) really got hosed by hosting with a big hosting company (notice there’s a BIG company name not in that list above) that failed us. So, that security blanket was out the window for me early on and I started looking immediately for the better way.
And, I can report for certain that I have found the better way to host a website!
Even when I recommend those companies, I provide the referrals with a skeptical eye and with a bit of reservation because I know even the most popular big website hosting companies are failing the very customers they serve…even though their bottom line and quarterly earnings reports are boasting profitability.
So, let’s get specific.
How are big hosting companies failing their Customers?
Well, I guess I could sum it up in the statement “Be careful what you wish for or you just might get it.”
You see, big hosting companies have always had a dream, a mission, a plan to offer website hosting at bargain basement low cost to them, high volume of websites per server and therefore ultra-low prices to offer to hosting clients.
They’ve accomplished their mission as you can find several hosting options ranging from around $3/month for a single site to “unlimited websites” for $25/month. Heck, if you’re really strapped for cash, you can even get 100% free website hosting if you know where to look.
Hosting companies have gone way beyond their original goal, however, to the point where their initial objective is coming back to bite them in the butt.
When you have 1,000 or more websites on a webserver, a number of negative things begin to happen.
1. Big hosting companies can’t possibly know all the people using their hosting services.
They can’t take the time to visit every site and interview every site owner about what they sell and how they plan to market their site. The opportunity for unethical people to use inappropriate marketing tactics has skyrocketed as a result.
When unethical people use unethical marketing tactics to promote their website, the server the website sits on gets flagged as a potential problem. This could lead to having the entire server banned from search engines and email service providers.
Let me put it another way…If you’ve been wondering why your website just doesn’t seem to get good placement on search engines and your outgoing eblasts get tiny percentage open rates, part of the problem very well could be the company that’s hosting your website.
By hosting your website with a big hosting company, you are at the mercy of OTHER website owners and can only hope that everyone with a website on your server is using ethical marketing best practices.
2. Big hosting companies offer 24/7 support but is it safe to use?
With a big hosting company, you will very rarely (if ever) talk to or even recognize the same support person twice. They have no idea what your business model is. No idea of your skill level with web applications. No understanding of how many people you help on a daily and weekly basis. No background about your website functionality and features, its custom additions, its online transactions, its challenges and opportunities.
With a big hosting company, the person that answers the phone or responds to your emergency online help request can be anyone in any part of the world. When you’re desperate for help, you’ll give anyone and their brother your usernames and passwords to get a website problem fixed.
Then the identity theft rule comes into mind where the majority of identity theft occurrences happen from WITHIN your company walls. That means employees (or in this case, helpers, who have access to your computers). Starting to sound scary? I hope so!
Coming from a software company background, I know all too well that support departments have the highest turnover imaginable. Put 2 and 2 together and you have more reasons to not trust just anyone at your big hosting company with your most important website logins.
3. Big hosting companies try to make things so simple that it becomes a problem.
Let’s face it. WordPress is an awesome product for managing your website. About 90% of our clients are WordPress users. All but two of my own 100+ websites are in WordPress. And, although the software is free, it’s kind of a drag to install it manually, especially if you don’t have a PHP/MySQL guy on-hand.
If you are using WordPress for your website or are planning on it, you’ll be happy to know that practically every big hosting company offers what’s called a “one-click install” for WordPress. All you have to do is register a domain name, and apply your new hosting account to the domain name and then install WordPress right from the software menu inside your cpanel account or other website management admin area. It’s so easy, even my 7-year-old could install WordPress in under 30 seconds.
The problem is that installing WordPress from a one-click install system means you will have the software installed with several default settings in place. The default settings that are in place with a one-click install for WordPress are EXTREMELY vulnerable to attacks from hackers and the many who want to install malicious scripts and code onto the pages of your website.
The result is that you fire up your computer one morning and discover your website is a blank page. Or even worse, you find out a year or two later from some programmer you hire on-the-side to add a feature to your website that malicious code has ALWAYS been on your website and has been collecting emails, passwords, and visitation history from your website visitors all that time.
In short, by hosting with a big hosting company, you will be lured into doing things the simple and fast way. Speakers at every seminar will even show you on-screen “how simple and fast you can install WordPress using any hosting company.”
Normally, that’s not such a bad thing. All of us want to save money and time. But when it comes to working with some of the most powerful and popular software in the world, like WordPress, the speedier setup methods are often not the best (or cheapest) way. You could find yourself paying more dearly down the road, which will cost you far more than the time you saved using the one-click install.
4. Big hosting companies promise unlimted bandwidth…until you actually start using it.
One of the biggest sales pitches going on today with big hosting companies is the extravagant claims of offering “unlimited bandwidth” and “unlimited disk space” with their hosting plans. These claims are simply untrue.
One of the largest website hosting companies I know of stops you from adding more websites to your account even though their promotions say “unlimited websites.” This occurs once you have allocated a certain amount of disk space and bandwidth to each website in your account.
Another big hosting company forces you to add certain plugins and settings to your WordPress installs to reduce server load once you get to a certain point of number of visits per month.
Another even prevents how many concurrent visitors can visit your website to less than 30 visitors at a time!
These are all defensive measures put in place by big hosting companies so that they can continue to offer such low prices for hosting. I don’t fault them for this actually. They’re in business to make a buck. We all are when it comes right down to it. So, for small websites that don’t expect to get much traffic or use a lot of bandwidth, big company hosting is generally fine.
Just plan on moving your website to a higher level hosting plan such as a virtual dedicated server, dedicated server or cloud hosting setup ranging between $75 and $250 per month depending on what you need.
And that leads me to my next issue regarding where big hosting companies are failing…
5. Big hosting companies don’t offer enough options between their low-end pricing and the virtual dedicated or dedicated hosting options.
Maybe this is by design and I wouldn’t be surprised. But, it’s interesting how you can get such low prices for hosting but then be forced into some pretty good money per month just to go up one level. Jumping from paying $3.50 per month to over $50 a month is a big step for anyone.
When your website starts seeing higher visitation numbers, something exciting is going to happen; you’re going to use the success you’ve experienced to breed more success! Whatever has brought more visitation to your website, you’re going to jump all over it and do more and more and more!At least, that’s what I hope you would do.
That means your website is going to require more resources and your features will expand too.
Maybe you’ll add a new shopping cart requiring a secured server with an SSL certificate and a dedicated IP address. Or, maybe you’ve acquired a following that justifies starting a paid membership system requiring some custom programming to make your offering just right. Maybe you’ve identified the need in your industry for a web-based tool that people would pay money for to use week after week month after month.
All of these scenarios are going to eventually require little server tweaks to get them running correctly. There is no big company hosting system I’ve found at the low-level pricing that offers support of and custom server configuration (tweaks) to get features and programs up and running for you. Your functions and features capability will be, in one word, limited.
The NEW Solution for Website Hosting
I believe there is a new type of website hosting solution emerging. I’m going to call it “club hosting.” There. You heard it here first! I’ve coined a new term; club hosting, where you are part of an exclusive club.
In this club, you would…
- Trust the person that answers the phone…because you’ve talked with him or her many times before over the years
- Save time because you wouldn’t have to waste time explaining to support helpers what your business is about
- Rest easily knowing every client hosting a website on every web server managed by the company uses best practices in their marketing reducing the possibility of your website becoming blacklisting and having your IP address banned
- Enjoy a faster website because there are only a few hundred websites loaded on each server instead of several thousand
- Attain better search engine results positions (SERPs) because your website loads faster for the visitor
- Troubleshoot problems with support from people who already know your website setup
- Handle higher website traffic volume with ease
- Get tweaks and features you need at the root access level
- Expand your website in function and traffic volume without fear of being stopped in your tracks by exceeding hosting limitations
> If you are a website hosting services provider, instead of being mad at me for revealing your tightly kept secrets, I suggest you add this type of Club Hosting to your offering. The customers you serve deserve to be positioned for growth with their website instead of being forced to change when they reach visitation and bandwidth limits.
>> If you are a business owner, serious author or speaker (meaning your craft is more than just a hobby) looking for the best place to host your website, and you simply above all else feel you MUST choose a big company to do your hosting, choose a big hosting company with the lowest monthly charge available. Why not? They’re all pretty much the same at that level. Just be sure to expect limitations and don’t beat yourself up when you discover the hard way that it’s time to upgrade. It’s just a natural course of your business growth.
>> If you are using WordPress for your website, you really should look into HereNextYear’s Club Hosting program. We’ve had our own web servers since 2004 and have specially configured our servers to power (and protect) WordPress websites. We can quickly and easily move your WordPress website to our servers or convert your existing website to WordPress and then host it here.
Whichever way you choose, my hope is that you will realize how critical it really is to choose the right hosting company for your website. As I always present in my workshops, your WordPress website is the heart of everything you do on the Internet. Your domain name is the brain. If both of those are true, then your hosting is the very body–the skin and bones–that allows your website to exist and be visible to the world.
You wouldn’t take just any ‘ol cheapo body for yourself. So, don’t be so quick to choose the cheapest method of hosting for the body of your website either.
Finally, what is your experience with big company hosting? No problems at all? Tons of issues? Nightmares even? Share your experiences here for the benefit of others.