Here are 10 true-life hosting mistakes our customers tell us they learn from and how to avoid them.
1. Falling For The Price Trap
The call of low hosting prices is like a siren. There are reasonable budget-hosting solutions and there are outrageously low budget hosting almost guaranteed to become a nightmare. If the price makes you wonder how they make money then you can look forward to an extremely slow site or even denial of service because they maxed out the bandwidth. Not good. Trust your instincts stay clear.
2. Inexperienced Reseller or Not Researching Your Reseller
Hosting with a reseller is not a bad thing. In fact sometimes resellers give you very good support. But you need to do your second layer research. Sometimes a reseller is very good all around but inexperienced especially when it came to scripts and server environments. Some resellers also couldn't accommodate customer requests because the server administrators wouldn't work with them under any circumstance. This usually happens when the server administrators are bulk sellers who are disconnected from the end customer.
If the server administrators are not reliable or cannot accommodate you, don't hope your reseller can. Resellers should also have done their homework and know their servers as if their own.
3. Not Clearly Defining Your Requirements.
As an ongoing process you should keep a list of what resources your site needs and add to that list as you grow. One Webmaster was changing their static HTML pages to dynamic, which meant scripts were going to be used. Since the Webmaster didn't have a clear idea of what he would like to install and what these scripts required, he only found out after moving, the host servers were not compatible with the scripts. He lost months of work moving the sites in and out again.
So, maintain a list. It also makes it easier when you need to upgrade because you can show the list to your host. If you use a service such as HostVoice the list is even more helpful because it can go out to multiple hosts at one time who'll quickly evaluate if they have what you're asking for or not.
4. Purchasing Hosting In An Auction
It might be a good place to pick up a deal but then you'll need to go back and review the first point. This is not to say all auctioned hosting is completely unreliable but in case you haven't noticed auctioned items have a good deal of terms and conditions attached, usually more than if purchased through the website. This makes your package very inflexible. Unless you review closely those terms or if you have a small static HTML pages with little ambition for the site, stay away or pay their regular website prices. This way the host will more likely work with your requirements.
5. Forgiving A Host's Bad Or Limited Website
If the host can't or won't take time to craft an informational site of their own, most likely they won't be too concerned about yours either. Cookie cutter sites are a dead giveaway.
6. Putting All The Eggs In One Basket
If you manage several sites, it seems like a good idea to have everything in one account. You can simplify your billing and get a better deal. Not always. We know of some webmasters who lost hours or work time because they couldn't work on anything since all their sites were down. If your site generates income and they are interconnected, having all sites down at once is bad business. There is an option to this though. Ask your host if they'll be willing to split your account across 2 or more physical servers.
7. Taking Testimonials At Face Value
Not all testimonials are created equal. You need to ask other webmasters, talk to their customers. If they don't list customer names on their site, ask them if you can contact any of their customers or if they'll contact you. If the host refuses, beware.
- Not Keeping A Record Of Their Contact Information
Most of us are happy with email, forum and live support. One Webmaster's host was down for days. This also meant the host's own site. The Webmaster couldn't contact them at all because he hadn't taken the time to record a physical address or telephone number. 24/7 telephone support is still desired. When your site is down indefinitely and you're losing visitors even sales it's guaranteed you'll want to talk to someone.
9. Relying On Host Backups
This happens far too often. When a customer's site went down indefinitely, they were stuck. They couldn't put the site with another host because they didn't have any backups of their own. They would have to start from scratch, which would be just as bad because the site was rather mature. Always keep your own backups.
10. Trusting your host to have the latest software
Internet crime is and viruses are more prevalent than ever. New software or the latest versions are meant to plug security holes. A customer had their site hacked twice in 2 months only to find out the host was not up to date with their software. Check with the host before you order what versions they are running and how often they make updates.