You own your site, and that means that you can post whatever you want on that site, right? Not so fast. Your hosting company has ‘Terms of Service' (TOS) that you must know and adhere to unless you want your site to be shut down. That's the simple part. The tricky part is knowing what those terms of service mean, what you can and can't do, and how to find all of that small print.
It Starts With A Contract
Contracts are the things that most people love to skip through. You know those boring documents with tons of words and small print? The ones that prompt you to “just sign here”? Yeah, those are important. Even though it's possible to simply sign a contract using an online signature program, skip to the signing lines, and submit that contract without another care in the world, I'm going to strongly caution against this. Why?
Because you are signing away your site. Well, not exactly, but you are telling your hosting company that you will agree to their Terms of Service. Now, if you haven't actually read these Terms of Service, go back to the company's main website, find the TOS page, and read, read, read. If you have any questions about the TOS, make sure to ask before you sign up with any hosting company.
Why Dodging Does No Good
So, let's say that you have read the TOS for your current hosting company. Now, you set up a site and add some questionable content to that site. The content you've added doesn't exactly violate the TOS, but it's very borderline and you know it. You know it so well that you're starting to think about your curious content night and day. You may even be experiencing anxiety over the very thought of sharing your content, or whether or not your site might get shut down.
Out of sheer panic, you decide to move your site to a new host. A host that's located outside of your current country, for example. You do this because you assume that moving your site to a new host outside of your current country means dodging any country-specific Terms of Service. Well, this is a wrong assumption. If your company is based in, say, the U.S., and you move your site to a hosting company in the Netherlands, you still have to adhere to the laws set forth by the U.S. Government. See? Dodging does no good.
In most cases, hosting TOS is very clear and understandable. But, sometimes, depending on the complexity of your site and hosting plan, those TOS may be a bit harder to comprehend. When this happens, you have to sit down with a lawyer and go over the TOS that you don't quite get. Why bother? Because you don't want to build up a website, spend lots of money, and then have that site shut down because you violated a clause, right? I didn't think so!
Now that you know how important reading your hosting company's TOS is, you can sound off below with any nightmares or amazing TOS that you've found. Let us know!