Searching for a suitable web hosting provider can seem like a daunting task. A simple search will return thousands of results, each with details ofÂ shared hosting, virtual private servers, dedicated servers and plenty of technical jargon thrown in to confuse matters even more.
Prices span from paltry figures such as â‚¬5 a month to top of the range dedicated machines for â‚¬2,000 a month – although the majority of the competition in the market lands in the price bracket of â‚¬10 to â‚¬100 per month.
A huge portion of providers openly advertise offers of enormous quantities of bandwidth1 and hard drive space2 for fees that are too good to be true, even going as far as claiming that by signing up with them you’ll have unlimited bandwidth and hard drive space.
For a few euro a week you’ll get all the web space, bandwidth and email addresses you could ever dream of. So, what’s the catch?
The fine print
The truth is to be found in the “Terms of Service”. Excerpts from the fine print of certain well known providers highlight the nasty clausesÂ they mysteriouslyÂ forgot to mention on their front page. Below we reproduce a fine example of one such clause.
we reserve the rights to terminate any account found to contain file streaming such as audio, radio and video streams (AVI, MPG, MPEG, MOV, MP3, etc)
Most reasonable people would assume that they would be allowed to put their own videos and music on their website but in the case above this could result in account termination. It is likely that the above clause would not generally enforce this part of their terms of service, but that wouldn’t provide you with much consolation if they suddenly did decide to enforce it.
You get what you pay for
So your site only contains text and photographs. Your budget can easily sustain the ‘Business package’Â for an attractive figure of â‚¬39 per month. There’s nothing stopping youÂ from signing up and having a hassle free Internet presence. Beware, you’re not out of the woods yet.
An increasing amount of providers practice the bad habit of overselling. When you look at the technical details of your virtual server, the marketing & sales people will avoid at all costs mentioning the ratio of customers per machine. Many hosts will create as many shared hosting or virtual private servers on a single physical server as possible. They gamble that all the customers on this machine wonâ€™t use the available resources at the same time.
There are well known hosting companies squeezingÂ over a thousand websites on one server. This means you have to compete for bandwidth and processor time with 999 other websites and all of their associated visitors. Inevitably this will result in your website slowing down and your web visitor’s sessions can even time out. Not a pleasant web experience for your customers.
So be careful what you sign up for or you may end up spending more resources migrating to a reputable host and you’ll wish you had ignored the hundreds ofÂ “amazing offers” you saw when you first went looking for web hosting.