The internet is full of web hosting offers, but unfortunately, many popular hosts are using unscrupulous advertising to mislead their customers and set them up for problems. If you are looking for a host for your web site, read this article to learn about some of the biggest hosting myths and how to avoid common mistakes.
Myth 1: Unlimited bandwidth will solve everything
Bandwidth is the amount of information sent out to people on the internet; the more traffic your web site gets, the more bandwidth it uses. Bandwidth costs money, so how much you pay for hosting depends on how much traffic you need to handle.
Unlimited bandwidth would be great if it were possible – but it's not. Your web page files are stored on a special computer called a server, which sends information out over the internet. Like all computers, the server has limits; it can only handle a certain amount of work. Give it too much traffic to handle, and it will slow down and become unreliable.
Obviously, no number of servers would ever be enough to give even one customer really unlimited bandwidth. All right, you might ask, but can it still be close to "unlimited" in a practical sense? (Some web hosts have taken up the term "unmetered" which has more of this connotation.)
Unfortunately, it's still fiction. Your actual maximum bandwidth might be quite low indeed. You'll be sharing your server with many other accounts. If your account starts using too many resources, it's very likely that you'll be suspended or forced to upgrade to a much more expensive plan. So much for "unlimited" hosting!
Since offering unlimited bandwidth hosting is such a blatant misrepresentation, it's not a good idea to use such hosts, regardless of how much traffic or disk space your site uses. If their business model depends on deception, can you trust them with your web pages? Even if your own site is small, other customers on your server may try to take advantage of the supposedly unlimited bandwidth and cause problems.
(If you're still hiring to find a real unlimited bandwidth deal, I have a car to sell you that gets unlimited mileage from a tank of gas.)
Myth 2: The $ 5 terabyte plan is the best deal
There is a current trend of offering hundreds of GB (gigabytes) or even one or more TB (terabytes, each of which is more than a thousand GB) for a very low price. Would it surprise you to know that most of these ultra-high-bandwidth budget plans are simply made up out of thin air? That's right. There is no way for these hosts to provide what they offer, and they have no intention of doing so.
In fact, this is just another version of the unlimited bandwidth scam. Unfortunately, it's on the rise at the moment, and many gullible people will be taken in by this technique, which is called overselling. (The current fad represents extreme overselling.)
Remember our web server (that special computer) and its limited resources? To make a long story short, the whole server may not be able to handle as much bandwidth as the host is offering to each of the many customers with accounts on it! The ending is the same: if you use too much, your site will be suspended and you'll have to make a big upgrade or leave.
You might be wondering how hosts get away with offering all this bandwidth and not really providing it. They cover themselves with some small print in the terms of service that allow them to suspend you for using too many server resources. In other words, they can offer as much bandwidth as they want, because you'll use too many resources long before that. It's an unfair game, with all the rules in their favor.
Myth 3: Always prepay annually to save
Many hosts offer discounts if you prepay for one or more years. This is definitely a way to save, but it comes with risks. In fact, it could end up being a lot more expensive.
If you're paying a month-to-month and something goes wrong, you can find another plan easily. If you've prepaid a year or two and you have problems after the trial period is over, you're stuck; you will not be able to leave without losing some money.
The risk might be acceptable if not for the nature of web hosting, where things can easily go wrong. Your host may turn out to be unreliable, with downtime and poor support. Your account might be suspended for reasons you do not expect, such as exceeding server resources and violating the fine print mentioned above, or even the actions of someone else who manages to break into your account.
Prepaying is very risky when signing up with a new host. It's a better option to use with a host you already know and trust. Then again, even good hosts can change over time or run into problems beyond their control.
Paying yearly is good for the host, though, especially for those who oversell and underprice their plans, so you will be enticed to pay annually. If you want to play it safe and a host does not have a monthly or quarterly plan, consider looking elsewhere.
Finding a web host
These trends may be unsettling, but do not be discouraged! There are decent hosts out there, following realistic business plans and offering an honest service to their clients. Just do not expect to find them among the hosts that are advertising the impossible offers.