When just starting out on web content development, your dream is obviously to have a strong web presence right from the beginning. While that’s the case, coming to terms with the entails of the big move is often challenging and confusing. Most likely, you’ll fall victim to common mistakes all beginners make when choosing a hosting provider who serves their websites to the wider public.

And what’s worse, the internet will overwhelm you with its numerous web host recommendations but you can never be so sure who’s telling the truth and who’s out just to make money.

To avoid all the confusion and to increase your chances of finding a good web host, how about a step in the right direction?

Here, we point out top 14 common mistakes you need to familiarize yourself with to help you get started on the right foot.

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Hunting for Web Hosts with Unlimited Resources

When you’re just getting started on web hosting, it’s normal to want the best infrastructure for your website. At that point, any company that promises to offer a server with unlimited resources sounds exciting and totally lucrative. But is it realistic?

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You’re convinced that you won’t have to migrate anytime soon since in your mind, the server resources have no limit. You’re thinking this offer is a lifetime opportunity and the excitement somehow blinds you. As a beginner, you’re probably not aware that the unlimited offer is in most cases a marketing gimmick whose main role is to help the host attract customers (of course there are genuine ones but their prices are quite high).

Ordinarily, every web server has a limit as far as its physical resources go. It’s practically impossible to offer unlimited domains on a hosting account leave alone bandwidth and storage. Most hosting providers that promise unlimited resources do so on the shared web hosting environment and it’s for a reason.

The shared server has more bandwidth, storage allocation, and CPUs than the VPS and dedicated servers. Nonetheless, your website doesn’t sit alone on that shared server but rather with tens or hundreds of other sites. Therefore, an increase in traffic in your website or in your neighbors’ sites definitely strains the server and the competition weighs down overall performance. With this, anyone visiting your site will experience delays in accessing content which can negatively affect its popularity.

Prioritizing Price Before Quality

It’s okay to have a limited budget as a greenhorn in web hosting to avoid overstretching your resources. But then again, you don’t necessarily have to settle for the cheapest provider in the market. While saving money is an objective to most website owners, it shouldn’t be a primary consideration. There’s more to web hosting than the amount you’re paying to sit your website on a server and that’s quality.

Quality in web hosting points to the outstanding features available to your website at a given price range. What is your web host offering that you can’t get anywhere else? Obviously, you want a provider that gives the best that is out there. You want to make sure that you’re not sacrificing your website’s credibility, reliability, and speed in the name of saving money.

It’s important to remember that a cheap pricing plan comes at a cost. Put otherwise, you get what you pay for.

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If you choose to go for the lower-end plans, your web host will most definitely be limiting the storage, bandwidth, server CPU speed or any other feature to operate within the low budget that the majority of its customers, including you, are on. The money saving idea may look attractive on the face value, but the features you’re surrendering can be what your website depends on for its success.

Ignoring the Terms of Service

For most beginners, the section they take the least time analyzing is where the terms of service are written. Of course, all the legal writings and terms look boring if not confusing unless you’re a law expert. But this is the area you should be focusing on before all else.

Why? Because it informs on the entails of the contract you’re about to enter into by hosting your website with a particular provider.

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The terms of service explains in detail the hosting restrictions, the terms of your contract, payment methods valid for refunds, update intervals, privacy policy, downtime, mailing limits, etc. These details may not immediately be apparent on the landing and sales pages where you’ll likely find the hosting plan you wish to purchase. This is why the terms of service pages are considered a dangerous blind spot which beginners are likely to ignore.

The majority of hosting platforms provide a further reading link to the terms of service at the point where you’ll be confirming to have read and agreed with the terms. And what’s worse is that there’s a temptation to assume that all that sits behind this pages is unimportant. After all, the brief summary beside the “I have read and agree to these terms” doesn’t look suspicious at all.

But wait until you want to cancel the contract, and you realize even the payment method you used to pay for your hosting plan isn’t eligible for refunds. This is a disappointment you can avoid by reading the TOS before you commit your hard-earned money.

Little Insight on Provider’s Capacity

When you’re getting into web hosting, you certainly have your expectations and goals. You’re probably targeting to have a traffic of 100 visits per day; after all, you’re just starting out. The features a provider is advertising seem befitting at the moment and in line with your expectations.

But have you looked into the possibility of scaling up server resources immediately and on demand? On the internet, it’s not uncommon for a post to go viral and traffic suddenly goes up on a website. That’s where the provider’s capacity comes in handy.

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Web hosts offering a single hosting plan are pretty common nowadays especially those targeting small-scale websites. Although they’re great for startups with their low prices for basic features, they’re unsuitable for sites operating in niches where things can quickly escalate. These include blogging websites, video hubs, and business sites.

You want to work with a host that allows you to upgrade to a higher plan within the shortest possible time. Migrating to another hosting provider may not be a feasible option when an opportunity kicks in and where an immediate reaction is needed. A good approach therefore is to avoid ignoring a provider’s capacity to deploy scalable resources.

Cloud hosting is an excellent option for this since it allows you to tune server resources to meet your current demands. Most platforms with it offer flexible pricing meaning you are paying for exactly what you’re getting. And that’s hosting with value right there!

Failure to Have a Backup Plan

On the server side where your web data sits, anything can go wrong. The worst mistake you can make is failing to have a backup plan when the possibility things can go sideways lurks. Servers can crush, suffer from malicious intrusions, or the datacenter itself gets demolished by an unnatural event. Whatever the disaster, you must be well-prepared to face its consequences.

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When in the hunt for a web host, one of the more important considerations is the backup plan the company has put in place for its customers. Reliable providers mirror data to private locations outside the primary datacenter to minimize downtime in the face of unforeseen attacks. This means that your web data will still be safe and access to your website will be unaffected. Nonetheless, backups attract an extra cost which is probably outside your planned budget. In addition, not all providers have multiple datacenters so they can’t guarantee 100% reliability for your web data. So, what can you do when such a host is your best option?

In our experience, we recommend scheduling backups to one or several cloud locations. Many web hosts support add-ons or plugins that facilitate backups to external locations. With this, you can quickly migrate your data to another host as you await the issue with your current to be resolved. Less downtime increases reliability, credibility, and ultimately popularity.

Picking the Wrong Hosting Package

Once you’ve found a host that you like, another common mistake we see most webmasters make is picking the wrong hosting package. It occurs when you’re unsure of the traffic to expect to your website and the nature of the features advertised by the host.

Expected traffic may be beyond your immediate control but you certainly have your own ambitions and goals. These two should server as your guiding maps to choosing the hosting package that’s apt for your website.

Some of the key questions you need to ask yourself include: which niche am I in? How does it fare in terms of average traffic? If you’ve taken steps such as search engine optimization, development of relevant content, and awareness campaigns like the others, what are the expected numbers? Research on the statistics and account for them in picking a suitable plan.

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As for hosting features, pay attention to the details especially on upgradability. For example, ensure that the amount of storage you’re getting rightly accommodates all the web data you’re likely to generate in the near future. Explore the upgrade options that the web host offers and whether they offer a better value for your money. The bottom line is to know what exactly to expect in a hosting package that you plan to use to avoid wasting time and resources.

Overlooking the Refund Policy

The refund policy outlines how a hosting provider handles customers who change their mind about its services and decide to migrate. A common mistake beginners make is failing to look through the terms of the refund policy.

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You may choose a provider by following someone else’s recommendation yet they vaguely discussed the refund policy. Or you may pick a top web hosting provider without really any plans to migrate in the near future considering its reputation. All these scenarios can be blinding causing you to overlook the refund policy and not read it properly. But what happens when you find out what’s lies beneath is totally different from what you expected?

A few years ago when I was a novice web master, I hosted a website on a reputable web host but didn’t care to read its refund policy. The plan that I purchased had advertised a lower cost which was only applicable on the first month of service. On realizing this, I decided to migrate and since they had a one-month refund policy, I expected the cancelation to go well. However, I didn’t know users who paid via PayPal were ineligible for refunds. That’s how I lost the claim and my ignorance cost me. Do not be like me.

Purchasing Long-term Hosting Plans

The mistake of purchasing long-term hosting plan can be very easy to commit and here’s why. Before you pick a web host, probably you took your time to window shop and compare various options. It’s possible that you noticed the pricing differences between monthly and annual subscriptions and thought, “wow! I can save some bucks here!”. That there is the blinding factor; the cost savings.

Beginners fall victim to these marketing tactics which encourage long-term commitment by charging less. But how familiar are you with that web host that has varying rates? Why are they not charging a flat rate for a particular hosting type whether you use it for a month or a year? Risk is the answer. Subscribing to a longer hosting plan is riskier than a shorter one. The loss is higher to the customer if anything goes wrong than it is to the host.

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Most companies will charge you upfront so you have to bear with its services irrespective of the outcome. It goes without saying that testing the depth of waters with one foot is better than with both. Although money-back guarantee can be there, it can be on a pro-rata basis or the provider might take too long to refund. Thus, shorter hosting plans are your best options here especially if you don’t have prior or first-hand experience with a particular service.

A Lack of In-built Security Measures

Web security is a very sensitive subject yet most beginners don’t realize this. When hosting a website, you’re trusting another company to store your web data and possibly information about your visitors. So, you cannot afford to be on a server with exploitable weaknesses considering that data on it can be stolen, lost, or damaged.

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Even the web servers of top web hosts are vulnerable to exploits when necessary measures are absent. So, in your security assessment, which features should you scrutinize?

For starters, ensure the web host serves your data from a secure portal. In other words, check for data encrypting and privacy technologies such as SSL certificates. Moreover, find out the type of anti-spam software available if you’re offering mail services in your website. Powerful antiviruses, malware scanners, and backup of data to external locations are also great measures if available by default.

Most importantly, ensure that the web host conducts server updates and supports the upgrade of your web framework. This applies to beginners who are using popular content management systems such as WordPress, Magento, and Drupal. Web hosts that pay attention to updates greatly secure your website from known exploits which can have dire consequences.

Not Paying Close Attention to Customer Reviews

You don’t judge a book by its cover but its content. Same case applies to web hosts; you judge not by what it advertises but what it has in it for you. Customer reviews offer the details behind the marketing shrouds. They tell you whether your expectations about a hosting provider are in line with what it delivers without necessarily testing its services yourself.

To ensure you’re benefitting from web host customer reviews, great areas to look into include: customer service complaints, security issues, downtime frequencies, and speed fluctuations. These areas impact on your overall reliability and the impression you give to new visitors. Remember, when you’re in the startup phase, your goal is to reduce the visitor bounce rate and latency by efficiently serving your content.

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A red-flag that is commonplace with customer reviews is the issue of faking assessments. While there are thousands of web hosting reviewers online, not all are genuine in their opinion. A good indicator is when a hosting company only has positive and raving reviews. In such a case, the company probably pays affiliates or reviewers to paint a better image of itself.

The good thing is that you’re at the right place here at Host Test where both the end-users (like you) and our professional web host testers voice their concerns and give feedback. In fact, we encourage you to always leave reviews here so you can help others make good decisions when choosing their hosts.

Putting All Eggs in a Single Basket

This mistake is often committed by beginners who prioritize price over quality. So, you find a web host that offers cheap hosting plans and you have numerous projects to host online. This sinks you into the temptation of relying on that single hosting provider for all your web needs. What happens when there’s a server problem? All your web projects go offline and you have to wait in line for the company to resolve the issue. Since you have no backup host to serve your customers while you’re unavailable, your credibility suffers across all your fronts.

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It’s not a bad idea to host all your websites on the servers of one hosting provider considering the economies of scale by bulk hosting. However, it is obviously helpful to have options and use them. Put otherwise, explore various hosting companies so that when one goes down you have a backup to migrate your data to.

Again, trying different providers offers a comparative advantage. You are able to try out similar features across various companies which puts you in a better position to identify shortcomings and that which is your best investment. Moreover, you save more by spreading your risk across multiple platforms.

Not Researching on Add-ons Compatibility with Host’s Server

Web content development is diverse and this means you’ll need various tools as your website grows. A common mistake here is failing to analyze the restrictions that web hosts have on add-ons. Not all hosting providers allow you to install third-party software let alone support them. Probably, the server OS that your website sits on isn’t compatible with a particular add-on or simply it’s blocked for security reasons.

To avoid this mistake, you must have a deep technical understanding of your site niche. In other words, familiarize yourself with all the tools you need to get things running nice and smooth once you go online. If you cannot immediately determine whether a particular add-on is supported by a host, ask the customer care agent to provide insight. Sometimes the restrictions are vague on the hosting company’s website so they may require a little digging to establish their depth.

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Case in example, a while back I tried installing a social media plugin on my website. I didn’t realize the host had forbidden its operations on its servers following increased cases of abuse. The plugin had no alternatives so I had to forego its benefits which was quite frustrating at the time. Had I been aware of this, I’d probably host my project with my second-best option which had similar features as that host.

Not Considering Your Potential and Limits

Another common mistake you’re bound to make while shopping for web hosts is to underrate your website potential or reversely, overstretch its limits. Beginners often find themselves on either side of the scale that is; you’re either too ambitious or not taking web mastering seriously. Your standing has an impact on the kind of web host you choose.

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For the not-so-serious individuals, the temptation is to use free hosting services. The danger of hosting your website with these companies is that they don’t guarantee safety, decent performance, or support for the features you might need as you grow. What’s worse, your website will have in it lots of irrelevant ads which may easily annoy your audience. On the other hand, if the website somehow thrives, you may be forced to alter its domain name and migrate to premium hosts. Obviously, this makes it harder for readers to find it which significantly affects its performance and reliability.

Overly ambitious beginners too make mistakes with web hosts. A common one is believing that an expensive investment automatically bears fruits. If this sounds like you, you’ll probably be considering purchasing expensive hosting plans in the hope that your website automatically excels. What you don’t realize is that costly plans can frustrate your budget and probably not even bring in the value that you expected especially if you’re not using resources effectively.

A good approach is to establish the purpose of your website, then research on its practical Return on Investment (ROI), and work within your proper limits.

Failing to Differentiate the Hosting Types

When you’re new to web mastering, hosting types can be confusing. You might have a business website that will work impressively on VPS and perform terribly on a shared server. Remember, your main goal is to attract and retain anyone that lands on your website, and so it’s important to avoid falling victim to this mistake.

Shared servers are ideal if your content is not meant for public consumption or if your target is a limited audience. The availability of resources is dependent on the server activity meaning access speeds to your website are not constant. If you choose this type of hosting, make sure throttling of bandwidth by the host and limits in web data storage are a non-issue.

VPS are great for websites that expect a decent traffic of more than 1000 visits right after launching. Although the servers are shared, a host splits the resources and dedicates them to each unit to improve performance. The good thing is that with most VPS plans, you can scale resources to cater for varying demands by your site traffic. This concept is similar in cloud hosting too.

Dedicated servers are for businesses with significant amount of traffic. Depending on the hosting company, you may be allocated a whole physical server or a cluster of servers which can be managed or unmanaged. A managed server is that which the hosting company updates its software/operating system and controls critical server functions on your behalf. Unmanaged servers completely rely on your expertise in web management.

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Whoa, that was a long list of common mistakes beginners make when looking for a good host. Learn how to avoid them for the good of your website and personal growth. The headache that comes with choosing the wrong web hosting provider is not something you’ll want to experience. In addition, taking that first leap with a reliable web host guarantees a good foundation for your web projects. You’re in web mastering for a sweet victory, so begin by ridding off these blunders.

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