Hosting websites, from a beginner’s perspective, might seem complicated, but it’s not.
The sheer amount of so-called “Expert Hosting Advice” available today is what makes hosting websites complicated.
Hosting companies always target new and inexperienced users with their campaigns as it’s easier to keep them locked in for years; they make everything an add-on and get you to pay for features that have free alternatives.
That’s why it’s essential to have basic knowledge of hosting websites before deciding to host one.
At the end of this article, you should be able to identify and avoid common mistakes beginners make when choosing new web hosting and learn some new tips that help in choosing better web hosts.
Common Web Hosting Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a New Host
- Not using an SSL Certificate (HTTP)
- Not Checking Hosting Server Specifications
- Purchasing Domain Without Whois Privacy Protection
- Buying Based on Pricing
- Not Reading Hosting Reviews
- Not Testing Out Customer Service
- Using free hosting services
- Not Knowing the Limitations (Fair Usage Policies)
- Hosting Many Websites on the Same Server
- Not Backing up your Server locally
Not using an SSL Certificate (HTTP)
There’s nothing as untrustworthy as a site using HTTP in 2021; not only is HTTP insecure in nature, it promotes distrust wherever it is spotted.
An SSL certificate, free or paid, is compulsory these days to host a website properly.
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) has several security loopholes; they are vulnerable to sniffers and request monitors for one.
With HTTP, whatever data is being transmitted on your website (credit card details, password, or any form-data) can be intercepted, read, and exploited.
Implementing an SSL certificate makes all requests go through encryption (HTTPS), preventing sniffing and data interception.
Most hosting companies will provide a free SSL certificate these days and also allow you to use a custom one if you so wish.
The most common paid SSL certificate is the Comodo Certificate which is used on a lot of Ecommerce and data-sensitive websites.
If you’re on a budget, you can go for Cloudflare Free SSL or Let’s Encrypt. Both are free and widely used.
Not Checking Hosting Server Specifications
Most times, as a newbie in the hosting web field, you’d find yourself being overwhelmed with several server specifications and end up being confused about what you need.
Web Hosting companies have caught on and will only include a simplified version of their server features (not full specification).
Things like RAM, processor core and storage technology are the main specifications for a server.
If they are not provided on a web hosting company’s pricing page, you should contact their support team and ask for these specifications based on the plan you have in mind.
This is very important as servers with inadequate server specifications will often perform poorly when faced with sudden spikes in usage.
For your server’s processor, the more cores it has, the better the performance will be; the same thing applies to RAM.
Storage technology should be SSD (Solid State Drive) as opposed to HDD. SSD is faster (almost 10x better HDD) and will perform any hard disk drive any day, under any condition.
The website you’re trying to host should determine the server specification you should be searching for; skipping this check could lead to purchasing underperforming servers, which is a waste of money.
Purchasing Domain Without Whois Privacy Protection
When you purchase a domain name, the registrar requests personal data such as your full name and address.
The problem with this is, anyone on the web can quickly look up your domain in a Whois database using ICANN and get access to your personal information; this completely invades your privacy and can attract unwanted attention in a professional setting.
Whois Domain privacy protection is usually presented as an add-on service that completely hides all your domain details from all Whois Lookup websites.
It is imperative to use Whois protection if your domain’s privacy is important to you; some hosting companies will offer Whois protection for free and others as a paid addon when purchasing a domain.
It’s relatively easy to implement; just purchase or enable it via your registrar account, and it should take effect immediately.
Buying Based on Pricing
Just like we’ve already stated in this article, server specification should be the main criteria for purchasing a web host.
Whatever specifications ensure good website performance and scalability.
Many hosting companies run promotions and monthly sales where they give huge discounts on web hosting plans, which causes many people (beginners) to ignore specification checks and buy based on price completely.
Whatever the case might be, just make sure you research well enough before paying for a cheap server offer; most times, it’s never worth the money.
Just because a server is expensive doesn’t mean it’s better, the price does not equate to a good specification, and you should never assume that.
Most times, hosting companies tend to overprice some of their server plans using catchy titles like Premium Gold Plan or something of that sort.
They show on their pricing plan that you get more space and more websites but abstract the server specifications away into another page or, in some cases, altogether leave it out, don’t pay for anything until you’re sure of what you’re getting.
Also, it’s a good idea to have 2- 3 different web hosting providers you can compare and contrast with to have a good idea of what web hosting for your website should cost.
Not Reading Hosting Reviews
Hosting reviews give you insight into a web hosting companies service performance that none of their customer support would be willing to mention.
Things like server performance, uptime and downtime, customer support response time, and every hosting element are explained based on experience on hosting reviews.
It is essential to Google a web hosting provider for reviews before purchasing a plan with them; every hosting company tries to make their services sound perfect on their landing pages. Still, only but only actual customers can describe their services honestly and without bias.
There are many forums and review websites out there with hundreds if not thousands of positive and negative reviews on known hosting providers.
It is a known fact that some websites intentionally publish only positive reviews about hosting companies they are currently affiliated with to boost their affiliate marketing earnings, so be careful and take everything with a grain of salt.
Not Testing Out Customer Service
When hosting a website, you’d often find yourself getting stuck with a problem or implementing a new feature.
Customer service or support is responsible for helping you out in such situations; they help add, modify and extend default server behavior to enable whatever you’re trying to achieve on your website.
In some cases, you might find yourself needing the urgent assistance of a customer service agent may be due to an HTTP Error (500, 403, etc.) or some technical misconfiguration that is beyond you.
If customer service response time is slow, you could be stuck with a broken website for hours with no hope of getting things up again.
Also, some hosting providers can hire customer support agents from third-world countries like India to reduce operational costs. The problem with this is the lack of training and assurance that your website is being handled by a professional.
For these reasons, it is crucial to test out any web hosting provider’s customer service before you decide to purchase any of their services, especially their response time and technical know-how.
Using Free Hosting Services
Some newbies believe it is possible to host a high performant website completely free today for some odd reason.
Though free hosting exists, it is not as good as it sounds. Like everything free, their always a crowd, and with that comes lesser performance and server resource allocation.
It is never acceptable to host a professional website or any form of a serious website meant to be used in a professional setting on a free host.
They are not reliable and filled with limitations that are made apparent on usage.
Security is another reason you should stay off the free hosting bus; most of the free hosting providers are owned by private individuals or companies with little to no information or history.
Hosting your website on a free hosting platform opens you to a whole lot of issues you might want to avoid.
Not Knowing the Limitations (Fair Usage Policies)
A prevalent beginner web hosting mistake is not reading the hosting provider’s fair usage policies/terms & conditions statement.
Unknown to many people, limitations are placed on server resources when specific server usage criteria are met.
This is more common for shared and managed web hosting plans, from bandwidth to CPU processes being terminated.
In some cases, these usage limitations can leave your website slow and unusable.
In the terms and conditions page, hosting providers also state server use cases they forbid and will terminate your account if a violation is detected.
A good example of this is hosting adult material on web hosting providers that do not support it; this is why it is essential to always go through all legal and usage policies before you opt for any hosting provider’s services.
If you misuse or cross any of the server resources allocated, your hosting account will, in many cases, be limited and, in some cases, suspended permanently.
Hosting Many Websites on the Same Server
It might seem like a good idea to host dozens of websites on a single server to save cost and have easy access, but with convenience comes consequences.
First off, most servers are vulnerable to cyber-attacks like DDoS and data breaches.
If you are hosting a couple of sites on the same server, there’s a risk of losing them all when the server is compromised.
Suppose the server shuts down and, for some reason, your hosting provider could not provide a backup (we’ve seen it happen a couple of times with some providers), you lose all your website data.
In cases where you do not have a local backup of your server, it’s quite impossible to recover all website data.
Separating your websites into different servers might cost more, but it’s worth it; not only is it more secure, but it also improves the performance of each site.
On one server, each website will share the same server resources allocated with one another; if there happens to be a spike in usage (traffic) in any of the sites, the rest on the same server get affected and, in some cases, are temporarily inaccessible.
Not Backing up your Server Locally
Not having a ready-to-use local backup of your hosting server is a common mistake many beginners make when managing their hosted websites.
Servers are not invulnerable to data loss or corruption; servers are just computers tailored to store, manage and serve website files efficiently; their hardware is also vulnerable to damage just like any normal is.
Depending on only your web hosting provider’s backup add-on isn’t always a good idea.
They might claim to store server backups in an external location, but you can never be too sure.
It’s safer to create and download local versions and know that you’d always have a reliable way of getting things back up, irrespective of whatever happens in the future.
Creating local server backups allows you to easily migrate and restore your server files and settings on any hosting provider’s server you decide to switch to in a scenario where your current hosting provider goes out of business.
Most web hosting providers will make it possible to download your server backup via the cPanel tool.
You can download it to your PC and then store it on a cloud provider like Google Drive or Dropbox to be even safer. Once your server gets compromised at any point in time, you’ll always have something to fall back on.
The difference between a server backup is that a site backup might include all your website files. Still, a server backup includes everything from databases, server configurations to entire file directories. It’s comprehensive and complete.
Whether you’re new to hosting websites or already a pro, this article should have provided insights and possibly some new mistakes you can avoid when purchasing a new web host.
We hope you’ve found it useful; if you have any questions or previous mistakes you’ve made, kindly share them in the comment section below, and we’ll respond as soon as we can.