There is a saying that few things are truly free and you need to read the fine print in order to avoid the regret of buying into what was once thought to be a bargain.Here are a few common hosting traps to avoid.
Lowest price with hidden problems.You get what you pay for, and this is also true for hosting services. I have seen hosting for just a couple of dollars a month and wondered how some companies can do this (then I read the reviews from upset customers).
The truth is what you pay for in your hosting service is made up of several components.
Storage space (Disk space on the server where your website is hosted). Bandwidth (The transfer of your website data to your visitor's browser) And service (includes maintenance of the server where your website is stored, backup, monitoring,support, security and so on).If a company is asking just a dollar or two a month for hosting you can be pretty certain something has got to give.
A secret most cheap hosting providers will not tell you.
Typically many cheap providers do something called overselling. The basic idea is to cram as many websites into a hard drive as possible and utilize unused disk space and bandwidth. Many customers typically only use a portion of their allocated storage space and data transfer which leaves room for more sites to be hosted in the same location so many companies sell it. In many cases this does not create a problem, but sometimes the result is disastrous, since as sites become more popular they also attract more visitors which in turn means each site on the server has to be accessed more often (and the server has to work extremely hard just to keep up with demand). So if several visitors are attempting to get to your site (and other sites on that same server) at the same time, they will experience slow loading times and go elsewhere.
A poorly maintained server (because the company has skipped on support) will also leave you dead in the water. That cheap server left to its own devices without some kind of regular monitoring will eventually fail and without support your site could be down for not just a few minutes but days at a time (yes there are horror stories out there).
Opt out clauses and contracts. While I personally don't hold my customers to a two year contract (I figure if I offer value for money and high quality service they will want to continue using my service). Some hosting companies do offer a cheap price over a couple of years as a contract - but watch the fine print as there may very well be a hefty cancellation fee should you decide to pull out early. You may also have problems moving your domain name to another host and need to pay more dollars to have it transferred as well.
How Much should you pay?
So how much should I pay for hosting? Many of the better hosting companies charge around the $4 to $6 US mark per month for a basic reliable service and then the prices go up from there depending on what you need. A large business will require more bandwidth and storage so the price will reflect this. You also need to consider what you actually want to achieve and this is where it's worth going through what features you will be getting in exchange for your money.