Anyone that has a popular website will tell you that how you handle your web hosting is one of the most important things in the equation. Choosing the type of hosting is already difficult and choosing a specific host can be more challenging. Even if you end up getting a good web host, there are common mistakes that can derail your progress.

Most of the time, these mistakes seem small until you need assistance or have to take advantage of one service or another. That’s when those seemingly tiny missteps can come back to bite you – hard. In this guide, you’ll learn about six common hosting mistakes that should be avoided as much as possible. 

Choosing a free web host

It’s often said that if you’re not paying for a product then you are the product. With free web hosting, you’re not the real customer because you don’t keep the lights on. The service needs to monetize through a different channel which can include selling your data, aggressive upselling for other products, or even injecting ads on your website. In addition to that, many free web hosting services have poor uptime scores don’t update software regularly, don’t provide robust customer support, and have security issues.

Keep in mind that many web hosts have free tiers but they also have paid plans. These ones are still alright, it’s the ones that are 100% free that you need to be wary of. The free plan of a platform like Wix is effective for a personal blog or small portfolio but not for a business. If you’re building a brand website, always pay for the service because you can hold them to a higher level of quality.

Not doing manual backups

Many web hosting companies offer regular backups as part of their service or allow you to purchase it as an add-on. They’re effective and usually work well if something happens to the site. Unfortunately, it’s pretty common that a website goes down or is compromised and the host is unable to restore it from the backup it has on file. Either the backup is also corrupted or some other issue is preventing it from working.

The way to prevent this is simple but few people do it. Keep your own backups on your computer or upload them to a cloud storage device. If anything goes wrong or you need to migrate your website, you can simply use the backup you’ve downloaded. A good rule of thumb is to make weekly backups of your entire website.

Neglecting to take bandwidth needs into consideration

Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred from your website within a specific timeframe. Usually, bandwidth is calculated and reset monthly. It determines the number of visitors your website can handle. For example, if you have 1,000 MB of bandwidth and your webpage is 1MB then you can receive 1,000 visitors a month before you’ve exhausted the bandwidth allocation.

Newer websites don’t consume much bandwidth because they haven’t built up a reputation, social media following, organic search traffic, etc. The common mistake new website owners make is not budgeting for any spikes in traffic or the potential for rapid growth. They choose a hosting package without considering if it has enough bandwidth and run into problems when the allocation is exceeded.

A good rule of thumb is to get twice as much bandwidth as you think you’ll need. If the average visitor consumes 3MB of bandwidth browsing your site and you’re expecting 1500 visitors then get a plan with at least 9 – 10 GB of bandwidth. It’s not a perfect system but it will save you when there are spikes in traffic. Conversely, you can use a CDN which will cut down on the amount of bandwidth consumed every time a visitor loads a web page.

Going with an inexperienced reseller

This is a big mistake that can come have serious consequences. Resellers are people or organizations that use the hosting resources of another company and white label it as their own. Usually, the host they’re working with will give them a steep discount on services in exchange for them providing more volume.  For example, a HostGator reseller would brand the HostGator portal with their own logo and colors so you wouldn’t know that HostGator was the backbone of the operation. In addition to allowing the reseller to use its infrastructure, HostGator will make it the responsibility of the reseller to handle customer support and software maintenance.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a reseller. Oftentimes they provide a value-added service like more technical help, custom software deployments, design services, etc. The mistake comes when the reseller doesn’t understand the nuances of managing servers. How do they update to the latest software, do they know what kind of firewall settings need to be put in place, how are they protecting against malware, etc. If you go the reseller route because they have great value-added services then do extensive research about other aspects of the service as well.

Choosing a host without a refund period

Many hosting companies have good-looking websites and promise great features but don’t end up delivering. There could be more downtime than you expected, some features don’t work the way you were expecting, the customer support isn’t as good as you first thought, or you simply chose the wrong type of hosting. There are many reasons to want a refund.

If the company doesn’t offer refunds, you’ll be stuck with a service you’re not happy with until it expires. Even if the refund period is relatively short, it’s important that you at least have the option if the need arises. Look for thirty-day refund guarantees of the full purchase amount and prorated refund amounts for anything longer than that.

Choosing a host with a poor website design

The way a brand presents itself online speaks a lot about how much time and energy it puts into its service. If pages aren’t mobile-optimized, some of the site menu links don’t work, or the design looks like it came from the last decade then it may be wise to skip it. That’s because they may put even less energy into keeping you satisfied as a customer.

Modern hosting services like IONOS and Squarespace have taken the time to create good-looking websites that appeal to their target audience. Keep in mind that there are different preferences when it comes to web design. Even if you don’t like their specific design, ask yourself if it’s modern and looks like effort was put into it.

Conclusion

To be frank, web hosting can be technical and there are bound to be mistakes on your end. The most important thing is to avoid making the kind of mistakes that’ll have a disastrous consequence on your business or brand. This guide has outlined multiple things that should be avoided when it comes to your web hosting. The list isn’t exhaustive but it should help you make better decisions. If you need a quick primer on some of the best web hosts available, be sure to take a look at our in-depth web hosting reviews and shortlist the providers that meet your needs.