Momma always said, ‘You get what you pay for.’ Or if it is too good to be true it probably is. This includes a web hosting provider. When a client sees something for free; there are generally 2 different reactions. The first is the ‘Pollyanna’ type that says, YES! I will take it where do I sign. Then there is the skeptic who will automatically presume there is a dark purpose in being a budget concern. Is there trouble lurking in the bushes waiting to pounce on the next unsuspecting customer? When we talk about free there are some undisclosed matters that might impede a new business owner’s success. To be well informed is to be well armed.
Here are some examples of what some would call covert operations when working with a ‘free web host’
1. The lack of experience ON THEIR PART, not yours:
Some of these free hosting providers haven’t been around long. Unfortunately they are in the same situation as the new business owner. Since they are a start up just like you; they will behave in much the same manner and try to save a little cash. Keeping that in mind they are not going to be spending the big bucks on equipment they really should have. In addition to marginal equipment, this start up could just be a college kid and a couple of his buddies who think together they can handle anything. When you look for a web host ask how long they have been around and who some of their clients are. Experience is the best teacher and if your host doesn’t have it is up to you to find some one that does have it.
2. Customer support 24/7
Let’s talk about the college kid and his buddies as the hosting company you are considering going with. You need to ask about their service and support. Is it truly 24/7 or is it when they ‘get around to it’. They can say sure we have 24/7 support and when they want to party one of the owner’s kid brother steps in to ‘man the phones’. Before you sign up for any free program call them at 2:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. See what happens. You should be able to make a prudent decision after your call.
3. Agreement to the level of service provided
If the free host sends you an LSA (Level of Service) agreement. Scrutinize this agreement carefully. If they don’t offer one, tell them thank you and look for other prospects. If they have an agreement that seems to be full of holes, again, move on. You need to know how problems will be handled BEFORE they happen. The LSA should have all the answers.
4. Does the company have other irons in the fire?
An additional dark and dirty secret you need to know is what else does the company do. Are they an exclusive host company or are they offering something else to someone else. Web hosting is not something you just put on a menu of services. Web hosting is the menu and that is all this restaurant is serving. (So to speak) Web hosting is an all consuming business if your host is ‘cheating’ with other service, it is time to break up.