If you have a website you have 3 options to put your site on the internet. You can self-host, you can rent hosting space from someone else, or you can use a free hosting service. Self-hosting is the best, if you can afford it. You need a computer and a reliable internet connection, typically not residential internet but that is changing thanks to services like Google Fiber. Free hosting services are great, if you don’t need a private domain name or special server side applications. For people who want “Mydomain.com” however, renting a hosting service is usually the best choice.
Nearly every hosting provider is lying
That seems straightforward enough, so this should be easy, you visit a few websites, compare some prices, and purchase your hosting. This shouldn’t demand more than an hour of your day, but it’s not that easy. Nearly every large hosting company is outright lying about the services they offer. There’s no regulation in the hosting market and the prices are as low as they can realistically get, so the companies have resorted to competing with lies instead.
The devaluation of the word “Managed”
For example, let’s look at the word “Managed”. Every hosting provider in the world offers “Managed Hosting” if their websites are to be believed, but what does that really mean? Well not much as it turns out. The word Managed starts with “Man” because it’s supposed to mean a human being is overseeing operations, but with large hosts that have 100,000 customers how is that even possible? It’s not, they are lying. They use completely automated systems and if you require any personal support it will come from underskilled phone-operators, or you’ll pay extra for it.
Unlimited is never unlimited
The other popular buzzword in the hosting industry is “Unlimited”. Nearly every hosting provider offers “Unlimited” service, but computer hardware has a finite amount of storage space, processing power, and memory, so how can they offer “Unlimited” service? They can’t. Every hosting package in the world is limited. What’s really happening is they’ve stopped being up front about the details of their service. This makes it especially difficult to compare the value of different services because most of the details are hidden from you.
I own a technology consulting business and one of the services I offer is webhosting. I’m not writing this article to advertise my business however. I was unaware of the problems in this marketplace until I entered it, and I am disgusted by how nearly all of my competitors operate. I say nearly all, because there are a good number of honest businesses who are up front about what service you receive and for what price.
What can we do about it?
The simple answer is stop supporting hosting services which behave in dishonest ways. If their sales page doesn’t provide full details of the service you’ll receive for the prices they advertise, or if they claim to offer “Unlimited” storage/memory/CPU, or if they hide extra costs and features on sub-pages of their website, shop elsewhere.