I’ve had a long and arduous web hosting journey. Like many newbie webmasters, I began my web hosting career on a subdomain with a free host, and then graduated to a domain name and a paid web hosting company. And I’ve made some mistakes along the way. Boy, have I ever made mistakes. Here are five things I wish I would have known when I first started hosting.
1.Nothing is more important than uptime
You can have the nicest host in the world, offering the lowest prices on the planet, but if your website is constantly offline, the price and personality won’t matter. There is nothing more important than whether or not your web hosting company has a solid uptime record and can keep your website online.
Lesson: Check Web Hosting Talk’s Providers and Network Outages and Updates page and verify that your potential new host has a solid track record of reliability.
2. Always backup everything
The first paid web hosting company I employed promised that they were backing up my website to an offsite location once a day, so I didn’t worry about doing it myself. I didn’t think I had to. And then my web hosting company disappeared with my money and my website.
Lesson: Do your own backups. Even if your web hosting company guarantees daily backups, you’re ultimately responsible for making sure you have a current copy of your website.
3. Always keep ownership of your domain name
I was given a free domain name of my choosing with my first web hosting company. What a bargain..or so I thought. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my web hosting company had registered my domain name in their company name, so when they went offline for good, so did my domain name.
Lesson: If you take a free domain name as part of your web hosting package, make sure it’s registered to you. Unless the domain is in your name, you do not own it.
4. Look at more than just price
It’s always nice when we can save a few bucks here or there and get something for much less than we anticipated. When I began looking for my first web hosting company I considered only one thing: the price, and it ended up costing me dearly when I lost my website, my domain name and the money I’d invested.
Lesson: Not all bottom dollar hosts are unreliable, but some are. Read web hosting reviews and learn about where the real bargains are.
5. Upgrade when you need to
In my second year of hosting I had a tremendously popular forum that pulled in consistent traffic. I was finally on a roll! When a link to my site was posted on Digg, the traffic went through the roof, right along with my web hosting bill.
Lesson: Web hosting companies charge an overage fee when you exceed your allotted space and bandwidth and some hosts will even take your website offline altogether. It is far less expensive to upgrade when you begin outgrowing your web hosting plan than to deal with exorbitant fees after the fact. Scalability equals availability.
Take it from me, owning a domain name and a website is a fun, challenging adventure that more than pays for itself, but only if you do your research and learn from your mistakes.