10 Dirty Secrets of the Web Hosting Landscape

Aggressive tactics, hidden costs, no back-up plans, the web hosting landscape is home to plenty of dirty secrets. We reveal them.

If you’ve read our previous article spotlighting some ugly truths in web hosting, then you’ll know that finding the right web hosting provider for your website is an essential and seldom straightforward task. Remember, many excellent and reputable web hosts are out there; we just want to ensure you know the bad ones when you see them! 

When it comes to web hosts who provide less than the best, however, there is a lot they would prefer their prospective clients didn’t know. Our COO, Ryan, knows this, so he’s spilling the tea. Here are ten dirty secrets of the web hosting landscape.

1. Three providers make up the backbone of the web hosting industry.

There are thousands of web hosting companies, nearly all of which are ultimately served by a primary cloud provider like Amazon AWS, Google GCP, or Microsoft Azure. What most people are buying when they say “hosting” is the marketing, engineering, support, and website management software, not the server resources themselves.

2. Hosting directly with one of the “big three” is a bad idea.

Savvy buyers know that many popular brands are built on these major cloud providers, so they have the idea to “cut out the middleman” for cost savings and try to host directly on one of these cloud networks. This is a terrible idea. AWS, Google GCP, and Microsoft Azure are incredibly complex systems. And they need to be configured with the proper permissions, ownership, or optimizations to deliver a WordPress website in the most efficient and secure way. 

Unless you have a person skilled in server management minding your web servers, it’s best to sign up with a host that specializes in WordPress.

3. There’s no such thing as “unlimited” in the hosting world.

Unlimited is a marketing buzzword. Every web host monitors your resource usage and will force an upgrade or shut down your website if it exceeds certain thresholds. Read the fine print about what’s actually included if you choose a plan that claims unlimited anything (bandwidth, storage, data transfers, etc.) because it’s usually too good to be true.

4. Almost all web hosting is “shared.”

Even for high-availability plans, it’s uncommon for you to have resources dedicated 100% to serving your website. You’re almost always sharing hardware with someone else. The one exception is when hosting is explicitly called “dedicated hosting.” Even in those scenarios, you should still clarify that no other customer websites are stored on the same hardware as your server. Words like VPS, Cloud, etc., are usually positioned as a tier above Shared. They have more resources available and, usually, technologies like containerization to help solve the noisy neighbor problem, but they’re rarely your own hardware.

5. Your web host will not help you diagnose or solve website issues.

Many web hosts may help point you in the right direction regarding a potential issue with your website application (WordPress). Still, almost none of them will actually help resolve WordPress issues. Their contractual terms won’t allow it because they primarily focus on the hosting infrastructure. You will still need a developer or service like SiteCare to provide support for WordPress itself.

6. Affiliate Managers are incredibly aggressive.

When our Best WordPress Hosting article ranked on Page 1 of Google for a valuable key phrase, Affiliate Managers from popular hosting companies were constantly calling in to have the brand they represent moved higher up in the rankings. They’d offer travel, spa retreats, higher commissions, or anything else I’d request to push their position from third on the list to first. But we never changed the results for a kickback.

7. Buying Windows Server hosting if you’re running WordPress is a bad idea.

Don’t get tricked; the Windows Server operating system isn’t built or optimized for serving WordPress and will add unnecessary technical complexity to your website. Linux is the best option for hosting WordPress sites.

8. Renewal costs are often higher than introductory rates.

Research renewal fees first when signing up for a web hosting service. You may find that although you’re currently paying an attractive, affordable rate as a new user, the lower price will only last a short while. Once you’ve already been enticed through the door, some web hosts will substantially increase their rates when you want to renew your contract. If you’ve researched your new web hosting provider and are happy with their service, sign up for as long a contract as possible.

9. Many hosts store backup files on the same server, which defeats the purpose if there’s a hardware failure.

Your web host must have a fall-back plan for your backups. Check that your backups are stored on separate servers and devices, as any system failure can also result in complete systems failure for your website. Systems can fail for many reasons, including the weather, so understand how backups work to ensure your web host is prepared.

10. Hosting your emails with your website isn’t a best practice.

Having your website and emails in the same hosting package might seem logical, but it’s not a good idea. Firstly, as they are specifically web hosts, email hosting is likely outside your host’s expertise. Because of this you may receive sub-par service. Secondly, as with secret number nine, if one goes, they all go. If a server drops, you could find both your website and email crashing, as opposed to just one or the other. Simultaneously losing your communication channels and website is disastrous, so keep email and web hosting separate and sleep easier at night. With this in mind, check the fine print and ensure you’re not paying for email hosting services you’re not using.

Web Hosting Worries? SiteCare Can Help.

So, there you have it, ten dirty secrets of the web hosting landscape. Keep these in mind when you’re taking another look at your web hosting contract or looking for a new provider. We don’t want to scare you (much!), but we do want you to be aware of the risks.

Know that there are many excellent web hosting companies out there, but as with every industry, some always try to take more by giving less, and we don’t want your website to be collateral damage. 

If you’d like to speak to Ryan further about your web hosting options or concerns, he’s always happy to set up a call

Are there any dirty secrets we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Olivia Maurel Avatar
SEO Copywriter

5 min read

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