If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Let’s begin exploring the hosting traps you may encounter out there by clarifying the basics about hosting and hosts.
All hosting companies enjoy the same basic limitations, no matter how much iron they throw at the problem. There is no mystical realm of unlimited CPU power and endless memory and storage capacity.
The average web site uses around 50 Megs of disk space (when you start your web site, you will probably be more than comfortable within 10 Megs) and not more than 1 Gig of bandwidth per month (unless your site is overwhelmed with images or is dealing with pictures or videos, lots of them).
Beware of “unlimited” space or bandwidth deals as there is no such thing as unlimited resources. Those deals often end in site termination by the hosting company under the excuse that “your site uses too many resources”. If the deal is too good to be refused, make sure you will require less than average resources to make sure your site stays up. Usually, one or two percent of the sites use all the bandwidth or the space advertised anyways so here is where those deals play.
Most people don’t realize that the bandwidth and space used have little to do with the server resources being used. The resource usage refers to the amount of CPU and RAM as well.
Keep in mind that the cheaper the plan is the more pages-per-server they have to pack to get their money’s worth.
Here is a nice list of Scams I stumbled upon: http://www.websitehostingchat.org/web-hosting-scams.html or just type “Web Hosting Scams” in Google.
Basically, if it says unlimited resources, stay away.
Stay away of hosting companies that offer FREE DOMAIN names, unless they specify that the domain name is “personal”, meaning it’s yours, not theirs. There are a few deals out there that offer free domain name bought by the hosting company and if you’re still with them after a year, they offer to transfer it to you. I just like to imagine what would happen if that domain would bring a six-seven figure revenue that year. Also beware of the transfer free, it usually costs more than buying the domain for a few years.
You may need to pay up front for a year to get a good price. There usually is something fishy behind that request. There are also reputable companies that offer that, but as an alternative and they encourage you to pay monthly. Just imagine paying less and getting less or nothing (downtime, sluggish servers, terrible support, low bandwidth) and being stuck with that plan, not even being able to move your domain to a decent host. You should only pay up front if you researched the company and it’s solid.
I encourage you to check the many “reviews” out there about the company you’re doing your research on. You may even start by checking out the reviews before starting the research on a particular hosting company. Recommendations and forums are usually the best places to get an insight on what a certain company is like, and those resources are usually made available by reputable hosting companies themselves so that you get as much info as you need, on them, before you buy.
This is but a glimpse of what the subject covers and it’s out here just to raise the question and make you do your research and buy from a trusted company or a company you were referred to by a trusted source.