Who do I recommend?

I would like to thank Edd and TG who recently visited the contact page of my site for the idea for this post.

Ever since I posted my YouTube Video I have been getting the following question:

“Who do you recommend?”

In prior years I must admit I was tempted to say my own companies, but I felt that would ruin the effect of my video. Such a recommendation would be no better then those paid review sites. Not to mention I was not the only honest host that was effected by sites similar to webhostingstuff.com. After 2 years I see a lot of webhosts posting my video on their site. Even though they were competitors, we shared a common problem that would not be solved by ownership of a video that was better left to informing the general public. I owe many hosting companies in part for my search engine rankings and the multiple sites that housed my video. Frankly I owe every individual that posted my video to their site. But I don’t think a simple thanks is enough.

But now things are different and I am not in the hosting industry, and I am not about to recommend my former companies. After all there are non-disclosure agreements. But I am now in a better position to be unbiased. But I can’t recommend any hosts at this time. It may be months before I can say a host is worthy. I have only reviewed nine hosts out of thousands. I am still getting my feet wet so to speak in how to go about reviewing sites. As you can see from my iPage.com and justhost.com review there was a 7 day gap. Because I kept finding out info on Justhost.com. Because of this I had to set a limit on how much time was spent on researching a company. My limit is 2 hours per company / per post, while leaving myself the possibility to come back to that company at a later time for further review. At this point my main focus is on webhostingstuff.com’s top 25 list.  They started me on this so its only fair I give them first coverage.    I am eager to see one of two options happen to review sites as a result of reviewing the hosts that pay for their “top”  spots.

  • They reform and become a true unbiased hosting review site
  • They are put out of business

I would prefer the first. The second only if they refuse to find a conscience. I think every one deserves a chance. After I have finished the bulk of  my reviews for the companies that use webhostingstuff.com’s top 25 I plan to go after other review sites.

I can tell you what to do and to look out for as it seems most of the webhosts (at least out of the first 9 I reviewed) have the same flaws.

  1. The first thing I would do is to see how much their affiliate payouts are paying. I consider anything above 20% of fees too much, and a good indicator that companies are more interested in new customers then retention of old customers.
  2. Read the terms of service. Yes they are long. I usually look for certain key words on the terms of service such as “refund”, “responsible”, “usage” and “shut”. I usually find enough in relation to those four words to determine that I do not like a host. If you still like the host after that perhaps you need to read the whole terms of service. A good thing to look out for is when they state that they are not responsible for anything, even problems that they might have caused themselves. “Unlimited space” companies have plenty of wiggle room to get out of having to give service.
  3. Call them, chat with them, email them. This will give you a sample of how fast they are, and not to mention their grammar. Honestly I would never sign up with a webhost til I reached someone.
  4. Avoid any company that has a “unlimited” space package. There is a limit, sometimes outlined in their terms of service. My suggestion is to look for a hosting company with a hosting package with the amount of resources you need, and will allow you to upgrade according to your needs.
  5. Look for complaints, examples of which is “host company name” with sucks, fraud, refund, downtime… via Google. However keep in mind complaints or praise are not always valid. After all someone that just signed up with a company is not going to be the best person to tell that a company is a good company to be with, where as someone thats been there 3 months or longer is a much stronger candidate for a glowing endorsement. Where as complaints about company sucking, and no details on to why the company sucks is not a valid complaint. Problems can be seen when they document their complaints by sharing emails and chat sessions. They document their complaints. Then there is where you start seeing customer complaining about the same thing like with mochahost.com multiple people complained about the company being rude and poor support. It only got worse when a representative of Mochahost.com decided to go after one of their customers religion and other rude taunts with other people that complained.
  6. Awards? There are a lot of websites that have awards. But the problem is most of these awards are from sites, whose best interests are in referring people to the host. Like webhostingstuff.com, hostaz.com, any site that says top 10, and the list goes on. Most of them will have a coupon code, I have yet to find a valid review site that does not have a coupon code to “save”. I am not saying there are not valid review sites out there. Hostgator.com is a great example of awards that are all paid for either by ranking or by affiliate commissions.

I don’t think most people spend more then 10 minutes trying to find a host. Rarely when I was in the business would people ask questions about the terms of service. There were always questions about “do you allow porn sites?”, clearly the terms of service would have a solid no on that. Its easy to get drawn into a site that promises you tons of free stuff, cute cartoon characters, pretty women, and flashy graphics. Somehow $500 or more in free stuff for a $72 a year account. The allure of getting more then your dollar is worth is not something even I can resist. But as my Grandmother would always say, “You get what you pay for”. Seldom in life have I gotten something worth more then what I paid for it.

When you find out how much these freebies cost for the hosting company to get the stuff to begin with, its clear that its not really costing much of your account.. Advertising credits are free, Google actually allows you to take a test, and pay a minimal fee to give out free adsense credits to your customers. It actually works in Google’s interests for hosting companies to give these credits out as this gives Google more customers to use adsene. Free WordPress? Not really, WordPress is also free. Perhaps if they had some customer for that host only themes it might justify WordPress. Free domain? Chances are they are not paying much at all for that, and its their way of keeping you from going to another host. I know a lot of customers that think you have to have your domain name and host at the same company. I am here to tell you that is not true.

My advice on free domains, you are better off getting the domain from a third party in case things do not go well. I would not get a free domain or transfer my domain to a webhost. Your simply better off with a second party that is not involved with the webhost. Many companies will charge you more then you could have got the domain from other companies. Claiming that this is how much it costs them to buy the domain. I can tell you now they are paying less then $10.

I know that many would like me to give a simple answer as to a actually company name, and perhaps in the future I might actually start endorsing companies. But they have to have the same ethics I have when I ran my hosting company. I felt the customer came first, not short cuts to getting my company to the top. In a lot of ways I considered my customers friends. Granted it became harder to remember who was who the more my company grew. It was easier to remember the people that came in 10 years ago versus the ones that came in towards the end of my time in the industry. But I have to wonder does your webhosting company know who you are?