Anyone who knows my blog will remember that I’ve had various hosting companies over the years. Dreamhost, BlueFur, BlueHost, Hostmonster, MediaTemple, and SBI (which isn’t really a hosting company per se).
So I think I can see the problems when it comes to choosing budget hosting. In reality, budget hosting is exactly what you read on the can: budget. If you are looking to host a hobby site, run a small online community, put up your photos or a family type blog, it will be fine.
The problems come when your blog or site becomes overly popular. Perhaps the fame is expected; or not. Whatever happens, if your blog does get Dugg, many cheap hosting companies will either turn off your site or simply throttle your site. In fairness, this response is reasonable since a hosting server at one of these companies will host dozens if not hundreds of accounts on a server (the contention rate!).
This is bad news for you, if you are expecting your site to be available, and spent time/energy and money preparing for this very day, only to find that there’s a server 500, or a note from the hosting company. But really for $2.95 pm … what did you expect?
As Caroline Middlebrook found out (and one of the reasons I switched my site away), the hosting companies can be rather strict with sites that have ‘issues’ regardless of whether it’s their fault or not. So, I recommend some very simple principles for hosting on a budget:
1. Always buy your domains in a separate domain registrar from your hosting
If you buy your domain and hosting together, and many newbies do, this is a recipe for disaster with unreputable companies. Why? Because the company can simply refuse to transfer your domain to another hosting company if you don’t agree to upgrade the hosting plan or pay the additional charges.
2. Always keep a backup of your site that is recent
See reason #1. You don’t want to be hostage to your hosting company. Ever. Many webmasters have been there; and found out that even though you may be in the right, you still don’t get your site back.
3. Try not to put ALL your eggs in one basket
If you have several hosting plans, then you can spread your sites between them. It may cost a little more in the short term, but if the sh*t hits the fan, at least you can switch your problem sites quickly. I’ve noticed that DNS resolutions do seem to take effect within a few hours now, so having an emergency space at the ready can mean your site is back quickly.
Of course, if you are running sites that are ESSENTIAL or that can’t fail, you should be looking at choosing more robust hosting arrangements than just budget hosting will ever offer. Try going up a couple of price bands!