TL;DR: Cheap hosting providers use scale to reduce costs at the expense of quality, security, and support. Some of the most pressing issues are:
- Website security
- Maintaining uptime
- Slow website loading and navigation speed
- Quality of customer service
At Watchdog Studio, we often recommend that business owners choose alternatives to hosting providers such as Bluehost, GoDaddy, and similar low-end providers. The fact is, if your provider isn’t up to scratch, it affects every aspect of your ongoing maintenance and performance, while also leaving you open to potentially catastrophic security issues.
Hosting is the foundation of running a successful website. If you were to build a house on a poor foundation, no amount of paint or interior design is going to keep your home from crumbling in an earthquake or slipping down the hillside during a mudslide.
Security: The worst case scenario
An example of the worst-case scenario was when No Support Linux Hosting was attacked and completely shut down. Customers were informed that they needed to act swiftly and download a backup of their websites and databases or their online presence would be entirely erased.
That said, utilizing a poor hosting provider doesn’t necessarily mean your business will crumble into nothing. It is true, however, that you are more likely to be susceptible to a major security breach that can negatively impact your business for years to come.
While the No Support Linux Hosting was an extreme example, even if the hosting provider doesn’t fold, an incredible 60% of small companies go out of business within six months after a cyber attack.
This is because cheap hosting providers operate on a lowest viable product basis, meaning they don’t develop disaster plans or even provide their clients with partners who can help them recover. Without these safety nets in place, many businesses find it impossible to continue and end up folding.
The risk of cheap shared hosting
If you’re paying less than $15 per month for website hosting, there is a good chance you’re on, what we consider, “cheap” shared hosting. With these hosting providers, there is almost always some sort of hidden cost. These costs come in varying shapes and sizes, but generally include: added security features, domain registration, charging for SSL certificates, etc.
In addition, these cheap hosting providers generally lack decent security protocols to effectively keep your website safe from malicious attacks not only against your website, but neighboring websites that could also be putting your website at risk. Considering that most companies rarely review their data breach response plan and other security measures, having weak security protocols in place can be a substantial issue.
Where you have no control
That said, while it’s important to have different security measures in place, it is important you take control of the security measures you can control.
However, with both shared and managed hosting, there are other factors that are entirely out of your control that become a problem with some of the cheap hosting providers.
In terms of security, as an example, if one website is breached, all of the websites on the same server could suffer attacks. This exact situation came to pass in 2020, when GoDaddy reported a huge breach that affected 1.2 million customers. The effects of this are still being felt years later.
Maintaining optimum uptime
Moving away from the absolute worst case scenarios with regard to website security, there are still powerful reasons you should consider alternative hosting options.
One of these is uptime, where there’s really not a lot of room for error. Uptime refers to the amount of time your website is running without issues and when visitors can access it. The industry standard for uptime is around 99.9%, meaning that 10 minutes or more of downtime a week is considered extremely poor.
The issue is that so many factors can affect your website uptime. Not only do you need to have stable, regularly updated software and high-quality hardware components, but you also need to carry out regular server audits and maintenance, have good network security and more. And this is without counting the potential issues that come from human error.
If you don’t know your website’s current uptime percentage, consider starting to track it. There are easy tools to use such as Uptime Robot that can notify you when your website is experiencing issues and track your uptime percentage over extended periods of time. If it’s less than 99.9% uptime, you should investigate why.
Slow website loading and navigation speed
This is another subject we’ve spoken about in detail before. Slow website loading and navigation speed can severely disrupt the experience your website visitors have and impact your conversions. A consistently slow website will also negatively affect your SEO ranking and mean that fewer people will find you in the first place.
While website speed can be influenced by a huge array of factors, the hosting provider itself does play a significant role.
Good hosting providers will take preemptive steps to ensure faster speeds. The most important one would arguably be making use of server level caching and/or utilizing a CDN or Content Delivery Network, both cache static portions of the website while the CDN makes the website available at optimized speeds for specific locations around the world.
If you are experiencing slow loading speeds and are not sure why, it could be due to your hosting provider and is certainly something you should look into.
TIP: You can quickly check how well your website is (or isn’t) loading by entering it into Google PageSpeed Insights.
Quality of customer service
What do you do if you’re experiencing downtime? Or if your website is running slow? Or you’re worried about security issues? You contact your hosting provider to find a solution.
Unfortunately, the problem with some of these cheap hosting providers is they rely on a “minimum viable service” approach, which extends to the customer support you will receive. If you get a response, it will likely be punctual and then you can expect to wait much longer to actually find a solution.
For a provider like GoDaddy, the customer service is notoriously bad. Customers report being ignored, littered with hidden upsells, and unreasonable refund policies. When we’re talking about one of your main sources of sales, having such an unresponsive and frustrating service is not what business owners need.
You get what you pay for
In the end, what matters most is that you understand what you’re getting into. If your only goal is to host a passion blog, then the risk of a data breach or too much downtime isn’t great. However, if you’re relying on your website as a main source of income, it’s a substantial risk to trust cheap shared or managed hosting providers.
The main problem with cheap hosting providers is simply their size. Since they operate at such a large scale, it opens the doors to more issues, ranging from minor inconveniences to business-ending failures.
Quality website support is about having a provider who both knows your business and cares about your success. You need to know that any issue you have, whether large or small, will be taken seriously and met with a quick response to find a solution. That’s the only way to gain true peace of mind.
If you’re considering an alternative hosting provider but aren’t sure what to choose, check out our post on choosing the best hosting provider for you.
Alternatively, we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. Reach out and let us know what you’ve got on your mind.