It’s Time To Break Up With Your Web Host

Holding hands with fingers crossed
Photo by Katie Tegtmeyer

Is your partner treating you poorly? Is the connection you once had no longer there. Does your partner let you know what’s wrong in the relationship or is the communication gone? Do you see your relationship going anywhere? Does it still have room to grow? Has the trust between you broken down to the point where you know it’s over? If your answer to the previous questions is yes then it’s time to break up with your web host.

Successful marriages are based on trust between husband and wife. They need open communication and a sharing of mutual interests. A good relationship requires you and your partner to be attentive to each other’s needs. The same is true in your relationship with your web host.

Sadly there are times when we remain in relationships despite the lack of these foundational elements that make for success. We sometimes miss the signs of a relationship gone bad or ignore the signs because it’s easier to stay in the relationship than to get out of it. We want the relationship to work and tell ourselves it will get better, but that’s not always the case.

When it comes to web hosting, most of us sign up for an account, upload our site, and hope to never think about hosting again. The only time you really notice your hosting is when it stops working for one reason or another. You can’t always anticipate the needs of your website, but do you know if your web host will be there when you need it most? What are the warning signs that your hosting relationship isn’t quite what it should be? How do you know when it might be time to break up with your web host?

Do You Have a Strong Connection?

The most important job for a web host is to serve your web pages as quickly as possible when someone requests them. Ideally your site will never experience downtime, but that’s not realistic. Your significant other can have a bad day and so can your server. The question to ask is how often is your site down and how quickly is it back up when your web host experiences a problem.

A 99.9% uptime guarantee is the industry standard Downtime can be calculated as:

total minutes in a month x (100-uptime%)/100

which is approximately 45 minutes of downtime per month. Most servers will usually give you 100% uptime for several months in a row so if your site is down more than a couple of hours every few months it’s probably time to look for a new host.

Since you aren’t awake 24 hours a day and won’t necessarily be aware if and when your site is down you can sign up for a service like Site Uptime to monitor your site.

Is there a Failure to Communicate?

No one is perfect. Your spouse will have bad days and so will your hosting provider. When your site is experiencing downtime is there a way to contact your host to let them know? Is it email only or is there a number you can call? Is support 24/7 or only when someone happens to be home?

Relationship problems need open lines of communication to resolve issues. If you can’t reach your web host when you have a question or if they’re unresponsive to requests, it’s a warning sign that you may be better with another host.

When your site is down is not the time to discover your web host offers poor support. Learn what you can expect by asking questions before emergency strikes. If your host can’t return your email in a reasonable amount of time or if they’re unable to answer a simple question over the phone they probably won’t handle an emergency all that well either.

What Company Does Your Partner Keep?

Do you like your wife’s friends? Does your boyfriend hang out with some very obnoxious people? Many websites are on a shared hosting environment. Your site might be one of hundreds that resides on a particular server. Do you know anything about those other sites?

Are resources on your server equally shared or might one or a few sites be getting more than their fair share? What if another site on your shared server is the target of a DDoS attack? What if another site consistently creates effective linkbait and the flood of traffic results in periodic server crashes? What if another site on the server is discovered to be sending email spam and your IP gets blacklisted?

The other sites on a shared server can affect your site. It’s the price you pay for a reduced hosting bill. If your web host is willing to accept anyone as a customer you’re indirectly accepting the problems those other sites can bring. You might want to check the other sites sharing your IP address. If you don’t like what you find you it may be a good reason to send a Dear John letter to your host.

Web server set up in someone's basement
Photo by Spierzchala

Is There Room to Grow in your Relationship?

For a relationship to last it needs to grow. We grow as individuals and your relationship should allow room for that growth. When you first take your site live you probably have limited needs. Traffic is slow in the early days, you only have so many pages, and your database needs are minimal. Over time your site needs more. Does your web host offer an easy way to upgrade your account?

Some hosts make it difficult for you to change your hosting environment. There may be an associated downtime in adding more space and bandwidth or in moving to a dedicated server. Your host may not even offer much beyond your initial package.

You likely have high expectations for the growth of your site. You may not need more hosting right away, but if your web host doesn’t give your site room to grow a break up could be imminent.

Is There Trust in Your Relationship?

Do you believe your spouse is really working late? Does your significant other make promises they don’t keep? Do you trust your web host?

Your host can say all the right things and offer enticing guarantees, but if they don’t back it up why stay with them? More than anything a relationship needs trust. Without trust none of the above matters.

Your host may offer 99.9% uptime, but do you get 99.9%. Your host may give all the right answers in an email, but if they don’t follow through does it matter? Your host may claim the other sites on your server won’t cause your site problems, but is that true? Your host may offer better packages, but is there any reason to think they’ll treat you better on a different server?

If trust is lacking it’s definitely time to look for a new web host.

Is it Time For a New Relationship?

Most of us don’t want to accept that a relationship isn’t working or is leading nowhere. It’s easier to maintain the status quo than it is to step out of your comfort zone. Once your website is live you’d rather not go through the hassle of moving. Your hosting works today so why not think it will continue to work tomorrow?

An emergency is not the time to discover your web host won’t be there for you. No relationship is perfect and a single hiccup isn’t a good reason to end one. Still most relationships have their warning signs indicating that it’s time to move on. The relationship you have with your web host is no different.

It’s not always easy to accept and it’s not always pleasant, but if the warning signs are there it’s time to break up with your web host.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

7 comments

  1. O.k., now you’re freaking me out a little bit. I really didn’t think much about hosting beyond going with one of the companies you recommended. So far my blogs have been there every time I looked for them. That’s been good enough for me.

  2. @Kristine – Sorry for making you freak out, but no reason to be scared. Your hosting is in good hands. I imagine there will be the occasional hiccup, but no reason to worry. This post is to remind people not to take hosting for granted since it is very important to running a site.

    @Moshin – Thanks. I’m glad you liked the post. I guess your host isn’t giving you room to grow in your relationship.

  3. My host has been surprisingly good with support – an instant message application on their home page usually brings a tech within five to ten minutes and an answer pretty soon after; they’ve even helped me with .htaccess – but my account went down a couple days ago due to heavy CPU usage. I really don’t think I use the chip very heavily, so I’ve been thinking about migrating. Apparently they’re known for this sort of thing.

    It’s entirely possible it’s not their fault. Three robots went wild over my photo blog right before this happened. But it’s not a good sign.

  4. That’s good about their support and it is a positive sign. Servers do have problems at times that aren’t anyone’s fault, but a couple of days is a lot. It probably wasn’t you, but another site on the server.

    I looked up your host and they generally get positive reviews, but I think I did see something recently where they had problems with sites going down. You’re right that it may not be their fault and stuff does happen. It’s not a good sign like you say and if it happens more frequently then you might want to look into either another hosting company or a dedicated server.

  5. Thanks Dan. I don’t think any one of the above is automatically reason to break up with your web host. Your situation is a good example. You might not be able to cater to bigger customers at the moment, but most sites aren’t going to need to grow above a certain point.

    Growth is also relative. It’s not necessarily about being big, but about having the ability to have some future needs met. It could be as simple as being able to add another database or a different programming language to your account.

  6. Very interesting article. It wouldn’t put me in a very good position when it comes to growth – I’m still a fairly small company so I’m not really there to appeal to the big customers who want Virtual Private Servers, Semi-Dedicated Servers or Dedicated servers!

    I think I’ve found an area of the market though and I’m not specifically targetting the bigger customers, but smaller businesses like myself.

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