All companies and industries make mistakes and web hosting is no exception. Web hosting is an industry where the products and services offered depend on a lot of variables and as such, almost everything imaginable can go wrong. Murphy’s Law of “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” seems to apply perfectly to the web hosting industry.
1) Offering Unlimited Space and Bandwidth
Offering unlimited space and bandwidth is dumb simply because it is basically impossible to honor the offering. Web hosts cannot feasibly offer unlimited space and bandwidth to customers. When customers start using a lot, hosts have to shut down the account. This chain of events has resulted in more than one PR disaster.
2) Big Promotions for New Services
After launching something really big (such as starting to offer Windows Hosting or a new product line of shared services), the first response is to start promoting it heavily. This is a prelude to disaster. The reason? Many hosts don’t have the technical expertise and/or man power to support systems they are unfamiliar with when demand is very high.
3) Making Jokes at Serious Issues
If you make a joke at a serious issue (like DreamHost did with their billing mistakes), you’re guaranteed to aggravate people. No one involved in a serious situation wants a company to take it lightly. If something serious happens, companies should treat it seriously.
4) Not Testing Backup Generators
Many a datacenter has gone down an extended amount of time because they did not properly test (if they even tested) their backup generators and power supplies. Servers need power of some sort to run and power is sometimes unreliable.
5) Claiming Low-end Celeron Servers Are Good
Dedicated server companies like Intel Celeron servers because they are generally pretty cheap. When they are cheap to the server company, they’re cheap to the customer. However, dedicated server companies often make the dumb mistake of marketing low-end Celeron servers as top of the line hardware with maximum reliability.
6) Using Outsourcing Firms
Outsourcing firms can be useful and some of them are very good, but a vast majority of outsourcing firms are absolutely horrible. Hiring a company to staff your helpdesk with employees who are often incompetent is a huge mistake.
7) Offering Free Trials without Requiring Credit Card Information
Occasionally a web host will offer a free trial without requiring credit card information to open up the account. This is an invitation to spammers and webmasters who operate illicit web sites to start using your services. They’ll login, send their spam, and leave. The only thing the company is left with is a big problem.
8) Not Honoring Guarantees
Basically every major web host has a money back guarantee. Many have an uptime and/or support guarantee in addition to that. However, when a host doesn’t honor the guarantees they provide or provide so many technicalities that almost no one qualifies, they are just asking for trouble. It’s really easy for a customer to cause a big stir about a bad experience and when companies don’t pay attention to this, it makes one wonder if the companies are stupid or if they are just cheap.
9) Not Hiring Qualified People
An organization is only as good as its people. When companies hire just to get “warm bodies” in chairs, they aren’t doing themselves or their customers any favors. It is better to be understaffed with great people than to be overstaffed with idiots.
10) Growing Too Fast
Countless companies make the mistake of growing too fast. Web hosting companies are no exception. Many web hosting companies think it is a good idea to keep marketing even though they are having trouble keeping up with orders and support.
11) Promotional Gimmicks
Not every product, feature, or gimmick that a web hosting company launches “revolutionizes web hosting.” In fact, most of them aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Hosting companies that bank of these little things setting them apart are in for a nasty surprise.
12) Hiding Things in the TOS
For each thing that a host hides in the terms of service, they are hurting themselves. Hiding things in the terms of service is useless and a dumb move. Customers eventually notice and will complain. Some companies, like Globat, charge up to $150 for a “contract breach” fee.
13) Website Design Clichés
You’ve seen the pictures of the smiling woman in front of the server rack? What about the perfectly organized, perfectly lit up server rack? Using these already overused images is a bad idea and bad design.
Needless to say, web hosts can and often do dumb things. Every industry has its dumb companies that don’t seem to get what it takes to run a successful, ethical business. But, many of these violations seem so much like common sense. Web hosts, are you listening?