It’s sad to admit that many potential website owners fall victim to shameless marketing gimmicks every day. Therefore, when you search for a home for your website, make sure you fully understand the web hosting provider’s Terms of Service before signing any contracts.

So here are some useful tips to make you a well informed, smart consumer when it comes to choosing a web hosting provider. Feel free to share your own tips in comments!

‘Unlimited Storage’

This is probably one of the most popular marketing gimmicks in the web hosting industry. ‘Unlimited storage’ sounds like a great offer, doesn’t it? But in fact, there’s no such a thing. It’s always limited. Put the Terms of Service of your web hosting provider under the microscope and you will certainly find a tiny paragraph saying that your site can use just a certain amount of storage or something like that. Thus, if you exceed this amount, you violate the TOS. Unfortunately, many providers offer non-transparent ‘Unlimited Storage’ promises, so make sure you know what exactly stands behind each single line in the TOS. You may want to compare the Terms of Service of multiple web hosting providers on This website has an impressive knowledge base on web hosting.

‘Free Domain Name’

Hot on the heels of the ‘Unlimited Storage’ comes the ‘Free Domain Name’ gimmick. This offer also sounds generous, doesn’t it? Don’t get fooled. First of all, you need to take note of some important things:

1. Who owns the domain? Indeed, you can get the domain free of charge but the provider will retain the ownership. That’s the catch. In other words, you will have to use their services forever. Or you may buy the domain back, quite often at an exorbitant price.

2. What about renewal? The first year is completely free, no doubt about that. But when it’s time to renew it, they will charge $20 for this service.

Separate Domain and Hosting

You don’t necessarily have to use bundling services. Bundling services are great only in case you’re completely satisfied with their level of customer service and pricing. However, sometimes it’s better to get your domain name registered elsewhere.

Long Term Contracts

Unless you find the perfect web hosting provider that meets all your requirements and whims, avoid signing long-term contracts. Think twice before sacrificing your peace of mind, security and website performance to a tempting discount that you may get for signing a long-term agreement. Speaking about signatures, I can’t but mention the importance of using PayPal or ‘temporary’ credit cards. Avoid entering your bank account data unless the provider has an excellent track record.

Read customer testimonials and unbiased, professional reviews of various web hosting providers. Avoid fakes and paid reviews, these can be misleading. Ask successful bloggers and webmasters for advice. Remember to make regular off-site backups. Don’t rely exсlusively on your host. This won’t take much time, but will definitely improve your sleep. Once you’ve got your account, remember to share your experience, to help others make the right decision :).