Ten Things Your Web Host Won't Help You with (for Free)

As awesome as your web host is, there are limitations to what it will do to help you as you design, build, and run your website. It all comes down to money. Your host will be more than happy to help with some things as long as you’re happy to pay.

Each host is different. Some hosts will help with some of these ten things, whereas others will not. If you find one who will, stick with it! Your tenacity will probably be worth it in the long run.

Website design

Your host is like your landlord. It is not your landlord's responsibility to decide what color you want to paint the bathroom or to help you do it. Likewise, your host will generally not give you free advice on how to design your site, what your site should look like, or how to implement your ideas. Many hosts will, however, be more than willing to do this for a fee.

Website writer's block

Your host's job is to keep the servers running, not to help you with writer's block. If you can't think what to write in your blog, your host isn't going to provide much help.

Some things that I find to help with writer's block include Swiss chocolates, strong coffee, classical music, and having kids. Go into a room with some screaming kids for a while and you will be eager to get out of there and hunker down to the business of coming up with lots of words that flow onto the paper.

Spam on your website

Spam is pretty much your problem.

Spam is awesome when it is a processed meat product. It’s not so awesome, though, when it refers to unwanted e-mails begging you to buy everything from nutritional supplements to get-rich-quick schemes.

Your host will probably have some kind of spam filtering on the server, but probably not anything too strong because it doesn't want to accidentally reject an e-mail you need. It’s your job to switch a spam filter on and set it to a level that works for you.

Malware on your website

Malware and viruses are the bane of the Internet.

If your site gets infected, your host might be kind enough to help you out by suspending or deleting your account, but it isn't going to do too much more than that.

Think of your hosting like a rented building: If you leave the door unlocked one night, it’s hardly the landlord’s fault if you get robbed of everything you own, and your landlord is not going to pay for the replacements or spend any time helping you to fix up the place.

Increase in traffic to your website

People pay professionals hundreds of dollars to help them get their sites to the top of the search rankings through search engine optimization (SEO).

Essentially, SEO is marketing — and it isn't your host's job to do your marketing for you.

Move to a new web host

“Hi. I don’t want to pay you for your services anymore, so I’m going to move my site somewhere else. I’m not sure how to do that, though, so could you help me?”

A host will probably happily help you move to its server, but if you’re trying to leave, don’t expect your current host to drop everything and help you out the door.

Web application problems

This is a big one, and a tricky one.

Depending on how busy it is, your host might be willing to help you when your WordPress installation doesn’t seem to be working, or you can’t get Joomla running on the server, or something along those lines. Such things are not your host's job, though.

It’s like asking an electrician to change all the light bulbs in your house, “While you’re here, would you…” It can be done, but it's time-consuming and not part of your contract, so don’t be surprised if your host says you have to pay for its assistance.

Uploaded files to your website

This is a service. Some web hosts will do this for you if you ask. But, don’t count on it.

That isn't how most hosts work, though. They provide you with the facilities to upload files and might even be willing to give you a little training, but uploading and downloading are totally your responsibility.

Installation of software on your website

Software installations on servers can cause problems…to the entire server.

Sometimes you hear about some facility or another online and you want to include it in your site, but some essential software is missing from the server.

Contact your host. It sometimes may be willing to add the software for you, but if it’s buggy or could potentially disrupt other sites on the server, then you’re probably out of luck.

Remember, unless you are on a dedicated server, you aren't alone on the server, and so you have to share nicely and responsibly.

Problems with your computer

Spending hundreds of dollars to try to fix a problem with a machine you’re not even paying to maintain just isn’t good business sense.

Most web hosts have better sense than that, so it’s probably not even worth asking. If the fault is with something that belongs to you, it isn't your host's responsibility, and your host likely doesn't have the time or resources to make it so.

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