Last updated on July 20th, 2019. Posted in Business Tools & Services.
Bad web hosting -- if you've ever had a run-in with a terrible web hosting company, then you know how frustrating it can be. Bad web hosting can result in all sorts of problems, from slow site performance, to serious sercurity risks. So here, you'll learn about web hosts to avoid. And, you'll discover some solid recommendations to get yourself set up right.
In this article, you'll get a clear idea on some of the worst web hosting companies and who you should be avoiding. This is all a result of seemingly endless research on my part to try and find the top web hosts for small business.
So here, you'll not only get a rundown of hosts to avoid, but you'll also learn about some of the shady practices that go on in the web hosting industry...all to get into your wallet.
And if you'd like some strong, solid recommendations for some of the best web hosting for small business, then take a look at my post, Best Web Hosting For Small Business: Get Set Up Right! There, you'll get my top 3 web hosting recommendations for business websites. One's sure to be a perfect fit!
The web hosting industry is incredibly competitive. Shared web hosting -- a kind of hosting where multiple websites share computing resources -- is particularly competitive among cheap web hosting companies.
Over the years, web hosting has largely become commoditized. It isn't nearly the specialized service that it was when I first got into web design over twenty years ago. Back then, there were fewer web hosting companies, and monthly hosting costs were higher.
Now, web hosts largely compete on price, creating a commoditized industry that's in a free-fall lowest price race to the bottom.
But for customers like you and I who are looking for the best web hosting for small business, these lower prices often mean poor reliability and low-quality service.
From a business standpoint, there are only so many ways that web hosts can increase profits. They can either innovate new products and services, or they can reduce overhead. Well, since web hosting (particularly shared hosting) is essentially a cheap commodity, the easiest way for hosting companies to grow is to begin buying up smaller hosting companies, and then cut their operating costs.
And that's exactly what's happening.
A small handful of very large web hosting conglomerates are expanding their businesses -- and their profits -- by buying up long-standing hosting companies who've built great reputations and loyal customer followings.
The business model for these conglomerates is, essentially, to buy existing hosting companies in their entirety -- including their loyal, paying customers -- and then cut that company's overhead by gutting support staff and increasing prices.
This is great for increasing profits. And terrible for once-loyal customers who are left in the lurch with poor quality support and faulty features.
But so long as the host that's been bought out can maintain a half-decent reputation (and there are a variety of schemes employed do this, which we'll discuss later) then more new customers will continue to sign up versus disgruntled customers cancelling their service.
It's a kind of web hosting Ponzi scheme -- so long as more new, unknowing customers are coming in the door than are leaving in frustration, the hosting conglomerate can continue profiting.
That's how the industry works -- that's what's going on.
So where does this leave you and I? On a constant merry-go-round: Signing up with a new hosting company for our business, increasingly becoming discontent with their service over a period of time, reaching a breaking point, getting fed up and moving to a new host, and repeating the cycle.
And here's the kicker -- we're very likely to sign up with another web host that's owned by the very same conglomerate.
It would be like getting fed up and swearing off ever purchasing a Chrysler ever again...and then going out and buying a Dodge.
So how do we get off the merry-go-round? How can we ensure that we're with a top web host for our business, who's also reputable? A host who cares about its customers?
Well, stick with my recommendations from earlier in this article, and it's hard for you to go wrong!
But in an effort to deepen the discussion, let's take a look at web hosts to avoid for your business website...
In addition to getting some top recommended hosting for small business, so far, you've also learned that web hosting conglomerates are expanding their businesses and profits by purchasing existing, reputable web hosts and then gutting them.
Endurance International Group (often abbreviated to EIG -- a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ) is one such conglomerate. They own hosting companies like Bluehost, HostGator, Domain.com, and over sixty other hosting brands.
And as outlined earlier, their strategy is to acquire customers and profits by buying up smaller, reputable hosting companies.
An all-too-common pattern has become widely known in web design and business website circles: Once EIG moves in and buys a web hosting company, they'll typically follow the same process: The first order of business is to gut support staff. After all, the best way to increase profitability is to decrease overhead...and employees are huge overhead.
Next, they'll reduce resources and service features. This can occur in a variety of ways. For instance, one way to increase profits and reduce overhead is to crowd more websites onto fewer shared web servers.
This means the newly-purchased EIG web host can now house two or even three times as many customers at a fraction of previous costs. As you might guess, this puts a huge strain on resources, resulting in slow running sites that are susceptible to frequent down time and slow page loading.
However, this isn't always the case, and it may take a period of months or years for this scenario to play out after acquisition.
Many customers of EIG-owned hosting brands report the same thing: An increased reduction in customer service and technical support after their web host has been purchased by EIG.
A reduction in customer service and technical support is exactly what I noticed when I ran Ten Ton Online on a web host called A Small Orange. They were acquired by EIG in 2012. For a few years, A Small Orange was a fantastic web host with friendly, fast customer service and fair pricing. But after being purchased by EIG, I saw things start to slip a bit.
As it so happens, I'd already began outgrowing the service anyway. That's when I began my research in earnest, ultimately switching to managed WordPress hosting with WP Engine, one of the top web hosts I recommend for business owners.
As for other web hosting brands that EIG owns, like Bluehost, HostGator, Site5, and others, honestly I haven't tried them myself. But from what I've read and researched online, the results are the same...
Poor service, poor support, slow load-times, and frequent outages.
For myself and my online businesses and projects, I simply cannot afford to deal with any of this nonsense. I absolutely avoid any EIG-owned web host. Other than my stint with A Small Orange, I don't have any direct experience with other EIG-owned hosts, so in an effort to remain fair, I can't speak directly about the quality of those host's services.
All I have to go on is what I've read online about EIG and what I've discussed with fellow business owners.
You can find full lists of web hosting brands owned by EIG on their Wikipedia page.
And, I think it's a safe bet to assume that EIG will continue their strategy of buying up reputable hosts and running them through the wrecking machine. So I'm always on alert to see if any hosts I use and recommend myself have been recently acquired.
If the hosts I use wind up getting purchased, then I'm packin' up and movin' out!
So that's the deal with EIG. I'm not saying don't use an EIG-owned host, I'm just making you aware of how the industry works and their business strategies. I avoid them, but it's ultimately up to you.
Are there other web hosting services to avoid?
Yes. Let's take a look...
I haven't used GoDaddy for web hosting myself, but I haven't heard good things. In fact...I've heard some nightmares! Site files getting deleted, incompetent tech support, promises made by sales people that the tech guys simply can't provide, and worse.
One online business owner who I was doing some consulting with told me about how GoDaddy had cost her thousands of dollars and six months of wasted effort due to their poor service.
It's these sorts of stories that I hear over and over about GoDaddy.
I used to use GoDaddy for domain name registration, but have since switched everything over to NameCheap (and if you need to register a domain name or two, I can't recommend NameCheap enough. I've been using them for years; they're awesome).
So as far as GoDaddy is concerned, I avoid them completely, just like EIG.
In fact, as I was doing some research for this article, I just happened across a smattering of posts: Check out this Reddit post, and this one. Here, people are reporting that GoDaddy runs fake auctions for domain names at increased prices, purchases domain names that people have searched for, and other shenanigans and schemes that GoDaddy gets up to.
So yeah, I'll continue avoiding GoDaddy. And for good measure, I avoid any property that GoDaddy owns, too.
We have much better options for small business web hosting.
Another kind of web hosting I avoid (and that I strongly recommend you avoid too) is any kind of free web hosting for small business. This includes any kind of free website builder like Wix or SquareSpace for your business website. More on those in a moment.
While free hosting may cost you nothing in terms of money, it’s often extremely limited and in many cases very unreliable.
I'm sure if you dug hard enough, you could find a few free hosting options. But with very reasonably priced professional, secure, web hosting for your business (often priced at less than $8 per month or less), I wouldn't even consider free hosting as an option.
Free web hosting for business is often completely unreliable, severely limited, and even sometimes comes with a generous helping of advertising and malware.
What can I say? You get what you pay for!
One type of free hosting you might be thinking about is to use a free website builder like Wix or WordPress.com. But, these free web hosting options also come with pretty severe limitations as well. For instance, these free builders often limit you on the kind of website you can build and your website's size. Further, your site will be riddled with advertising and use a branded domain name like
(If you aren't clear on the differences between regular 'ol WordPress and WordPress.com, I provide a comparison right here)
You can certainly remove these limitations, but with a cost of course.
In my mind, if you're serious about your business website, then spending a few dollars a month to go with a much more professional web host is a no-brainer. And in doing so, you'll have complete control over your business, your website, your content, and your site's design.
You can sell the products you want online, free of limitations. And, you'll have peace of mind knowing that your site is safe and secure with a professional hosting company.
So with all that out of the way, there's one more thing I'd like to touch on. And that is, how cheap web hosting companies who've been acquired by a larger conglomerate maintain their reputations.
If you've ever Googled, looking for the best web hosting for small business, then no doubt you've come across web hosting review sites. Web hosting review sites are those websites that list out tons and tons of web hosting companies, with glowing reviews for each.
Why do these sites list out so many web hosting recommendations? And why do they only have positive things to say about each of them?
Well, here's how it works: In an effort to maintain positive reputations for hosts that have been acquired by larger conglomerates, web hosts offer big affiliate commissions. This means that for every referral they send, the web hosting review site earns a commission.
Some hosts even sponsor positive reviews on web hosting review sites.
So while some web hosting review sites might be honest, there are plenty that aren't. Many hosting review sites offer glowing reviews for any and all web hosting companies who offer a decent affiliate commission. They load their reviews full of suggested web hosts and affiliate links...hoping readers will click on their links.
And while affiliate commissions are a perfectly legitimate and widely used method online (plenty of companies run affiliate programs, including Amazon, WordPress.com, eBay and many others) website owners often take it too far. Site owners begin concerning themselves only with earning big commissions and not providing their readers with accurate, reliable information.
Said another way, with the potential to earn big commissions, website owners have a huge incentive to skew product reviews in a favourable way. So, cheap web hosting companies who once had a very positive reputation, who's performance, service, and customer support has since slipped, continue gaining glowing, positive reviews.
And not because the host is still as good as they used to be, but because they provide great affiliate commissions.
And that, my friend, is the dark secret of the web hosting industry.
So what does all this mean for you and I -- business website owners who just want to find solid, reliable web hosting for online business? It obviously means that it's very difficult to tell which web hosting review sites are being honest and which ones are simply in it for a paycheck. It means we need to be wary of web host review sites. Many are riddled with spam reviews and fake customer comments.
And this isn't anything new. In fact, TechCrunch ran an article about this a number of years ago.
So if you dig around a bit and find yourself on a web hosting review site, notice that EIG-owned hosting brands are ranked very high -- they're offering the biggest affiliate commissions. Worse, I've even heard of EIG-owned hosting brands sponsoring positive reviews.
Now let me ask you, why would a company need to pay for a positive review? Obviously because no one is writing positive reviews independently.
And as you dig, you'll find that there are some easy-to-spot signs that tell you if you're reading an honest, legitimate review or not. For instance, do the reviews you're reading come across as balanced, detailing pros and cons, or are the reviews only positive and glowing with nothing negative to say? Do the reviews weigh different aspects of the service, point out flaws, downsides, and areas where a particular host can improve? Or, is the review flowery and positive and come with four and a half stars?
A review that makes a product or service appear flawless is clearly biased. What they want most is for you to click on their affiliate link. And in order to get you to do that, they're going to make the web host sound amazing. But the truth is, there's no such thing as a perfect web host for business.
It all depends on you, your needs, and your budget.
Another "tell" that tips you off that you're on a biased review site is if the site lists tons and tons of web hosts. Here, they're taking a shotgun approach, hoping you'll click on any -- any! -- of the affiliate links their site is riddled with.
So does this mean that anyone who's reviewing web hosting companies and using affiliate links is shady? No, absolutely not. Again, affiliate commissions are a perfectly legitimate way to earn money online. But to me, as a website owner with an audience, this creates a lot of responsibility. I do review web hosts and other tools and services here on this site. And I do use affiliate links.
But this is where the responsibility part comes in. I have a responsibility to my audience (that's you!) to provide legitimate, honest, and accurate information.
I work hard to thoroughly research whatever it is that I'm reviewing. And when I make a recommendation, I try to be as unbiased as I can be. No tool or service is perfect, so I'm always outlining pros and cons. And, I only recommend stuff that I either use myself, or that I've researched heavily and know is from a reputable company.
Not all website owners with an audience feel the same way as I do about this...but this is how I run my show! Providing accurate information is more important to me than an affiliate commission.
Thus concludes our look at web hosts to avoid for your small business website.
We detailed a lot in this article, including some of the shadier tactics that go on in the web hosting industry. You got a clear idea on some of the worst web hosting companies, and which web hosts to avoid.
Now don't forget, if you'd like to get some top recommendations for some of the best web hosting services for business, take a look at Best Web Hosting For Small Business: Get Set Up Right!
I'll see ya there!