5 Stupid Web Hosting Features

The Web Hosting market is very competitive. In order to try to "stand out from the crowd", some web hosts make ridiculous claims about web hosting features.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics offered at Apollo HostingOriginally called Urchin On Demand, Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google which gives websites visitor statistics. Notice the key word there: free. You don't have to pay for it. You don't have to have a certain web host. You just go to Google and sign up. Advertising it as a feature on a web hosting plan is like a restaurant advertising free water from a water fountain across the street.

MIDI File Support

MIDI file support offered at Dot5HostingOk, first of all, MIDI? Who uses MIDI? Is that really a feature that customers are looking for? Second, a MIDI file is a file just like any other file. There is nothing special required of a web server to support MIDI. In other words, every web host in the world can support MIDI. So why are web hosts advertising it as a "feature"? Possibly because they are advertising to people who pick the host with the greatest number of web hosting "features" listed. The same goes for other so-called "features" that are completely dependent on the client, not the server, like Flash, Shockwave, Real Audio, and Javascript/DHTML.

Works with Windows, Mac, or Linux

Windows, Mac, and Linux support offered at Inmotion hostingNearly every web page in the world is transferred using the HTTP protocol and interpreted by a web browser. As long as the server and the browser are speaking the same language, they will be compatible. And, guess what? Every web host and web browser always speak the same language. Every web host in the world "supports" Windows, Mac, and Linux as long as you use a program that uses the right protocol (e.g. any web browser or FTP client). I can understand some complete web hosting "noobs" wondering whether their site will work on all systems but those are the only people who would believe that "Works with Windows, Mac, or Linux" is a real feature of a web host.

Unlimited Disk Space and Bandwidth

The use of unlimited disk space and bandwidth has started to become much more ubiquitous among web hosts. The problem is that there is no such thing as unlimited disk space or bandwidth. A web host has to pay for it all. However, they recognize that most people use very little disk space and bandwidth and they can kick off anyone who does use a lot. It's a marketing gimmick. With more and more and more hosts switching to unlimited, should you avoid any host that offers unlimited? No, but you need to check their terms of service so you know how much disk space and bandwidth you can really use. The problem comes when web hosts are completely vague about what is allowed. Take Yahoo Web Hosting for example:

Yahoo description of what unlimited bandwidth means

Uptime

Uptime is the time that your server is up and available. If the web host ever needs to take it down to install updates or recover from a crash then it's uptime percentage will go down. The problem is, most people don't realize how long their website can be down if it has a 99% uptime:

Total Downtime (HH:MM:SS)
Availability per day per month per year
99.999% 00:00:00.4 00:00:26 00:05:15
99.99% 00:00:08 00:04:22 00:52:35
99.9% 00:01:26 00:43:49 08:45:56
99% 00:14:23 07:18:17 87:39:29

This shows that your site could be down for 15 minutes everyday if it only has 99% uptime. That's 88 hours through the year. What's more annoying is when hosting companies try to claim that they meant "99% uptime across all of our servers, not just yours". At least there are some hosting companies that are honest about uptime:

A real uptime guarantee

So now you know when to call "BS" on your web host and hopefully find a better web host.

Originally posted on Thu Aug 21, 2008

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