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Have you noticed the proliferation of companies offering free web hosting? And have you seen what they offer? ‘Unlimited free website hosting’, ‘speed and reliability’, ‘trusted by thousands of users’ and so on. My response? Don’t go there!
It’s easy to see why some people get sucked in. These hosting sites offer the world for free and, if you’re on a budget, that can sound very attractive. But surely commonsense kicks in at some point and tells us there’s no such thing as a free lunch!
If you’re running a business, and depend on your website – which, let’s face it, we all do, can you really afford to run the risk of your system going down? However reliable these organisations claim to be, if you’re not paying for a service, who cares if the service is rubbish!
Reliability And Accountability
Reliability and accountability are two qualities you should be able to expect from your web hosting provider – along with security. And it’s only fair you pay for that.
Think about it, is a free hosting provider going to invest money in security? Probably not. And that lays you and your business open to no end of phishing scams and hackers.
Phishing attacks target both individuals and companies, and are very common. They are fraudulent emails that appear to come from real organisations – usually organisations privy to your personal details, including banks and internet providers. And they work on fear.
A common example is an email, supposedly from your bank, saying your account will be locked if you don’t respond to the email. Responsible organisations do not send emails like this, so don’t be tempted to reply.
Beware Suspicious Emails
The ACCC – Australian Competition & Consumer Commission – takes phishing very seriously, and runs a Scamwatch operation online. The ACCC advises the public to never click on suspicious emails, and never provide your personal details to anyone, without checking they are authentic – that is, check their credentials online or call them back to check the number actually exists.
The best protection you can use, however, is to use reliable web hosting in Australia. As an example, let’s look at Suncoast Web Solutions on the Sunshine Coast. Their web hosting services are reliable, affordable and secure – and they have the statistics to prove it.
Choose Guaranteed Uptime
For example, they offer a 99.9% Uptime Guarantee because, let’s face it, there’s not much point having a website that’s down more than it’s up! They also offer phone and online technical support, plus daily, weekly and monthly site backups.
Now, while this isn’t a bargain basement priced service, it’s not the most expensive either, proving that you can get excellent service at a fair price. And while that might not be free, it will certainly save you money in the long run.
Not surprisingly, it’s usually small businesses that are hardest hit by phishing, because they are often the ones that have been tempted by free web hosting. And as a small business, they really have the most to lose, as they are likely to be working on a tight budget.
This is certainly avoidable as excellent small business website hosting is available at very competitive prices.
Hackers Target Small Businesses
Without a doubt we are seeing new ways of beating hackers and scammers every day. Indeed, the National Cybersecurity Institute in the US reports that spam is down to 50% of all email. But it also reports that criminal hackers continue to target small business.
The Institute offers some good advice on identifying phishing scams. For example, if the subject line says ‘fw: scanned document attached’, or if the name in the ‘From’ field is different to the name in the body of the email.
Often the domain name seems strange for an official business or organisation, or there may be strange spelling errors in the email.
Of course, the easy solution is DON’T OPEN THEM! But unfortunately, people do. Studies show that around 30% of spear phishing emails are opened, and at least 11% also open the attachments. That simple action could bring down your entire system.
Free Hosting Could Damage Your Website
Okay, well that’s the scary stuff! But there are other huge disadvantages to choosing free web hosting, such as limited space. Generally, free hosting companies do not provide enough storage or bandwidth for your purposes. As well as being inconvenient, this will also affect the look and feel of your website.
For example, you may find that you are limited as to the number of pages on your site, and there isn’t enough room for large graphics or video. In a competitive market, where online accessibility is crucial, these limitations are likely to negatively affect your clicks and ratings, and therefore your income.
Then there’s the advertising. As we said earlier, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. How do these free web hosting services make money? By running advertisements of THEIR choice on YOUR site. It’s also quite likely their name will appear alongside yours in domain name.
If I were a potential customer searching for a product online, that would put me off. What about you?