When you read this article, be aware I have no issues with small businesses or web hosts, this article is debating should web hosts actually have some form of regulation or make it more “ethical” in the larger sense- read on as I explain many problems I have experienced.
If you are an owner of a website you have likely used many “not well-known” web hosts and if you have, you likely have screwed over at one point. As you may know that if you wanted to get into the web hosting industry you could do it for, well, nothing if you actually looked around.
First of all, you can get a domain for free if you look around carefully enough or go on a website like Digital Point and trade something or even use something a free Dot.TK domain. The next part is if you need somewhere to host your clients and this is very easy; just go on Google and search for “free hosting reseller” or hell you could try to go for “free VPS” and once you find one, you are in business after you found a billing script that will do all the automatic side of the business and this article would not be complete if I did not give one – Box Bill.
So as you can see, you can easily set up a web hosting business with basically nothing upfront and when you have many children (or well teenagers mostly) that have a summer break coming up and looking for a quick way to make some cash – have a guess what a lot of them do that is in IT?
Yep, that is right, they look to start a web hosting business due to having read somewhere that they are able to become very rich with little work and that is where shit hits the fan (there are some though that have gone on to make a successful business).
Now I am not saying teenagers can not run a successful web host – I used to run one many, many years ago that started up mostly the same way and that was a success but if think about how easy it is and how cheap it is to set up you can then see why so many fails; and when they fail it then pushes people to go to the far larger web hosts which also ends up conning people with a lengthy term of service that basically says they can rape you and you must accept it and smile asking if it is alright to pay monthly for it.
The problem I have with many web hosting companies is simply they all seem to think they can get away with doing whatever they want. An example of this is web hosts seem to think if they suspend your website, for whatever reason (and many web hosts say they can suspend your account for ANY reason) they can keep any credit you may have with them. You do not see businesses doing this, hell even mobile phone companies do not do this and there is a reason for it – it is highly likely illegal and even if not, very unethical.
The next problem with many web hosts is simply refusing to give what they offer. I am sure if you spend roughly 11.5 seconds on Digital Point you will find the buy and sell section is filled with people selling unlimited HDD and bandwidth for $1 and then if you checked Webhosting Talk a few weeks later, you will find that web host has bailed out and people are out of money. Isn’t it time the law looks into marketing and making it illegal to hide everything in small print?
Reliability is something else I am going to get into. Why does web hosting seems to be the only business where it is acceptable where people to allow their websites to be offline for days upon days and then accept the fact they have been offered no refund (we will skip the credit crap, no one wants to stay with a web host that keeps having problems) only for it to happen again in a few weeks?
Sure shit does happen with anything, but you never see any other industries turn around and never offer credit if something goes down. Just look at what happened with O2 in which they offered a lot of credit to people on Pay as you Go and contracts. With web hosting it seems if it goes down, you are told to stay bent over until they fixed it.
Another thing is terms of services. As you may know but terms of services are written in mind to protect them – not the user and more often than not they are much more complex than the European Convention on Human Rights translated into Arabic. It is also quite sad that it is known that some web hosts have been known to turn against their own terms of service when it suits them such as their refund policies, privacy policies and far more.
Maybe it is time the hosting industry sets out a standard of practice to keep it legal and ethical and find ways to be able to alert customers that the people behind the web hosting know what they are doing just like industries like plumbing have. At the end of the day, hosting is now vital to people, and businesses and maybe it is about time we start looking at fixing the problems with the industry before any national Governments decide to enforce their own methods.
Got any methods to create a set of standards? If so comment below, would be nice to see what both customers and web hosts think.
Need to reference?
Ellis, M. (2012). Is it time for Web Hosting regulations?. [online] Snat's Narratives & Tales. Available at: https://snat.co.uk/rants/is-it-time-for-web-hosting-regulations.html [Accessed 07 Dec 2023].
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