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Always Read the Terms and Conditions When Choosing a Web Host

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Let’s face it — no one ever reads the terms and conditions. In fact, people often just scroll down the terms and conditions and click “accept,” not bothering to read it. You probably don’t even know anyone who takes the time to read thousands of words written so dryly it can turn Florida into a desert. So, if they’re so boring, why should you suffer reading them in the first place?

You Will Be Taken Advantage Of

Since a lot of companies and individuals know the fact that almost nobody reads the terms and conditions, they can put in whatever they want, hidden charges, they can even write “donkey fart” in there for all we know. To avoid being “scammed,” treat the terms and conditions as a contract you would sign in real life — read it carefully and understand it. That way, you’ll know whether or not you should click that “I Agree” button.

Some Key Things to Look For in Web Hosting Agreements

  • Maximum number of files (inodes) allowed
  • Limits on the number of MySQL databases allowed or even the number of MySQL tables allowed on a hosting account
  • Limits to the number of concurrent connections to the server or database connections
  • Maximum allowed percentage of CPU and RAM usage

Hidden Fees

To put this into perspective, think of when you want to purchase a web hosting plan, and you have to scroll down an entire manuscript of terms and conditions. What if you actually don’t agree with something from that contract, but you don’t want to waste time reading through it? Hey, first of all, the person who wrote that had to go through a much more painful process writing the contract, at least give them credit for that. Anyway, if you, by any chance, want to cancel the service and you get charged discreetly for it, what are you going to do? Since you didn’t read the terms of service, you missed the fact that the web host did indeed write that you will be charged, and you agreed to it. Now if you complain to the web host and they point this out in the terms and conditions, who’s going to look like the idiot? You.

Unlimited Disappointment

You have probably seen them all around the web. You know, those web hosts offering “unlimited” disk storage or even “unlimited” bandwidth? They sound too good to be true, don’t they? Make sure to look through these unlimited hosts terms of services.

If you’re lucky, you might find something refreshingly clear and to the point, like DreamHost’s “Unlimited Policy.” Yes, you do get quite a lot of bandwidth and storage, but it’s not necessarily unlimited. For example, with DreamHost, their unlimited services policy states: no copyrighted content to which you do not hold usage or distribution rights, no file-upload, file-sharing or file-backup websites, and definitely no websites with the sole purpose of consuming bandwidth. What’s going to happen if you do violate this policy? DreamHost might just delete your data because it’s clearly stated in their “Unlimited Policy” that they reserve the right to do so.

The Ground is the Limit

Limits, limits, limits. Who doesn’t love them? Then again, who doesn’t hate them? Everyone deserves a little bit of freedom. Not when you sign a contract that limits you on almost everything you can do with your website…Take CrazyDomains as an example. If you look closely at their terms and conditions (http://www.crazydomains.com/privacy/terms-of-service/), there’s a huge list of restrictions you must not do (or else that’s considered a “breach of Agreement,” which may lead to termination of services and loss of data in the sites held by the company). Some of them are: creating and maintaining more than a thousand tables per database, creating and maintaining more than 1GB of storage per database, running real-time chat apps, using up more than 512MB of RAM, and checking your mail “more than every 3 minutes.” What? So you can’t even check your mail frequently now? What’s next, you can’t make the mistake of accidentally causing your server to crash? Oh, wait. That’s one of the restrictions, too.

Technically all of those restrictions are stated under the heading “You also agree not to attempt any of the following”. So it’s matter of intentional vs accidental… My gut says they have the right to claim a customer breached the agreement if they do any of those things whether it was done intentionally or accidentally. Maybe they warn their customers first and only delete if the breach is not resolved or repeated again.

You Can Do Something

You don’t have to read every single terms and service word-for-word every time one pops out in your screen. No, that’s just tedious. Just skim through the headlines, see what piques your interest. However, make sure to go through the payment and refund section, restrictions, and service cancellation sections. These are some of the most important aspects of a web host’s terms and conditions. Terms and conditions are there because they have a purpose. The people who wrote those contracts did not willy-nilly write that just for “fun.” They are what they are — online contracts. They tie in with the law, and if you just agree to everything the contract says without even at least skimming through it, well, who knows what you are committing to.

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Comments

  • Speaking of “donkey farts” 1&1 TOS is pretty much that. They get a lot of people by making them pay $25 just to transfer their domain name away from. Typically, people have to wait 7-10 business days to go through the necessary steps.

    Just take a look at it:

    Upon cancellation of this Agreement you will receive a prorated refund of any pre-paid, refundable fees for the remainder of any term. Fees for certain services, including but not limited to domain name registration and maintenance, set up fees, shipping and handling, SSL certificate fees, Website Creator Plus, Website Builder Plus, in2site Live Dialog Plus, DynamicSiteCreator Plus, Additional Virus Scanner, Exchange accounts and fees for the Extended Term Packages.

    Also, you got to watch the money-back policies. A lot of host just give you “credit” as a refund. Guess there is actually a risk.

    Garen

  • hosttribe

    Even you read the ToS, that doesn’t mean you understand it. :)

  • Mike

    If our customers read the terms and conditions they would have saved a lot of hassle, the main point in the terms you need to read is the refunds.