These days, literally anyone can become a Web host. With a cheap reseller account, a free template and a catchy name/logo, you too can create your own host with almost no experience, expertise or resources.
This has effectively flooded the market with ‘also-ran’ hosts that are really just leasing server space from a larger company. Their sites range from the truly professional to the eye-gougingly horrible but, more importantly, the service they provide and the fairness of their deals also vary wildly.
Though some resellers are legitimate companies that have found a market dividing up larger servers into smaller partitions, such as what Hostgator does with its servers from The Planet, the vast majority of resellers go the other direction, being little more than a middle man standing between you and a much better deal.
For the most part, resellers aren’t worth the time and trouble and should be avoided. Resellers can sometimes be difficult to spot, but you can usually you can get a pretty good idea by having a good dig around their site or looking up the company’s site information on WhoIsHostingThis.
Here are five good reasons to avoid resellers and stick with the company that’s controlling the servers.
Reseller hosting might seem cheap, but you have to remember that a reseller is the middleman; they have to make a profit and so does the original provider. The best deal that a reseller can give you is the same one that the original provider does. But think about it: if you have two people taking a cut of the pie, that will make the price go up.
Consider this: If you were to purchase the same account as the reseller did and divide it up yourself, perhaps by forming a hosting coop, you would save money. However, often times, you don’t even have to go to those lengths and can just get a smaller account from the original host for a much smaller price.
As low as the prices are on some resellers, you could most likely secure a lower price for yourself with a little bit more work. You’d also avoid the other pitfalls in the rest of this list.
2. Overselling Redux
We’ve previously discussed overselling and why, if done well, it isn’t that big a deal. However, when you’re dealing with a reseller, you’re also dealing with an extra layer of overselling.
The original host is probably overselling the physical machine that the reseller is using, promising more space and bandwidth than is available to the customers. The reseller, in turn, is overselling their account, selling more space and bandwidth than the account provides.
This means that there is double the chance that this overselling will interfere with your site’s performance and uptime. To make matters worse, a reseller is much more likely to stretch their accounts to the limit and has a more difficult time correcting problems than a host with physical access to the machines.
3. Support Troubles
Though some resellers are set up by intelligent and capable web admins who just want to break into the hosting business quickly, many are set up by businessmen and marketers looking for a turnkey business that they can break into with minimal effort.
The result is that the person directly in charge of the company is not in any position to provide actual support – they merely funnel those questions on to the original host. This inevitably adds a layer of interference to support requests and causes delays to responses and fixes.
The only way to ensure a direct line of support is to go with the original host, not an intermediary.
4. More Likely to Die
The sad truth about resellers, especially small ones, is that they tend to come and go pretty quickly, often with little warning. Though reselling isn’t an expensive business to enter or operate in, it can be a lot of effort – those who go into it with the wrong idea often make a hasty exit.
These companies are easy to start up and to exit, making it likely that, if you pick the wrong company, you could end up without a host in short order and scrambling to find a replacement at a very bad time.
Companies that have made large investments in their datacenters are much less likely to go under, especially out of the blue, and when they do they are usually bought up by a competitor. The transition, with a few exceptions, is fairly smooth, unlike a reseller which may not offer a transition plan at all.
5. Not in Control of the Account
Finally, it’s important to remember that your site actually exists as part of two accounts. The first is your account with your reseller, the second is your reseller’s account with the original host.
The problem is that you have no control over the second account. What happens, for example, if one of the other accounts on your reseller is caught hosting illegal content or your reseller stops paying the bills? You may find yourself without a host and not much that you can do about it.
When you go with a reseller, you give up a certain amount of control over your account and that can be deadly. If you value your site, you want to be in as much in control as possible and, even if you don’t have the skills to take charge over certain aspects, you certainly can control the content you put up there.
This also says nothing about the security issues this raises. For example, what happens if your reseller has a weak password on their account?
It’s best to be in direct control if possible; you’re safer and more secure that way.
All in all, you’re much better off, whenever possible, hosting directly with the company that controls the servers. With a reseller, you get a worse deal, poorer service and you lose a lot of control over your account.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some good resellers who can’t provide good value, but, as a general rule, it’s a bad move to knowingly go with one, especially with so many great hosts out there clamoring for your business.
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