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Shared Hosts

10 Things to Pay Attention on Shared Hosts

So we’ve read everything about how easy it is to make money on the internet even without knowing anything about programming or marketing, and so we bought a ton of products that will help us manage that in no time and effort! Soon we all learned that this isn’t true, so we started learning coding and internet marketing principles!

After quite some time we all understood that even if we make money from our sites, there’s the un-sexy truth about making money online, and started wondering how we can save more so we can increase our earnings.

It’s logical that when someone starts “the internet marketing journey“, he/she registers for a Shared Hosting account. Can’t blame that, after all we all started with a shared web host. Renting a dedicated server the second you create your first site online is just wrong!

Personally I’ve had my sites hosted on more than 10 different shared hosts before I accepted the fact that I needed a dedicated server, and so, those are what I think the ten most important things you should pay attention to, when you sign up for a web host.

I) Unlimited plans

There’s no such thing as unlimited, on hosting, on our lives, or anything! Except my anger every time i see the UNLIMITED sign on 90% of the shared hosts! That’s unlimited! :P

What’s the unlimited trend you might ask; it’s just a way for companies to market their products aggressively. People always wanted more bandwidth and more disk space so the companies figured out that saying Unlimited would help them sell more. And it did!

The thing with unlimited web hosting is that the hosts “oversell”. Overselling is when a host says that the offer includes unlimited disk and bandwidth but it treats you like normal user until it sees a peak in either of those two numbers. Normally what big hosting companies do, is to have 800-1000 websites per server. The websites that have the most needs in bandwidth or space are moved in a new server so that the normal ones will keep working as intended and the “bigger ones” will be together. If then, some of those sites “eat” a lot of resources they either ask the customers to:

  1. Move to a more expensive plan
  2. See why their sites use so much CPU (for sites that are not well coded, more on that later)
  3. Move to a different web host!

The last point is the scariest one and it should. Changing hosts is not good for the search engines and it’s not good for our sleep!

You might think that having an angry EX customer might trouble big hosting companies. But the answer is no! They have so many affiliates promoting them that they don’t really care if some of them just rant about their bad service on the internet. They have 1000′s of people saying great words for them.

Rule of thumb: Try to stay far away from hosts that promise Unlimited plans.

II) Pay Upfront / Money-Back Guarantee

Most of the Shared Hosts have great prices and there’s a good reason for that. They require their customers to pay upfront. Sometimes 6 months, sometimes a year or more. So the next thing we have to pay attention to is the money-back guarantee.

Before you even start thinking of signing up with a web host, you should always check out if they have a money-back guarantee and how many days this is. I tend to love 30 Days + Because when I start moving my sites I generally don’t have problems. Problems start to occur when everything’s moved. That’s why we need a money back guarantee to be able to check if the service is any good for us.

III) Reviews

When you get down to three or four webhosts that you think they can host your sites without any problems, search the net for reviews. Attention, you don’t want to just find people mentioning them, you have to find honest reviews and not reviews that come from affiliates. So when you see someone saying good words about a webhosting company, check if their link is an affiliate link.

IV) Your site Itself

If your site is running using a popular CMS like WordPress then you’re almost stress free. Most webhosts have problems with custom or not well written scripts that they cannot understand or control. With WordPress for example, they would advice someone to add a Caching plugin and enable it so that the CPU of their servers will not suffer. The biggest problem after all is the CPU on most hosts. If you are running a custom made script and the programmer hasn’t implemented a good caching mechanism while you are waiting a very good amount of visitors to come you might have to reconsider a dedicated host.

V) Availability/ Uptime

What can always keep me up at night is the fear of my sites being down! I am not insane (those days are long gone!) but it’s a very serious problem for many reasons:

  • Someone might visit one of my websites for the first time and think that it no longer exists.
  • I am talking about uptimes and and how to improve someone’s brand and my site is down? No way!
  • Search engines might come to the site in order to crawl it and after seeing it down, penalizing it. This is a rare case but it will happen for sure if the site is still down after a day. After recovery, sooner or later the site’s rank will come back to normal but still… You can never be sure!

The guys at webhostingstuff have a very good service that when a hosting company registers for them, they ping the company’s server and see if it’s up. When someone goes at their site, and types the name of the company at “Find companies” text field, it will show them the company’s ratings and it’s uptime. For example that’s the amazing uptime of my last host and I don’t think someone else can beat that! Take into consideration that big hosting companies have their main site on many servers so their uptime is “inflated”.

VI) Bad Neighborhood

you might have done everything correct when it comes to optimization and promotion but still you can see that your ranks are a bit low. Being in a bad neighborhood might be the case. On shared hosts, an IP can have hundreds of sites and if one of them is flagged as “innapropriate” or if it’s hacked, it might cause troubles for your site too! Using this tool and typing your domain name after you purchase your hosting plan, will reveal if there’s anything fishy in your IP. That’s why I always ask for a dedicated IP for my account. On most servers it costs two dollars/month and it can save you from a lot of trouble!

VII) Different account for every site

If you’re planning on hosting more than one sites on the same account don’t just add them as add-on domains! What you need to do is to have a reseller account, and every new domain you host,  add an account for it. You might say, why go into all that trouble?

It’s simple. When you have all your sites in one account, if one gets hacked, then all sites can be altered and then there’s no stopping in what you have to do in order to fix every site!

Not many shared hosts support this but please do select one that does. It might cost a little bit more but it will save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run!

VIII) Pinging/Response time

In most cases you’re ok with most of the servers but good ping response times indicate a healthy webserver and steady response times also indicate a server without problems. In many of my previous hosts I have seen differences of 200ms between pings and that’s something bad, it shows that the server is heavy loaded.

IX) Support

Support is the one thing I love and hate at the same time. I can’t stress enough how important support is. Most of the times I needed a new host, I always signed up and then hit them with a technical question to see how knowledgeable they were and how fast they would respond. If the answer was good and fast, then I’m sold.

X) PHP Memory Limit

One more important factor, defining if your website will work with a shared host, is the PHP Memory Limit that has been configured. You might find hosts using 32MB as maximum and nowadays, that’s not even close to enough. I would require a host to at least allow 64 or more megabytes.

XI) (Bonus) Cpanel

I added this as the last one but couldn’t just leave it out of the post. It’s really important. There’s no way you will be sure where you sites will be hosted next year so you have to be able to move them fast. Since CPanel is very popular on shared hosts (I don’t love CPanel, it just makes my life easier) you will be able to transfer all your sites very easy from one server to another. Once I had a client with more than 60 sites hosted on another server without CPanel and to change servers for him it took me something less than two weeks! So be sure they support CPanel especially if you are not that knowledgeable about hosting.

Epilogue

I just made web hosting seem as the most difficult thing in the whole world… Didn’t want that but hosting is one of the most important and overlooked things in a marketer’s journey. Think of it as your first step! When you have many profitable websites, you will go to a dedicated server and all your problems will be solved! Erm… Not. Dedicated hosting is a hell of a nightmare and harder than hosting your sites on a shared host but you know that it’s your fault when a site is down. More on another post.

Ps. I know for sure that this post needs recommendations for shared hosts. The only reason I don’t have any companies, is that if I added the best I would have to add the worst too and oh boy that post would have been NSFW! Furthermore, hosts that have worked for me very well in the past, didn’t work well for friends, so I can’t suggest something I cannot guarantee. If you still need a name, check out Interserved. This was my last host before I took the big step to go dedicated and the owner is amazing. His uptime is great and if you contact him, tell him that Angel sent you and he’ll take “Special Care” of you. Nothing kinky though :P

My hope is that this post will help at least some of you. If you have ANY questions, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comment section below!

Angel

Angel is enjoying life as a freelancer and entrepreneur and at the same time he's trying to help other people understand the concepts around Internet Marketing how how they can apply the methods learned into their everyday business life. You can find more about him @ his Internet Marketing Blog called Moneytized.

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{ 51 comments… add one }

  • Aakash December 26, 2010, 9:54 am

    These points are also helpful not only for shared one but also other plan of hosting.

    Because domain, hosting and your content these three things are quite important for you.

  • Jasmine November 8, 2010, 3:31 am

    These are really some points one has to look into when signing up for a shared hosting account. Oh, I like cPanel too, as it is easy to use and is features-packed.
    Jasmine recently posted..Top 5 PrestaShop Fashion TemplatesMy Profile

  • Tantan November 2, 2010, 9:46 am

    Really good insight about shared hosting. After read it, I think for business websites should not use shared hosting. isn’t it?
    Tantan recently posted..Keyword Winner Review – The Best SEO Wordpress PluginMy Profile

  • Lennart Heleander November 2, 2010, 6:51 am

    Hi Angelos,
    You get what you pay for…Do not think you should get top backup, uptime, speed and unlimited for no money. It doesn’t exist. Good article and many good points.

  • Tinh
    Twitter:
    November 2, 2010, 12:15 am

    Great points listed but I do consider support, CPU % on shared account, uptime and speed too
    Tinh recently posted..How KeyWord Winner Works With AZBlogTipsMy Profile

  • Mani Viswanathan November 1, 2010, 10:00 am

    The only suggestion is go for branded Shared hosts. Don’t go for cheap shared hosting. For eg. 1$ per month. They work but their life is limited to an year or less.
    Mani Viswanathan recently posted..5 things a Blogger should do to show his care towards his readersMy Profile

    • Angelos Papaioannidis November 1, 2010, 10:23 am

      Very good comment Mani!
      Except from looking the options above in the article, you have to wipe out the hosts that don’t have a business model. Some of the hosts advertise very very low prices for the first year and that’s ok, but hosts that say for example $1/month forever or something like that, have no business model and just try to see how it goes.
      If let’s say a dedicated server costs $300/month they will have to have 300 clients for them to breakeven, and that’s no feasible business model.
      Thank you for the comment!
      Angelos Papaioannidis recently posted..Amazing social sharing wordpress plugin – SharedaddyMy Profile

  • bryan October 31, 2010, 2:08 am

    Hey Angelos,

    Thx for the advice on not hosting multiple domains on one hosting account and getting a reseller account instead. Just realized from your article that hacking can pose problems. Very insightful article on shared hosts.

    • Angelos Papaioannidis October 31, 2010, 4:25 pm

      Glad it helped you Bryan!
      I didn’t know it either and i had to learn it the hard way two years ago… Better later than never :P
      Cheers!

  • Alex October 30, 2010, 9:08 am

    It’s hard to find reviews that express what a webhost really is like. On some you get a review from someone that never had a problem with their host while in the same place you can find others that find it awful.
    I think the key is to go for those hosts that have the less bad reviews but a great number of reviews in total.

    About dedicated servers, I own 3 and I have to do all the optimization, memory caching, proxy caching myself or pay something like 500$(even more sometimes) to a specialist (pfui, good think I know how do this kind of jobs).
    But in shared hosting you have all this already set up for you.

    You might ask, if dedicated server and shared accounts aren’t the solution then what is?
    I would say the best solution is cloud hosting, there are problems that might arise here to but it’s the most reliable in my opinion :D
    Alex recently posted..Barbie nunta de visMy Profile

  • DeMaurice Smith October 29, 2010, 12:36 pm

    I had a pretty difficult time getting real reviews of shared hosting services cause most of them are just affiliate sites pretending to be real reviews. All the links are affiliate links and all the sites mentioned have affiliate programs. I finally went with JustHost and it has been pretty good.
    DeMaurice Smith recently posted..Will this week be full of upsets in footballMy Profile

  • Rahul October 29, 2010, 9:17 am

    i agree , actually it seems all the time that making money through these ways is very easy or comfortable but once you forget something , everything will be ruined as you don’t expect !! !! and even if more hosting costs or requires skills i see it would be better to get what you need to be “stronger” !! :))
    Rahul recently posted..Comment on 10 Traffic Building Tips for Ecommerce Stores by LoudableMy Profile

  • Designer's Digest October 29, 2010, 8:15 am

    When I first started Blogging I struggled a lot to get right Hosting provider. They never use to deliver what they promised before registration. I finally got HostGator. They are the best hosting provider. They too provides Unlimited plan, but till now I didnt face any issue with disk space.

    Thanks for the review. This can help newbies a lot and at least they dont have to struggle like me. :)
    Designer’s Digest recently posted..20 of the Best Free Halloween FontsMy Profile

  • Harsh Agrawal
    Twitter:
    October 29, 2010, 1:10 am

    Angelos I might not agree with your statement of “Stay away from unlimited plans”…
    Let me clear myself here…It’s true there is nothing call unlimited..Everything has its limitations and all hosting which talks about unlimited have some limited limit…!!
    Which is usually Bw usage or no. of files stored…
    Though no.s are very high so for many its more or less like unlimited.!!
    Now lets have a look at top shared hosting company: Hostgator, Bluehost, Dreamhost and all of them offer unlimited plans which is true till a point and we can’t avoid them….!!
    Is int it??
    Harsh Agrawal recently posted..AdIndigo- New Advertising Program for BloggersMy Profile

  • Vijay October 28, 2010, 10:49 pm

    Thanks for the getting awareness while moving on shared hosting. All the mentioned points are good and remember-able but we need to consider the money too which means the plan is really worth for paying bucks.
    Vijay recently posted..MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer WordPress PluginMy Profile

  • Brian Yang October 28, 2010, 9:33 pm

    Thanks for this useful article! I’m on shared hosting running WordPress.

    I usually don’t like searching up web hosting reviews because every “web hosting review” website pretty much have the same few hosts in the “Top 10″ lists. I usually like to look for reviews from actual customers instead of someone who just writes a review of every web host out there. I highly doubt many web hosting review sites actually tried each host. I’ve seen some hosts have horrible customer reviews, but on the Top 5 list at web hosting review sites.

    It’s a bit difficult to find shared hosts that don’t offer unlimited plans these days. It’s a very popular marketing strategy. The true limits are buried in a long TOS document. :)
    Brian Yang recently posted..Unliking the Very Slow Facebook Like ButtonMy Profile

  • Suresh Khanal
    Twitter:
    October 28, 2010, 8:31 pm

    I went for HostGator Baby plan after running on some free host. Frihost.net was good for somebody looking for free hosting but the problem was bad neighbourhood as you said.

    Hostgator too offers ‘Unlimited Bandwidth’ and ‘Unlimited Diskspace’ – but I guess it is good till I move to dedicated hosting, isn’t it?
    Suresh Khanal recently posted..Keyword Density Tool to Avoid Keyword SpammingMy Profile

    • Angelos Papaioannidis October 30, 2010, 2:01 pm

      It depends on what you host on the plan. Sometimes it’s enough and sometimes you can’t be on a shared hosts even with some visitors. It mostly depends on the platform you use eg. wordpress and the optimization you have made to the platform eg. caching.
      Sorry for the slow reply, I was abroad and internet access was hard.
      Angel
      Angelos Papaioannidis recently posted..Amazing social sharing wordpress plugin – SharedaddyMy Profile

  • TJ McDowell
    Twitter:
    October 28, 2010, 12:54 pm

    I’ve been using Godaddy for a while now. Pretty happy with them. I use up a lot of disk space with pictures, and they accommodate my need for space at a pretty low cost. Support is good – I’ve talked to a real person every time I called in. The only thing I don’t like is the frequent IIS resets. People can order pictures from my site, and a recycle makes them have to start their order over. Since we use our site mainly as an online portfolio and kind of an online brochure, it’s tolerable. If we end up getting a lot more traffic, I’d definitely want to move up to a better server.
    TJ McDowell recently posted..Best Canon Digital Cameras For Wedding PhotographyMy Profile

  • Kimi October 28, 2010, 9:46 am

    PS. This blog is running slow?

    Or is it just me?
    Kimi recently posted..How Much Does WordPress CostMy Profile

    • Hesham October 28, 2010, 10:23 am

      You are right Kimi, it’s running slower than before!

      Even HostGator VPS couldn’t help speed it up! I know it needs a dedicated server, and this probably will happen after one year from now! let’s say at the end of 2011 :)

      • Kimi October 28, 2010, 10:32 am

        The loading speed is not slow, but to wait whenever posting a comment is a bit slow.

        I have read in warrior forums about hostgator VPS too.

        I am sure you will be able to manage it soon, i wish you all the best :D
        Kimi recently posted..How Much Does WordPress CostMy Profile

        • Hesham October 28, 2010, 10:39 am

          Oh! thank you for the feedback, good to know that!

          mmm.. I am always wondering how to make it fly faster! but my Thesis Skins is loaded with tons of codes. Also sharing/voting buttons do many calls and slow load as well if there is a problem with other sites!

          Great day Kimi, and thanks again!

  • Andreas October 28, 2010, 9:46 am

    Also check the IP your hosting provider is putting you on in online spam blacklists. If you are one or more of those lists, you may not have much success sending out emails from your account.

  • Kimi October 28, 2010, 9:44 am

    I have actually just did a blog comment in a blog which uses same sharing host like mine.

    It somehow loads very slow, and i am afraid mine will be slow too.

    At the moment my blog runs quite fast, so let’s hope it will be fine in the future too.

    However choosing blog host is quite confusing for people who have limited budget like me.

    As i don’t plan to run many blogs, blogging in one sharing host is fine i guess.

    But for people who want to run many blogs, dedicated server or VPS would be the best way.

    Thanks for sharing the valuable info, Angel.
    Kimi recently posted..How Much Does WordPress CostMy Profile

    • Hesham October 28, 2010, 10:28 am

      Ah! you remind me with something.. I think blogs gets lower with time, this usually because Databases are not maintained by hosting company!

      To solve this problem (I think) we should maintain database by ourselves, maybe creating a new database and importing old database into it will solve a lot of problems!

      P.S. Dedicated server is always the best if we can afford it and maintain it! VPS is not always the best way to go!

  • Jan Husdal October 28, 2010, 7:48 am

    Thanks for the dedicated IP tip. Using the tool you mentioned I not only found sites with explicit content (which don’t concern me too much after looking at them), but more worrying were some “malicious sites” my web anti-virus didn’t even want to open. Guess what I’ll be doing this weekend…moving (to a dedicated) house!
    Jan Husdal recently posted..Control or laissezfaireMy Profile

  • Hung
    Twitter:
    October 28, 2010, 3:08 am

    If we host one domain per one account, it cost money
    Hung recently posted..Rapid Action Press Special OfferMy Profile

  • Brandon October 28, 2010, 12:44 am

    I never realized that addon domains could all be hacked if someone hacked just one site. I will definitely look into using a reseller plan. Do you know if hostgator can just upgrade my account without me having to do anything.
    Brandon recently posted..Samsung LN32C350 ReviewMy Profile

  • Isabel Rodrigues - Pro Blogger Journey
    Twitter:
    October 27, 2010, 11:31 pm

    If you intend hosting many website in the long run its wise to opt for a dedicated server

  • Barbara Kelemen October 27, 2010, 10:47 pm

    Thanks! Honestly, I’ve been trying to my luck on make money online sort of things. Unfortunately, so far, no luck. duh! Anyway, I can only afford shared hosting with their so called “unlimited” and using wordpress.

    By the way, those points are great!
    Barbara Kelemen recently posted..Primary Lung Cancer In Dogs: Will They SurviveMy Profile

  • Devesh - WordPress Hacks
    Twitter:
    October 27, 2010, 7:03 pm

    Great Post. Awesome points, angelos.
    I’m using shared hosting, hostgator and actually it’s one of the best shared hosting out there.
    I never had any problems with them.

    Anyways, Thanks for sharing this great post man.

    ~Dev
    Devesh – WordPress Hacks recently posted..Display Dates as time ago on your WordPress BlogMy Profile

  • John Soares October 27, 2010, 5:40 pm

    I have shared hosting on Hostgator, but I paid extra to get the Business Plan and a dedicated IP address. So far I’ve been very happy with them.

    I’m interested in better/more secure hosting, but it seems like it’s both more expensive and requires more attention and skills, and I don’t have those skills.
    John Soares recently posted..How to Win Multiple Freelance Writing AssignmentsMy Profile

  • Robert October 27, 2010, 5:31 pm

    Thanks for this, I’m actually looking to change my host fairly soon so will be watching out for these things, I like you’re point about the unlimited plans as well, another scam by companies

    any suggestions for a new host for myself? I’m currently with vodahost
    Robert recently posted..3 Awesome Wireless Tools For Android amp Your ComputerMy Profile

    • Angelos Papaioannidis October 30, 2010, 2:17 pm

      Since a host might work well for a site but not well for another because there might be huge differences, i cannot suggest a host except Interserved (the host i wrote about in the end of post) because i know the owner and because i know he’ll do whatever possible to have a site run as fast and as secure as he can :)
      Angelos Papaioannidis recently posted..Amazing social sharing wordpress plugin – SharedaddyMy Profile

  • Henway October 27, 2010, 5:24 pm

    Great points. Going with a shared host may save u in the short term, but in the long term it can kill your growth. Also, u gotta watch out for sign up fees. Hosts like DreamHosts often have $60 off coupons but they also have a $60 sign up fee, so the deal really isn’t a deal.
    Henway recently posted..OxyPowder ReviewMy Profile

  • emory October 27, 2010, 3:41 pm

    Angelos, you make some good points but I have to take issue with you regarding reviews.

    “When you get down to three or four webhosts that you think they can host your sites without any problems, search the net for reviews.”

    I say the time to research with reviews is before you narrow down the gazillions of hosts into a shortlist, not after.

    But what really got my blood boiling was this:

    “…you have to find honest reviews and not reviews that come from affiliates. So when you see someone saying good words about a webhosting company, check if their link is an affiliate link.”

    Just because a review site is using affiliate advertising doesn’t make the owners dishonest. You advocate using affiliate marketing on your blog. Are you dishonest? I don’t believe you are. The well-known and respected Webhostingstuff, which you mention, likely uses affiliate links (redirects + robots.txting a “go” directory). There is even an affiliate link in this very article pointing to a well-known hosting site! I clicked on the link and opened the cookie to verifiy it. Again, nothing wrong with this.

    In my opinion, you have to have do a little research to discover what the intentions of the reviewer are–how are the reviews done, is there a conflict of interest, does the reviewer actually make money or is he independent? Most serious review sites state their policies and some go to great lengths to detail how reviews are done. Research isn’t a load of fun, but it could pay off.

    Cheers.
    emory recently posted..14 Things I Dig about Digg 4My Profile

    • Angelos Papaioannidis October 30, 2010, 2:22 pm

      Thank you for your comment Emory.

      I didn’t say anything about webhostingstuff and them using affiliates, and ofc not all affiliates are dishonest but when me and you know that we can write a review about a host and get paid for it again and again, aren’t we sure that at least “some” will take advantage of it.
      Angelos Papaioannidis recently posted..Amazing social sharing wordpress plugin – SharedaddyMy Profile

  • Icechen1
    Twitter:
    October 27, 2010, 3:38 pm

    I don’t know how what will I do without cPanel :)
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  • Hunter October 27, 2010, 3:15 pm

    I never thought about the problems with adding domains. Thanks for the tip.
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  • Gerald Weber
    Twitter:
    October 27, 2010, 2:57 pm

    I wouldn’t use the “unlimited plans” overselling as a indicator of whether or not to go with a webhost.

    Why? Because just about all web hosting companies oversell so you would be extremely limiting your options if you use that as an indicator.

    For example I use hostgator ( a web host that clearly oversells” but I’ve had nothing but good experience with hostgator.

    I would look more at things like. What is the quality of their support? The best idea here is to test out their support before signing up. Of course you can’t test the full scope of a company’s support before singing up, but you can go into live chat and see how long it takes you to get a support agent. Similarly you can place a test phone call and see how long your call to go through to support.

    Another thing I would look for is “do they outsource to india or some other 3rd world country that has ESL issues?

    This is of course assuming your native tongue is English but the point is make sure you are able to communicate with the support staff. Nothing drives me freaking nuts like when I call into support and I can’t understand a word they are saying and they can’t understand you.

    If you can’t establish basic communication that works then how can you expect them to handle your support issues?

    This is also something you can easily check out by making a test call to their support.
    Gerald Weber recently posted..Weekly Roundup: The Tales of Winning Some Losing Some And Burping SomeMy Profile

  • Salman October 27, 2010, 2:57 pm

    Shared hosts are always a mess. I plan to buy my own dedicated server once my website grows
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  • Mike October 27, 2010, 2:50 pm

    I think changing hosts is not good for our heart and our mind because my heart really bounced, jumped, thundered when I changed host :) but it doesn’t affect search engines like you said. It’s because during the time your DNS propagated, users are sometimes redirected to new host and sometimes redirected to old host, but your links, domain, etc, are intact. It doesn’t affect search engines as much as changing domain.

    Sadly, 99% of hosts right now offer unlimited plans, so we can only base on the reviews to see which ones are good and which one are bad :)
    Mike recently posted..Do and Dont In Guest Blogging The Most Complete Guide On What You Should and Shouldnt Do When Guest BlogMy Profile

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