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Features Galore

Sometimes you can't help but be a little cynical. You now the old joke about buying a new car, and everything seems to be an "option" except the bare metal? So the car seems like it's a great price, until you realise that such "options" as an engine and four wheels cost extra! Well, in the hosting business that logic is turned on its head for some reason. Some hosting companies will run off a list of "features" that their great hosting packages include as if such features were unique to them.

The fact is that, for run-of-the-mill hosting needs, the only features that really differentiate one hosting plan from another are the number of email accounts, the disk space and the bandwidth (or traffic) included. The following so-called features are as standard industry-wide as wheels on a car -- i.e., your hosting account would be pretty useless without them, so why do some companies list them as if they're the only people in the world offering such "innovative" features?:
  • FTP access (some companies will even tell you that you have 24/7 FTP access to your account, as if other companies switch off FTP access when they go home at night!)
  • "Live" technical support (as opposed to "dead" technical support?)
  • 24/7 technical support
  • Redundant connections to the Internet (pretty standard, unless you're hosting with someone who is keeping their server in their basement)
  • POP, IMAP and SMTP access (how else do they think you're going to be able to send and receive email?)
  • Unlimited forwarding or forwarders
  • Hit counter (as good as useless these days, when people need proper statistical packages for meaningful analysis of traffic)
  • Free this or that (nothing is free; included yes, but not free)
  • Web 2.0
  • Search engine optimisation tools
  • Access your site with or without the "www."
  • Account management (well, of course, otherwise they'd have to manage your account for you)
  • 99.9999% uptime
Make sure you compare apples to apples. Just because Hosting Company A has a list of features longer than your arm, while Hosting Company B has a more modest and understandable list of features, doesn't mean that Hosting Company A is better. In fact, it's a sure sign that they are not.
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