How to stop rogue web hosters
Unregulated website hosters the world over have the potential to cause economic and personal havoc to anyone with a website including individuals, small businesses and large businesses.
If small businesses form New Zealand's backbone; what happens when some get upended by a rogue website hoster?
There are 459,000 small businesses in New Zealand, the majority of which employ just one or two workers.* Recently, potentially 4,000 had their websites stolen, mislaid, or made temporarily unavailable with potentially serious ramifications**.
A new website costs upwards of $2,000*** which could have been the last straw for some, causing them to go out of business. Those who could pay would have had to wait in line for a new one.
In the duration, those businesses would have lost their presence and rankings on Google, ultimately losing income and competitive footing against unaffected competitors.
Some argue it is the fault of those affected for choosing to go with a low-cost provider: you pay for mokeys; you get peanuts.
Other pious pitiers say those affected should learn a good lesson to always back up website files. This is unhelpful given that many customers would have little knowledge of the web's best practices and trust others to do the right thing.
Trust is a fine thing but history has shown it is better to have checks in place, hence professional associations like New Zealand's Master Builders Association, Medical Council of New Zealand and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, keeping kiwi builders, doctors and accountants honest and giving customers piece of mind.
Two of the aforementioned associations are affiliated with international partners, sharing with each other knowledge to continue building best-practice professional associations for their members and ultimately clients and customers.
It is becoming evident that an association for web hosters should be established to protect the growing numbers of businesses in New Zealand and around the world, who are using the web to advertise and sell their products and services.
New Zealand's Domain Name Commission is currently unable to carry out this role, which is why rogue web hoster 24/7 Hosting was allowed to continue unchecked for over three**** years, ripping off its customers.
New Zealand is a country of firsts, leading the world with progressive thinking: We were the first country to give women the vote, the first to use EFTPOS and the first Western-allied country to ban nuclear arms.
We could also be the first country in the world to set up a professional association for web hosters, an example which would surely to be followed by other countries. Membership would be voluntary, come with a small fee and the association would overseen by impartial experts in the field to ensure registered web hosters have the right checks in place, ultimately to ensure customers get the best protection and transparency when it comes to trusting and comparing providers.
We would like to see this happen - soon. Please get in touch if you are worried about your own web hoster.
* The Small Business Sector Report 2014, Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment
**New Zealand web hoster, 24/7 Hosting has been in the news for its mismanagement of up to 4,000 websites, many of which would have been owned by small businesses
***A small survey by Brillard & Tulloch Digital Marketing in 2013 found that a new website can cost small businesses up to $10,000
****Fair Go also did its first story on 24/7 Hosting in 2011