Nowadays, choosing a cheap web hosting is an easy thing. Because the price is affordable and the process of signing up a cheap hosting account is easy, more and more people join into webmaster crowd. The cost of a cheap website hosting services is much lower than a few years before. Many web hosts offer a special price, coupon code, bonus hosting features, free domain name, unlimited space and bandwidth, money back guarantee, etc. to attract your business.
Budget hosting market is very competitive. Web hosting companies not only want to get the market share but also need to make the profit. They add some tricky add-ons into the hosting plan. Some cheap website hosting plans look awesome but the services suck. Some hosts give new user cheaper price but charge much higher for the renewal or cancellation. We know nothing about web hosting when we just started many years ago. We have zero knowledge about building a website, WordPress, database, SEO, etc. We want to have a website online and make some money. That sound stupid, right? Yes, it is and we made many mistakes. Now we have many years experiences of dealing with many web hosting packages and services. We can identify a reliable and affordable hosting company from the bad ones. We make this guide help you avoid getting into troubles with poor cheap hosting companies. You will find the quality hosting services that most suit for your website needs by following the guide. OK, let’s start. Content Of The Guide This complete guide will show you the following subjects:
- What Price Should Be The Cheap?
- Popular Hosting Recommendation
- Solving The Problems
- Getting Quality Services
How Cheap A Cheap Web Hosting Should Be?
First, let’s look at the definition first. According to Wikipedia, the concept of web hosting in general is
A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server owned or leased for use by clients.
You can read more from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_hosting_service. Web hosting services include shared hosting, Virtual private hosting (VPS), dedicated server, managed hosting, and cloud hosting, etc.
Cheap web hosting is shared hosting with a budget price.
How cheap is cheap? The trend of the price of shared hosting is continuing down. It was cheap for a plan of $9.99/mo about 8 years ago. Then the price dropped to $6.99/mo about 3 years ago. Now we can get $3.99/mo or even $1.00/mo for a cheap hosting with promotion or annual plan. In our experience, $5.99/mo for a basic plan and $7.99/mo for a standard plan should be the “cheap”. We are talking about regular monthly price. You don’t need to sign a long term contract and pay the whole amount upfront. You can pay the bill monthly and cancel at any time without penalty. Moreover, we should know the features that a cheap web hosting should have. We should get decent hosting services with affordable price. The low-cost does not mean low-quality services. If we got a hosting service with limited bandwidth, slow network speed, unacceptable uptime, poor technical support, etc., it sucks. A decent budget hosting should offer following services, enough bandwidth, sufficient disk space, multiple domain names allowed, 99.9% uptime guarantee, money back guarantee, 24/7 customer support, all necessary software, and tools.
Popular Cheap Web Hosting
Many web hosts offer cheap hosting solutions. There are so many services with similar features that newbies have no idea where to start. Our suggestion is starting with most well-known web hosts. You might think some small hosting sellers could offer decent services. That might be true. But, it is not a good idea using your time and money to test their services. Why are popular cheap hosts so popular?
- They have been in the business for many years.
- They have served and satisfied many subscribers.
- They provide acceptable and affordable hosting plans.
- They have established solid infrastructure and support team.
- They have various plans and solutions to suit your website needs.
We get ideas on why some hosting providers are so popular. We can take advantages of the great services from them. There are a lot of feedbacks, reviews, articles, and discussions about popular cheap hosting companies giving us enough information to make a comparison. It’s hard to know if a new web host is good because we do not have enough information for our research.
Solve The Problems With Cheap Web Hosting
We often see complaints about unpleasant experiences with a cheap hosting. There are many cheap hosts on the market. Many of them are low-quality hosting sellers. Some of the small hosting resellers do not invest enough to make services good. If you happen to sign up with such a host, your website will have troubles of running properly. Let’s share our 1st hosting story with you. We start our online business eight years ago. We decide to build an auto-blogging site. We have a very tight budget and we choose the cheapest plan that we can find at that moment. We sign a yearly contract to get the price of $1.99/mo. The big surprise is that the web host does not offer Cron job so that we have no way to make an auto posting site. Long story short, we have to cancel the account and lost some money to pay the penalty. There are many aspects we need to weigh up when we evaluate a cheap web hosting. We have to eliminate unacceptable ones when we shop around. Let’s go through these points.
1. Behind The Price
When you visit the website of a cheap hosting provider, the most eye-catching part is the price. There is nothing wrong to get a low price. But, we have to make sure the low price is the actual price we are willing to pay for the services we need. Recommendation: Don’t just look at the price on the home page. Check the monthly price and the renewal price. Almost all the unbelievable low price on the home page is the introductory price to the new user. That price is good for the 1st-year annual plan, some even only for the 1st month. The plan will be renewed at regular price which is much higher than the “low price” you see. iPage currently offers introductory price at $1.99/mo for one, two, three years plans. But, the renewal price is $7.95/mo. Many advertised low prices just for long term subscription. Dreamhost currently charges $7.95/mo for 3-year plan billed triennially. The price of the monthly plan is $10.95/mo.
2. “Free Domain” Is Not The Gift
Many cheap website hosting offers free domain name registration. Some of them even offer “free domain for life”. That means the domain name is free as long as you keep your hosting account active with them. But you have to know you can not fully control the “free domain” that is registered through the web host. If you cancel the hosting someday but want to keep the domain, you have to pay a much higher price. Recommendation: Register your own domain name with a dedicated domain registrar. A domain name is the most important assets of your online business. You have to be the owner with full control right. If you can not afford $10 yearly domain registration fee, you’d better quit the online adventure and find a regular job.
3. Uptime Is Important
The 99.9% uptime is the minimum level of a quality hosting service. If your website is frequently down, you will lose visitors and businesses. 99.9% uptime means 0.1% downtime. What does it mean? It means the total downtime of the site will be 525 minutes (or 8.76 hours) in a year. In other words, your website has 525 minutes being not accessible among a year time frame. Now you see the importance of the uptime. Many website hosting providers claim that they offer 99.9% uptime, some even claim 100% uptime. But how do we know if it is true? Recommendation: Monitor the uptime by yourself. Which website should you monitor the uptime? If you do not have a website yet, you can ask the host to provide few websites that are hosted by it. You can also use the free online tool to check if the site is hosted by the certain host. We suggest you sign up a monthly hosting plan and monitor your own website. The uptime is so important that it is worth the effort. There are few great free tools for monitoring the sites uptime. We use Uptime Robot to monitor our websites. You can monitor up to 50 websites with 5-minute intervals for a free plan. You can also set up down alert to receive a message through the email or SMS when the site is down.
4. No Unlimited Things
One pays few dollars for a hosting and gets unlimited bandwidth and storage. The other pays two hundred dollars for a dedicated server just get 2TB storage and 20TB traffic. Can you believe this? The truth is “unlimited” things is not real. Every web host just has limited resources, how can they offer an unlimited thing to their customers? Bandwidth is the amount of information or data that can be sent over a network connection in a given period of time. What is bandwidth in terms of website hosting? Simply bandwidth is the amount of traffic that is allowed to occur between your web site and the rest of the internet. In other words, bandwidth is the measurement of data transfer that is sent from your web hosting provider’s server down to the visitors’ computer. There is no unlimited space either. Usually, the cheap web hosting provider will tell you that you can create a website as many as you like; you will not be penalized for exceeding any upper or ceiling limit. However, using too many server resources will negatively impact other customers on that server. If your websites take too much disk space, the web host may suspend your account. Recommendation: Read the Terms of Usage carefully and estimate your website usages. Every website host has restrictions on bandwidth usage and disk space limit. If you have a high bandwidth usage site, like an e-commerce site, gaming site, or downloading site, it would be better to choose a dedicated server or a VPS hosting.
5. Unnecessary Software And Services
There are many software and tools are included in the cheap webhosting plan. But, some web hosts want to charge you for some unnecessary add-ons. You can see some “highly recommended” or “website essentials” additional services when you sign up a hosting package. Recommendation: Uncheck those extra unnecessary items before you check out.
Tip: If you use WorePress for your site, for example, you can install free plugins instead of paying extra to the host.
Most commonly suggested services by hosts are advanced site protection, site backup, and google apps for work, etc.
6. Cancellation Fee
We don’t think charging cancellation fee is reasonable if there is no binding contract. Some unreasonable hosts do charge the cancellation fee for canceling the service. Stay away with them! Period! Recommendation: Read the cancellation and refund policy. Make sure there is no hidden charge for the cancellation. If you have domain names registered through the host and paid add-ons, that is a different story. You have to pay for the domain name because the registration fee is paid yearly. You might not get a refund for yearly paid add-ons. But for the hosting part, you should get a refund when you cancel the account.
7. Poor Customer Support
Some cheap hosts have no enough clients to invest adequate money in hiring sufficient and professional support staffs. This will cause long waiting time and inefficient technical support. We need good customer support when our site got problems from the server side. Some reputable cheap web hosting companies have a lot of clients. They can afford to maintain a professional support team to satisfy the customers. Recommendation: Test the support yourself. Avoid the poor support hosts. You can look for feedbacks and reviews for the prospective host you are interested. webhostingtalk.com is a great forum that gives reasonable answers. But, it happens that web hosts hire people to post fake reviews in the forums. The best way is to test the support by yourself. Talk to the support people through online chat, phone, email; ask some questions. You will have an idea about the quality of the support.
8. Lack Of Features
Most of the cheap web hosting offer enough free features for common types of websites. Some companies are really “cheap”, which is the lack of hosting features or charging for extra on essential features. Recommendation: Make sure all features you need are offered If you are going to run an e-commerce website, for example, the feature of “Private SSL Allowed” is the must. Make sure the host has all features you need. It will be frustrated that you can not get the essential software to build the site.
Cheap Hosting Could Offer Quality Services
You might think cheap website hosting sucks after reading above listed potential problems. Not really! There are lots of poor hosting providers on the market. That’s why we write this guide to help you avoid those bad hosts. We do realize that we can get great quality services from a cheap host with an inexpensive price. There are quite a few cheap hosting companies that have established the great reputation for the commitment to quality, reliability, and dedicated support. Many hosting features actually are good enough to regular website needs. Low-cost hosting doesn’t necessarily translate to a poor service. While it is certainly designed to be affordable and could be ideal for personal or small business websites. Cheap web hosting services have improved a lot, due to the development of the technique of data storage and data transfer. Compare to a few years ago, network performance, security, and uptime are more reliable. More and more services are available for most website needs.
Know Your Website Hosting Needs
Hosting needs vary from site to site. You need to clearly understand the website needs so that you can identify what hosting features are the must. Otherwise, you may select a hosting lack of features or pay extra money for unnecessary add-ons. Before you start looking for a hosting, you need to know what kind of website you are going to build and market. The following questions may help.
- What website are you going to build? It’s a WordPress blog, an e-commerce store, photo sharing site, etc.
- How many websites are you going to have? Many webmasters own multiple websites. If you are planning to build more than one site, don’t choose a plan that only allows one domain name.
- How much disk space do you need? Different websites have different requirements. Video or photo websites may need more space.
- How much bandwidth does the site need? You can make an estimation on how many visitors you will get.
- How much would you spend into a web hosting? If you just start, a reliable cheap website hosting is good to go.
- Does the site need any special software or services?
Avoid Common Mistakes
There are some common mistakes beginners make when it comes to choosing a web host.
- Signing up a web hosting package haphazardly. There are many reasons people sign up a hosting service without research or plan. They may like the web page of the host; they may happen to see the promotion ads of the host, they may just get a coupon, or they may too excited to have a website.
- Going for the “cheapest”. Some people put the “cheapest” on the 1st priority. We are looking for a reasonable price and reliable services. How can a host offer good services and support without making any profit? Don’t just look at the price itself.
- Pay things they don’t need. Is an expensive hosting plan better than a cheaper one? It depends on what you need. If you have a small website that only got 100 visitors a day, you definitely don’t need a dedicated server. A quality low-cost hosting would be good enough.
- Signing for a long term plan. If you do not have prior experience with a web host, do not sign up with them for a year or so and pay them in advance. In most cases, it’s not easy to get a refund. If you already use the service and satisfied, you can have a longer contract to get a better price.
That’s all for the guide. We have covered all aspects of selecting a reliable cheap web hosting. We hope the guide helps.