Best cheap & affordable web hosting: powerful plans for less?
Good quality web hosting doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. In this article, I’ve handpicked the 6 best cheap web hosting providers in the market. Plus, I’ve also included some things to bear in mind to make your search for the right provider that much easier.
There are many misconceptions about hosting out there. But, perhaps, the most damning one is about its pricing.
Many people tend to believe that the more expensive, the better, and that cheap is best avoided at all costs. See what I did there?
But why would you buy a Lamborghini if you live in a countryside with dirt roads? Well, unless it’s a tractor.
Surely, one of my favorite providers, SiteGround, does offer some of the best hosting services. But many websites won’t be able to take advantage of half of what it’s offering. So why pay for it?
That being said, cheap can be very good when you know what you’re looking for.
So in this best cheap web hosting post, not only will I go through the tested providers listing their pros and cons, but I’ll also talk about what's important when picking a cheap host.
Best cheap web hosting: overview
The providers below are some of the best cheap web hosting providers in the market — arranged from the cheapest to the most expensive:
- Hostinger – best overall cheap hosting plans
- DreamHost – best cheap WordPress hosting for business
- HostGator – beginner-friendly affordable hosting
- Bluehost – functional and budget-friendly host for WordPress
- A2 Hosting – performance-focused hosting
- HostPapa – best cheap provider with generous features
- InterServer – month-to-month hosting
You can use this list above to quickly navigate through providers. However, at the end of this list, you'll find a quick guide on how to select the cheap provider that will not disappoint you.
|Features||Free SSL, weekly backups, SSD storage, LiteSpeed web server|
|Best for||Small business websites|
Hostinger tops the list of the best cheap web hosts not only because of its budget prices but also because of what it brings to the table. For just $1.39/mo, the provider offers speedy performance with all the latest technology, as well as easy to use interface. Hostinger is ideal for those building small to medium-sized websites.
Hostinger’s entry plan is just $66.72 for 4 years. That is 48 months of cheap and fast web hosting without the headache of thinking about the next bill!Check Hostinger Pricing Now
And yes, Hostinger is one of those hosts that requires a prepayment to get the cheapest price. And yes, the renewal will be higher. In fact, this entry, Single, plan renews at $2.99/mo, which is $143.52 for the next 4 years. And that, dear reader, is still cheaper than any other option on this list.
For this price, you’ll get a generous package of features, no worse than what others offer:
- Hosting for 1 website on LiteSpeed server infrastructure.
- 30GB SSD storage.
- 100GB bandwidth for around 10 000 visits monthly.
- Weekly backups.
- Free SSL certificate.
- 1 professional email account.
That’s enough server power for a small business website. The only thing that’s lacking is a free domain. However, Hostinger has quite cheap domain hosting – .com costs around $8.99/year with Hostinger.
Of course, that 1 website might be limiting for some, so other plans are not expensive either:
- Premium ($2.59/mo) allows for 100 website hosting with 100GB SSD. It adds a free domain as well. It’s the best value, comparing to other providers on this list, that only allow hosting 1 site for this price.
- Business ($4.99/mo) increases the storage to 200GB and adds daily backups as well as easy CDN integration. More of a small eCommerce hosting option, in my opinion.
Honestly, all Hostinger’s plans are cheap, considering the features included. At the same time, you do have to pre-pay, and renewals will be higher. The good news is, the renewals are cheaper than some of the hosts’ introductory offerings!
What you pay is what you get doesn’t apply to Hostinger, as you get some of the fastest and most reliable performance available on shared hosting.
For starters, Hostinger delivers a stable 100% uptime over 2 months. Sure, you should expect some downtime in your 4 years of hosting, but so far – so good.
Response time is quite average at 511ms – faster than what the market is used to, but not by much.
What is really impressive is that Hostinger handles the full 50 Virtual Users test when they are sent to the website with the goal to break it under 5 minutes.
Take a look at the blue line that indicates response time. It’s as flat as a table when the number of visitors increases (the grey line). A couple of bumps are there, but nothing major.
This shows that Hostinger has no trouble at all when a big surge of traffic reaches my website.
And there are a couple of reasons why Hostinger is reliable:
- You can pick the server location close to the audience as 7 data centers are available in the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The closer the website is to your visitors, the faster it can load.
- LiteSpeed web server technology and the caching engine are used to optimize the performance.
- Software is always up-to-date, guaranteeing the latest speed improvement developments to be available to your website.
Performance is definitely the main selling point of this provider.
All things considered, Hostinger is too cheap for its own good. It’s surprising to see generously equipped plans and very reliable performance for such a low rate.
- Cheapest web hosting starting at $1.39/mo
- Free SSL and weekly/daily backups included
- Top-tier performance results
- Cheapest plan does not include a domain
- You have to pre-pay and renewals are a bit higher
|Features||Free SSL, domain name, daily backups, domain privacy|
|Best for||Reliability and security|
A WordPress-centred host, DreamHost is also one of the cheaper web hosting providers, with prices starting at $2.49/mo. But it hides a couple of nice tricks up its sleeves, offering some of the cheapest month-to-month rates too. The provider is well known for its generous WordPress features and a very special 100% uptime guarantee. This makes DreamHost perfect for those looking for reliable hosting for WordPress.
DreamHost entry, Basic, plan costs just $89.64 for 3 years worth of hosting. At the same time, its month-to-month billing rate is also one of the cheapest available, costing $4.95.Check DreamHost Pricing Now
Some terms apply, however. The 3-year renewal will increase to a $5.99/mo rate. At the same time, the month-to-month rate will rise up to $7.99/mo.
Even with the increases, DreamHost remains budget-friendly. Plus, features and resources included are in no way shabby:
- You get hosting for 1 website.
- Free domain and SSL certificate.
- Daily backups.
- Domain privacy.
- BoldGrid website builder for WordPress.
- Big 50GB SSD storage.
- Unmetered bandwidth.
One thing that DreamHost forgets to include in the cheapest plan is email accounts. That would be an additional $1.67/mo.
So if you need more than the entry plan offers, you can look at the second option without breaking the bank.
The Unlimited plan ($3.95/mo) comes with unlimited sites, storage, bandwidth, and email accounts. For just more than a dollar extra, you get way more than the entry plan offers.
Plus, the provider even offers a 97-day money-back guarantee for hosting, which is considerably longer than the standard 30 days.
Other than the pretty good billing terms, DreamHost is also one of the few WordPress recommended hosts. Its whole interface is developed around WordPress to make CMS management simpler.
Also, it includes a WordPress website builder BoldGrid, which’s a premium option designed to make page customizations easier. It features dozens of responsive templates as well as tools for creating your own website design.
Overall, DreamHost is an amazing cheap web hosting provider. Its great value and varied features make it an excellent fit for both business and personal use.
One of the things DreamHost is best known for is the 100% uptime guarantee. Other than that, it also shows speedy performance and proves to have powerful servers in its back room.
When monitored over 2 months, DreamHost delivered >99.99% uptime, which was just 1 minute and 1 outage short of the perfect 100% result. But don’t hurry to bash the provider for not committing to its guarantee. It’s overly exaggerated and does not apply to maintenance – even the most expensive hosts are shying away from offering 100% – it’s simply not possible in the long run.
So DreamHost is reliable. But it has fast servers as well. The average response time is just 231ms, which is way better than Hostinger’s and almost an ideal result recommended for those who need to have the fastest websites.
Moreover, DreamHost is capable of handling the stress test on the max load. It was able to withstand 50 Virtual Users over 5 minutes.
At the same time, the blue line indicating the server response time is not entirely flat. It jumps up and down, showing that it’s not entirely a smooths sail for the server. However, it is not affected by the number of visitors (the grey line) and remains fast throughout the test.
Performance considered, DreamHost is a very strong contender, giving a very hard time for others to beat it.
All in all, DreamHost is not just cheap but also comes with impressive features and tools, not to mention great performance. It’s great for both beginner users and businesses on tight budgets without sacrificing quality and performance.
- Free domain, SSL, and domain privacy
- WordPress website builder included
- Reliable and fast server performance
- Support is not 24/7
- Email costs extra with the cheapest plan
|Features||Free SSL, domain name, website builder|
|Best for||Beginners and small websites|
HostGator is another very popular provider that focuses on both personal and small business users. With its cheapest plan costing just $2.75/mo, the host is the perfect entry into the hosting world for newbies. Plus, the provider also makes itself an attractive option with its easy-to-use interface and other beginner-friendly features.
To get the advertised $2.75/mo price, you’ll need to stick with HostGator for 3 years. But that’s still an affordable $99 for the whole term.Check HostGator Pricing Now
Of course, the renewal rate is different – $6.95/mo, but that’s still affordable compared to the other options.
The plan’s features are quite basic, but the essentials are covered:
- You get to host 1 website.
- Storage, bandwidth, and emails are unlimited.
- Free domain and SSL are included.
- Website migration (WordPress or cPanel) is free.
For a small-to-medium-sized website, such as a portfolio, blog, or business landing page, that’s more than enough. Plus, no extra investments are needed. Just don’t take unlimited for granted – it’s unlimited for small or medium sites, while Amazon would be kindly asked to upgrade to… Well… it’s own data centers across the world.
The one problem with the cheapest plan is that you can only host 1 site. Other plans come to the rescue here:
- Baby ($3.50/mo) is just $0.75 more expensive and adds the possibility to host unlimited sites. Definitely the best value.
- If you need some extra features such as dedicated IP and PositiveSSL, Business for $5.25/mo is there. It’s not cheap by the standards of this post, but it’s still budget-friendly when it comes to high-end plans.
By the way, you can cancel HostGator 45 days after the purchase to get a refund. Domain price will be deducted, but you’re free to keep it and use it.
What’s interesting about HostGator is that it’s one of the few providers on this list that still uses cPanel for hosting management. Experienced users already know that this panel is the staple of web hosting – easy to use and functional. But HostGator makes it even better by providing the main shortcuts such as WordPress installation, domain, SSL, and email in its main dashboard. Even easier to use than the classic cPanel.
Altogether, HostGator features low cost web hosting plans that include all the essentials needed to launch and run a website. It offers really good price to features ratio.
While HostGator is not famous for its performance, it quietly delivers some of the most reliable and powerful results among contenders.
Over almost 3 months, HostGator was up >99.99% of the time with just 3 outages and a total of 5 minutes of downtime. Quite impressive, knowing that it has a very much standard 99.9% guarantee.
Response time is not equally impressive, but good nonetheless. It averages at 525ms, with some higher peaks throughout the monitoring period.
The only thing that’s not entirely amazing is that HostGator operates servers only in the US. No worries if your audience is located in Northern America, but visitors from other continents might experience longer page load times.
Going back to impressive stuff, HostGator managed to withstand all 50 Virtual Users that were sent to make the server’s day worse.
The blue line indicating server response time is bumpy, but it doesn’t depend on the grey line, which stands for the number of visitors.
This is exactly what we are looking for – HostGator remains equally fast no matter 1 or 50 visitors are on your site. That’s some power for a cheap price.
There’s really not much to add here – HostGator’s performance is great.
To sum up this overview, HostGator is among the best cheap website hosting providers. For a very low price, it manages to deliver in terms of ease of use, performance, and even features offered. It’s an all-inclusive option for beginners.
- Free domain, SSL, and email accounts
- cPanel hosting management
- Excellent performance results
- Servers are only in the US
- Not clear what amount of resources you get with plans
|Features||Free SSL, domain name, staging, CDN|
|Best for||Small business websites|
Making its way into this list is one of the most popular providers around, Bluehost. It offers inexpensive web hosting with shared plans’ prices starting at $2.95/mo. The host has one of the most impressive dashboards with tools like staging and two-click Cloudflare integration. Plus, cPanel is there if needed.
One criticism to Bluehost immediately before we proceed – the pricing structure is quite complicated. What I mean by this is that you might not see the $2.95/mo price tag immediately, but believe me, it will show up in the checkout cart. Shrug.
There are 2 options to get the best price with Bluehost. For very tight budgets, pick the cheapest plan with 1-year billing. That’s $35.40 for a year. Or you can enjoy cheap pricing for longer with 3-year billing, which is $106.20 in total.Check Bluehost Pricing Now
The catch is that 1-year contracts renew at a $9.99/mo rate, while 3-year ones renew at an $8.99/mo rate. Told you, it’s tricky.
At the same time, the plan is generously equipped:
- Hosting plan for 1 website.
- Free SSL, domain, and 5 email accounts.
- 50GB SSD storage space.
- Unlimited bandwidth.
It’s an all-inclusive package to start a website. Not even a small one – 50GB storage is a lot.
Other than the entry plan, Bluehost is not cheap according to this post standards. The plans can go up to $13.95/mo, with renewals high up in the $20/mo range.
So with Basic being the only truly cheap plan, Bluehost is best for users who know 100% that the 1 website is all they need. And they’ll be rewarded.
One of the best things about Bluehost is how functional it is. You get:
- Native dashboard that has all the main hosting management features such as domains, email, SSL, and website settings as well as 2-click Cloudflare CDN activation.
- cPanel integration for more advanced stuff like file manager, databases, and frameworks.
- WordPress exclusive tools – staging and website builder.
With all this combined, it’s easy to launch and manage a website. Even if you’ve never done that before.
All in all, Bluehost has an impressive and feature-packed plan that’s cheap. The only downside is that you can only host one site. But maybe that’s enough?
With servers only in the US, Bluehost performs best for the audiences out there. At the same time, Content Delivery Network can easily be implemented from the dashboard to battle the latency. Other than that, Bluehost is reliable, although servers could use some more power.
Monitored over 2 months, Bluehost came out with almost perfect 99.99% uptime. The 0.01% was taken by 6 outages that lasted 11 minutes in total. A surprising result, considering that Bluehost does not have an agreement that would specify uptime.
As for the response time, it was speedy average 361ms. Would even have been better, but during the first half of the test, the provider was in a higher 450ms range. Later, the result improved and was very stable.
What isn’t as exciting is the fact that Bluehost did not handle the full 50 visitors test. What it did handle was 15 VUs.
No need to worry right here – 15 VUs for the cheapest plan is impressive. It would add up to around 15 000 visitors monthly if they’d stay on your site at all times.
Although 15 VUs is the max that Bluehost can handle. The blue line (response time) follows the grey line (number of visitors) very closely. It means that the server had to slow down to pass the test.
So Bluehost performance results are quite mixed – it’s reliable and fast, but servers are only equipped to deal with smaller surges of traffic.
All things considered, Bluehost is quite a unique provider on this list. Only one plan can be considered cheap, but the functionalities included make it very attractive. Especially if you’ve never built a website before.
- Unique features and tools included
- Very reliable uptime
- Multiple billing options for different budgets
- Servers are only in the US
- Complex pricing structure
5. A2 Hosting
|Features||Free SSL, caching, DDoS protection, cPanel|
|Best for||Speed-focused hosting|
A2 Hosting is mainly known for its performance-driven features like its A2 Optimized software. This makes it the ideal provider for those looking for affordable plans that offer plenty of speed-boosting features. Its shared hosting starts from $2.99/mo.
If you’re looking for the cheapest plan, that has to be StartUp. You’ll need to sign up for 36 months to score the lowest price of $2.99/mo. Seasonal discounts are available, so don’t be surprised if the price is even lower in the checkout cart.Check A2 Hosting Pricing Now
Once again, long billing terms are unavoidable, and renewals are higher. StartUp, for example, renews at an $8.99/mo rate.
One of the most impressive things about A2 Hosting is how much server resources it includes in the cheapest plan:
- 100GB SSD storage for 1 website.
- Unmetered bandwidth.
- Free SSL certificates.
- Security package including software patching, firewalls, and DDoS protection.
- Software optimization for WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and other CMSs.
- Full cPanel hosting management.
A2 Hosting focuses not just on speed but on security too; there’s no need to spend extra cash to make your site safe. The only drawback is that the domain needs to be purchased separately.
Domains with A2 Hosting cost from $14.95/year for .com extension. That’s pricey, so look for cheaper options with other registrars like Namecheap or Hostinger.
Another this is that I cannot consider other plans as cheap. They range from the affordable $2.99/mo to steep $14.99/mo.
This makes A2 Hosting, just like Bluehost, an option to those who know that 1 site is enough. And that site can be huge, considering the 100GB SSD storage limit.
A2 Hosting might be a one-trick pony, but it does that trick well. If you need that top performance and extra security – it’s here and available at a cheap price.
A2 Hosting performance
A2 Hosting claims to offer the best performance, and it does deliver. Both in reliability and in server power departments.
Over 2 months, A2 Hosting was up 99.99% of the time. Just 4 minor outages and 7 minutes of total downtime.
Meanwhile, A2’s 597ms average response time was just a hairbreadth over what is ideal. But, I’ll still take this response time considering A2’s cheap prices.
So while the response time is very much average compared to standards, stress testing results are definitely impressive.
A2 Hosting remained 100% stable when 50 Virtual Users were sent. That’s to check how much this host can handle.
The blue line representing server response times remained very flat, with minor bumps. It was not dependent on the grey line (the number of virtual users). This means A2 Hosting servers are powerful enough to remain equally fast when a lot of pressure is applied.
There are a couple of things that help A2 Hosting achieve these results:
- Server location choice – you can choose from the US, Europe, and Asia locations to get the server as close to the target audience as possible. This reduces latency and makes websites load faster.
- Software optimizations – A2 comes with configurations for different content management systems to boost their performance. For example, WordPress comes with a plugin that deals with image and code optimization and caching.
These are great features if your site requires top performance results. That’s usually the case if you’re competing to get good positions on high-volume keywords on search engines.
So performance considered, A2 Hosting definitely among the top cheap providers.
All in all, A2 Hosting is a great option for small business websites. Generous storage, performance-focused features, and strong security make it a good work-horse for some of the least expensive web hosting prices.
- Performance and security-focused platform
- Impressive server resources
- Server location choice in the US, Europe, and Asia
- A domain is not included
- 1 website limit on the cheapest plan
|Features||2 websites, free domain, free SSL, cPanel, training sessions|
|Best for||Generous beginner-friendly hosting|
HostPapa is not the cheapest entry on the list but it sure has a lot to offer. It makes it here by including not 1 but 2 websites in its cheapest plan. Plus, the rest is covered – you get a domain, SSL, email accounts, and cPanel control panel. All that for $3.95/mo.
For the cheapest price, pick the Starter plan with 36-month subscription. That's $142.20 in total and 3 years until the next bill.Check HostPapa Pricing Now
With the cheapest plan, you get an impressive amount of resources:
- 2 websites
- 100GB storage
- 100 professional email accounts
- Unmetered storage
- Free domain and SSL
- One-on-one training
Generally, thats an all-inclusive package – no other expenses related to web hosting will be needed to set up a successful website.
Meanwhile, I'd not consider the rest of the plans as cheap going up to $12.95/month.
The 2nd plan, Business, also costs $3.95/mo. That would sound like an amazing deal, right? But there's a catch – the renewal is significantly higher. Meanwhile Business Pro at $12.95/mo falls out of the cheap category straight into the expensive list.
But these plans are not even needed as Starter is not a standard and very limiting option – it provides enough of space and power for 2 websites.
Overall, HostPapa features and pricing ratio is excellent to host a couple of small business sites. It's one of the most inclusive listings and even comes with personal training.
Looking at performance metrics, HostPapa falls to the middle ground. It's reliable and quite powerful, but servers are not the fastest.
Monitored over almost a month, HostPapa came out with a sparkling 100% uptime result. Not even a minute of downtime was recorded.
The server response time averaged at 1.19s, which is not as sparkly. In fact, such result can be considered as slow. However, I can see the trend of improvement, so let's give HostPapa a chance to redeem itself.
As for stress testing, HostPapa goes hand in hand with Bluehost. It handled 15 virtual users over 5 minutes.
HostPapa was doing amazing up until around 12 or 13 visitors came in – that's the optimal traffic it can handle. When more joined in, the provider has to slow down. Which is not bad, but a couple of requests failed as well. I'd say, pretty average result.
At the same time, HostPapa is one of a few hosts that allows you to pick a server location. It has the United States, Canada, and Europe available. This means that you can get closer to the audience and deliver faster page load times.
Altogether, HostPapa is an excellent affordable web hosting provider for users that need some guidance in the beginning. That's covered with one-on-one training. HostPapa also includes a bunch of generous features that can cover quite big websites.
- 2 websites, free domain, and SSL in the entry plan
- Free one-on-one training session
- Server location choice in the US, Canada, and Europe
- Server response times are quite slow
- Entry plan handles low to low-average traffic
|Features||Free SSL, unlimited sites, cPanel|
|Best for||Month-to-month hosting|
InterServer has made a name for itself by offering affordable high-quality hosting. The provider has only one shared hosting plan, which price can get as low as $2.5/mo. Both businesses and personal projects would work well with the provider. But, I’d mostly recommend it for smaller projects.
While InterServer started its journey by offering just one $5/mo plan with no commitments, the pricing got trickier with years.
Right now, you can get a $2.50/mo rate with yearly, 6-month, and 1-month billing options. The catch is that all of them will renew after the first term ends at a higher $7/mo rate.
Pick the $2.50 plan for 1 year and pay $30 in total. That's cheapest web hosting per year. If pre-paying is not an option for your budget, try out the monthly plan for $2.50 and enjoy commitment-free monthly billing later.Check InterServer Pricing Now
I know what you will say… $7 is more expensive than any of the previous providers. But hey, I pushed InterServer all the way to the bottom here. And, it’s the only one that offers cheap month-to-month hosting. Plus, the plan is oh so impressive:
- Everything is unlimited: storage, bandwidth, number of sites, email accounts.
- SSL is included and free.
- Weekly automated backups are there.
- LiteSpeed caching engine is available.
- A strong security package including malware removal, firewall, and DDoS protection is included.
I’m quite surprised InterServer prices are not higher considering all the included features. Although the domain is not in the package, you can purchase it for an affordable $7.99/year rate directly from InterServer. So it's one of the few providers where you can get both cheap domain and hosting.
Altogether, if month-to-month hosting is what you’re looking for, InterServer is the cheapest one right here.
InterServer’s performance is a mix of excellence and average. It has strong points in terms of reliability, but speed could be improved. It’s similar to the server power – the provider handles a big number of traffic, but the performance does struggle.
To start with, its uptime was excellent at 99.99% over 3 months. This was caused by 10 micro outages. Downtime totals just 13 minutes.
At the same time, its average response time of 662ms could be improved. I particularly don’t like its tendency of going up, but we’ll need to wait for longer monitoring results to see if that’s permanent.
One thing you should be aware of is that InterServer’s data centers are all only in the US. This might be a problem if your target visitors are based in another region.
As for stress testing results, it’s a mixed bag of beans too. InterServer passed the test with 35 virtual users, which is a big number for a cheap plan.
On the other hand, all the graphs are quite chaotic. As the number of visitors increases (the grey line), the response time goes jumping up (the blue line). This means that the server slowed down.
Also, a new line, the red one, appears. It indicates the failure to deliver requests. Nothing concerning in InterServer’s case, as just a small number of them failed. For us, it means that we are reaching the limit of what the server is capable of.
Altogether, InterServer is reliable and quite speedy, but nothing remarkable. It also handles a big amount of traffic, but has to slow down a little in order to do that.
All in all, InterServer is a very universal host. The fact that you’re not limited by the number of sites you can create is brilliant, and month-to-month hosting can become a life-saver for tight budgets. Whatever is your reason, InterServer has a billing option suited for you.
- Month-to-month billing is available
- Unlimited number of websites is allowed
- cPanel control panel
- Higher prices overall
- Servers only in the US
Cheap web hosting: final recommendations
No doubt it’s obvious now that there are many good quality providers out there that offer cheap web hosting solutions. But, in this article, I’ve shortlisted the top 7 cheap web hosting options.
To make things easier for you, here’s a little reminder of their strengths:
- Hostinger offers the cheapest web hosting plan that delivers great performance for global audiences.
- DreamHost comes with plenty of features, great reliability, and security. It's best for WordPress sites.
- HostGator delivers beginner-friendly hosting at competitive prices.
- Bluehost has the most functional interface. It's easy to use and excellent for beginners.
- A2 Hosting offers affordable hosting with many performance-focused tools. Security is good too.
- HostPapa is generous and very beginner-friendly. You get more server resources than with any other host.
- InterServer is a very universal host with a cheap month-to-month billing option.
And, there you go! You’d do well with any of these providers. But, I do recommend going through this article thoroughly. Each has its pros and cons and, ultimately, the right provider will depend on your needs, wants, and preferences.
The search for cheap web hosting provider
If you’re unfamiliar with the hosting world, it’s extremely easy to be tricked into opting for an unnecessarily expensive plan or, worse, to fall for scams. I’ve been there myself during my early days. So, very quickly, I’ve identified the top factors to bear in mind when shopping for cheap website hosting.
Among the things you need to consider are fine prints, features and resources, and performance. Let me elaborate.
Fine prints matter
Many web hosts will come across as cheap at first glance. But, you only get a sense of the true overall cost when you go through the fine prints. Be sure to pay attention to things like contract terms, upselling attempts, and renewal prices.
First things first, look at the commitment period. Typically, to score the lowest possible price, you’ll need to sign up with the provider for a few years. It could be anywhere from a year to even 4 years.
Plus, you’ll also probably have to pay for the plan upfront. An affordable-sounding $2.99/mo plan could see you shelling out $143.52 upon signup.
So, be sure that you’re ready to commit to whatever billing terms you sign up for. Or, look for those very few providers that are offering month-to-month billing. InterServer is a good example.
Besides that, keep a close eye on your shopping cart when you’re checking out. See, providers are very sly with their upselling attempts. Many quietly add extra features into your cart automatically — without your permission or even notice.
In the example above, the reasonable $3.95/mo plan will suddenly skyrocket to $9.93/mo if you’re not careful. That’s not exactly cheap, is it?
On top of that, you’ll also want to be sure to check out the renewal pricing before you proceed with your purchase. Higher renewals are almost unavoidable, but it’s best to check beforehand.
The increase in pricing depends on the provider. Some may charge a few additional bucks, while others might double or even triple the rate. Take a look at this example:
The introductory price is $2.99/mo, but the renewal would cost $323.64 for 36 months — which works out to $8.99/mo. I already did the math for you: that’s over 3 times the introductory price!
During the cheap introductory term, you can see if the provider is worth the increase. If not – switch it for another. It’s not too difficult with the majority of the hosts offering free migrations.
In brief, reading small-print is your best chance of getting the best value on a cheap plan for years to come.
Resources and features
Don't pay for what you won't use. You’ll get the cheapest price by opting for plans that offer the right amount of resources and features for the needs of your project.
Let’s break it down:
- Small websites such as business landing pages or portfolios usually don’t use more than 2GB of disk space. But, it’s a good idea to look for something around 5GB to 10GB for more wiggle room. Especially if you have many visuals.
- For a blog that you plan on monetizing or a small business website, go for a plan that offers 10GB to 50GB.
- Meanwhile, if your site is an online store or is media-intensive with lots of visuals, videos, and resource-hogging content, you’ll need way more disk space. A larger website like this could easily take up to 50GB. In this case, you might want to consider switching to VPS hosting as well.
Bandwidth is a server resource that partially tells you how many visitors your site can handle. The good thing about bandwidth is that you can actually calculate it. Here’s the formula:
Most entry plans typically come with a minimum of 50GB bandwidth — which should be more than enough for smaller websites.
If the provider includes essential features in the plan, you won't have any other expenses. Here's what you should look for:
- An SSL certificate for data encryption. It's an absolute must.
- A domain will help to cut down on the cost of hosting for the first year.
- Daily or, at the very least, weekly backups, so you don't have to redo the whole site if there's some major problem.
- Free business email accounts for credibility purposes.
These resources and features pretty much form the basis of successful hosting. So, be sure to pay close attention to them when you’re shopping for a provider.
Don’t neglect performance
Contrary to popular beliefs, cheap pricing and good performance can go hand-in-hand in hosting. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should expect advanced performance. But, you should still demand good performance from your providers.
Here are the 3 main metrics to take into account:
Response time indicates how fast the server reacts to your visitor’s request to open a page. You want to keep this as low as possible to improve things like user experience, retention, and SEO ranking.
If you need a gauge, a response time of up to 450ms is excellent. At the same time, shared hosting is known to average at around 600ms.
Uptime shows the amount of time your website is online and available to visitors. This is usually measured in percentage.
The standard uptime guarantee in the industry is 99.9%, which is over 8 hours of downtime per year or over 43 minutes of downtime per month.
That said, for the actual uptime, you want it to be as close to 100% as possible to ensure that your site is always reachable to your visitors.
Server power to handle traffic
Even with all the other metrics showing good results, some servers simply fail when a bigger number of users join in. That’s why I test how much traffic over a short period of time the provider can handle.
50 Virtual Users is the maximum that we expect shared hosting to handle. Meanwhile, less than 10 Virtual Users would be considered as a poor result.
All in all, performance is one of the most important aspects to consider in your search for a provider — whether a cheap one or otherwise.
To put it in a nutshell, be sure to prioritize performance and resources as well as features when you’re looking for the best cheap hosting plan and provider. Of course, reading the fine prints is a must-do, too.
Cheap web hosting FAQs
Can I host my website for free?
Yes, you can host your website for free with certain providers. But, bear in mind that most free providers restrict their features and resources to a bare minimum. Besides that, you likely will also see a less-than-optimum performance. So it's best to stick to low cost web hosting options.
How much does web hosting cost?
Web hosting costs differ greatly from one provider to another. Besides that, the cost also depends on the type of hosting and the resources included. But, you can expect shared hosting prices to start from less than $1 while other solutions are more expensive.
What is shared hosting?
Shared hosting is a type of web hosting where you share a server — and its resources — with other users. This is the cheapest form of hosting and also the most popular one.
How to get a cheap domain name?
You can get a cheap domain name from a registrar or even from your web hosting provider. Certain providers offer a free domain name for the first year when you purchase a hosting plan. One of the best providers offering cheap domain and hosting option right now is Hostinger.