We’re feeling a little philosophical, so riddle us this: If a tree falls in the woods, does anyone hear it? And if you don’t have your own website in the ever-crowded wilderness of the world wide web, do you really even exist?
Well, yeah. The answer is obviously yes to both. But, just like that mighty tumbling oak, there will be no one there to marvel at your greatness and sing your praises if you don’t have a nice little corner of the web to promote yourself. Billions of people surf the web every day, all across the world. That means there are billions of potential eyes to discover your talents and thoughts, and just as many potential pockets that may be willing to open if you have a service or product to offer them. So how do you even carve that space out for yourself on the internet today?
Finding a web host is one of your very first steps to getting your personal or business website up and running. However, nabbing a good web hosting service can be a little expensive if you’re not really sure what you’re looking for. After all, do you really need unlimited storage and emails? If not, you definitely shouldn’t be paying the premium price for them.
Whether you’re running a small business, advertising your talents, or blogging just for fun, you simply don’t want to blow a ton of money on a web host that provides way more than you really need. But at the same time, some of the free options might not offer all the features you need for your site.
Fortunately, there are plenty of inexpensive hosting options out there, and many of them come in the form of cheap hosting plans from trusted, respected providers (the same ones that bigger businesses use for their more extensive needs). These budget hosting plans may offer fewer features or less storage space than some of their premium counterparts, but they’re still perfectly sufficient for smaller-scale needs. And, if you pick a web hosting provider with a wide range of plans, you can always upgrade in the future if you need to scale up, and you can do so with a lot fewer headaches than if you switched to a new hosting service altogether.
With that in mind, remember that not all cheap hosting services are created equal, and there’s still a lot you should take into consideration before entrusting one with staking your claim on the web. But don’t worry, we’re about to answer some of the most common questions you may have so you can make the best possible decision for your cheap web hosting needs.
What is a web host, anyway?
Simply put, a web hosting company offers customers the use of their servers to store their files and deliver them to the web in the form of a website. In this case, we’ll be talking specifically about cheap hosting options so you can ideally get your website launched without shelling out more than $5 per month. Unfortunately, that means some of our favorite web hosts didn’t quite make the cut for this threshold.
When it comes to cheap web hosting options, though, the price is really quite relative. A shared hosting plan, for example, will be a lot kinder to your wallet than opting for a VPS or dedicated server.
What’s the difference between cheap shared hosting and dedicated hosting?
Shared web hosting means that your site will be hosted with other people’s sites on one server. No one else can see or touch your files or anything like that, but you’ll all tap into the same resources (i.e. storage and bandwidth) which effectively drives down the individual price of being hosted there. On the flipside, since you all share the same space and resources, it could affect your site’s performance if another site on your server gets a lot of traffic. In the case of a virtual private server (VPS), space is still shared but by much fewer sites, so you’re far less likely to experience performance issues because of your server mates.
Dedicated hosting, on the other hand, gives you a server all to yourself so you won’t have to worry about anyone else hogging your site’s resources. This, however, comes at a premium cost and is simply not a feasible option for a cheap hosting plan. That said, if you’re looking for cheap web hosting, you probably don’t need such hefty resources for your site anyway. You’re likely to find the best bargains with a shared hosting plan or WordPress hosting instead.
What is WordPress hosting?
If your site’s main function is to essentially run as a blog, your best bet is to go for WordPress hosting, which will offer some of the cheapest web hosting options you can find. WordPress itself is a free, open-source content management system (CMS) ideal for creating sites and blogs, especially. You can do all of your website building and designing through their CMS, then set up camp on the world wide web with a WordPress host. This specific type of shared hosting plan is optimized to make the transfer from WordPress CMS to your host’s server super easy, and they’ll typically handle all the backend updates and tech stuff so you don’t have to worry about anything but your content.
What can you reasonably expect to get with a cheap hosting plan?
Whether it’s a portfolio to showcase your talents, a site to run an e-commerce business, or a simple landing page to advertise your business’ hours, contact info, and services, your needs are ultimately going to dictate what parameters you should seek in a web host. Obviously, if you’ll be uploading a good amount of images or videos, you’ll need considerably more storage space from your web host than a more simplistic, mainly text-based site.
With a cheap hosting plan, you’re likely to get anywhere from 10 to maybe 25 GB of storage included. That should really be sufficient for most sites, though you will want to look for an unlimited storage option if you expect to upload lots of high-resolution media files. Some cheap hosting plans do offer unlimited storage, and you may be able to get a great deal for the first few years before the price spikes at renewal time. Though you’ll pay extra at a later date, it could be something to consider if you expect future growth.
As for limits on site traffic, you’ll find that most hosting providers offer unlimited bandwidth, even with their lowest-priced plans. Simply put, this means you won’t be charged extra or restricted due to the amount of traffic coming to your site. You might also see references to unmetered bandwidth, which is essentially a set amount of bandwidth that you can use to transfer as much data as you need. The maximum server speed may be limited, but you won’t incur an extra charge for heavy traffic.
Most budget hosting plans will also throw in a free domain for a year, and a free SSL certificate for your site. (That’s the Secure Socket Layer that encrypts data and makes websites safe to browse and conduct e-commerce.)
What are the non-negotiables when it comes to inexpensive hosting?
Regardless of how much space you’ll need or how much you’re paying to have your site hosted, any self-respecting web host (cheap or not) should be providing customers with solid support options 24 hours per day, seven days per week. You don’t want to be caught with your site down, period.
Coincidentally, that brings us to another area where you should absolutely not compromise when selecting an inexpensive hosting service. Possibly the most crucial point to consider is your web host’s uptime. If your site is down, your audience or customers cannot reach you, resulting in lost sales and opportunities. Obviously, you want to avoid this situation at all costs, but you also should not have to pay an arm and a leg for this common decency. (Seriously, your web host has one job — to host your site — so reliable uptime is not too much to ask.) Fortunately, most web hosts do a great job of sticking to their guarantees of 99% uptime, or better, and we won’t steer you wrong in our recommendations.
What should I look out for when choosing a cheap web hosting plan?
To keep costs low in the long-term, you’ll want to make sure you read the fine print before committing to a budget hosting plan. Most web hosts offer multiple tiers of service, and they might sweeten the deal on a more costly plan with introductory offers and a temporarily lowered price that makes it seem like a better deal. And it is, at first … until it reverts to its regular monthly price and you’re stuck paying for a bunch of features that you don’t actually need. You’re often better off sticking with the lowest-tier option as long as it has all the features to get your job done (even if it will cost a little more than that shiny advanced package for the first few months).
Also, be on the lookout for plans that require you to commit to a long-term agreement in order to score the lowest monthly price. If you’re not sure exactly what you’ll need over time or how much your site may grow, you’ll probably want to avoid signing on to a multi-year plan.
Now that you know what to look for, we’ve rounded up some of the best cheap web hosting plans for a variety of needs so you can score the best bang for your buck.
- Hatchling Plan: $2.75/month
- Baby Plan: $3.50/month
- Business Plan: $5.25/month
Whether you’re a seasoned internet veteran or just learning how to build your first website, HostGator boasts a 24/7/365 support staff that’ll be there to help you every step of the way (and every second of the day). They offer a trio of cutely named plan tiers with serious resources, including managed WordPress and shared plans. The lowest-tier, the Hatchling, provides unlimited storage, unmetered bandwidth, unlimited email, free SSL certification, free domain for a year, and loads of other features, including easy, one-click installs for WordPress, Joomla, and more. You can scale up to bigger plans in the future if you need unlimited domains or an SSL upgrade, but HostGator shines due to the fact that even their cheapest plan doesn’t cut a ton of corners.
Best For WordPress Hosting
- Essential: $3/month
- Business: $1/month
- Unlimited : $8/month
Not only is IONOS by 1&1 one of the cheapest services out there, but you can have your website up in a flash using the drag-and-drop editor and access to hundreds of different templates. If you want to build your site using WordPress, however, you can do that too with just two clicks. The built-for-WordPress Essential plan — the lowest tier — gives you 25 GB of storage, 10 email accounts, a free domain (for the first year), and a free SSL certificate. Though their mid-tier plan is cheapest at first, it rises steeply after the first year, so you might prefer to stick with the Essential plan if it has what you need.
Best For The Long Term
- Go Plan: $1.99/month
- WP Starter: $3.75/month
- WP Essential: $6.95/month
Unlike many of the more flexible web hosting sites, iPage only offers one simple shared web hosting option called the Go Plan. But, with a free domain for a year and a free SSL certificate, plus unlimited bandwidth and websites, it’s pretty much all you need anyway. If you’re looking for WordPress hosting, though, they’ve also got two WP plan options with automatic WordPress install and updates. They also provide round-the-clock support, boast a super-reliable uptime, and they’ve been in the biz for over two decades now, so you can trust that they know what they’re doing. Though they offer a fantastically low intro price, keep in mind that you do have to lock into a three-year agreement to get it (and the price shoots up after that term ends).
Best For Cloud Hosting
- Personal Web Hosting: $3.09/month
- Small Business Web Hosting: $5.09/month
- Enterprise Web Hosting: $9.99/month
AccuWeb is a Linux-based web hosting company that offers a wide variety of web hosting options from VPS and WordPress hosting to dedicated servers and reseller plans. However, you’ll find the best bargain in their great intro-level shared hosting plan. Or, for a slightly higher price, you can choose to have them host your storage on a network of cloud servers for better flexibility and reliability. Either way, you’ll be treated to unlimited websites, 10 GB of storage, 500 GB bandwidth, free SSL, free daily backup, and much more at an ultra-affordable price that won’t skyrocket when it renews.
- Shared Website Hosting: $2.95/month
- Shared Unlimited: $2.95/month
- WordPress Basic: $2.59/month
- WordPress Unlimited: $3.95/month
DreamHost really lives up to its name thanks to their inexpensive hosting plans with premium features. They offer both shared web hosting and WordPress site options starting at a low entry-level price, and they’ll each net you a free domain for a year, unlimited traffic, unmetered bandwidth, a free SSL certificate, and more. You can choose from three-year, one-year, and monthly plans — all of which are very affordable — but you’ll get the best price the longer you commit. And, best of all, plans renew at the same price so you won’t get hit with any surprises down the road.
Best For Business
- Single Shared Hosting: $0.99/month
- Premium Shared Hosting: $2.19/month
- Business Shared Hosting: $3.99/month
- Single WordPress: $1.99/month
- WordPress Starter: $2.99/month
You won’t find inexpensive hosting much cheaper than Hostinger’s lowest-tier plan, though you’ll need to sign on for four years to get the best price and you’ll be quite limited in both storage and traffic. However, their business shared hosting plan is a very economical choice for those who know what they need and expect to need it for several years. With it, you’ll get 100 websites, 100 email accounts, 100 GB of storage, unlimited bandwidth, daily backups and lots more, including a free domain and SSL certificate. Like their other plans, you’ll have to commit to a four-year plan for the best rate, and that price will spike when it renews, but you’ll save a ton in the interim.
Best For Unlimited Storage
- Basic: $3.75/month
- Deluxe: $6.75/month
- Ultra: $13.75/month
Domain.com does a good job of offering cheap web hosting without caps on storage or data transfer. Even at the lowest threshold of shared web hosting plans, you’ll be treated to a free domain and SSL certificate, unlimited storage, and scalable bandwidth, which means bandwidth is monitored, but not restricted in over 99% of cases. (However, if you do become wildly popular, their 24/7 tech support will help you out with a scalable solution so you won’t need to worry about finding another hosting provider.) Similarly, with their WordPress (WP) hosting plan, you’ll get unlimited storage and bandwidth, a customized control panel, and pre-installed themes and plugins. The only catch is that you must commit to at least a year-long term.
Best For The Environment
One of the more intriguing options for those looking to start their own website, FatCow aims to be friendly to both your budget and the Earth by utilizing wind power to run its web hosting. They provide a free domain name and unlimited bandwidth, storage, and emails. They also offer access to easy-to-use website builders and a ton of services appreciated by first-timers and veterans alike. The only downside is that their plans start out super-cheap, but rise very steeply after the first term of either one, two, or three years.
Best Free Web Host
- Basic: Free (with ads)
- Combo: $14/month
- Unlimited: $18/month
- Pro: $23/month
- VIP: $39/month
Better known as a website builder than a web host, Wix is a one-stop-shop for blogs and e-commerce sites that look really impressive (even on mobile devices) while still being incredibly easy and flexible to design. They offer hundreds of integrated animation capabilities to help your site stand out from the crowd, and their drag-and-drop interface couldn’t be simpler. Though their paid plans are considerably more expensive than other companies that are strictly web hosts, Wix’s free plan should not go unmentioned. You won’t get your own domain, ads will appear on your site, and you’ll only have 500 MB each of storage and bandwidth, but it doesn’t get any cheaper than free.