Our list of the best cheap web hosting companies focuses on monthly cost, term lengths and overall value. You should keep a few factors in mind when you’re choosing the best web host for your website, cheap or otherwise.
Unlimited vs Unmetered
Web hosting services seem to shift between unlimited and unmetered in regards to storage and bandwidth with little explanation. If you read the fine print of the Terms and Conditions from each host, you’ll usually find the answer.
If your storage is unlimited, it often comes with conditions. For example, if you use too many resources on a shared server, as it relates to others on the server, the web host may ask you to remove files from your site.
Unmetered bandwidth usually means that the hosting company isn’t paying much attention to your site visitor numbers, but if it goes above a certain amount, say, 300,000 in a month, the host may ask you to upgrade to a virtual private server (VPS).
Companies Can Change Terms
Even when you find a web host that promises 100% uptime, unlimited storage or $1 per month, it can change the terms any time. It’s a good idea to read any changes a web host makes to its policies to make sure it’s still a good fit for your website needs.
The Importance of Uptime
It’s common to see 99.90% to 100% uptime in web host marketing. What difference does .10% make? First, those uptime guarantees don’t apply to scheduled downtime for maintenance. If you notice your site is down, but the web host let you know it was going to happen, it doesn’t count. Unplanned downtime is when hosting companies scramble to get service back up because otherwise, they owe a lot of people free months.
If your website is up only 99.90% of the time, it’s about the equivalent of 44 minutes of downtime per month. Bump that uptime to 99.99% of the time, and you might have 4 minutes or so of downtime per month.
Does Server Location Matter?
Server location can impact the speed of one’s website for some users. If you have a bakery in Chicago, most of your site visitors are likely to be local, so you would want to choose a host with servers in the central United States. Server location shouldn’t impact search engine optimization (SEO), so it shouldn’t affect your ranking in search engines. Some experts disagree, though, and believe server location can affect rankings.
What are Inodes?
If you’re doing your due diligence, you might have noticed the word inodes in a web hosting company’s policies. An inode is a data structure that includes all the attributes of a file. It includes information about a file or directory, such as file name, permissions and time of last change. Sometimes web hosts won’t limit storage, but will limit the number of inodes (HostGator limits inodes to 100,000 for shared plans).