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?
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. Unfortunately, that means some of the very best 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 optimised 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 you consider 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.
What is the best cheap web hosting service?
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 value.
These are the best cheap web hosting services in 2021.