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 host for your website, cheap or otherwise.
Unlimited vs. Unmetered Storage and Bandwidth
Web hosting services seem to shift between unlimited and unmetered in regard 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 CAD per month, it can change the terms at 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.
It’s common to see 99.90% to 100% uptime in web host marketing. What difference does 0.10% make? First, those uptime guarantees don’t apply to scheduled downtime for maintenance. If you notice your site is down, but the web host lets 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 four 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.
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).
Types of Web Hosts
- Shared Hosting: Shared hosting is what most people use for web hosting. With shared hosting, your website shares server resources with other websites. Shared hosting plans are often the most economical web hosting type, but they have certain limitations, such as lower server resources and slower speeds.
- VPS Hosting: VPS hosting is a step up from shared hosting. Your website shares server resources with other websites on the server, but not as many as with shared hosting. VPS hosting plans often offer more server resources, such as CPU cores, RAM and storage space.
- Cloud Hosting: With cloud hosting, your website is hosted on a network of servers, which can offer greater flexibility and scalability than other types of web hosting.
- Dedicated Hosting: Dedicated hosting is generally the most expensive type of web hosting, but it can also offer the greatest flexibility and resources. With dedicated hosting, your website is hosted on its own server, which gives you more control over the server resources and allows you to customize your server to your specific needs.
Premium vs. Affordable Web Hosts
Premium web hosts offer more features, such as unlimited storage, bandwidth and email accounts, as well as better performance and security. However, these features come at a higher price.
Affordable web hosts offer more basic features, such as shared hosting, which is more affordable but doesn’t offer the same level of performance and security. However, if you don’t need the extra features, an affordable web host can be a good option.
Watch Out for Changing Terms
Be sure to read the fine print of any web hosting company’s terms of service. Many companies will change their terms over time, and some of those changes could have an impact on your website. For example, a company could change its policy on unlimited storage and bandwidth to limit the amount of storage and bandwidth you can use.
Additionally, some companies will change their terms to allow themselves to increase prices after you’ve signed up for service. Be sure to read the terms of service carefully and pay attention to any changes that are made.
When you’re choosing a web hosting company, customer support is an important factor to consider. If you have a problem with your website, you’ll want to be able to contact customer support and get help resolving the issue.
Be sure to read customer reviews of web hosting companies to get an idea of their customer support. You can also test out a company’s customer support by contacting it with a question before you sign up for service.
Make sure the company you choose has customer support that is available 24/7. You never know when you’ll need to contact customer support, and you don’t want to have to wait for a response. Additionally, make sure the company offers multiple ways to contact customer support, such as by phone, email and live chat. This will give you the flexibility to choose the best method for you.
Ease of Setup
When you’re choosing a web hosting company, you’ll want to make sure the company offers easy setup and use. You don’t want to sign up for a company that is difficult to use or set up. Be sure to read customer reviews of web hosting companies to get an idea of their ease of use. You can also test out a company’s control panel to see how easy it is to use.
The location of the server can affect the speed and performance of your website. If the server is in a different country than your target audience, it can take longer for your website to load, or your audience may not be able to access your website at all. For these reasons, it’s important to choose a web hosting company with servers located in the same country as your target audience.
Additionally, if you’re targeting a global audience, you’ll want to choose a web hosting company with servers located in multiple countries. This will ensure that your website is accessible to as many people as possible.
Free Trials and Money-Back Guarantees
A free trial can be a great way to test out a web hosting company before you commit to paying for service. Be sure to read the terms of the free trial carefully, as some companies will require you to enter a credit card number.
Additionally, many web hosting companies offer money-back guarantees. This means you can sign up for service and get a refund if you’re not satisfied. Be sure to read the terms of the money-back guarantee carefully, as some companies will only refund your money if you cancel within a certain period of time.