Every business—from a sole-proprietorship to a sprawling, multimillion-dollar enterprise—needs a website and, therefore, a web host. It’s critical to have an online presence for potential clients to discover. Ideally, you’ll want to sell products and services, too.
That said, not every company needs an e-commerce presence, and not every business can budget for one, either. Sometimes, you just need a simple page listing your hours and location, and perhaps a little blogging functionality to keep things interesting—and sometimes that’s all you can afford. Quite frankly, cost is an important consideration when selecting a web host. It’s a truism that you get what you pay for, but it’s also true that every penny counts.
The Cheapest Web Hosting Per Year
The pricing in our list of cheap web hosts is based on the companies’ regular annual prices, with no discounts applied. Some budgets really are that tight, and some projects may not last a year. Our cutoff for inclusion? A web host must charge no more than $99.99 per year. It means that some of our top choices for best overall web hosts, such as A2, GoDaddy, and Hostwinds, don’t make the price cut. We avoid web hosting services with initial cheap prices that go up after an introductory period. This is true low-cost hosting!
Web hosts that offer monthly and annual plans are judged in both of those areas. Naturally, if a web host only offers monthly or yearly plans, we adjust our expectations accordingly. If you’re ready to explore the best budget web hosting services, check out these top picks.
The Cheap Web Hosting Features You’ll Need
A web host is a company with servers you use to store and deliver the files that make up your website. Large businesses can spend hundreds of dollars each year on dedicated web hosting or virtual private server (VPS) hosting. Still, plenty of web hosts are designed specifically for very small businesses (and personal use, too).
Setting up a website with your own domain is easy, and most importantly, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Do you need email, blogging software, basic email marketing (not marketing automation), e-commerce, and file sharing? Many of these features are included with cheap web hosting plans.
Also worth highlighting is the service’s customer support. While it’s nice to have FAQs and forums, when it’s 3 a.m. and your website is inexplicably down, you want someone available right away. Look for 24/7 customer support.
Shared hosting is a setup in which the hosting company runs multiple websites on a server along with your site. Don’t let the “shared” bit worry you, though, since you can’t peek into anyone else’s files and no one else can touch yours. The benefit? Sharing the server space translates to cheap prices for everyone. The downside? Neighboring sites that consume too many resources may cause your site to run at less than peak performance.
Optimized WordPress hosting services let you set up and run a WordPress blog with minimum fuss. If your business website’s primary function is blogging, do your wallet a favor and don’t bother with shared hosting plans or other types of web hosting.
One thing we learned while reviewing web hosting services is that reading the fine print matters, especially if you are concerned about keeping prices low. Many web hosts have several service tiers, with introductory features in starter packages and expanded offerings in higher-priced plans. Don’t get swayed by the big fonts touting the monthly fee: Make sure that a particular tier actually offers what you need.
Some hosts charge extra for the tools you might use to design your website. Other hosts require you to commit to a three-year hosting agreement to get that low per-month price. Or the price is an introductory one, and after a month, you will revert to a higher price. Don’t commit to annual plans until you know what features you need and how quickly you plan to grow.
Uptime Is Important, Even With Cheap Web Hosting
The aforementioned features are valuable to the web hosting experience, but none match the importance of site uptime. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services. Every customer turned away is a potential sale lost and traffic not monetized.
Uptime monitoring is a significant part of our review process, and the results show that most web hosts do an excellent job of keeping sites up and running. Even if they excel at all other facets of hosting, services with uptime issues can’t qualify as top services.
The Alternative Hosting Options: Website Builders
If your primary goal is cheap service and your needs are modest, you have another option: website builders. If you simply want a good-looking website without any extras—a brochure-ware site, for example—you can skip traditional web hosting and check out website builder services, such as Gator and Wix.
If you don’t care about owning your own domain, and don’t want to do a lot of behind-the-scenes tweaking, you should consider one of these online website builders. They let you create surprisingly attractive and functional sites hosted under their domains. Furthermore, these services can be incredibly cheap: Some offer free plans, though that generally means you’ll have branding on your site for the website builder’s company. You can often pay to get your own domain, and that typically removes the branding, as well. That said, if you need control over your domain and need a little bit more functionality, web hosting is the way to go.
Dependable, Affordable Web Hosting
Not all cheap web hosting services are created equal. For example, some have data transfer allotment and storage caps that are worth investigating. Read the fine print for the unlimited offerings, too, as there are sometimes gotchas that might sneak up on you later. Other services limit the applications or plug-ins you can use.
The web host you select depends entirely on how you plan to use it—and your budget. If you are ready to choose a great web hosting service that’s also cheap, click the links in the charts to check out our in-depth reviews of the best names in the space.
If you’re just getting started in the web hosting game, check out our primers: 10 Easy But Powerful SEO Tips to Boost Traffic to Your Website, 5 Things You Need to Know Before Signing Up for Web Hosting, and Linux vs. Windows: How to Pick the Best Server OS for Your Website.
Mike Williams also contributed to this roundup.