15 FAQs About Cheap Web Hosting
Cheap web hosting is an essential resource for independent web publishers, professional developers, and small business eCommerce sites.
Budget hosting plans are usually priced with support for unlimited domains on shared Linux or Windows servers for less than $10 per month — and often much lower.
The massive amount of competition between service providers for those customers leads to rock-bottom pricing on shared hosting hardware.
Cheap hosts differentiate their services by adding perks such as free domain name registration, optimized web server software, advanced caching, and extra developer utilities. SSD storage is another huge benefit, and many cheap hosting plans pair that with unmetered bandwidth.
Still not sure which affordable web hosting provider to choose? Let us answer some of the most common questions we hear from readers:
1. What is Cheap Web Hosting?
A low-cost web hosting plan is a great resource for beginners running optimized sites designed on WordPress or a website builder.
Cheap web hosting generally refers to low-cost shared hosting on Linux or Windows web server platforms.
The most affordable shared hosting plan will support a single domain and website, while others promise unlimited websites, disk space, bandwidth, and email. As you may imagine, prices scale accordingly from roughly $1 to $10.
Shared hosting essentially enables website owners to rent a portion of a server from a hosting provider that can divide the server’s computing resources among hundreds or even thousands of customers – further driving down costs.
The server (think of it as a computer) stores each user’s website files and provides them to visitors’ web browsers when requested, while the host takes care of all hardware maintenance and security procedures.
Most shared hosting plans rely on the Linux operating system, which is typically available to a hosting provider for free. Linux seamlessly integrates with popular user-friendly programs such as cPanel, WordPress, and other free software.
2. Why Should I Use a Budget Hosting Plan?
Why spend $1,000 when you only need to spend $1?
Aside from the price tag, an affordable web hosting plan with cPanel and Softaculous allows developers to install more than 400 open-source scripts with a single click.
Cheap web hosting services are perfect for:
- Beginners: The host takes care of nearly all the technical details for you. Anything else should be covered by an in-depth knowledge base and 24/7 support channels.
- WordPress users: Hosts increasingly cater to the world’s most popular CMS with easy installs, high-performance infrastructure, automatic WordPress updates, and custom plugins for caching and security. A simple WordPress hosting plan can and should be both cheap and reliable
- Developers: Learn how to code, experiment with a new programming language, or spin up websites for clients with support for unlimited domains and staging environments. Whether you’re managing a single shared hosting account for a client or a slew of small projects for yourself, cheap shared server hosting packages are a great startup deal for devs.
- Small businesses: Hosts provide all the tools to succeed, from online advertising credits and email accounts to shopping carts and free tools for making appointments.
Since most budget web hosting companies now include a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for every domain, eCommerce sites can operate securely using a number of free shopping cart solutions.
3. How Much Should Shared Hosting Cost?
Ultimately, a cheap web hosting plan should cost less than $5 per month for at least one domain name and free SSL protection.
Most hosts offer multiple tiers of services and price points depending on the length of the hosting term and how many resources you need.
Naturally, you’ll find the best deals on long-term hosting plans and by paying the full balance up front. Although month-to-month hosting offers the most flexibility, those packages are the most expensive.
Hosting providers often give new customers impressive discounts when they first sign up: We’ve even secured a few exclusive deals and coupons at various price points from some of our favorites.
Even better, cheap web hosting often comes packed with high-quality features: free domain name registration, SSL certificate, blogging tools, and advertising credits are just a start.
However, be sure to note (and budget for) your hosting costs once your initial plan expires. Renewal rates can easily reach $8 to $12 monthly.
4. What Features Are Included in a Cheap Web Hosting Service?
A fine line exists between a steal of a deal and a scam. Some budget web hosting plans might promise the lowest price tag in the industry but not offer the basic features required to keep the customer from spending additional funds on add-on tools and services.
While shopping low-cost hosting plans, expect to find:
- A free domain name registration (at least for the first year)
- Ample or preferably unlimited website file storage, bandwidth, and email accounts
- One-click installations for WordPress, Magento, and other popular content management systems and online store builders
- Free SSL encryption
If the company doesn’t offer at least the list above, keep shopping. Nowadays, the best cheap WordPress hosting packages include advanced accommodations such as professional website transfer services, automatic updates to the WordPress Core codebase and plugins, and staging areas.
Unfortunately, the support staff’s time is usually the first resource held back from customers in favor of rock-bottom pricing. Don’t be shocked if support via email only or a 48-hour response time is the standard. Do strongly consider any host that offers a live chat feature for its cheap hosting plan customers. That’s a bargain!
5. Can I Host My Website for Free?
Unless you want to run your own hosting service from your home or office – which easily costs hundreds of dollars and tons of your time – you’ll want to pay for an affordable shared hosting plan.
The biggest restriction with the vast majority of free website hosting services is the lack of support for a custom domain name.
Usually, a provider supplies free hosting as part of a subdomain of the host’s brand. You can build a free website at username.wordpress.com and have a fully functional CMS website, for example, but you will need a paid upgrade to use your own domain or open an online store.
Although it’s hard to argue with the free version of seemingly the same product, here are a handful of key differences between free versus paid hosting accounts.
- Disk space and bandwidth: Free services will majorly restrict your computing resources, while low-cost plans often provide limitless storage and processing power.
- Included features: No-cost hosting typically won’t come with cPanel administration, one-click software installs, or a website builder. Premium hosting usually does.
- Domain name: Many budget-friendly plans include a one-year registration for free and provide room to host unlimited domains; free services usually offer zero support.
- Security: The worst free hosts are just scams to get users’ personal information, and, generally, subpar technologies elsewhere at that price often leave your data exposed.
- Performance: Trustworthy hosts emphasizing affordability regularly invest in server and datacenter upgrades to optimize page load efficiency.
- SEO: Speed, security, and a strong domain name are all major SEO factors; free hosts usually go 0-for-3, while paid hosts actually offer advertising credits to help you rank even higher.
- Support: Paid services have global support teams available 24/7 through multiple channels, while free hosts offload technical assistance to community forums – at best.
Ultimately, free hosting is really only good for developers looking to test a new programming language or feature temporarily before pushing into production on a more permanent and optimized server stack.
Believe it or not, you’ll probably save money in the long run by signing up with one of the low-cost hosting providers above instead of taking the free web hosting route.
If you really want to give free hosting a try, we typically recommend the website builder platforms from Wix and GoDaddy. For more advanced users, Kamatera offers new customers one free month of cloud hosting.
6. How Do I Choose the Best Cheap Hosting Provider?
If you watch for special promotions, search for discount coupons, and purchase web hosting plans on a long-term basis, you can get the best rates on services from the industry’s top brands.
But how do you know the best is really the best?
Thankfully, evaluating hosting plans and providers can be boiled down into a simple questionnaire:
- Which host offers the most storage? Is the disk space on SSDs?
- How many domains or websites can you have? Will you get a free registration?
- Does the service provider include the design tools you want such as WordPress or a website builder? What about software for an online store?
- What is the host’s uptime guarantee? Don’t commit to anything 99% or less.
- How easily can you reach customer support? Can they promptly answer your questions?
When choosing a hosting company, research the hardware that is being used on the platform and compare benchmark tests for performance.
You might need to do some digging if those technical specifications are important to you, as web hosts at this price point are not always transparent about their shared hosting hardware.
For the best value, verify the budget hosting plan includes cPanel or Plesk administration, domain and email tools, and SSD storage.
Standards can evolve over time, so be sure to compare options every few years to ensure you made the best long-term choice that adapts to and includes modern technologies.
Even better, look at the prices and features for the host’s VPS plans or a dedicated server to get a sense of the infrastructure’s full capacity and affordability as your site grows.
7. What is the Difference Between Web Hosting and a Website Builder?
A web hosting service and a website builder both help you launch an online presence – but where does one start and the other begin?
Essentially, web hosting entails the server space and technical components to display a website, while a website builder is a visual platform to help you build and design your site.
Somewhat confusingly, both types of products will often come with both types of services.
Popular builders, such as Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace, give customers a hands-free and streamlined (if a bit watered down) hosting experience, and many budget web hosting plans include a website builder as a free bonus or paid upgrade.
Some hosts will offer a third-party builder, while others, including GoDaddy and HostGator, develop their own proprietary website builder software.
|Advantages of Web Hosting
|Advantages of Website Builders
|Typically more affordable
|Hosting services handled for you
|More control over your environment
|Easy design and publishing
|Can transfer your files if you want a new host
|Hundreds of customizable templates
|Create and host multiple websites
|No technical experience required
With web hosting plans, you get MySQL and PHP support on a choice of Linux or Windows servers running Apache (or sometimes NGINX or LiteSpeed) – lots of flexibility and support to run a wide variety of design programs.
Most website builder solutions, however, do not support MySQL or most other third-party tools.
Make sure the hosting package includes a free SSL certificate for every domain with unlimited websites. Upgrade to a more advanced SSL/TLS verification level for business websites.
Website builders are well suited for building personal or small business websites that simply present static information according to a template-based design. Compare small business shared hosting plans with your unique business needs in mind.
8. Where Can I Find an Affordable WordPress Hosting Service?
Customers can have more ownership and control over their creations when pairing an affordable web hosting service with either an included site builder or popular CMS such as WordPress. The vast majority of aspiring website owners gravitate toward launching a WordPress site or blog, as WordPress still owns the lion’s share of the market.
The free and open-source program is almost always available as a one-click installation, and many even offer to preinstall it for you at checkout.
Roughly 40% of all websites rely on WordPress, and the global community produces thousands of themes and plugins to customize functionality to your specific needs.
Although the WordPress leadership team officially endorses a few hosting providers, website owners looking for more affordable solutions may want to look elsewhere or sign up with a service that offers a special discount.
Take a look at the best deals on shared WordPress hosting:
All of these cheap host companies offer shared LAMP servers with cPanel configuration and support for unlimited domains.
For added WordPress performance, look for NGINX and LiteSpeed servers combined with multilayered caching using Redis, Varnish, Memcached, CDN integration, and PHP 8 support. InMotion Hosting, at $2.29 per month, supports these upgrades.
Many developers and small businesses appreciate the stability and ease of use of cPanel hosting for WordPress. Only upgrade to a high-performance managed WordPress hosting platform if your project needs it.
9. How Can I Get a Free Domain?
A free domain name registration is fairly common with budget hosting plans – but not a standard feature. Use the perk as a distinguishing factor when choosing a cheap web hosting provider.
Generally speaking, a top-level domain registration (which covers .COM, .NET, and .ORG, among others) can cost around $10 to $15 per year.
Keep in mind: A free domain registered on a new account will likely only cover the first year of hosting. Make sure to confirm the domain renewal rates so you’re not surprised later.
For independent projects on a tight budget, a free domain is a great bonus when signing up for a new hosting plan.
Business leaders often prefer the simplicity of managing multiple domains and the hosting service from one convenient dashboard.
Some, however, prefer to oversee their domain names independently through a separate registrar to avoid vendor lock-in and the need to transfer ownership if you switch accounts.
Regardless of which path you choose, verify the domain name renewal prices to avoid being overcharged.
Make sure to get unlimited traffic for accounts with a free domain and hosting account for the best value. You may even find support for unlimited domains, which also covers add-on and parked domain names.
10. Which Hosts Offer a Free SSL Certificate?
Although SSL certificates have existed since the mid-1990s, the security tool didn’t reach mainstream popularity and usage until around 2014.
SSL certificates authenticate a website’s identity and encrypt all communication between the server and visitors’ computers – protecting sensitive data from attackers.
Thanks to various collaborations from some of the web’s most influential companies, SSL certificates are now freely available and even automated in many cases.
Look for the cheapest plan with unlimited traffic and disk space for niche eCommerce sites, and the SSL protection should follow.
The vast majority of hosts provide free SSL certificates using Let’s Encrypt or AutoSSL, which essentially verify domain ownership. Avoid hosting plans that do not include free SSL support for all domains.
You can find free SSL protection through these hosts and certificate authorities (and several others):
- Bluehost, Hostinger, iPage, and SiteGround — Let’s Encrypt
- HostGator — Comodo
- A2 Hosting — Sectigo
- InMotion Hosting — AutoSSL
However, some website owners will prefer to operate SSL/TLS certificates with higher levels of security and identity verification for their businesses.
GoDaddy, A2 Hosting, Hostinger, and HostGator all offer premium SSL certificates, while others, including InMotion Hosting and Bluehost, direct customers to third-party vendors for enhanced protection.
The encryption levels and users’ security are the same with each type of certificate, but the verification and vetting process is more demanding to obtain the higher-level certificates.
11. How Does Unlimited Storage Space or Bandwidth Work?
One of the most common features of cheap hosting plans is the promise of unlimited storage or unmetered bandwidth.
Sounds pretty magical, right?
With shared web hosting, providers place hundreds of client accounts on each server to share a server’s computing resources.
Most websites at that level come with a small data footprint and require relatively little in the way of file hosting and storage.
Similarly, those sites rarely have more than 20 concurrent visitors and don’t generate enough web traffic to require dedicated hosting plans.
Instead of setting limits to each user’s disk space or bandwidth, hosts usually just flag accounts using an unreasonably high amount of resources.
Generally speaking, 99% of shared hosting accounts operate within the normal limits to enjoy unlimited storage and traffic.
The Terms and Conditions agreement you’ll see at checkout allows shared hosts to flag and throttle any publisher that exceeds account quotas.
12. What is the Cheapest Plan?
The cheapest hosting plan for a single domain typically costs $2 per month or less. Your best bet for rock-bottom pricing is to check out Hostinger, which often puts its services on sale for less than $1.
An industry veteran, iPage consistently ranks among the most affordable hosts for supporting unlimited domain names.
You’ll need to lock into a long-term contract (usually three years or longer) and pay the web hosting company up front to secure the lowest prices.
Without further ado, here are some of the lowest cost, highest value plans we’ve found:
When evaluating web hosts that offer similar platform services, look at the bonus options provided by the company as a way to maximize value.
The inclusion of a free domain name registration and email hosting can save as much as $15 per year compared with the price at many top brands.
Managed WordPress hosting, developer tools, and Google AdSense credits are also commonly bundled in shared Linux plans. Make sure to also review benchmarks and customer service reputations.
13. Do Any Web Hosts Offer Free Trials?
A free trial is great to gain hands-on knowledge about the functionality of a specific platform, ranging from hardware speed to responsiveness of customer support teams.
That being said, here are the options we’ve found for various types of services. Some last a full year, some last just 14 days, and some last until you want to publish your website.
- Public cloud: Kamatera, Cloudways, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, DigitalOcean, Linode, and Heroku
- Website builders: GoDaddy, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace
- eCommerce platforms: Shopify, Volusion, and BigCommerce
- Windows: AccuWebHosting
- Managed WordPress: Flywheel
Take notice of the fine print when signing up to make sure you understand the terms of your trial.
Some companies require payment information in case you forget to cancel your free trial and automatically renew with a paid plan.
A free trial allows developers to test the performance of web hosting platforms before committing to a long-term contract.
It is not uncommon to change hosts multiple times before finding the best service for your team or business development requirements.
Most of the major web hosting brands do not offer free trials but include money-back guarantees (more on those later) as part of their service contract.
A free trial carries less risk and no initial financial commitment from site owners, while money-back guarantees give customers the option to recoup their investment if they decide to terminate their account within a certain time frame.
14. How Do Money-Back Guarantees Work?
Almost every web hosting company includes some kind of money-back guarantee to deal with customer dissatisfaction.
If you request a refund for any reason during the introductory period, you should be able to see your full payment returned – but the process is not always easy with some web hosting companies.
Some well-known brands, such as HostGator, give customers 45 days to request a refund. Many others, including Bluehost, SiteGround, Hostinger, and GoDaddy, stick with a fairly standard 30-day window.
|90 days or longer
|Web Hosting Hub
Money-back guarantees are different from uptime guarantees, which last the entirety of your account and return credits when the host’s server availability dips below the promised threshold.
Some hosts will automatically reimburse customers if their reliability becomes unacceptable, while others require site owners to monitor their uptime rates and report any unplanned outages.
Full refunds are only available during the hosting provider’s introductory period, but most companies will offer prorated reimbursements if you choose to cancel your plan after the money-back guarantee expires.
Typically, customers will not get reimbursed for any existing domain name registrations or premium subscriptions such as enhanced security or backups.
The price of a domain name registration will be deducted even if you received the domain for free at signup. That pill’s hard to swallow, but it’s all part of how these companies keep prices so low for the remaining happy customers.
Although requesting a refund and feeling dissatisfied is never fun, the policy gives site owners ample peace of mind if their chosen provider doesn’t meet expectations.
15. How Should I Get Started With Cheap Web Hosting?
Low-cost shared hosting allows small businesses and independent web publishers to quickly and affordably launch websites in a secure datacenter environment.
Shared Linux hosting plans with cPanel administration are the cheapest in the industry and offer all of the resources of a LAMP server to developers.
Choose a cheap hosting plan with free domain name registration and unlimited add-on domain support for the best value.
Use hosting reviews from experts to identify quality infrastructure and helpful support teams, while benchmark testing can help distinguish the best performance.
Make sure to choose a shared plan from a web host with unmetered bandwidth and unlimited storage to unlock plenty of room for growth.
Depending on your experience and website’s needs, you may need to explore more specialized options.
Managed WordPress hosting can scale to support millions of page views per month for less than $10, representing one of the best deals in online publishing.
Use Windows servers priced under $3 per month to support ASP.NET requirements.
And the list goes on.
Whichever service you choose, be sure to evaluate the full package of features, bonus offers, and add-ons included with a web hosting plan to choose the platform that best suits your web development needs.
Cheap web hosting supports hundreds of millions of domains worldwide and can be used reliably with data security for a wide variety of website and mobile application publishing projects.