Signing up for cheap web hosting can be tempting. As a small business owner, you’re on a budget. You want to save money anywhere you can. Trust us, we get it. We started out in that same boat!
Before you cut corners on web hosting, though, ask yourself this: exactly what am I willing to give up?
Surely you’ve heard that old adage: “You get what you pay for.” More often than not, when you sign up for a ‘cheap’ hosting plan, you’re going to miss out on some important features.
The key to getting quality web hosting at a bargain price? Lots and lots of research!
Here’s how to find a great hosting provider when you’re working with a limited budget:
What can I expect from a quality web hosting service?
No matter what you pay for your web hosting service, there are a few key features that you must have.
Without these basics, you risk your website’s performance, security, and reliability (and, ultimately, your business’s reputation). They include:
- Live support: Every website runs into an issue sooner or later. When this happens, it’s essential that you be able to repair the problem and get your website back up and running as quickly as possible. You need to be able to call your hosting service and know that you will be able to speak with a live person, at any time of day, and receive immediate support – something many ‘cheap’ services do not offer.
- Reliability: One of the most important factors when it comes to your hosting services is how often they experience downtime – and standards today are very high. In fact, uptime less than 99.5% is considered unacceptable. These numbers become even more important as your business grows. If you run a thriving e-commerce store or get thousands of visitors daily, downtime could cost you a whole lot of money.
- Security: With all of the huge hacking scandals in recent years, website security is a hot issue. And it should be! If your site houses any sensitive client information (name, address, credit card number, etc.), you absolutely must take security seriously.
If a hacker were to gain access to private client information, it would be a public relations nightmare for your business – and it could leave you open to civil suit.
Likewise, if a malicious user gained access to your own files, they could easily render your website unusable, leaving you to start entirely over from scratch.
A note on fine print: Many ‘bargain’ hosting services offer the above features . . . but they come at a cost. Make sure to do your research.
If you’re confused about any fine print, ask the hosting company sales rep and get the answers you need before signing up.
Many services offer amazing first-year prices and then jack up rates at renewal, while others will make you pay heavily for “extras” such as live support or email hosting. Some even force you to run ads for their company on your website!
How much does quality web hosting cost?
The cost of web hosting can vary greatly from provider to provider and depending on what type of service you choose to use – but we promise, a basic plan at a quality provider isn’t going to break the bank!
For example, you can easily find a shared hosting plan – that includes all the features you need – for a great price.
This is what you can expect to pay:
- Shared server: A shared hosting plan means that you share your physical server with other users. All of the websites share the server’s resources, like bandwidth and RAM, and the costs of operating and maintenance are split amongst the users. You can expect to pay roughly $2 – $10 per month.
- Dedicated server: The opposite of shared hosting, a dedicated server is entirely yours. All of the RAM, bandwidth and disk storage are dedicated entirely to your website. You can host one or several websites on the same server, and you can customize however you like (operating system, software, apps, and so on). You can expect to pay $100+ per month.
- Virtual private server (VPS): VPS is a nice middle ground between a shared server and a dedicated server. Users still share one physical machine, but a certain amount of resources are set aside just for you. That means that no matter how much bandwidth or data any of the other sites need, they can never infringe on what is yours. Costs usually run between $20 – $50 a month.
Bottom line: if a company’s main selling point is that they’re ‘cheap’, they’re likely skimping on other features.
Is Cheap Hosting Worth It?
Our suggestion? Never shop for a hosting service on price alone. Rather than looking for cheap web hosting, try a reputable company that offers an affordable price. For just a few dollars extra each month, you can rest assured that your website is safe and secure, and has performance you can count on.