Guide to finding good cheap web hosting

Finding a web host that offers a cheap yet reliable service can be a challenge. Many of the cheapest web hosting companies offer a service that doesn’t suit business websites or professional bloggers due to their poor quality and unreliability. When starting out, many web users gravitate towards choosing cheap web hosting as it reduces their initial costs.

Cheap web hosting guide

Signing up to the wrong web hosting provider in the long term, however, can actually end up costing you more. You could be levied with high bandwidth fees, extra hidden costs, or be plagued by a poor service, downtime and a website that is slow for visitors.

As a hosting expert, I know it is possible to find cheap hosting that also provides you with a reliable service that will help boost your website’s popularity. I also know that finding such a service can be challenging, especially if you’re new to web hosting. Therefore, I’ve created a guide to cheap web hosting that will enable you to make the right decisions for your website!

What counts as cheap web hosting?

Firstly, let’s look at what “cheap web hosting” actually means. If you’ve researched web hosting prices, you’ll have seen that they can vary greatly, with some services offering hosting for less than $1 per month, and others charging significantly more.

The web hosting market is competitive and so are the prices. What makes web hosting cheap is subjective, but for this article I will use the term to describe a web hosting package that costs less than $5 per month.

When searching for web hosting, remember that some hosts offer 6-monthly, annual or 2-year packages that might initially appear more expensive. Web hosting companies reward customers for loyalty, so longer contracts often cost less overall. Beware hosting companies that demand very long contracts, however, for reasons I will discuss below.

What makes good cheap web hosting?

Naming a price for web hosting is easy, but finding good cheap web hosting that will provide a reliable service can be more challenging. The criteria you’re looking for in a good cheap web hosting service is the same as any hosting service. You might not get as many advanced extra features as other, more expensive, hosting packages but the basic features you need to look for are the same.

A good web hosting package should come with the following features:

  • Good customer support

    Good customer support is crucial if you’re running a website. After all, if your site goes down and you don’t know how to get it up and running again, you could be losing valuable readers and customers in the meantime. A good and reliable web hosting service should offer 24/7 customer support, and provide at least two or three different methods for getting in touch with the them. For example, through phone, email and live chat.

    If you are hosting with an international web host who’s based in another country, it is especially important to make sure they offer live chat support. This is because if you face any issues, you can get help quickly without needing to make expensive international calls, and sending an email to their support usually is slower than getting help on live chat!

  • High bandwidth

    You might not need as much bandwidth as your hosting company provides right now but if your website grows, so will your visitor numbers. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you have enough bandwidth allowance in your hosting package to accommodate for your website’s growth. Ideally, you should find a package that offers unlimited bandwidth.

    If you can’t find a cheap package that offers so, find out what happens when you exceed your bandwidth before signing up. Some providers throttle your bandwidth so your site visitors can’t access your site, or the website loads slowly. Other providers charge an extra fee on top of your monthly payment. Neither of these options are ideal, so make sure you know what your hosting company’s terms and conditions are before you enter into a contract with them!

  • Money back guarantee

    A reputable hosting company should ideally offer a money back guarantee. While this might not seem like an important feature, it can make a lot of difference, especially if you sign up and pay for a two-year hosting package in one go.

    When web hosting companies offer a money back guarantee, it shows you that they have enough confidence in their hosting services that they’re willing to let you try it to see for yourself. Money back guarantees are usually time limited, for example during the first 30 or 45 days, and offer you extra security as a customer.

    Bluehost is one of the very few web hosts who offers anytime money back guarantee. There is no time limit. You can cancel your account and get a refund anytime you want! Check out our full review on Bluehost!

  • High uptime rate

    A website’s uptime rate should be as close to 100% as possible, and certainly over 99.5%. The uptime describes the ratio of time a host’s websites are fully-functional and tells you a lot about the service reliability you’re getting. The higher the number, the better.

  • Extra features

    A good hosting company should offer a range of extra features and related services, such as Fantastico and SimpleScripts installer, free domain name registration, free advertising credits and free website builders.

    While these additional features or items are not essential, you might find them helpful as your website grows and having them attached to your hosting package offers you better value for money.

What to avoid with cheap web hosting

Now we’ve covered what to look for in a cheap hosting provider, here is a brief list detailing what to avoid:

  • Cancellation fees

    Web hosts expect you to sign up for a certain period of time and some levy a cancellation fee if you end your contract early. While this is relatively normal, some cheap hosts try to charge extortionate cancellation fees! The tricky part is they may not be immediately obvious, as some unscrupulous hosts hide the charges in the terms and conditions small print.

    Tips:
    If you are in doubt, always check what your host’s cancellation fees are before signing up. And if any of the terms look suspicious, my advise is for you to move on!

  • Vague or limited tech support

    As I’ve already talked about earlier in this article, having the proper level of tech support is crucial if you’re running your own website. Hopefully you’ll never need to use it but, if you do, you want to make sure someone will be there to help.

    If you’re not clear on the level of tech support a hosting company offers, you can ask them or better still give them a try! Hook them up on live chat and send them an email. How long did it take for them to respond?

  • High renewal fees

    High renewal fees are a common tactic among web hosts who look cheap, but actually aren’t. These hosts will offer a great deal for a limited time, for example for the first three months, but their monthly hosting fee afterwards cost significantly more than most other hosting services.

    Although these deals might look like good value for money initially, if you sign up to a one-year or two-year contract under this scheme, you could end up paying more overall than you would for regular-priced hosting without the initial discount.

  • A long subscription in return for cheap monthly costs

    The longest you should sign up for a web hosting service is two years, and that is when you know that they are the right service for you.

    Some cheap hosts try to entice website owners with a cheap monthly cost, but only if they sign up for four or five years! This might sound like a good deal, but you don’t know how your website is going to look in a few years time, and whether that company will still meet your hosting needs then. Stick to short-term contracts and avoid hosts that require long-term commitment for lower prices, unless if the company offers anytime money back guarantee.

Editor’s advice

One of the best ways to get a great deal on a cheap web host that is also reliable is to shop around and read others’ experiences and reviews. I’ve reviewed plenty of hosting services on this website and thoroughly recommend BlueHost as my number one hosting service. HostGator and WebHostingHub are also excellent web hosts – with these companies, you can’t go wrong.

Many web users believe that if you purchase cheap web hosting, you’ll end up paying for it in other ways, however that doesn’t have to be the case. I hope that my how-to guide above will help you to do your research. Don’t be afraid to ask a prospective web host questions, and you’ll find a host that offers everything you need, and at a great price too.