When it comes to searching for a web host, there is no shortage of things to consider, from the type of hosting scenario to inclusions like domains and email, to overselling policies, CPUs… the list is endless.
And, if you get the “best” of everything, you’re likely going to pay a fortune – which is find if you have an endless cash flow, but let’s be honest – that’s generally not the case.
So is it possible to find a budget-friendly web hosting provider that provides decent service? Short answer: yes (do check out this awesome cheap hosting guide by Jerry Low – his work at WHSR is simply inspiring).
If you know what to look for and how to evaluate against your actual needs.
What Kind of “Buck” Are We Talking?
Here’s a bit of life advice for ya.
Before you buy or commit to anything, know how much you’re willing to spend. “Cheap” and “affordable” are relative terms: make sure that you’re working within the definitions that apply to your actual situation.
With that in mind, know that web hosting pricing is constantly changing and evolving… and with those changes often comes a change in what’s included. A decade ago, the budget plans were $8.95 per month… then that fell to $7.95 per month. The trend has continued and, in some cases, you can find hosting for as little as $1.95 per month these days.
But cheap isn’t really cheap if there are a ton of add-ons to nickel and dime you with additional costs.
In today’s hosting marketplace, a “good bang for your buck” typically costs $5 or less per month and includes:
- Auto script installations
- Basic tech support (ongoing – not just before you buy)
- Basic web statistics/ analytics
- Email and web mail services
- Can run at least 50-100 somewhat active domains
- Supports and includes updated PHP and MySQL
Any service you go with – whether it’s the cheapo or platinum package – should guarantee (at a minimum) 99.5% server uptime. Anything less is substandard and not a service you want to risk your business with. Additionally, budget providers get bonus points if they throw in extras, such as periodic malware scans, regularly occurring server backups and restorations, dedicated IPs, and private SSL certifications.
So the three rules here: Know what you can pay, know what you’ll get for the price, and make sure both meet the above qualifications.
99 Problems, But My Host Ain’t One
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: If you work with a budget web host, odds are that you’re going to run into a few hiccups, some less significant than others.
Here are a few of the issues you can expect to encounter – and more importantly, how to manage around them:
This one typically isn’t as common as it used to be when spammers and hackers could easily exploit cheap hosting scenarios and suck up the resources. Most providers now have strict policies against these miscreants; if you’re hacked from the inside, request a relocation.
Any provider you work with should guarantee at least 99.5% uptime, but even with that, it’s up to you to monitor it. If your uptime falls below that guarantee and complaints aren’t getting you anywhere, there’s a simple solution: switch providers. Rushed servers are often to blame and odds are that there are plenty of negative reviews about these providers out there – so do your homework before you buy.
Black Hole IPs
If your server is on a blacklist, you’re likely not going to find too much success. So, as soon as you get your hosting account, check your IP against SpamHaus Block List. If it’s on the list, you can push your host to whitelist it or request a relocation and/or change of IP. It’s that easy.
Add-ons and Upsells
Hosting providers – even (especially) budget ones – have to make their money somewhere. Many do it in the way of upsells and add-ons. For example, many will push enhance software packages; some will even require you to trial when you sign up. Be careful. Know what you’re getting into and make sure that, upon signup, you haven’t been auto-subscribed to something that will cost you money (if not now, 30 days down the road). Also, before you subscribe, make sure you know the renewal fees. Many providers will give you a cheap intro term, but jack your rate come renewal. Again, do your homework before you sign.
Limited MySQL Databases
This one falls into the bucket of “know what you’re buying.” At a minimum, the provider should include 100 databases. If it’s less, pick someone else.
See a pattern here? You can save yourself a lot of stress by knowing what you’re buying. There are good budget web hosts out there – but you’ll have to do some research and plenty of vetting to find them. Looking to get a head start? Check out tons of hosting provider reviews we’ve done in-house.