The Best ‘Cheap’ Hosting Companies:
Welcome to our top selections for the best ‘cheap’ web hosting companies! Here we wanted to feature affordable hosting options that were still top quality. All of our selections are companies based out of the United States or Canada, and these companies have at least ten websites added to each of their servers by us for testing purposes. Feel free to scroll down past our top picks to find useful tips on how to choose the best budget-friendly host for your purposes. We give you tips on which features are most important when you choose a company, as well as how to avoid common pitfalls like the ‘cancellation fees game’ that can run up costs.
The companies are sorted by our own criteria, but you can choose to sort by price or rating as well.
How to Choose the Best ‘Cheap’ Web Hosting Company:
Every successful entrepreneur and small business owner creates some type of website for customers to access online. Because of budget constraints, some websites only present static pages that provide basic information, such as location and hours of operation. Entrepreneurs and small businesses that benefit from a strong cash flow develop comprehensive eCommerce platforms that increase the sales of products and services.
You get what you pay for applies to virtually every product and service available for consumers to buy. However, does the time-tested axiom also apply to choosing a web hosting company? Can you find a cheap web hosting company that offers quality features?
The answer is a resounding yes, yet you have to know how to choose the right company for your needs.
How Cheap is Cheap?
Cheap to one business owner might mean something entirely different to another business owner that operates just down the street. Like everything else that deals with money, cheap is a relative term based primarily on how much you can afford. An entrepreneur rolling in cash might define cheap much differently than a tight-fisted small business owner that barely meets monthly account payable statements.
Web hosting companies attract entrepreneurs and small business owners that don’t have the financial resources to afford dedicated web hosting or virtual private server (VPS) services. The definition of cheap web hosting companies has dramtically changed over the past 10 years. A decade ago, cheap web hosting cost almost $9 per month. Now, the cost of cheap web hosting has dropped below $2 a month.
For simplicity, let’s define cheap web hosting as companies that offer web hosting packages at or below $5 per month.
The process for choosing the best cheap web hosting company resembles the process for choosing the best web hosting company overall. However, cheap web hosting companies offer streamlined monthly packages that might not don’t meet your buying criteria. This means you have to make difficult decisions on what matters most for you during the research phase of how to choose the best cheap web hosting company.
The Most Important Features Offered By Cheap Web Hosting Companies
Costlier web hosting plans offer technological bells and whistles that most entrepreneurs and small business operators don’t need. Therefore, you must consider many of the features listed on our overall best web hosting company to determine the best cheap web hosting company. Remember that although few of the quality things in life associate with the word “cheap,” the word has a somewhat different meaning when you choose the best cheap hosting package.
Uptime is Critical
Uptime represents the percentage of time your website remains live or in other words, available for uploading by customers. Ideally, you want a 100% uptime percentage, but not even the best overall web hosting companies deliver uptime perfection. If you’re site crashes for one of a wide variety of reasons, your customers typically move on to a competitor. Every turned away customer equals a lost sale and hence, online traffic that never monetizes.
Many cheap web hosting companies have established positive uptime records, with percentage rates at or above 99.5%. Only consider a cheap web hosting company that guarantees its uptime rate. Moreover, the closer to 100% a cheap web hosting company guarantees you, the more return you get on your web hosting package investment.
Avoid Bad Neighbors
The bad neighbors of cheap web hosting companies do worse things than play loud music late at night. Bad neighbors for cheap web hosting companies represent spammers that consume server resources and/or hack into operating systems. If you have to share server resources with spammers, you can experience lower data transfer rates and diminished disk space to store files. The worst case scenario involves signing on to a cheap web hosting company that eventually succumbs to a computer virus, such as a Trojan. Any malware that attaches to any web hosting company server automatically becomes your problem as well.
Make sure the cheap web hosting companies on your short list clearly present strict policies against hackers and spammers.
Shoddy Technical Support
Too cut corners, some cheap web hosting companies allocate minimal resources to technical support departments. The result is slow response times to technical issues or no responses at all. When you choose a hosting company, you run a higher risk of experiencing technical problems, such as slow data transfers and lower-than-average uptime rates.
This means you must choose a host that offers prompt technical support 24 hours per day. To research technical support departments, place calls to each technical support department and ask questions that pertain to technical issues like CPU cycles and Ruby on Rails. Form an opinion based not only on the answers to your questions, but also the way the technical support employees handled your questions.
Examine the SpamHaus Block List
If you go with a cheap web hosting company, you run the risk of having your newly acquired IP land on the SpamHaus Block List. Ask any cheap web hosting company under consideration for a short list of IPs that you run through SpamHaus. Otherwise, you have to spend time white listing the IP or request a change in the IP address. Receiving an IP that gets black holed becomes a frustrating waste of time to sort out the problem.
The Hidden Cancellation Fees Game
In general, many web hosting companies have mastered the hidden cancellation fees game. However, due to more customer complaints, cheap web hosting companies have become experts on punishing customers for wanting to cancel web hosting packages. Ambiguous wording and discrete placement within a policy often take customers by surprise, when they receive a bill for canceling web hosting services. You should carefully read every cheap hosting company’s terms of service (TOS) to identify cancellation fee policies. After accessing the TOS, hit the F and Ctrl keys on your keyboard at the same time to upload a keyword box. Type “Cancellation Fees” to see if the TOS has a section devoted to the subject.
Cheap One Year, Expensive the Next Year
Signing up with a cheap web hosting company doesn’t mean the services always remain cheap. Shady cheap web hosting companies might not get you with hidden cancellation fees, but the companies can still make money by hitting you up for costlier renewal fees. The companies attract customers by offering a cheap annual fee for the first year, only to bump up the price of the package the ensuing year. Most customers don’t read the fine print in the TOS to learn about the higher renewal fees. Cheap web hosting companies make money the first year on customer volume, but after numerous customers drop out of packages due to inferior services, cheap web hosting companies must increase package fees to recoup the financial losses.
Technical Specifications and Limitations
Before you research cheap web hosting companies, you must prioritize the features that mean the most to your small business or entrepreneurial enterprise. If you plan to run a blog, operate an ecommerce site and/or upload several videos, then a cheap web hosting company probably isn’t for you. However, you still have to consider several technical specifications, such as RAM, disk space, and processing power. Cheap web hosting companies differ on the technical specifications provided. Moreover, many cheap web hosting companies have more technical limitations than the technical specifications they offer that match your criteria.
The Price of a Cheap Web Hosting Company
We’ve already set a limit of $5 per month for cheap web hosting company packages. The issue of price now refers to additional charges often tucked deep within a TOS. Does the cheap web hosting company charge for backups, technical support service, and/or more domains for your website? The best way to learn if a cheap web hosting company charges for standard services is to read the customer feedback posted on third part web hosting company review sites.
How to choose the best cheap web hosting company requires you to play virtual detective. Between hidden cancellation fees and below guaranteed uptime rates, you have your hands full trying to separate the shady cheap web hosting companies from the companies that possess exceptional reputations. If the thought of losing customers deters you from going the cheap web hosting route, you still have costlier options that provide a healthy return on your investment.
You also have dozens of stand alone free monitoring tools at your disposal to ensure the smooth running of your website. Some of the tools perform simple operations, such as running HTTP checks to ensure your website runs properly. Extremely complex back end tools that check more than 50 quality points at the same time typically cost hundreds of dollars. Free and easy to use tools that monitor cheap web hosting company performance include Uptime Robot, Monitor Us, and Pingdom.