Who is Cheap Web Hosting For?

Budget web hosting plans are for individuals or small businesses that are either new to the web hosting scene, or don’t need the kind of reliability and resources that more expensive plans offer, in order to run. Most cheap web hosting plans, no matter how good some of them are, are by nature cheap and therefore are limited – as you will have read in the section above.


1. What Kind of Site are You Making?

If you’re planning to make a blog or another more simple, relatively small website then a cheap web host is almost definitely your best option. Many cheap web hosts also offer complementary website builders, which takes the grunt work out of designing and creating your site and allows you to focus on your juicy content.


2. How Much of a Web Dev Expert are You?

If you aren’t a web developer, buying a more expensive plan can often mean purchasing a whole load of jargon that you don’t know how to navigate. Let alone use! If you’re not looking to access the innards of your website and manage everything yourself, from appearance to server security, then buying a more budget plan is your best option. Cheap hosting plans, by nature, tend not to offer complex website building tools, and are usually shared hosting plans with limited resources. You pay less, and bypass all those bits you don’t understand.


3. How Much Web Traffic Will You Need to Accomodate for?

If your website isn’t intended for a wide audience, then go with a budget plan and its equally budget bandwidth. Bandwidth is what caters to site users – the more visitors you expect to get to your site, the more bandwidth you should invest in to accommodate them. If you are aiming for a website with a lot of web traffic, then definitely consider a plan with more bandwidth scalability.


4. What is Your 12 Month Budget?

How much can you reasonably pay in 12 months for your web host? How does this compare to the price you will need to pay to fill it with content – will you employ writers? Designers? And what about other costs – what about your business itself? No matter your needs, sometimes making a choice comes down to one thing – budget. If a cheap web host plan is the best you can do for now, then it’s the plan for you.


5. Do You Need Any Specific Resources?

If you need specific things from your web hosting plan, then be sure to make sure that you will get what you need before you buy. Maybe a cheap web host will have all your required resources! But often the more complex services, like software for secure financial transactions or comprehensive server-side security, are only found in more expensive plans. Naturally, the more you pay the more you get.


6. Is Shared Hosting Powerful Enough for You?

Most cheap website hosting plans are also usually shared plans, which means that all the resources you tap into are actually communal and are shared by the thousands of other websites that rent space on your server. This can mean that if another site is down or over-using resources, such as bandwidth, your site will also suffer. If your website needs more than shared resources, an average uptime guarantee and less than quick site speed, then a cheap web host might not be for you. You can read more about whether or not shared hosting is for you at our beginner’s guide to web hosting.


The Verdict

Regardless of all this, at the end of the day, if you are a total newcomer to web hosting, then a cheap web hosting plan is often the best option for you. These companies tend to target non-experts, offering things like free website builders and 24/7 customer support because their main customer base are people who are totally new to the industry.If you are a blogger who needs a space to fill on the big bad web; if you are the owner of a start-up that needs a 4 or 5 page site to detail what you do and why people should be keen to work with you; if you are an artist needing a portfolio or a small company that doesn’t yet need to accommodate huge waves of web traffic to their site, then the right hosting plan will provide you with all you need. The only potential issue is scalability – if you can imagine yourself, down the track, needing more resources for your site, then it is best to invest now in something a bit more comprehensive and probably more costly.

What Do You Mean, “Cheap”?

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It’s a common misconception that all cheaper web hosting plans are also “cheap” in the quality of the resources and services they offer. This is not always the case! It all comes down to one thing – whether or not you know how to pick your plan. Yes, there are always going to be companies out there in any industry that see cheap prices as a way to sell low quality products to people who aren’t really aware of what they’re missing out on, but among these great hunks of black coal are a some real gems that could be the answer to your budget web hosting needs.


Does low price mean low quality?

In today’s market, you can buy a quality, budget web hosting plan for as low as $5 US per month. Both prices and industry standards change all the time, but at the time of writing a cheap hosting deal with this kind of price should at least buy you 99% uptime guarantee, basic web statistics support, email and web mail services, reasonable levels of bandwidth and security support.

One of the biggest factors to consider when choosing a web hosting plan is reliability – a company can bluff all it wants about what it will give you, but if they don’t deliver when you need them then their bluff doesn’t sound so great anymore. Does it? You’ve got to know that the host will give you what they say they will give you. And to find this out? Well the only real way of knowing with complete certainty how good a hosting plan will be, is to try it for yourself. But researching customer reviews, web guides and expert recommendations is a great way to start. Research into these things are must do steps, before making the leap into buying your plan. You can find out a lot about a cheap web host in reading what it’s customers think.

We will be going over our own opinion of 2016’s top budget web hosting plans here in this article, just scroll down, but for now take a peep at this comparison table iPage made. It may be intended to highlight their own plans, but it is still a useful tool for basic research that puts 4 of web hosting’s biggest budget providers next to one another.


What can I expect from my low cost hosting plan?

All web hosting services work to a basic, bare-minimum standard of resources and quality. If your web host doesn’t offer these, then get out of there quick!
Here are some basic specifications that you can expect from a cheap hosting plan.


1. Scalable Bandwidth:

This is one of the most significant of all the features that cheaper web hosting companies provide. Bandwidth is a necessary part of any hosting plan, from the $5/month to the $500/month deals! And the standard for budget plans is initially low, but scalable bandwidth. Basically, as your website needs more bandwidth to accomodate more traffic, your web host will provide you with more. The catch is often in the price – there are often thresholds of increase at which your plan costs more. But at least there is the option to expand! For those with a long term vision for growth this is a great asset.


2. 24/hr Customer Support:

It’s an industry standard that all web host should provide 24/7, helpful customer support. But there are variations within this, for example is this support over the phone? By online chat? And who are the support team – are they the company experts or extras hired for the night shift?


3. Security Support:

Server security is such an important part of web hosting, and many first time website owners don’t even think about it. You upload a plugin to your CMS that is supposed to take care of your website, right? And what about your laptop’s firewall – doesn’t that do anything?

Any plugin that you put into your CMS will protect your website as best as it can, from the browser. This is different to the server, and many people cover the front-end of their website but forget about the place where all their files are stored – in the server. To protect the metaphorical “home” of your website you need to use a web host who offers security support and ideally backups of your site as a part of their plan.


4. Clickbait:

The word “unlimited” in web hosting plans might sound like a real gem, but “unlimited storage” and “unlimited domains” are two things that you really don’t need. The reality is that you don’t need what you don’t use! Cheaper web hosting plans in particular use these two phrases as a kind of bait to make their plan sound like a great deal, but you can actually find out a lot more about the value of a plan from its other features like bandwidth and uptime guarantee.

You don’t need unlimited storage. What you could consider is if your website is, or will be big enough to require a really significant amount of storage space, and if so make sure that your plan has a high enough threshold. That being said, if your hosting plan happens to offer unlimited storage that doesn’t mean you should condemn it! Most cheap plans do. Just don’t go for a plan based on storage promises alone.

“Free” is another click bait word designed to get you excited. The reality is that an email service, a domain name and even a website builder are becoming standard complimentary parts of any plan.


5. Other Stuff:

Some web hosts offer the option to use your website for ecommerce. This comes in a package, and allows you to create your own online store. It is important that you consider security measures when dealing with online financial transactions, so make sure that your host provides SSL certificates along with their ecommerce plugin!


Marketing Credits:
Most cheap hosting companies will offer around $100 free credits to search engines like Google and Bing, to Google adwords or to some other online marketing tool.


My SQL Database:
Put simply, MySQL is one specific brand of a computing language called “SQL”, designed to help manage the data on your website. A MySQL database is a database that uses “SQL” to to organise and retrieve your data. It speeds up the process, and keeps your files tidy. An unlimited MySQL database means exactly what it sounds like – a never ending space to keep your website files.

Some Common Problems

As you’ve probably realised by now, budget hosting plans will never be perfect. They may be low cost and some are really great value for money, but at the end of the day if you pay $5/month then you get $5/month in service. There are quite a few potential issues for you if you choose to go down the route of cheap web hosting, and there is often a way round them all.


Here 10 of the most significant things that could go wrong, and how we would deal with them:


1. Sneaky software charges:

If you find yourself signing up to some recommended additional feature for your hosting plan, then STOP! Freeze. I bet you don’t need it. Cheap web host companies often offer or recommend extra add-ons or “useful” software to their clients, throwing it into the buying or registering process in a subtle way so that many buyers don’t realise it is optional or just a suggestion. Many companies force or suggest their customers to sign up for free trials of things when they purchase a plan, and apart from being confusing to deal with, this can end up costing.


SOLUTION: know what you need before you buy. Check with your hosting company when you sign up that you aren’t being registered for anything you don’t want, and be careful with any emails you might receive from them.


2. Poor uptime rates:

No matter what kind of guarantee your company gives you, chances are that if you are buying a low cost web hosting plan the uptime you will receive won’t be as good as you had hoped for. This isn’t across the board – some web hosts are better than others.


SOLUTION: look at reviews before you buy a plan. Also search for uptime reports and expert opinion on a range of web hosts, and simply avoid the hosts that have a bad record. Of all the things that could be wrong with your site, a poor uptime rate is potentially one of the most damaging (especially if your website is for a business) and definitely the most annoying. There are actually some great tools out there that you can use to analyse the uptime of web hosts, both free options and rather pricey options. Some great free resources are Uptime Robot,Monitor Us, and Pingdom, while the more costly end of the spectrum (but also the more powerful) include Nagios Uptime and Cacti.


3. Being hacked by shared clients:

If you buy a low cost web hosting plan, chances are it will be a shared plan. Shared plans (you can read more about shared plans here) offer web hosting on one server to a huge number of clients – this means that many, sometimes thousands of websites will share the storage space and resources of one server. In the past it has been very easy for “neighbours” to hack into the backend of a website via the shared server, but this is becoming less and less common as web hosting companies tighten their internal security.


SOLUTION: if you’re unlucky and this happens to you, simply complain, and get your web host to shift you to another server block.


4. Black-holed IP:

This is a difficult issue, and would mean total downtime for your website until your IP address was removed from the blacklist.


SOLUTION: As soon as you get your account with a cheap web hosting company, check for your allocated IP address on SpanHaus Block List. Even better, ask your web hosting company for a range of IP address options to choose from before signing up, and check them before you commit. If you find your server on the blacklist, either request your web host to white-list the IP or ask for a change of address.


5. Disappointing technical support:

Some cheaper web hosts are also cheap on service, and this can be a real issue for their clients – especially if they cater to first time users or web development novices. And most cheap web hosts do!


SOLUTION: Unfortunately the only thing you can do about this problem once you’ve signed up for a web hosting plan, is leave. So the best way to tackle it is to do your research properly before signing up. Ask around, read reviews, talk with the support department before you place your order and ask them technical questions with plenty of tricky jargon (or get a web dev friend to do so). It’s also a good idea to think about what you might need from a customer support team. For example, will email or chat support be enough or would you want 24hr phone support? Pick a plan that caters to your needs.


6. Hidden cancellation fees:

Some web hosting companies will let you sign up for cheap, but if you ever want to leave they will charge you a goldmine!


SOLUTION: Make sure you read the terms and conditions from any web host that you consider, and make sure that you are clear on how they handle cancellation before you go anywhere near the “buy” button.


7. Limited MySCL databases:

Be careful on this one, since MySQL can often be the key to speed on your website. 100 databases is the lowest acceptable number for a cheap hosting plan.


SOLUTION: well, as with many of these issues it’s a good job we are warning you now because there isn’t much you can do once you’ve already invested in a plan! Be a wise internet shopper and do your research first. Ask the customer support team if you can’t find MySQL on the TOS, and read reviews.


8. Costly renewal fees:

When it comes time to renew your web host plan, it can often cost more than the original price. This is an issue, and while a higher cost is to be expected (especially if you bought your original plan on a promotion) there is a limit.


SOLUTION: do a spot of “web host hopping” – when it comes time to renew your plan, hop to another cheap web host to buy a new one instead. You could also choose web hosts with longer-term contracts since you’ll be able to enjoy the cheaper costs for longer.


9. Very long-term contracts:

As mentioned briefly in point 8, this can sometimes be an advantage! But it can also be dangerous – imagine a hosting company offers you 50c per month but only if you sign a 5 year contract. Seems like a bargain! But do you have any idea what will happen in that time? Where will your business be? Will you need more resources? Also, the web host might just take your money and close shop!


SOLUTION: Unless refunded cancellations are available during the subscription period, any contract that is longer than 2 years is not a wise investment.


10. Poor server-side security:

If a web host costs a lower price chances are you get lower quality resources, and when it comes to security this is the last thing you want! Poor server-side security is the main reason why most hacked websites were penetrable at all, and this security measure can only be managed by those who can access the server for your site. In cheap hosting plans, this is usually only accessible to the web host.


SOLUTION: if you buy a plan with cheap web host, be sure to understand how they handle server-side security first – read reviews, check out the specs and look at advise from experts. If you find out the hard way that the security measures employed by your web hosting company were dodgy, then leave and make sure you let the world know in an objective, very factual review!

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