Shared Hosting is where your websites share the server resources (server memory, CPU power, bandwidth, etc) with other websites. It is the most cost-effective to host a website today. More than 90% of individual hosts their domain and sites on a shared hosting plan.
Some companies give out free domain (usually for 1st year) to new customers but that shouldn't be your main consideration factor. A .com domain costs just $10 – $15/year – don't let that affects your buying decision.
Cheap hosting deals don't always stay cheap. Many companies lure customers in with cheap prices, and then jack up the renewal fee two or three years later. Many of these companies lose money during the first two or three years they have a customer, so they charge the higher prices later to recoup their losses. It's also important to look at the renewal price when you signup.
When choosing a web host, you should also look past your current website needs and consider if a host can support future needs. For example, if your site grows in popularity, can you easily move on to more powerful options such as VPS hosting?
Hostinger offers a wide variety of hosting services, ranging from the advanced with VPS cloud hosting plans to beginners who just want to get started with a cheap shared hosting.
Hostinger's cheapest plan – “Single” is priced at $0.99/mo. At the price less than a dollar, you get to host 1 website with 10 GB disk space and 100 GB bandwidth, plus innovative features like advance cron jobs, Curl SSL, MariaDB and InnoDB database, weekly backup – stuffs that you don't usually get from a budget hosting plan.
If you are willing to pay slightly more, Hostinger's Premium Shared Hosting Plan (starts at $2.59/mo) comes with free domain, SSH access, unlimited databases; and Mail Assassin, which protects you from spam mails.
Self-deemed a easy-to-use cheap hosting provider, InterServer specializes in shared, VPS, dedicated, and co-location hosting solutions.
Two things I like the most about InterServer:
You don't have to subscribe for long term to enjoy Interserver's discounted price – InterServer shared hosting plans is priced at $5/mo for 12 months subscription and $2.50/mo for 1 months subscription, and
They allow users to host unlimited domains at their budget plan (most budget plans we discuss in this article allow only one domain per account)
These two factors made InterServer the easy choice when you plan to host multiple (low traffic) websites in one account.
Quick Review: What I Think About Interserver
I started using InterServer since 2013 and visited the company HQ at Secaucus, New Jersey in 2016. Their server performance was rock solid and technical supports are superb (all done by in-house staffs). You can read my detail InterServer review here.
Pros of InterServer
Rock solid server performance, hosting uptime above 99.97% based on our record
One year lock-in period only – $5/mo when you signup for a year and renew at $7/mo after
Technical support 100% done in-house
Attractive pricing – Host unlimited domains and email accounts
Free site migration for all new customers
Company founded and lead by two good friends – Michael Lavrik and John Quaglieri; Over 20 years of proven business track record.
Cons of InterServer
Does not provide free domain name (additional cost of $15/year)
Server location in United States only – the company build and run their own data center in New Jersey.
InMotion Hosting is reliable, features-rich, and affordable.
Lite plan starts at $2.49/mo. It allows users to host 1 website and comes with a free domain, SSH access, PHP 7 support, site backup and restore, full support in Cron and Ruby, and malware protection. What's more – if you are a new users, folks at InMotion Hosting will help migrate your site for free.
Admittedly, InMotion Hosting does not offer the cheapest price in town, but they are the best hosting provider in overall based on my experience.
Founded in 2006 by Trey Gardner, GreenGeeks has benefited from his extensive experience in several large hosting companies. Today, Trey and his experienced core team of professionals have built GreenGeeks into a healthy, stable and competitive company.
The company’s roots lie in North America and has served over 35,000 customers with more than 300,000 websites. As an eco-friendly company, it has dedicated itself to leaving a positive energy footprint and replaces used energy with triple the energy credits that are used.
But that's not all – On top of being environmental friendly, GreenGeeks is also very budget friendly. Their all-in-one, 300% green shared hosting plan costs $2.49/mo during signup.
For first time customers, TMD shared plan starts at $2.95/mo – a 60% price cut from the standard renewal price. The company has been around for over 10 years and has four data centers spread across the United States and an overseas data center in Amsterdam.
We’ve recently were given a free account by TMDHosting so we decided to put the hosting provider to the test. Turn out – the budget host is not bad at all.
A2 Hosting is fast, reliable, and cheap. Their shared hosting comes in three flavors – Lite, Swift, and Turbo.
Lite, the cheapest plan of all, allows users to host 1 website, 5 databases, and 25 email accounts.
You wouldn't know Lite is a budget plan by looking at its features: Full SSD storage, SSH access, Rsync, FTP / FTPS, Git and CVS ready, Node.js and Cron support, and pre-configured for best WordPress performance (using in-house built WP plugin – A2 Optimized). All these for $2.99 a month.
Personally I found HostPapa an okay host – they are not the best but their cheap price tag is definitely a huge plus – considering that the cheapest plan also comes with free domain name, 100 GB storage, and 120 free pre-built site templates.
HostPapa Pros & Cons
In summary, here are HostPapa's pros and cons –
Recent server uptime performance meet industry standards. Uptime > 99.98%
Free domain name on signup – Save ~$15 (domain registration fee)
Reputable company with good business track record (BBB Accredited Business with A+ rating)
Helpful live chat support based on my experience
Eco-friendly hosting – Reduce your carbon footprint
Lack of options in server locations (host in Canada only)
Expensive renewal fees – Starter Plan costs $7.99/month after first term
Starting at a highly reasonably price of $3.95/mo, ScalaHosting has a lot to offer. Although it keeps true to the single-site-only concept of most hosting plans, elsewhere it is generous. If you’re a newbie to website hosting this is an excellent place to start.
It gives all new users free website migration, domain name, and SSL. This alone would make it an extremely strong value-for-money proposition. Also included is a software installer, 7-day cycle of automated backups, and more.
Most importantly, there is a lot of room to grow at ScalaHosting. From their range of shared hosting plans, you can move on to their also-excellent VPS hosting plans.
ScalaHosting Pros & Cons
Some of what I like and dislike about ScalaHosting include:
Excellent starting prices with guaranteed 1x CPU power and 50 GB storage
Free domain name for first year (save ~$15)
Reasonable renewal rate – the same plan renews at $5.95/mo after first term
Automated backup and data restoration
Full range of hosting solution for upgrade – VPS, Dedicated and Managed WP plan
Shared hosting uses a mix of SSD and traditonal drives
FastComet is a rare gem in the hosting world. With a long list of useful features and low price tags – the web host is suitable for both newbies and advanced users.
A test site was setup at FastComet in early 2018 and we tracked their server performance for over a year. You can check out the results we got in this detail FastComet review.
FastComet cheapest hosting plan is incredibly low price at signup – their cheapest plan, FastCloud, costs only $3.95/month at signup. The plan comes with 15 GB SSD disk space, malware scan and report, free network firewall, SSH access, and daily backup.
Here's what I like and dislike about FastComet in a nutshell.
Solid server uptime results based on our tracking
Choice of 10 server locations.
Shared plan support NGINX, HTTP/2, and PHP 7
Secured hosting environment with auto malware scanning
Excellent live chat support based on my study on hosting company live chat system
In-house site builder with 40+ ready-made widget and 350+ modern designed themes
Excellent reputation – tons of positive feedback from users on social media
Broke its price lock guarantee
Only 7 days trial for VPS Cloud users
* Note: FastComet have adjusted their pricings multiple times in the past. For best accuracy, please check prices at FastComet.com.
Bluehost entered the web hosting market in 2003 and has been going strong since then. The Provo, Utah based company is well-recognized today and hosts over two million websites.
Unlike many other companies in today's hosting space, Bluehost does not officially disclose where their servers are hosted. Aside from a likely presence in Utah, little is really known and there are no options to select a location on sign-up.
Support is available via live chat, phone, and a ticketing system. Should you need more specialized assistance, Bluehost also has marketing consultants who can work with you on your needs.
Excellent server performance based on my track record
Well recognized brands in hosting industry
Popular choice among bloggers – officially recommended by WordPress.org
Comprehensive self-help documents and video tutorials
Great for newbies – Helpful get-started emails when you signup
Flexibility – Upgrade to VPS and dedicated hosting later
Hosting prices have changed drastically over the last 10 – 15 years. In early 2000, a $8.95 per month package with basic features was considered cheap. Then the price dropped to $7.95, then $6.95, $5.95 per month, and then even lower in 2021.
If you look at some of the lowest-priced offers I hand-picked above – you'll notice that today, some shared hosting services cost less than $1 per month.
So how low does the price need to go in order to be considered as a cheap hosting solution in today's market?
To answer this question, we looked at more than 1,000 hosting plans around the world. Short answer – to be tagged as a “cheap hosting provider”, one need to go below $5/mo on signup and not higher than $10.00/mo when you renew.
But wait, the cheapest hosting plan might not be right for you
There are a number of factors you need to consider when choosing a cheap web hosting service.
Price is only one of these factors.
There are also other criteria – such as hosting uptime, server speed, security features, software version, after sales support, etc; that you need to look into.
A good budget host should comes with sufficient server resources to host at least one low traffic (~1,000 visits per day) website.
The hosting plan should also includes basic hosting features, including (but not limited to) basic server maintenance features, email services, easy installer for popular scripts, latest version of PHP and MySQL, live-chat technical support, 99.9% server uptime, and reasonable server network speed.
Some budget hosting companies also provide regular server backup, auto malware scanning, additional dedicated IP as well as one-click Let's Encrypt SSL activation. These features are nice to have but they are like “bonus”. I can totally understand if hosting companies are charging users extra for malware scanning or backup-and-restore feature.
While some of the offerings are straightforward, some cheap web hosting providers trick their customers to sign up for free trials. When the trial ends, they charge their customers high prices for the services. Their customers end up paying premium prices for services they simply wanted to try and likely don’t even need.
Solution: Be very caution during check out
Be very caution during the check out process, make sure that the hosting company did not sign you up on any software or web service trial. You can check with the web host live chat support if in doubt and ask if you have signed up to any web services.
Be skeptical with every emails and suggestions you receive from your hosting company. Avoid clicking blindly and do your research before signing up for any add-ons in your account.
In short, be a smart consumer – and you'll be alright.
Problem #2: Rushed servers / Bad performance
Some budget hosting companies tend to overload their capacity and host way too many websites in one server.
The practice is known as overselling. While overselling is good in bringing the hosting cost down (learn more in my other article – The Truth of Unlimited Hosting); it some times jeopardize user experience. Sites hosted on a crowded server leads to slow response rate and frequent down time.
Solution: Avoid web host with rushed servers; track host uptime after signup
A slow and often down server affects your website user experience and Google rankings badly. This is why we emphasize so much on server uptime and response rate in our hosting reviews. No one should host their sites on a slow and unstable web host.
Test your server response rate (by looking at time-to-first-byte readings) using Webpage Test or Bitcatcha.
More tips: What is hosting uptime?
Uptime refers to the amount of time that your website is up and running, available to visitors and potential clients; anything that isn’t uptime is downtime – and to oversimplify it, downtime is bad.
Downtime means that people can’t reach your site which can be frustrating to potential visitors while also costing you traffic and revenue. Additionally, if people aren’t able to reach your site the first time, they may not try again. That said, hosting providers provide minimum uptime guarantees which is a guarantee that they’ll have your site up and running that percent of the total hours in a day.
Don’t deal with hosting providers that give less than 99.9% uptime guarantee. If your existing hosting provider is constantly doing less than 99.9% uptime, it's time to switch web host.
Uptime samples published in WHSR
More about uptime monitoring tools (which to use)
There are literally dozens, if not more, of server monitoring tools available online – some are free and some costs upwards of thousands of dollars annually.
Some run simple HTTP checks to confirm whether your site is running, while others perform very complex back-end jobs to monitor more than 50 checkpoints simultaneously.
The various tools run every end of the spectrum, which can be a bit overwhelming to users, but also ensures that there is a tool out there to fit your needs and budget.
If you are running a enterprise level websites and looking for more powerful tools, check out Nagios Uptime and Cacti.
Problem #3: Bad hosting neighbors
Occasionally, cheap hosts are infiltrated by what are commonly referred to as bad neighbors.
These bad neighbors are spammers who eat up the server resources or careless webmasters who get hacked. If you share a server with spammers, there won’t be enough resources left for you. If you share a server with someone who gets a Trojan or computer virus, your site might get infected too.
Solution: Request to switch server box
Back in old days, cheap web hosts are often exploited by spammers and hackers. I believe this does not happen that often these days as hosting companies normally will have very strict policy against spammers and hackers.
If your account was hacked from the inside, request for a relocation and ask the host can shift you to another server block.
Problem #4: Black-Holed IP
You usually get a shared IP address when subscribe to a cheap web host. In rare occasion, this shared IP address might be black-listed due to other users' activities.
Solution: Check host IP before signup
It’s recommended to check your web host IP on SpamHaus Block List as soon as you got your account. Or better, ask them for a list of IPs to check before signing up.
To determine your website IP address, type the following code in your PC command prompt.
If unfortunately your server IP is on the list, there are only two things you can do: 1. Push the web host to white-list the IP; and 2. request for relocation or a change of IP address.
Problem #5: Poor technical support
Some cheap hosting companies have poor customer support and fail to respond to customer requests timely. The slow response times are not always due to a lack of caring. In some cases, cheap hosts simply don’t have enough technical staff members to attend to customers' support requests.
Solution: Talk to support staffs before signup
There is not much we can do with a hosting company that runs on poor after-sales support.
If other aspects (price, hosting performance, features, etc) are good – then you might want to stay and just deal with it. Else, the only choice you have is to leave them.
For newbies who prefer to get spoon-fed support, the best thing to do is to avoid hosting companies with bad service. Talk with the support department before you place your order, ask related technical questions (such as inodes limits, CPU cycles, Ruby on Rails, etc) and judge their quality based on the responses.
For your reference, I did an undercover experiment and talked to 28 hosting companies (which many of them charge less than $5 per month and can be categorized as “cheap web host”) support in 2017 – see what I found out in this study.
Problem #6: Hidden fees & charges
Some cheap hosting service providers have suspicious business practices and unclear terms and conditions.
Solution: Read ToS; Avoid cheap hosting companies with questionable user policy
Avoid, I repeat, avoid any cheap web host that charges unreasonable cancellation fees.
Read TOS (quick tip: go to the host’s ToS page, press Ctrl + F, search for keyword like ‘cancellation’ and ‘refund’) clearly and make sure how cancellation is done. The web host may charge for the domain registration (which may goes up to a one-time $25 fee) and SSL certificate fees; but anything more than that is a no-go.
Do not go with those with fishy cancellation policy no matter how cheap they are.
Problem #7: Hosting prices increase after first term
Cheap hosting companies don’t always stay cheap.
In fact, many lure customers in with cheap prices, and then jack up the renewal fee two or three years later.
Unfortunately, this is the industry norm. Many of these companies lose money during the first two or three years they have a customer, so they charge the higher prices later to recoup their losses. A lot of customers don’t realize they are going to pay higher prices and they get sticker shock when they see the auto-charge on their credit card statement.
Solution-1: Host Hoping
Renewal price for cheap hosting plans are normally higher than signup price.
For example, iPage promo price is $1.99/mo during signup and when it comes to renewal, it will go up to $9.99/mo (at time of writing).
The ultra-low price tag is how hosting companies lure customers to switch host.
For renewals, the only way to keep prices low is to do ‘web host hoping’ – meaning, keep switching host every time when the contract expires. And, for budget hosts that provide ‘Anytime Money Back Guarantee’, I would recommend to sign up for a longer subscription period as it allows you to enjoy the low price a little longer (and take back money if you do not like your host any more).
Solution-2: Stick with companies that offer acceptable renewal rates
Some budget web hosts allow customers to lock in at low renewal price upon signup. The price you sign up for is the price you renew your hosting subscription in future.
But it's very rare to find companies that still offer this now.
For examples, InterServer and FastComet used to lock the renewal price at your signup rate but both companies have changed their pricing policy now.
Problem #8: Cheap plan requires long subscription period
Some web hosts will request their customers to subscribe for a very long period in exchange of the low price tags.
Many years ago Lunarpages marketed its shared hosting deal as $4.95/mo. But the $4.95/mo deal is only available for customers who are willing to pay 5 years up front – which is a rip-off. 5 years! Anything can happen online in 5 year time, the hosting company might just take your money and close shop.
Solution: Avoid signing up for more than 24 months
Unless you can cancel and ask for a refund any time during the subscription period; else any contract longer than 2 years is a no-go.
Problem #9: Limited allowable inodes
Some budget hosting will limit inode usage in users account to control storage capacity and server resources.
Solution: Stick with host that allow 150,000 inodes and above
I don’t stress much on inodes these days, but I wouldn’t go with host offering 50,000 inodes per account.
The easy solution is to read company's ToS (quick tip: go to the host’s ToS page, press Ctrl + F, search for keyword like ‘inodes’ and ‘number of files’) clearly before you sign up.
On the other hand, it is your responsibility to limit the number of inodes on your account. Understand that unlimited hosting is not limited. Keep any duplicated files in your account, delete unnecessary files, delete emails regularly (empty inbox and download emails to your local PC instead), and optimize your databases.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cheapest way to host a website?
The answer is $0. Although relatively rare, there are free web hosting offers like 000Webhost that come with subdomains (ie. mydomain.000webhost.com) that you can use to create and run a website for zero cost. There are, however, various limitations and risks involved with free hosting – if you can afford to pay $3 – $10 per month, I strongly recommend to you to go with a budget web host instead.
Who is the cheapest paid-hosting provider you recommend?
Hostinger shared hosting starts at $0.90 per month – they are the cheapest among top hosting providers. To evaluate Hostinger performance, I host a test site on their platform and publish uptime / speed data I collect here. You can read about my experience in this detailed Hostinger review.
What are the different types of hosting services?
There are four main types of web hosting are shared, virtual private server (VPS), cloud, and dedicated server hosting. Each offer varying degrees of performance, reliability, and security.
Where can I host a website for free?
Providers like Wix and 000Webhost offer free plans. However, many top web hosts also offer trial periods on reasonably-priced shared hosting and we recommend you try both to see the difference.
Is Wix really free?
Wix does indeed offer a limited free plan. However, this free plan comes with many drawbacks including not being able to link your custom domain and enforced Wix ads on your site.
Is WordPress hosting free?
The WordPress CMS itself is free to use and you can also use it for free on WordPress.com (with limitations).
Is free hosting good?
Free hosting is generally not suitable for long term use unless you're intending to run a very basic, low traffic volume website. Most websites will require more resources as they grow and it is not likely that free hosting will be able to accommodate that growth.
In a Nutshell: Not All Cheap Web Host Are Bad
Not all shared hosting companies are bad. Cheap unlimited shared hosting plans are very popular and powerful these days. More than 90% of individual hosts their domain and sites on a shared hosting plan.
And they work just fine.
It does not make your sites ‘cooler’ or better simply because you opt for an expensive hosting solution. Not to mention – if you do the comparison, there are plenty of things can go wrong too with a dedicated or VPS hosting.
Some site owners subscribed to VPS or dedicated hosting simply because of their ego – with the kind of mindset where they think they are different and better. But that's not true. In fact, I know some small business owners who have switched over to dedicated hosting when they didn’t need it, and they have regretted it. They have spent money on unnecessary server resources and expert technical assistance when shared hosting would have been fine.
Until you have built up a high traffic site / blog, there is no need to put that much of time and money into a powerful hosting plan. It’s just a waste of time and money.
Instead, put your focus on content and marketing.
Understanding Your Needs
If you are buying something you don't need, you are wasting money no matter how cheap or good it is.
Do you need a special version of software (ie. PHP)?
Does your website need special software?
How big (or small) can the web traffic volume go?
What is your 12 (or 24) months budget for the website?
How much of this money should go into hosting?
For Beginners –
Pick a web host that you can afford for at least 2 years. Your site / blog may not make any money at all, particularly at first, so you want to be sure you don’t have to shut the blog down because of lack of funds.
You don't need expensive premium web hosting services for now. An affordable shared web host should be good enough for now. Just remember to check about space limitations and server uptime.
Right now you should focus on building useful content and growing your community. You should spend more on marketing and content. Get a good newsletter service and start building your email list, start social media marketing ads, get in touch with local bloggers and hire them to promote your blog, etc.
Ask questions about customer service and if they will help you understand running a website because you are new to blogging.
As part of your job now is to make sure your readers can navigate smoothly within your site/blog. You need a very reliable and fast web host.
You should track your site uptime and response speed with tools like Pingdom and Uptime Robot.
Monitor your blog memory usage and know your limit – once your blog hits 80% of the allocated memory (this the usual bottleneck you’ll first bump into with shared hosting), then it’s time to consider upgrading to VPS or cloud hosting.
Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.