Thanks to various factors, web hosting providers can now offer more for less. This means more flexibility and choice for consumers like you and me.
Today most shared hosting plans are cheaper than $5/mo. For those who are new or hosting simple sites with low resource demands – inexpensive shared hosting is an ideal launch point.
- 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.
- There are certain common problems (such as rushed server) with low cost hosting plans. I have written the solutions for some of these issues at the bottom of this page – do check them out.
- 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 low cost 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?
Top 10 Cheap Hosting Providers Reviewed
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 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 $2.89/mo) comes with free BitNinja Smart Security, which protects you against XXS, DDoS, Malware, and a number of other cyber attacks; and Mail Assassin, which protects you from spam mails.
In brief, here's what I like and dislike about Hostinger. You can learn more about our experience in this in-depth Hosting review.
- Solid hosting performance – Uptime > 99.98%, speed test A+
- Heavy discount during signup, “Single” plan start at $0.99/mo
- Plan optimized for best WordPress performance (LSCWP)
- Free site migration for first time customers
- Newbie-friendly: Smooth on-boarding process
- Innovative features, support Curl, Cron Jobs, MariaDB, and InnoDB.
- Free BitNinja Smart Security (prevent XXS, DDoS, malware, and script injection attack) for Premium Plan ($2.89/mo)
- Hosting prices increase after first term
- No daily backups
- No SSH / sFTP access for entry plan
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:
- The company do not increase their price after first term – InterServer shared hosting plans is locked at $5/mo (or $4/mo if you signup and renew for three years), and
- They allow users to host unlimited domains at below $5/mo (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 for more than 5 years.
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.
- Rock solid server performance, hosting uptime above 99.97% based on our record
- Signup price ($5/mo) locked for life while others increase their price after first term
- Technical support 100% done in-house
- 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.
- 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.
3. InMotion Hosting
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 first time customer, folks at InMotion Hosting will help migrate your site for free.
Admittedly, InMotion Hosting does not offer the cheapest plan in town, but they are the best hosting provider in overall based on my experience.
I use InMotion Hosting personally and have collected years of record in InMotion Hosting uptime and speed test. To find out more, please check out my in-depth InMotion Hosting review here.
InMotion Hosting Review
Here's what I like and dislike about InMotion Hosting.
- Solid server performance, uptime >99.95% TTFB ~400ms
- Free domain name for first year
- Good live chat and email support
- Free site migration for first time customers
- Entry level plans (Lite and Launch) packed with all necessary features to host a business website
- 90 days money back gurantee (industry's #1)
- Hosting prices increase during renewal
- Choice of server locations in United States only
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 only $2.95/mo at signup.
Here's a quick view on their pros and cons. You can also learn more about GreenGeeks in Timothy review.
What's Good & Bad About GreenGeeks
- Environmental friendly – 300% green hosting (industry’s top)
- Excellent server speed – rated A and above in all speed test
- More than 15 years of proven business track record
- Free domain name for first year
- Free sites migration for new customers
- Well worth the money – $2.95/mo to host unlimited sites in one account (with daily backup)
- Our test site goes below 99.9% uptime in March / April 2018.
- Customer complaints on billing practices.
- A non-refundable $15 setup fee is charged during purchase.
- Price increases to $9.95/mo after first term.
5. TMD Hosting
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.
TMD Hosting Advantage & Disadvantages
Here's what I like and dislike about TMD Hosting.
- Great server performance
- Easy to use user dashboard
- Clear guidelines on server limitation
- 60 day money back guarantee
- Big discount for new signups – use coupon code “WHSR”
- Selection of six hosting locations
- Excellent customer supports
- Auto backup feature can be better
- Prices hike after first term
- Standard CloudFlare only
6. A2 Hosting
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 $3.92 a month.
A2 Hosting Pros & Cons
- Excellent server performance; TTFB < 550ms
- Risk free – anytime money back guarantee
- Entry level plans (Lite) packed with all necessary features to host a business website
- Choice of server locations in United States, Europe, and Asia.
- Plenty of room to grow – users get to upgrade their servers to VPS, cloud, and dedicated hosting
- Host only one domain per account
- Live chat support not 24×7 based on my live chat test.
Founded in 2006 by Jamie Opalchuk, HostPapa is based in Ontario, Canada.
I did an interview HostPapa founder, Jamie Opalchuk, in December 2016. We talked about the company operations and business focus; Mr. Jamie was very transparent and helpful with his answers.
We have been tracking the web host since mid 2017. You can learn more about my experience in this detail HostPapa review.
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 web 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 $2.95/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
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.
Quick BlueHost Reivew
- 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
- Newbie-friendly: Smooth on-boarding process
- Prices jump to $7.99/mo when renewal
- Unlimited hosting limited by other constraints
- Users can only host their sites in United States
Budget Hosting: The Cheaper the Better?
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 2020.
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 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.
This brings us back to the list of best cheap hosting at top of this page.
9 Common Problems with Cheap Hosting (and How to Solve These Issues)
So far we have covered a list of cheap, quality hosting services to consider.
Now it's time for some useful tips on how to deal with the common problems that arise in cheap hosting deals.
Problem #1: Aggressive Up-Selling and Cross-Selling
Most low cost hosting companies have aggressive up-selling and cross-selling practices.
Budget hosting companies are in market to make money.
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.
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
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.
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.
Once you signup to a new hosting:
- Track your site uptime with a third party tool like Uptime Robot, Monitis, or Pingdom.
- 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.
Problem #3: Bad 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.
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.
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.
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 low cost hosting companies have suspicious business practices and unclear terms and conditions.
The hidden charges explains why the cheapest host may not be the best hosting choice.
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: Fees increment 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.
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).
Some budget web hosts allow customers to lock in at low renewal price upon signup.
For example, InterServer and FastComet lock the renewal price at your signup rate.
The price you sign up for is the price you renew your hosting subscription in future. For example, FastComet customers who sign up three years at $2.95/month will be able to renew their plans later at $2.45/month. Same goes to InterServer – which allow customers to renew at the signup price.
Problem #8: 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The WordPress CMS itself is free to use and you can also use it for free on WordPress.com (with limitations).
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.
And that is why you need to know your hosting needs before you choose a new web host. Before you leave this page to buy a web host, make sure you have basic understanding in web host and domain name. Think thoroughly about our own needs and answer these questions –
- What kind of website are you building?
- Do you want something common ?
- Do you need Windows applications?
- 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 starters –
- 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 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.
For seasoned bloggers and site owners –
- 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.
We have also published a number of actionable guide and helpful hosting reviews for those who are searching for a web host.
- Full list of hosting providers we reviewed
- Guide: How much to pay for a shared & VPS hosting
- Guide: How much does it cost to develop a website
- Tool: Compare web hosting services
- List: Best email hosting services for businesses
- List: Best free website hosting services
- List: Best managed WordPress hosting
- List: Best web hosting services for businesses