New price study (Q1 2020) released – we have increased our sample size to 250 companies and 1,000 hosting plans now.
The Total Cost of Having a Website
So you’ve decided you want to set up a website. Be it a personal website or an ecommerce to support your business – as soon as you get your feet wet, that sixty-four-dollar-question is going to hit you: How much should I spend on web hosting?
Different costs involved in building a site
There are a number of factors that you need to consider when calculating the cost of a website, and all of them can vary wildly, depending on how complex or simple your needs are. That said however, the cost to build a website basically boils down to the following items:
- Web hosting
- Content creation
- Graphic design
- Web development
- Marketing and others
In this article, we will specifically look into item #1 – the cost of renting a web host.
Web hosting is an important factor for your website because it affects not only the potential performance of your site, but also factors into the overall cost. And you’ll pay web hosting fees for however long you own your website.
How much to pay for a web hosting?
Quick answer: A shared web host is usually cheap – expect to pay $3 – $7 per month; VPS hosting on the other hand costs $20 – $30 per month.
There are different types of servers to host a website – all at different price points and offering different features and options. You need to find not only the right features and price, but also choose a reputable hosting provider. The right combination can lead to a lifetime of bliss, but the wrong one can end up costing you much more money than you expected.
What is the cheapest way to host a website?
Hostinger, Interserver, and TMD Hosting are some of the cheapest hosting in market.
Check out this list of recommended cheap hosting. Note that cheap hosting often comes with various problems – make sure that you also read my suggested solutions with these problems at the bottom o the article.
To help you make the right choice, we studied 100 shared and VPS hosting companies and compiled the following guide.
How Much to Pay for Shared Web Hosting?
Shared Hosting Prices
- Entry Level: Signup price = $2.91/mo, renewal = $3.63/mo
- Mid-tier: Signup price = $5.24/mo, renewal = $6.21/mo
The shared hosting industry is a highly competitive playing field – which is a good thing for consumers like you and me. Not only that shared hosting is usually cheap, many of them also come with excellent server performance and great features.
Entry level hosting plans averaged $2.91 on sign up, with an average renewal price increase of 25%. Mid-tier shared hosting prices stepped up significantly, averaging $5.24 but showed an overall shorter price increase across the board on renewal at 18%.
Renewal prices at “free” hosting provider are most expensive
Interestingly, the highest price increases upon renewal were attributed to hosts which also offered free web hosting. These showed significant price increases upon renewal for their paid plans – as much as 2,711% more.
Signup discounts are like honeymoon
Although we noted only 58 and 60 companies offering entry-level and mid-tier plans respectively increasing prices on renewal, these companies also typically offered lower sign-up pricing than competitors.
Still, it is important to realize that signing up with a provider that offers significantly lower sign-up pricing offers users a ‘honeymoon period’ during which they have the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate the services provided before making a definitive long-term choice.
Price is only one of the factors
Bear in mind that cost is a very delicate matter when it comes to web hosting since most providers offer various plans. As such I advise you to look beyond the cost to the exact features that a web host is offering before considering the price.
Recommended Shared Hosting (at Reasonable Price Range)
- All five hosting companies charge below or similar to market average rates and allow users to host unlimited domain in their mid-tier plan.
- You can learn more about these web hosts from our reviews – A2 Hosting, GreenGeeks, Hostinger, Interserver, and TMD Hosting.
- GreenGeeks is the only eco-friendly hosting in the list – the company purchases clean energy credits to offset their power usage.
- InterServer does not offer a one-domain shared hosting plan; they are also the only company that does not increase their renewal price upon renewal. but perform better than average in my hosting tests.
More about Shared Hosting
By far the most commonly available and frequently chosen option, the term shared hosting is quite literal. Your hosting space shares the combined resources on a single server.
Let’s take for example when a host tells you that your shared account will be on a server with an twin 8-core Intel Xeon processors, 128GB of RAM and RAID Storage with unlimited SSD storage. Sounds great doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, since you are on a “shared” account, you will be sharing those resources with as many other people as your host decided to put on that same server. It could be anything from between tens to even hundred of shared accounts on a single server.
Shared Hosting Performance
Because all resources on the server are split between the different accounts, in many cases performance is a little bit spotty. If you happen to share a server with lots of other dormant accounts that don’t take up much resources, you will be fine. If you are on a server with many active high-activity accounts, performance may be more limited as you must wait for your share of time for resources.
Typically, shared hosting providers manage this by placing restrictions on resource usage on shared servers. If you end up taking up too much server resource time, you may be forced to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
Shared hosting plans are normally the cheapest you’ll find. As a result of that, you will discover that most shared hosting plans come with limited service levels.
This includes possibly lower or no guarantees on uptime and more limited customer support channels.
Shared Hosting Renewal Price
The web hosting business is incredibly competitive, and many hosting providers often fight for market share in new customers. Price is one of the features they may opt to fight with.
This means that they will often have fantastic buy-in offers for new customers. If you are not paying attention and get taken in by these fantastic offers, you may end up paying a premium in fees when it comes time to renew your hosting plan.
Take for example the case of the cheapest hosting plan that SiteGround offers. New customers are offered a buy-in at only $3.95 but the plan renews at an eye-watering $11.95. Always pay attention to the regular prices that a plan charges and don’t get taken in by buy-in discounts. These should be taken as a bonus, not the main reason you take up a plan.
How Much to Pay for VPS Hosting?
VPS Hosting Prices
- Entry level: Signup price = $17.01/mo, renewal = $18.19/mo
- Mid-range: Signup price = $26.96/mo, renewal = $29.15/mo
Due to increased features backed with better service-level agreements and customer support, VPS hosting often comes at a premium above shared hosting. At the same time, expect to pay a lot less than what you would expect to for a dedicated server.
VPS prices vary a lot
Based on our 2020 web host pricing study – At the low end of the scale, some VPS plans such as that from SkySilk and HostNamaste can start from as low as $2 per month. At the high end of the scale, the price of VPS hosting may stretch all the way up to the $2,100 price tag that SiteGround is looking for on its highest plan.
Service providers offering VPS plans showed relatively low renewal price increases across the board, with entry-level plans up by 7% on average and mid-tier plans up 8%. Although prices averaged at $17.01/mo (entry) and $29.96/mo (mid-tier) it was also noted that the range was skewed heavily by providers of premium plans.
Basic VPS hosting prices are generally stable
Our research further noted that entry-level VPS plans have remained mostly stable while mid-level plan pricing has dropped by as much as 51% over the past year. A possible aberration in these numbers may have resulted from our increased sample size in 2020, which expanded the original 50 providers observed to 250.
Recommended VPS Hosting (at Reasonable Price Range)
- InMotion Hosting and A2 Hosting prices are slightly above average market rates – but their server performed exceptionally well in our tests.
- A2 Hosting also offers unmanaged VPS hosting, which is significantly cheaper.
- You can learn more about these hosts in our reviews: A2 Hosting, BlueHost, InMotion Hosting, Interserver, and LiquidWeb. Also, see our Best VPS hosting selection for more choices.
- We did not include cloud hosting providers (similar service to VPS) like Digital Ocean, Vultr, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud, etc in our study. In some scenarios, for instances if you are running a SaaS business or your site traffic is heavily affected by season changes – then cloud hosting might be the better solution.
- Amazon AWS provides a handy cost calculator for those who need to estimate their cloud hosting cost – go play with it.
More about VPS hosting
Where in the past the only choice up from shared hosting was to get your own dedicated server, today you can opt for VPS. VPS gives you the illusion of having your own server even though the entire environment is simulated.
VPS servers offer all the flexibility and features of a fully dedicated server. The only limitations are those imposed on the VPS account by the host – usually in terms of physical resources such as processor, memory and storage.
With these features, VPS are extremely cost-effective solutions for those who still are not sure if they require the immense resources that come managing a dedicated server.
VPS Hosting Performance
This is one of the key differentiators between shared hosting and VPS hosting. VPS hosting accounts are isolated, meaning that the resources allocated to that account are only for that account. If another WPS account on the server is using a lot of resources, your VPS account won’t be affected.
More importantly, VPS server often allow full access to functions that shared accounts do not typically have such as root access, self-chosen control panels to even direct control of what versions of some scripts are running.
These features make it seem as though you are running a fully-fledged dedicated server. Unfortunately, they also require you to know what you are doing you are responsible for very detailed server configurations. Getting it wrong my cause you a ton of headaches.
VPS accounts are often taken up by hosts which have more active websites that cater to higher traffic. As such, many web hosting providers know that they may require more attentive support – and in part are paying higher fees for such.
VPS accounts are often backed by higher uptime guarantees and support levels.
VPS Hosting Renewal Price
VPS accounts are no different from shared accounts in the sense that web hosts are fighting for market share of new customers. As such, it is not uncommon to find steeply discounted plans for new customers.
Again, it helps to look past this and towards the features of the plan and their actual renewal prices rather than the initial discount. The discounts for new customers can be just as steep as those found in shared hosting plans.
Some VPS hosting providers use a large discount as a hook, but their renewal prices scale up by as much as 300%.
Where Do My Numbers Come From?
Our Web Host Pricing Research
WHSR Research has spent a significant amount of resources analyzing over a thousand hosting plans. Offering these plans were 250 companies in the shared hosting segment, with another 250 companies offering VPS hosting.
Shared hosting plans under review were exclusively entry to mid-level tier. For the purposes of our analysis, definitions wee simplified with entry level plans supporting a single domain while mid-level plans supported a minimum of 10 (usually 25) domains.
VPS plans were more complex due to the immense range of services available. We observed plans ranging from nano-sized package servers to high-end ones.
Shared Hosting Pricing Data
Hosting fees for 500 shared hosting plans. Shared hosting fees go as low as $0.33 a month. Table is sorted in alphabetical order. Please let us know if you found an error. Please visit hosting company's website for best accuracy.
- Listed prices are per month, based on 2 or 3 year subscription periods, which ever is lower.
- For providers that offer lifetime deal (aka, pay once and get hosted for life), we averaged the hosting prices with 5 year time range.
VPS Hosting Pricing Data
Hosting fees for 500 VPS Hosting plans (updated April 2020). Table sorted in alphabetical order. Please visit hosting company's website for best accuracy.
- Listed prices are per month, based on 2 or 3 year subscription periods, which ever is lower.
- InterServer VPS plan comes in monthly subscription only – hence no trial period is offered.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are two ways to host a website with Google. The first is via Google Sites on G Suite, which starts at $5.40/mo per user. The second is Google Cloud Hosting for which prices vary greatly depending on your needs.
Typically – A domain name costs $10 – $15 per year; a shared web host costs $36 to $120 per year. So in total, expect to pay $46 – $135 per year for a domain name and hosting.
Note that some hosting companies offer free domain with their hosting packages. Users can save money by signing up with these hosts.
The cheapest way to host a website is by using a free web host or site builder. These often also allow you the use of a free subdomain name (ie. yoursitename.wix.com), so your cost can essentially be $0.
However these are not generally recommended for various reasons. Most importantly of all is that free solutions are often extremely limited and more often than not will force you to carry the branding of the host on your site. There are plenty of budget hosting choices if you can afford to pay $3 – $10 per month – Hostinger, TMD Hosting, and Interserver are providers I recommend.
In short – yes, you can turn your computer into a server and host your own website. However, it requires significant investment to build a server that is reliable and fast. The better and more reliable you want your own hosting to be, the higher the cost. Otherwise, you can host your website with a provider.
No, Google does not offer free web hosting. Here's the list of free web hosting services if you are looking for one.
Free hosting is often not just highly limited in terms of resources like storage space and memory, but also usually comes with many risks and many restrictions. For example, some free hosting plans won't allow you to run ads, while others may prohibit you from using certain applications or plugins (in the case of WordPress).
Wix does indeed have a very limited free plan. However, you will be forced to display Wix ads on your site.
Other Costs to Consider When Hosting a Website
As mentioned above, web hosting is only one segment of the true cost of building a website. To create a truly successful website, the project needs to be looked at holistically as an entire business, not just a standalone item.
Aside from planning and creating the website, consideration also needs to be put into other factors such as longer-term content development, marketing, eCommerce fees (if applicable) and so on. And of course, the domain name that will point to the website sitting on the web hosting space.
Once you factor in all of these additional components of the business, then you will have a more realistic idea of the true cost of building a website.