Last updated: November 13, 2020
Cheap Shared Hosting Plans
The most popular type of cheap web hosting plan is the shared plan, and these almost always run less than $10/month.
If you use our Compare Hosting tool and search for Shared Hosting, you'll find that some of these plans run as low as $1/month.
Shared Hosting Drawbacks
With so many different customers running websites from the same server, every one is sharing the same limited set of computing resources. This means that the activity of other customers can have an effect on the performance of your site.
If one site on the server is suddenly drawing a ton of traffic, it might slow down response times for the other sites sharing the same server. Security breaches and blacklisting affecting one site on the server can also spill over and cause problems for other sites.
Are Shared Hosting Plans Really "Unlimited"?
Shared hosting plans usually advertise that they are "unlimited." They claim unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, unlimited websites, and unlimited email. There are usually limits, though, if you look at the Terms of Service.
Generally, the way it works is that everything is unlimited unless you use too much of it.
If you are drawing so much traffic and using up so much bandwidth that it is causing ongoing performance problems for other sites, the company will throttle your traffic or require you to upgrade.
Is a Shared Host Plan Right For You?
For personal projects and small organizations, the resources of a shared hosting plan will often be enough. With a well-coded site, major shared hosting plans can easily handle a few hundred visits a day.
Good For Low Traffic
If you have or are expecting traffic to be in the range of thousands of visits per day on the low end, you might want to look at other options.
Hosting for Bloggers and Small Businesses
Bloggers and small businesses should consider shared hosting since traffic to those sites most likely won't affect other sites on the server.
A web host plan like this isn't going to be detrimental to your business because it's designed particularly for smaller businesses.
Do You Need Control?
You can typically buy a domain name, then work with the customer support team to transfer to your existing website or create a new one.
What Hosting Tools Do You Need?
Furthermore, companies like FastComet, Interserver, and iPage are considered cheap WordPress hosts, since you don't have to pay much per month and they offer one-click installation buttons to launch WordPress within minutes.
Since small website owners are usually closer to beginners than advanced users, it's a huge advantage to have these simple development tools available.
Considering a VPS Website Host
InterServer, on the other hand, does an impressive job of catering to all types of web developers, regardless of experience and the type of web hosting required.
Pay-As-You-Go VPS Hosting
Some hosting companies provide VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting on a scalable pricing plan, so that you only pay for resources used: storage, CPU cycles, bandwidth.
With plans like these, a low traffic site running a basic CMS (Content Management System) will only cost a few dollars a month, and there won't be any problem with throttling or dealing with upgrades as traffic grows — you simply pay more for using more.
Are Costs Steady?
The downside to this is that it introduces a lot of uncertainty into your monthly costs. It becomes very hard to predict what your hosting costs will be. You might have affordable hosting this month, and surprisingly expensive hosting the next.
The other potential problem with these types of accounts is also one of their strengths. Compared with shared hosting plans, many VPS hosting plans allow you to do more customized things with the server.
This also leads to a requirement to have a better understanding of server management.
Looking for a great hosting deal?
InterServer provides quality shared and VPS plans. And they offer a "price lock guarantee." That means your rate never goes up. Right now our readers can get special pricing on InterServer plans. Just use this discount link to get the deal.
Free SaaS Hosting
Maybe the only thing better than cheap hosting is free hosting. Depending on your needs, and your willingness to forgo extreme customization, this is a viable option.
Several blogging sites offer freely hosted blogs, which can also work as small business or non-profit sites.
The best option for this is probably WordPress.com, which allows you to set up a free WordPress blog without having to worry about hosting or server management. You can even pay a small fee in order to have your own domain name associated with your site. If you do this, no one will know that the site is actually a free blog.
The downside to this kind of site is that you don't have as many options for things like running ads and selling products. Overall your ability to use custom plugins can be limited because they only make certain ones available.
Is Customer Support Any Good?
This is a must-ask question when considering cheap website hosting. Why? Because there's a decent chance you pay for your hosting only to find out that the customer support isn't trained well, or it's seemingly impossible to get a hold of the reps.
You also might find that much of the customer support is outsourced so you can't understand what the people are saying.
Quality Support Can Be Found Cheap
Great support isn't impossible to find for cheap. However, you might have to look a bit harder.
For example, Interserver is known for quality support. You can contact the company 24/7 through email, chat, a ticketing system, or by phone.
Look for Additional Resources
The cost-cutting measure might mean your host offers limited live support.
However, many offer:
- In-depth, searchable knowledgebases
- Engaged communities
- Easy to use FAQ pages for troubleshooting.
The top cheap hosts known for having good support include:
The Pros and Cons of Going with Cheap Hosting
With our suggestions above and below, you shouldn't have any problems with cheaper website hosting. However, it all depends on the type of website you're running and how big your operation is.
For example, most cheap hosting options offer shared hosting, which usually isn't suitable for larger websites, especially in the e-commerce space.
Cheap hosting can work well if you run a small business website or blog where the traffic doesn't spike much or doesn't fluctuate much.
- Ability to upgrade or change plans quickly
- Keep monthly costs down
- Not paying for more than you need
- Hosting may even be free with other tools
- Can find good customer service
Cheap hosting isn't for everyone. Here are a few cons to keep in mind.
- You often get what you pay for
- Your host may sacrifice speed, reliability, or security for costs
- Shared hosting may slow your site down
- Lower uptime
- You are often forced into a year contract
The Best Hosting For Your Budget
Figure out what kind of website you will be running and what the future plans for that site are likely to be before making a big decision.
If you setup a free blog and decide later that you should have run your own site, you aren't going to want to deal with the hassle of moving.
Host Migration Doesn't Have to Be a Pain
That said, hosting companies like Interserver and FastComet are more than willing to help you out with a migration. In fact, the hosts will do most of the work for you, free of charge.
The only downside is that you will eventually have to communicate some passwords to the host, which might take a little longer than you would like. In addition, you'll have to reconfigure most of the email servers if that's part of your hosting plan.
However, you can still save money on hosting and get the best value for your dollar.
Other features in Specialty
- Multiple Domain hosting
- DDoS Protection
- Domain Name
- Streaming Audio/Video
- Green Hosting
- Unlimited Sites
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the cheapest hosting available?
If you need cheap hosting, shared hosting is the best bet. Check that the resource limits suit your site, and compare the uptime guarantee between several hosts to see which one is likely to offer better service. Cheap hosts sometimes don't offer the best support, so check that the tech team is available to help you 24/7 if you need it.
- Is free hosting better than cheap hosting?
Free hosting is worth considering for low priority websites, but you may experience availability problems, a lack of support, or intrusive ads on your website content. Assuming you want your website to look professional, and you need a reliable service, spending a little on hosting will avoid some of the main free hosting pitfalls.
- What does 'unlimited' or 'unmetered' mean?
On cheap hosting plans, the words 'unlimited' or 'unmetered' are a marketing tool designed to draw customers in. And if you run a small site that uses few resources, your host will never bother you or complain. However, sites that outgrow the hosts 'acceptable' usage limits will be subject to a review, and you may have to upgrade your plan.
It's very difficult to know what these limits are in advance of signing up. But anything more than a basic site or blog will likely push the limit of the host's acceptable use policy.
- Do I need an email address that's associated with my website?
Since cheap web hosts usually do not include email addresses, or only provide a limited number of emails with their cheaper plans, it may be tempting to forgo having an email associated with your website.
That might be okay if your website is just for personal use. However, if your website is specifically for a business, having a dedicated email at your website's domain can go a long way in building your brand and credibility. Having an email address at your own website also gives you more flexibility than being tied to another email host, like GMail.
- If I want to move to a cheaper hosting plan, will I lose my data?
Many hosts will help you to transfer your site, but it depends on the individual company's policies. If you're moving from the same control panel that you have at your new host, the move is likely to be easier. cPanel to cPanel moves are arguably the easiest, and many hosts will carry these out for free. But check the fine print before you sign up to your new hosting company.
- What are the risks of cheap hosting?
Cheap hosting attracts different types of customers, including small businesses, hobbyists, non-profits, and users running personal blogs. It also attracts scammers and spammers, because these cheap hosting accounts may be considered a throwaway tool in a wider scam or spam campaign.
Additionally, cheap hosting is only profitable when lots of customers are packed into one server. That can lead to resource bottlenecks and other problems associated with sharing IPs.
- Do cheap hosts keep backups of users' data?
Very few cheap hosting accounts include backups that users can retrieve themselves. The host may advertise a basic backup policy, but those backups are generally only for internal use at the hosting company, so be sure to check the fine print.
It is not advisable to run a website without backups that you can access yourself, so you may have to set up your own backups if your host doesn't provide them. Alternatively, choose a slightly more expensive host that includes backups with the plan.
- Does cheap hosting always include email?
No. And if it does, you might find that the number of mailboxes you can create is very low.
- If someone on my server gets blacklisted, how will that affect my site?
On a shared server, your site is vulnerable to the company it keeps. A bad 'neighborhood' may result in your shared IP being blacklisted, and that could result in your sent emails being filed into spam folders. You can guard against this by using a VPS or dedicated server, or using a third party email service that is separate to your hosting service.
- Does WordPress perform well on a cheap hosting account?
Yes. WordPress is lightweight when it's initially installed, so most cheap hosting accounts will cope just fine, providing your plan allows you to create the database that WordPress needs to function. Some plans do not.
If your WordPress site grows and becomes very resource-intensive, your host may ask you to upgrade to a more expensive plan so that it doesn't negatively impact on other customers.
- Can I downgrade my hosting plan to a cheaper one?
Yes, but you host may not be as cooperative as they would be if you were upgrading.
- Which types of sites are not suited to cheap hosting?
High traffic websites don't work well on cheap hosting plans. Your site may suffer from slow performance, and your host may force you to upgrade. If you're planning on hosting files, like video or audio, you will quickly reach your quotas. Remember that 'unlimited' hosting is rarely unlimited; there is always a restriction around what your host believes is reasonable.
- Why are some VPS or dedicated hosting plans considerably cheaper on one host vs another?
The main reason for big price discrepancies is the level of management included. Some plans include no assistance at all, while others include full server management. While it's tempting to go for the cheapest plan you find, running a server as a novice is fraught with risk. Paying for management can be a worthwhile investment.
- Do cheap hosting plans support streaming?
It's rare to find a shared hosting plan that supports and kind of streaming, although some exist. If you want assured performance, a VPS is a better option.
- What extra features are included on expensive hosting plans?
Cheap hosting plans may miss out some key features, like email. You may only be able to create a couple of databases, websites, or domains. Compare every line of the technical specifications carefully before you commit to a plan.
- Is it worth signing up to a cheap site builder plan instead?
Cheap site builder plans have two main drawbacks. First, the capacity to create pages can be very limited, so they are only really suitable for very basic websites. And second, you will probably find adverts for the host all over your site.
There are other drawbacks too, such as a lack of features or integrations, a limited selection of plugins or extensions, and the inability to use your own domain name.
You can extend the capacity or functionality of a site builder by paying a little more. But once you factor in the extra cost, a cheap hosting plan may be more affordable and flexible.