There is an overwhelming number of web hosts out there to select from.
This guide will explain some pitfalls with selecting a cheap web host and what to avoid.
Cheap hosting will not save you money
For a web host to be able to afford low prices, they must cut costs elsewhere.
- They may use old hardware and technology that causes your website to be slow and less secure.
- They may have a higher price for upgrades and additions that are normally included.
- The services may not be optimized specifically for WordPress.
- Cheap hosts often use shared hosting, which is not ideal for high traffic sites.
- They might not have an emergency maintenance team or a support team available for you when you need help.
- They may not offer backups and backup recovery.
- They may offer you limited access to your files and settings.
Speed and performance
When you host a website on a server that is slow, you still pay the price.
Instead of paying for your hosting, you will pay for it by getting fewer visitors and sales. Your website will rank lower by search engines, which premiers fast websites.
When it comes to site speed, cache plugins and image sizes matter, but they are not the main concerns.
The amount of RAM, type of disk, the number of CPUs and the PHP version on the server are much more important.
Tests performed by kernl.us show that the number CPUs is more important than RAM for the server’s performance. A high traffic website needs more RAM than a smaller website.
SSD drives are significantly faster than both HDD drives and virtual servers.
Avoid web hosts that does not show how many resources you have available, or what hardware they are using.
Security, support and backups
Sometimes, what you need is not included in the price.
With so many hosting options available, just a few minutes of research will save you money and time.
Think about what expectations you have on your web host, and what your website needs.
Cheap hosts may charge extra for securing your website with an SSL certificate, even though there are free options available.
Even if your host claims that they have 99% up time, make sure that support is included. Check if the support is available via chat, phone, email or an internal ticket system.
If the support has limited opening hours, do they cover your time zone?
How long does it take them to reply?
Ask your host what kind of support they offer. Can they help you if your website has been hacked?
It is also important that you check if backups are included or if you need to pay extra.
Ask how often they create backups, and how long would it take them to restore your website.
Limitations on usage
Some hosts will limit you to use one domain or one website.
It is also common for cheap hosts to limit the number of databases.
Consider if this will be enough for you in the long term, and research what you will need to do if you want to expand.
If your website exceeds the limitations of the hosting plan, you need to know if you will be charged extra, or if the services will be restricted.
Control panels and access to your files
Different hosts use different control panels (for example cPanel).
For WordPress sites it is important that your host offers SFTP.
You also need direct access to the database (for example via phpMyAdmin). A file manager may be useful as well.
This is essential for troubleshooting and for fixing errors.
For advanced usage and to use WP-CLI, a command line tool for WordPress, you will need SSH (Secure Socket Shell).
SSH lets you securely connect to the server to changes files and settings. SFTP only gives you access to the files.
The difference between shared and dedicated hosting
When you are just starting your website, you want to select a web host that offers more than one package. This is because your website needs room to grow, without having to move to a different web host.
If you are running a high traffic website, you want a dedicated hosting package that is tailored exactly after your specific needs.
With shared hosting, several websites stores their files on the same server.
This limits your storage space and resources.
If a website on the server receives a lot of traffic, your site will have access to fewer resources and can become slower.
If there are security problems on one website, your site is also at risk.
The IP-address is shared between all the websites on the server. This means that there is a larger risk of all the sites being affected if there is a DDoS attack.
If someone blocks the IP-address, your website will also be blocked.
This type of hosting might not be optimized specifically for WordPress. Instead, the server is set up to hold many different types of websites.
Shared hosting is not recommended for e-commerce, but is still an option for smaller websites with a low budget.
Compared to shared hosting, your website is the only one hosted on the server.
You control the hardware and resources (CPU, disks) without limitations.
This also means you need to know how to maintain, monitor and troubleshoot the server.
If you are not sure how to set up and secure your own server, or if you do not have the time, you can choose managed hosting.
With managed hosting, the web host will help you configure the server. You decide what you need help with, and what you want control yourself.
Managed hosting can give you peace of mind, but at a higher monetarily cost.
Recommended web hosts
We work with all of the hosting providers we recommend and would be happy to help you set-up or migrate your site.
We also offer our own hosting package if you need a custom solution.
Kinsta offers managed Google Cloud packages in various sizes. All packages include 24/7 support, SSL and CDN, and PHP 7.4. The cheapest package is $30 per month but does not have support for multisite. Daily backups are included.
Backups are stored for a longer period with the more expensive packages.
WP Engine offers managed hosting from $35 per month. All packages include 24/7 support. The cheapest package does not include phone support.
Daily backups, SSL, SSH and CDN are included, and there is support for PHP 7.3.
DigitalOcean offers great flexibility with their virtual servers. You can use a shared or a dedicated virtual CPU, and then select the amount of RAM and storage that you need. All packages use SSD disks and include 24/7 support.
You can install a droplet that is optimized for running WordPress, so you don’t need to know how to set up your own server from scratch.
This is a popular option for users who wants to monitor the servers and handle details like backups themselves.