Looking for cheap web hosting? With so many hosts available, how can you know who's reliable and which hosts are complete nightmares? Here, you'll get the ins and outs on cheap web hosting, and discover some solid, reliable hosts to use. You'll also learn who to avoid! Let's get started!
If you're looking for cheap web hosting that's also reliable and service-oriented, it's important for you to know how the web hosting industry works. There are some common tricks and tactics used by cheap web hosts in order to gain your business. It goes without saying that your hosting is critical -- it's literally the foundation of your website and online business. So here, you'll get an understanding of how the web hosting industry works, what cheap web hosting to avoid, and which ones I stand behind and can confidently recommend to you.
Navigation: You're welcome to read this article from top to bottom, or you can skip around. Here are some links to help you out: Jump right into how the web hosting industry works, skip down to cheap web hosting companies you should avoid, find out if GoDaddy is good or not, if free web hosting is worth it, what you need to know about cheap web hosting review sites, and finally learn about the cheap web hosts I use and recommend.
Alright, let's begin by discussing how the web hosting industry works...
The web hosting industry is incredibly competitive. Shared web hosting -- a kind of hosting where multiple websites share computing resources -- is particularly competitive among cheap web hosting companies.
Over the years, web hosting has largely become commoditized. It isn't nearly the specialized service that it was when I first got into web design over twenty years ago. Back then, there were fewer web hosting companies, and monthly hosting costs were higher.
Now, web hosts largely compete on price, creating a commoditized industry that's in a free-fall lowest price race to the bottom.
But for customers like you and I who are looking for cheap web hosting, these lower prices often mean poor reliability and low-quality service.
From a business standpoint, there are only so many ways that web hosts can increase profits. They can either innovate new products and services, or they can reduce overhead. Well, since web hosting (particularly shared hosting) is essentially a cheap commodity, the easiest way for hosting companies to grow is to begin buying up smaller hosting companies, and then cut their operating costs.
And that's exactly what's happening.
A small handful of very large web hosting conglomerates are expanding their businesses -- and their profits -- by buying up long-standing hosting companies who've built great reputations and loyal customer followings.
The business model for these conglomerates is, essentially, to buy existing hosting companies in their entirety -- including their loyal, paying customers -- and then cut that company's overhead by gutting support staff and increasing prices.
This is great for increasing profits. And terrible for once-loyal customers who are left in the lurch with poor quality support and faulty features.
But so long as the host that's been bought out can maintain a half-decent reputation (and there are a variety of schemes employed do this, which we'll discuss later) then more new customers will continue to sign up versus disgruntled customers cancelling their service.
It's a kind of web hosting Ponzi scheme -- so long as more new, unknowing customers are coming in the door than are leaving in frustration, the hosting conglomerate can continue profiting.
That's how the industry works -- that's what's going on.
So where does this leave you and I? On a constant merry-go-round: Signing up with a new hosting company, increasingly becoming discontent with the service over a period of time, reaching a breaking point, getting fed up and moving to a new host, and repeating the cycle. And here's the kicker -- we're very likely to sign up with another web host that's owned by the very same conglomerate.
It would be like getting fed up and swearing off ever purchasing a Chrysler ever again...and then going out and buying a Dodge.
So how do we get off the merry-go-round? How can we ensure that we're with a cheap web hosting company who's also reputable? A host who cares about its customers? That's exactly what this article's about.
I've spent years and years researching and testing out web hosts, and I've been able to boil things down to a group of cheap web hosting companies to avoid, and a set of suggested hosts for you to investigate further.
We'll get to the recommendations later. First, let's start with the cheap web hosting companies you should avoid...
So far, you've learned that web hosting conglomerates are expanding their businesses and profits by purchasing existing, reputable web hosts and then gutting them.
Endurance International Group (often abbreviated to EIG -- a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ) is one such conglomerate. They own hosting companies like Bluehost, HostGator, Domain.com, and over sixty other hosting brands.
And as outlined earlier, their strategy is to acquire customers and profits by buying up smaller, reputable hosting companies.
An all-too-common pattern has become widely known in web design and tech circles: Once EIG moves in and buys a web hosting company, they'll typically follow the same process: The first order of business is to gut support staff. After all, the best way to increase profitability is to decrease overhead...and employees are huge overhead. Next, they'll reduce resources and service features. This can occur in a variety of ways. For instance, one way to increase profits and reduce overhead is to crowd more websites onto fewer shared web servers.
This means the newly-purchased EIG web host can now house two or even three times as many customers at a fraction of previous expenses. As you might guess, this puts a huge strain on resources, resulting in slow running sites that are susceptible to frequent down time and slow page loading. However, this isn't always the case, and it may take a period of months or years for this scenario to play out after acquisition.
Many customers of EIG-owned hosting brands report the same thing: An increased reduction in customer service and technical support after their web host has been purchased by EIG.
A reduction in customer service and technical support is exactly what I noticed when I ran Ten Ton Online on a web host called A Small Orange. They were acquired by EIG in 2012. For a few years, A Small Orange was a fantastic web host with friendly, fast customer service and fair pricing. But after being purchased by EIG, I saw things start to slip a bit. As it so happens, I'd already began outgrowing the service anyway. That's when I began my research in earnest, ultimately switching to managed WordPress hosting with WP Engine, one of the top web hosts I recommend.
As for other web hosting brands that EIG owns, like Bluehost, HostGator, Site5, and others, honestly I haven't tried them myself. But from what I've read and researched online, the results are the same...poor service, poor support, slow load-times, and frequent outages.
For myself and my online businesses and projects, I simply cannot afford to deal with any of that nonsense. I avoid any EIG-owned web host. Other than my stint with A Small Orange, I don't have any direct experience with other EIG-owned hosts, so in an effort to remain fair, I can't speak directly about the quality of those host's services. All I have to go on is what I've read online about EIG and what I've discussed with fellow business owners.
You can find full lists of web hosting brands owned by EIG on their Wikipedia page.
And, I think it's a safe bet to assume that EIG will continue their strategy of buying up reputable hosts and running them through the wrecking machine. So I'm always on alert to see if any hosts I use and recommend myself have been recently acquired.
If the hosts I use wind up getting purchased, then I'm packin' up and movin' out!
So that's the deal with EIG. I'm not saying don't use an EIG-owned host, I'm just making you aware of how the industry works. I avoid them, but it's ultimately up to you. And what other cheap web hosting companies should you consider avoiding?
Let's talk about GoDaddy next...
I haven't used GoDaddy for web hosting myself, but I haven't heard good things. In fact, I've heard nightmares -- site files getting deleted, incompetent tech support, promises made by sales people that the tech guys simply can't provide, and worse.
One online business owner who I was doing some consulting with told me about how GoDaddy had cost her thousands of dollars and six months of wasted effort due to their poor service. It's these sorts of stories that I hear over and over about GoDaddy.
I used to use GoDaddy for domain name registration, but have since switched everything over to NameCheap (and if you need to register a domain name or two, I can't recommend NameCheap enough. I've been using them for years; they're awesome).
So as far as GoDaddy is concerned, I avoid them completely, just like EIG.
In fact, as I was doing some research for this article, I just happened across a smattering of posts: Check out this Reddit post, and this one. Here, people are reporting that GoDaddy runs fake auctions for domain names at increased prices, purchases domain names that people have searched for, and other shenanigans and schemes that GoDaddy gets up to.
So yeah, I'll continue avoiding GoDaddy. And for good measure, I avoid any property that GoDaddy owns, like Media Temple web hosting.
We have much better options when it comes to cheap web hosting.
Another kind of web hosting I avoid (and here, strongly recommend you avoid) is any kind of free web hosting. This includes any kind of free website builder like Wix or SquareSpace. More on those in a moment.
While free hosting may cost you nothing in terms of money, it’s often extremely limited and in many cases very unreliable.
I'm sure if you dug hard enough, you could find a few free hosting options. But with very reasonably priced professional, secure, shared web hosting (often priced at less than $8 per month), I wouldn't even consider free hosting as an option. Free web hosting is often completely unreliable, severely limited, and even sometimes comes with a generous helping of advertising and malware.
What can I say? You get what you pay for!
One type of free hosting you might be thinking about is to use a free website builder like Wix or WordPress.com. But, these free web hosting options also come with pretty severe limitations as well. For instance, these free builders often limit you on the kind of website you can build and your website's size. Further, your site will be riddled with advertising and use a branded domain name like
You can certainly remove these limitations, but with a cost of course.
In my mind, if you're serious about your website, then spending a few dollars a month to go with a much more professional web host is a no-brainer. Cheap web hosting that's reliable and professional is readily available. And in this scenario, you'll have complete control over your website, your content, and your site's design. You can pretty much do whatever you'd like with your site (within the limitations of the law, of course!). And, you'll have peace of mind knowing that your site is safe and secure with a professional hosting company.
So with all that out of the way, there's one more thing I'd like to touch on before making some reputable web hosting recommendations for you. And that is, how cheap web hosting companies who've been acquired by a larger conglomerate maintain their reputations.
If you've ever searched for cheap web hosting, then no doubt you've come across web hosting review sites. Web hosting review sites are those websites that list out tons and tons of web hosting companies, with glowing reviews for each.
Why do these sites list out so many web hosting recommendations, and only have positive things to say about each of them?
Well, here's how it works: In an effort to maintain positive reputations for hosts that have been acquired by larger conglomerates, web hosts offer big affiliate commissions. This means that for every referral they send, the web hosting review site earns a commission. Some hosts even sponsor positive reviews on web hosting review sites.
So while some web hosting review sites might be honest, there are plenty that aren't. Many hosting review sites offer glowing reviews for any and all web hosting companies who offer a decent affiliate commission. They load their reviews full of suggested web hosts and affiliate links...hoping readers will click on their links.
And while affiliate commissions are a perfectly legitimate and widely used method online (plenty of companies run affiliate programs, including Amazon, WordPress.com, eBay and many others) website owners often take it too far. Site owners begin concerning themselves only with earning big commissions and not providing their readers with accurate, reliable information.
Said another way, with the potential to earn big commissions, website owners have a huge incentive to skew product reviews in a favourable way. So, cheap web hosting companies who once had a very positive reputation, who's performance, service, and customer support has since slipped, continue gaining glowing, positive reviews. And not because the host is still as good as they used to be, but because they provide great affiliate commissions.
And that, my friend, is the dark secret of the web hosting industry.
So what does all this mean for you and I -- website owners who just want to find solid, reliable cheap web hosting for our websites and online businesses? It obviously means that it's very difficult to tell which web hosting review sites are being honest and which ones are simply in it for a paycheck. It means we need to be wary of web host review sites. Many are riddled with spam reviews and fake customer comments. And this isn't anything new. In fact, TechCrunch ran an article about this a number of years ago.
So if you dig around a bit and find yourself on a web hosting review site, notice that EIG-owned hosting brands are ranked very high -- they're offering the biggest affiliate commissions. Worse, I've even heard of EIG-owned hosting brands sponsoring positive reviews. Now let me ask you, why would a company need to pay for a positive review? Obviously because no one is writing positive reviews independently.
And as you dig, you'll find that there are some easy-to-spot signs that tell you if you're reading an honest, legitimate review or not. For instance, do the reviews you're reading come across as balanced, or are the reviews only positive and glowing with nothing negative to say? Do the reviews weigh pros and cons, pointing out flaws, downsides, and areas where a particular host can improve? Or, is the review flowery and positive and come with four and a half stars?
A review that makes a product or service appear flawless is clearly biased. What they want most is for you to click on their affiliate link. And in order to get you to do that, they're going to make the hose sound amazing. But the truth is, there's no such thing as a perfect web host. It all depends on you, your needs, and your budget.
Another tell that tips you off that you're on a biased review site is if the site lists tons and tons of web hosts. Here, they're taking a shotgun approach, hoping you'll click on any -- any! -- of the affiliate links their site is riddled with.
So does this mean that anyone who's reviewing web hosting companies and using affiliate links is shady? No, absolutely not. Again, affiliate commissions are a perfectly legitimate way to earn money online. But to me, as a website owner with an audience, this creates a lot of responsibility. I do review web hosts and other tools and services here on this site. And I do use affiliate links. But this is where the responsibility part comes in. I have a responsibility to my audience (that's you!) to provide legitimate, honest, and accurate information.
I work hard to thoroughly research whatever it is that I'm reviewing. And when I make a recommendation, I try to be as unbiased as I can be. No tool or service is perfect, so I'm always outlining pros and cons. And, I only recommend stuff that I either use myself, or that I've researched heavily and know is from a reputable company.
Not all website owners with an audience feel the same way as I do about this...but this is how I run my show! Providing accurate information is more important to me than an affiliate commission.
Alright, with all of that out of the way, I think you're ready for some solid recommendations...
Alright now with all this doom and gloom, what cheap web hosting companies are reputable? I mean, are there any honest, reputable web hosting companies left? And if so, which ones can I honestly recommend for you?
Well first, the good news: Yes, their are still a few highly reputable, independent (as in, not owned by a conglomerate) web hosts still around. I've spent years, and tons of time and money testing and researching to find the best web hosts, because (maybe like you) I got so frustrated with cheap web hosting. So yes, they are out there. I've narrowed it down to just three web hosts I recommend and use myself. Depending on your needs, your budget, and what kind of website you want to run, one of these will be a perfect fit.
Each of these independent hosts provide top-notch customer service, reliability, performance, and fair pricing for the services they offer.
My three recommendations are Web Hosting Hub, SiteGround, and WP Engine. Let's call these small, medium, and large. Right away, you'll lean towards one or another, because you know what your needs are. So below, we'll briefly review each.
Web Hosting Hub is an independent web host, providing solid, reliable hosting for bloggers and small to medium-sized businesses. Unlike other web hosts, Web Hosting Hub specializes in just one kind of web hosting: shared web hosting. This helps keeps costs low, and allows them to offer a simplified, easy to use platform.
This is perfect if you're new to web design, or if you're running a few modest-sized sites. If you're looking for value -- solid reliability, good performance, and great customer service -- while at the same time keeping costs as low as possible, it's tough to beat Web Hosting Hub.
However, if you think your site might grow in size and traffic, you may want to look to Web Hosting Hub's parent company, InMotion Hosting, or to SiteGround instead (more on them below). Web Hosting Hub's specialized service -- offering solid, low-cost shared hosting -- may also be a limitation. If your site and traffic surges in popularity, you may find yourself outgrowing Web Hosting Hub's services.
Personally, I've been using Web hosting Hub for over five years. I use them for a few smaller sites I run, and also for testing and fiddling around.
In fact if you're interested, I wrote a full-length article called Web Hosting Hub Review: My Hosting Has Never Been Cheaper! which you might want to check out.
Meanwhile, if you're at all overwhelmed by web design, hosting, servers, and so on, but you're eager to learn more, Web Hosting Hub is a great place to start. Once you're comfortable and have gained some skills, you can always transfer your site to a more flexible host -- like the two host we'll cover in just a bit.
Web Hosting Hub offers three simple, straightforward shared hosting plans: Spark, Nitro, and Dynamo.
The cheapest hosting plan they offer, Spark, comes in at $6.99 per month. Don't be fooled by their advertised $4.99 price tag -- that applies only if you sign up to a 3-year term. Set a shorter one-year term, and the total at checkout comes to $83.88 for the year.
Extending the term to two or three years lowers the cost per month, but increases the total at checkout. We'll address Web Hosting Hub's pricing shortly.
Each hosting plan from Web Hosting Hub comes with a variety of extras including a free domain name for the first year, free SSL certificate, unlimited storage space, bandwidth, and email, the ability to run multiple websites from a single domain name, and a few other goodies.
Each plan also uses the industry-standard cPanel interface, which includes one-click auto-installers for popular applications like WordPress, Joomla, and Magento.
Web hosting Hub is a very solid choice for beginners and for smaller online projects and businesses. Their shared hosting plans are more than capable of serving most website's needs.
Their superior customer service gives you peace of mind to know that your website is in good hands. Technical reps and customer service are just a live chat or phone call away.
Many of the add-ons that are included with their plans are worthwhile and actually usable. The cPanel interface that's used to help manage your hosting plan is simple and easy to use, and installing applications like WordPress is fast and simple.
Hopefully, you aren't too turned off at how Web Hosting Hub advertises their pricing. This is actually a pretty common practice in the web hosting Industry. Truthfully, their pricing is competitive and their service is value-oriented. So if, in addition to reliability, security, and solid customer service, keeping costs low is important to you, then Web Hosting Hub is a great choice for cheap web hosting.
In fact, in my research, if you're looking for a low-cost shared hosting provider, Web Hosting Hub is the best option available.
If you think they'd be a good fit for you, my suggestion is their second plan, Nitro. To me, it provides the best value -- it'll give you the biggest bang for your buck. With it, you can run as many websites as you'd like, get access to all their add-ons and extras, and get a bit of a performance boost too. This is the plan I have with them.
Or, if you'd like more scalability -- a web host that'll grow with you as your website grows -- SiteGround might be a better option. Let's talk about them next...
SiteGround is a well respected hosting company, serving web designers, developers, and business owners. They offer a variety of hosting options, including shared web hosting, WordPress hosting, cloud, and even dedicated services.
This makes them a great option for web designers and business owners who have a little more experience, whose websites are growing in both size and traffic. As your website grows and it's needs increase, it's easy to simply scale up to SiteGround's next hosting tier.
That said, with the amount of hosting options, extras, and technicalities, SiteGround could seem a bit intimidating and complex for beginners to navigate. If you're feeling overwhelmed, Web Hosting Hub might be a better host to consider.
I've been using SiteGround to run a few small online projects, and also for testing and monkeying around. I'm on their GrowBig plan. And while they're not perfect, SiteGround offers a variety of hosting plans and solutions for websites of all shapes and sizes.
Let's now dig a bit deeper...
As mentioned, SiteGround offers a smattering of different hosting options, including shared, WordPress, cloud hosting, dedicated servers, and enterprise hosting. They also offer reseller hosting, meaning that you (as a business or freelancer) can resell their hosting to your customers.
For shared hosting, they offer three plans, StartUp, GroBig, and GoGeek. SiteGround's cheapest hosting plan, StartUp, comes in at just $3.95 per month. But be careful, that's just for the first year. After that, the price jumps up to $11.95 per month. More on SiteGround pricing below.
All SiteGround plans come with a free SSL certificate, email, CDN (Content Delivery Network, which increases site speed), free daily website backups, a free website builder on all plans, and a few other odds and ends.
Each plan also uses the industry-standard cPanel control interface, which includes one-click installers for popular web applications like WordPress, Drupal, and others.
And aside from their smallest plan, each tier also allows you to run multiple websites from a single hosting account.
Next, here's how SiteGround's pros and cons balance out...
SiteGround is solid choice if you have a modest level of experience with web design and online business. And, they're great for website owners who want flexibility and scalability from their web host.
SiteGround's superior customer service gives you peace of mind to know that you and your website are being looked after. In fact, many tech support agents are also well versed in WordPress. So if that's what you'll be building your website with, you can feel confident that you're in good hands.
The many extras and add-ons that are included with SiteGround plans are welcome additions. In particular, the cPanel interface, the ability to run multiple websites from a single account, and their free CDN and proprietary caching plugin are all very useful.
And try not to be too alarmed or upset by SiteGround's pricing structure. Unfortunately, these sorts of blurry pricing manoeuvres are quite common in the web hosting industry. Web Hosting Hub does something similar. But, SiteGround's pricing is actually quite reasonable, considering the amount of value and service they're offering. So in that sense, why couldn't they be more up front? They could simply say, "Regular price is $11.95 per month, but get your first year for just $3.95 a month." In other words, turn something that feels a bit shady into something that resembles a special offer for cheap web hosting.
Meanwhile, if SiteGround is looking like it might be a good fit, my suggestion is to start with their second shared plan, GrowBig. To me, this plan provides the best value. Although that said, the staging servers that are included on the next plan up, GoGeek, very well might be worth the extra cost. In any regard, GrowBig is the plan I use with SiteGround.
Now, if you'd like more performance and fewer hassles, there's one more hosting service that I use and recommend, and that's WP Engine. Let's take a look...
No doubt you've heard of WP Engine. They're very popular and have a solid reputation. But, their service might not be considered cheap web hosting...so they may not be for everyone.
WP Engine offers just one kind of web hosting: Premium managed WordPress hosting. This means that a team of WordPress experts looks after and manages your website for you, taking care of security, performance, and any technical details that may arise.
If you're a busy business owner who doesn't want to be bothered with day-to-day technical details of running a website, then WP Engine is a perfect fit.
So, WP Engine is all about performance, security, and management. They work hard to optimize their web servers so that sites run as fast as possible. And, their team of experts are there to oversee that your site's well looked after. SiteGround, by comparison, offers WordPress hosting, but as we discussed, these plans are identical to their shared hosting plans.
So, SiteGround's offering WordPress hosting, not managed WordPress plans.
This means that WP Engine has higher monthly costs than other hosting options, making it difficult to label them as "cheap web hosting." But, what you're paying for is the aforementioned performance, security, and management. More on this below.
I use WP Engine for my main website, Ten Ton Online, as well as for testing and for a few other, smaller projects. I don't want to over-hype them, but if you're in their target market -- if performance and management are your top priorities -- they're like going from a Toyota Camry to a Ferrari Formula One!
If it's performance you want, it's performance you're gonna get!
There's nothing wrong with driving a Camry -- for many people, that's all they need. But for a smaller segment of the market, a segment who demands absolute top performance, then it's gotta be the best of the best all the way...and that's WP Engine.
Let's now cover some of the basic details...
As you know already, WP Engine does one thing and one thing only: Premium managed WordPress hosting. Within their specialized service, they offer four plans, Startup, Growth, Scale, and Custom.
Their cheapest hosting plan, Startup, starts at $35 per month. That price tag might give you a bit of shock, especially considering some of the other cheap web hosting options we've discussed. But stick with me here. This first plan is limited to just one WordPress installation (although additional sites can be added to your plan as needed). They also limit disk space, bandwidth, and monthly visitors.
Each WP Engine plan comes with a free SSL certificate, free CDN, daily website backups, and a few more extras (details below).
WP Engine certainly isn't for everyone. They're serving a very specific segment of the market, and they're serving it very well. And this is a segment that I happen to fall into, and maybe you do too.
And if that pricing is making you wheezy, don't forget that WP Engine isn't just offering web hosting. If you broke down what WP Engine's offering -- premium security, top experts looking after your site, and fully optimized website performance -- you might find that WP Engine works out to be a fairly cheap web hosting option...maybe even cheaper than some alternatives.
For instance, if you had to have a developer on retainer to keep an eye on your site, that gets very expensive very quickly. Or if you went with a third-party security solution, that can easily add about $20 per month to your website's overhead.
But again, WP Engine isn't for everyone. You'll have to weigh the pros and cons I've outlined here. If their more advanced features and functions are beyond your needs, then you might want to take a look at a lower-cost like Web Hosting Hub or a mid-range host like SiteGround.
But, if you fall into the market that WP Engine serves, then they're a top choice -- they're easily the best premium WordPress host currently available.
You'll have confidence that your website is completely secure and running fast for your visitors. And, you'll have the assurance that a team of experts always have an eye on your site. This frees you up to focus on growing your audience and building your online business.
If WP Engine is sounding like they might be a good fit, my suggestion is to start with their lowest-cost plan, StartUp. That's where I started. Then, if you're satisfied with your site's performance and WP Engine's overall service, you can always upgrade later.
So which of these three recommendations I'm making is best for you? Really, only you can answer that. I'm simply trying to provide as much information as I can to help you with your decision.
That said, if your biggest concerns are value, if you want the most web hosting features for the lowest cost, then Web Hosting Hub is to beat as a cheap web hosting company. There, you'll get the lowest cost, plus service and reliability. Or, if scalability -- having your web host grow with you as your site grows -- matters most to you, SiteGround is likely your best option. Finally, if your concern is related to site performance, security, and management, WP Engine just may fit the bill -- and run the numbers on them; they may wind up being your best cheap web hosting solution.
Alright, that's it for today. I hope all this info was enlightening!