We're here to help you find affordable web hosting.
Let's start with a list of things to think about before you buy web hosting and then we will give you our recommended web hosting providers, including some of the most affordable web hosting companies around, as well as a few upscale alternatives.
Things to Consider Before You Buy Web Hosting
Before you buy web hosting, here are a few things you should do:
- Procure your domain name(s) -- This probably isn't news to most of you, but you should have your domain name in hand before you buy web hosting. Domain names are purchased from registrars like Network Solutions and GoDaddy. Some registrars also sell website hosting. Although there are some benefits to dealing with only one vendor for your domain name and your hosting, it's not essential. In fact, we recommend that you cast a wide net when evaluating web hosting providers.
- Decide on your web server operating system (O/S) -- The most common operating systems for web servers are Windows and Linux/Unix. When it comes to price, performance and security, there are big differences between these two web server operating systems. If you're working with a web developer, you'll want to ask them their preference. Having this information handy when you go to buy web hosting will streamline the process considerably.
- Decide on your Content Management System (CMS) -- When people build websites, they often build them with a CMS product of some sort, like Wordpress. There are web hosting companies like WP Engine that are specialized Wordpress web hosting companies. You'd hate to sign up with a hosting provider and then find out that they are not experts in supporting your Wordpress site. Make sure you know what CMS your website will use. If your building everything with custom code, this is less important.
- Decide on your database -- Most websites use a database to store information that helps to serve up website content. Some of the common website databases are Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Oracle, SQLite and Microsoft Access. Some web hosting providers only support certain databases, so you'll want to know your website's database needs before you look for a hosting solution.
- Choose between a shared and a dedicated web server - For affordable web hosting, it's cheaper to be on a shared box. That means other people's websites will reside on the same web server as your website. Most shared hosting providers have taken all the necessary steps to prevent anybody getting access to the folder that contains your website. But the security risks are certainly higher with shared hosting. You also usually won't get your own IP address on a shared server, which some believe can negatively impact how well your site does in Google's search results. If you can afford it, we recommend having your own web server. Alternatively, you can launch your site with shared hosting and upgrade to dedicated hosting later.
- Understand the Add-Ons -- There are some things that web companies will charge you extra for. That includes software licenses for things like VPN access to your server, anti-virus software and your database. You may also need to pay extra to get dedicated IP addresses and SSL certificates. Finally, there can be charges for the web hosting company's putting a firewall in front of your web server. Most of these things are worth paying extra for, but it's good to understand them before you start shopping for a hosting provider.
- Get Up to Speed on Your Cloud Options -- Back in the day, you couldn't purchase web hosting from companies like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, but it's all the rage now. Cloud-based web hosting certainly has its advantages. You can quickly and easily scale up to multiple web servers with load balancing and all sorts of other sophisticated stuff. The downside is that it's all priced per something, meaning you pay for bandwidth use or for the size of your database. This makes it hard to budget for your web hosting costs. The cloud providers' systems also take some getting used to. But there's a reason cloud-based hosting has taken off, so definitely consider it. You have to do your homework, understand the differences between public cloud hosting and traditional hosting companies and make a decision.
Affordable Web Hosting Providers for Shared Hosting
Assuming you've worked through our list of things to consider before buying web hosting, it's time to start talking with web hosting companies. On the lower end, signing up may be mostly self-service, so don't expect a ton of time with a sales rep.
Based on our experience buying web hosting, here are some good web hosting vendors to connect with.
- DreamHost -- Dreamhost offers WordPress hosting and traditional website hosting for as little as $2.59/month. On the higher end, Dreamhost dedicated hosting starts at $169.00/month.
- HostGator -- Hostgator web hosting starts as low as $2.75 per month. They have a drag-and-drop website builder for those who don't want to learn HTML or coding. Dedicated hosting is also available, starting at $89.98 per month.
- InMotion -- InMotion web hosting is available starting at $5.99/month. Wordpress hosting starts at $6.99 per month. You can get a dedicated server from InMotion Hosting for as little as $99/month.
- A2 Hosting -- A2 Hosting is price competitive with the other affordable web hosting companies on our list. You can get web hosting for as little as $2.99 per month, according to their website.
Note that some of the web hosting company pricing above may be sale pricing that may or may not still be available and it may also increase to a higher rate after an initial period. Make sure you understand all your costs.
While we've featured just a handful of affordable web hosting companies, there are many more. You'll also want to look at Bluehost, Hostinger and iPage, and, since vendors come and go, Google is your friend when you are searching for affordable web hosting packages.
Affordable Web Hosting Providers with Website Builders
We discussed above how companies like Squarespace make it easy to build websites without understanding website coding. If that's the route you want to go, we recommend checking out:
- Squarespace -- Squarespace has a $12/month starter program that gives you everything you need to get up and running with your own website.
- Wix -- Wix has packages staring at $13/month. They make it easy to create a professional web presence.
- Weebly -- Weebly is owned by Square, the credit card processing company, so it's an interesting option for you if you want to create an online store. Like Wix and Squarespace, their website builder offers you an easy way to build a website. Packages start at $0/month. You can try Weebly for free and upgrade later to a paid account, which starts at $6/month.
Not So Affordable Web Hosting Providers
As noted earlier, you get what you pay for when it comes to website hosting. If you want to go upstream and avoid shared web hosting and do more than what's possible with a website builder, you'll want to consider a high-end website provider.
Some higher-end hosting companies that we've used and recommend are:
- Rackspace -- Rackspace is seriously obsessed with having happy customers. If you are in the market for dedicated web servers, they should definitely be on your short list.
- Ntirety -- They've grown via acquisition, having bought Hostway, MyHosting.com and other top hosting companies. Ntirety itself was an acquisition but they liked the name enough to rebrand everything around it.
- Verio -- Verio has been around forever and has a lot of offerings. We've used them for Windows web hosting in the past.
- GoDaddy -- GoDaddy is best known as a domain name registrar, but they've built out their web hosting offerings considerably, and we know a ton of people who've been very happy with GoDaddy website hosting.
Prepare to Eventually Not Be Satisfied with Service
The issue with all of these web hosting companies is that they have their ups and their downs on service. We've seen some of them be strong for years and then really drop the ball on short notice. If service and uptime are important to you, plan on spending a little more on hosting.
Given the likelihood of a company eventually disappointing you, it's good to be ready to move your site on short notice. That's much harder to do with the website builder hosting companies, so take that into consideration if you're thinking about going that route.
Use a CDN to Maximize Website Performance
As a final word of advice, if you have budget for it, consider using a CDN (Content Distribution Network) in front of your web server.
A CDN ensures that your website pages are cached on servers that are really close to your site visitors. If your web server goes down, the CDN will keep serving up your web pages, so using a CDN provides protection against a hosting company failure.
Your site will also be blazingly fast with a CDN because the CDN doesn't need to make any database calls or run any code to generate a page. In effect, using a CDN allows you to be a little sloppier in your code and your database optimization, and is a fast cure for any slow site. Remember, Google prefers faster sites, so a fast site will tend to get a lot more search traffic than a slow one, everything else being equal.
If you do decide to shop for a CDN, we recommend Cloudflare. It can run you $200/month, but that is money well spent if you earn a living from your website and want to avoid website downtime.