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Is Cheap Hosting Better Than Free?

If you’ve done some research or read our article about free web hosting, you know that it’s not really worth it. You know you need to be willing to fork out some cash to get a paid hosting service. But how much do you actually need to spend?

There are many cheap web hosting options out there that seem to bridge the gap between dangerous free service and expensive quality services. But is that cheap hosting service really worth the money? Are you actually getting more than you would get out of a free service?

Let’s take a closer look at cheap webhosting and see if it’s actually a smart decision.

The Truth About Cheap Server Hosting

There are many types of cheap hosting including cheap VPS hosting, cheap dedicated server hosting, and cheap reseller hosting. So you do get some more variety than is usually available in the free hosting world.

Cheap hosting services often target those who know better than to place any trust in a free service but still are on a tight enough budget that they need an economical option. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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To be fair, there is no hard and fast definition of “cheap hosting” and even an expensive service can be a rip off. However, as a general rule of thumb, if it’s less than $5 per month, you at least need to be asking questions and figuring out where they’re making money and whether you’re really even getting anything for your money that you couldn’t get from a free service.

While there are definitely some honest cheap hosting sites out there, you need to do your research before you spend any money because there are, unfortunately, also a lot of rip offs and scams trying to lure you in.

Here are some of the most common drawbacks that people experience with cheap server hosting.

  • Bad customer support. This can either mean lack of knowledgeable staff or endless waiting times (or both). Cheap services try to cut costs wherever they can.
  • Hidden fees. You can almost guarantee there are extra fees involved in your contract. Many companies will try to lure you in with that attractively low price and then gouge you with cancellation fees and other hidden fees. Before you sign a contract, read the terms and conditions. To speed up the reading process, use the find feature (Ctrl + F) to search terms like: cancellation, renewal, refund, fee, charge, and similar phrases to pinpoint the sections that talk about any extra costs.
  • Bad uptimes. Free hosting services are notorious for having terrible uptimes (the amount of time your website is actually up and running). But some cheap services can be just as bad. Always check uptime statistics first—even for the more expensive services.
  • Bad dedicated server. Dedicated servers are widely respected as one of the most powerful and reliable options. But a cheap dedicate server can lack that power and reliability. You need to check performance before you spend money. Dedicated servers are almost always the pricier option so if it seems too cheap, you need to find out why.
  • Bad vps. Virtual private servers are another recommended option. They’re not as powerful as dedicated servers but they’re often better than shared hosting. And the price reflects its “best of both worlds” status. However, a cheap vps might not actually be giving you the best of both worlds. As always, you need to find out why the price is as low as it is.

In short, we’re not saying there’s no such thing as a good cheap web hosting company. There certainly are some respectable options. We’re just saying that there is a lot of risk involved in choosing one and you will need to do your research.

Dictionary Definition of Research

But in all honesty, you should be doing just as much research before investing in a more expensive option (or any option). You always want to know exactly what you are getting for your money and avoid surprise charges or failures down the road.

When Is Cheap Hosting Worth It?

While you probably are aware that for such a low price, you can’t be expecting premium service, you still want to get something for your money. So we’ve created a list of what we consider to be the minimum standards you should expect even from a cheap web hosting service.

  • An uptime of at least 99.8%. Free web hosting sites crash much more often. If you’re going to spend money, you at least want to make sure your website is up and running most of the time.
  • Some security. Regular malware scanning, private SSL certifications, and other security services should be a top priority. You certainly can’t expect to get the best in security but if they’re offering no security at all, you might as well go with a free server.
  • Minimal to no extra fees. Hidden fees are a problem in free hosting as well. You need to understand the full fee structure before you sign up for a paid hosting service. If you’re going to be paying money on all those fees anyway, why not invest in a higher quality service with no hidden fees to deal with?

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Final Word

We still recommend investing in quality as that will provide the greatest benefits to your business in the long run. But if you are on a tight budget, keep this information in mind as you shop for a budget-friendly hosting site.

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