Web hosting is a service that is vital to any business that has a presence online. Pulling in new visitors who could later turn into loyal customers, serving up a weekly newsletter that goes out to subscribers and being their online calling card all play an important role. However a web site is used by a business, it is critical that the web hosting behind it is effective and reliable.
When it comes to pricing, is cheap web hosting any good or is it a waste of money? That’s often a question that is asked by people new to web hosting who are unsure how much they should pay, what type of hosting they should get and what to expect.
The Pricing Structure of “Cheap” Deals
When looking around at shared hosting deals that are suitable for customers who are just starting out with a hosting account and for sites with a modest amount of web traffic, there are often many deals available. Most hosts have an ongoing discounts offered to attract new customers who can be fickle about web hosts at times themselves and like to switch around.
A look at any of the Endurance International Group-owned hosts like BlueHost or HostGator will show that the longer the contract agreed to, the greater the initial discount offer. Many hosts are the same with this. The offers often promoted on the home pages of these types of hosts will boast “$2 per month for a shared hosting account”.
This is a real figure, but based on the fact that they’ll be locking you into a contract for 3 years. If you wish to switch web hosts because you’re dissatisfied with their service, you could be on the line for a cancellation charge or the full balance on the remainder of the contract.
After the initial contract period, the real costs will rise. In the case of some shared hosts, the price could easily double or worse. That $2 or $3 per month deal suddenly cleans out $10-12 per month from your PayPal or checking account each month thereafter.
Difference Between Initially Cheap and Forever Cheap
The type of hosts described above means the costs rise, but the hosting deal for shared hosting is actually a fully featured one. Top-end server hardware, multiple fast internet backbone connections, UPS power systems, diesel-powered backup generators, etc.
The “discount then charge full freight” hosting companies need to get their investment return, so locking customers in on discounted deals works to cover their bases. They hope those customers will just continue paying much like people do with a cable bill without really giving it any thought.
The other type of cheap web hosts are the ones that are always cheap. They bill out at $2-5 per month and their price doesn’t rise at all. Other hosts offer free hosting plans, but these usually come with expensive adds-ons for many extras not included in their free package that other paid hosts include as standard.
The problem with the always cheap and free hosts is that it is next to impossible for them to afford to fund a quality data center which can reach into the millions of invested capital if done right and less if many corners are cut along the way. Those cut corners can hurt businesses who rely on the hosting and thought they were getting a steal. It is very difficult indeed for a forever cheap or free web host to stay afloat and provide a quality service at the same time.
What’s The Right Thing To Do?
It is best to look at the price after the discount has passed. This can take a little hunting around on each web site to find what price a hosting plan will be after the lock-in period has expired. This is more of a true price comparison, though of course comparing discounted prices for the first several years has a value all its own too.
Get a breakdown of what services, hardware specification, connectivity, control panel and other aspects of the hosting is included with different web hosting plans. Do a little research and you’ll soon start to appreciate what is a good hosting plan and what is lacking. One doesn’t have to be too technical to learn about this as the details are very similar between different hosting companies. Things like a dual-core processor versus a quad-core processor, 30GB of storage space versus 50GB of storage space are quite simple to review and understand the different value offered.
Heavily initially discounted hosting plans often have hugely expensive infrastructure and capital investment behind them; you get a lot for your money. If they charge a more sensible rate later into the customer relationship, that’s actually a good thing because it means they’re being sensible with their own business plan and how they run their hosting business.