The Truth About Website Hosting Costs
Every website needs a hosting plan. Some plans start below $1 per month. Others are over $2,000 per month! To make matters even more complicated, there are more than 300,000 web hosting providers on the market today. Trying to find the best web hosting plan for your site without overpaying can feel like an impossible task.
This guide will teach you the truth about web hosting costs. We’ve identified the top costs associated with web hosting and how to evaluate those costs as you’re shopping around. By the time you finish this post, you know what you need and what you should pay for a hosting plan that meets your needs.
Web Hosting Type
The type of web hosting plan you select will have the most significant impact on the price. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but generally speaking, here’s the order listed from cheapest to most expensive:
- Shared web hosting
- Cloud web hosting
- VPS (virtual private server) web hosting
- Dedicated web hosting
Depending on the hosting provider, cloud hosting and VPS hosting might be switched. There’s a significant price gap between each type of web hosting. The starting price of a dedicated server is roughly 20 times higher than the shared starting rate.
Unless you’re expecting huge traffic surges out of the gate, the vast majority of new websites should stick to a shared plan. That’s the best way to save some money, and you can always upgrade down the road as your site grows.
Generally speaking, you’ll need to commit to a longer-term contract to get the lowest possible rate. This is one of the best ways to save money on web hosting costs, especially as a new customer.
Depending on the provider, plans are typically offered in 12, 24, 36, and up to 48-month contract terms. Month-to-month web hosting isn’t very common. So expect to commit to a year, at a minimum.
Locking in a long-term contract also helps you avoid renewal rates. It’s standard practice in the web hosting industry for providers to offer low promotional rates and then jack up the prices when your contract renews.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like they aren’t upfront about it. But most people don’t think about the costs they’re going to incur three or four years down the road. Some providers double, triple, or even quadruple your rate upon renewal.
Every web hosting plan allocates a certain number of resources to your website. While this might vary slightly from one provider to another, here’s a basic overview of what to expect:
- Bandwidth – How quickly your server can transfer data.
- CPUs – Central processing units to handle all the requests on your site.
- RAM – Short-term memory for processing multiple requests simultaneously.
- SSD Storage – The maximum allowed size of your website.
Setup Fees and Site Migrations
Most web hosting providers offer free setups. This is especially true with entry-level packages, like shared hosting plans. However, if the provider needs to take in-depth steps to get you started, you might incur some setup fees.
Setup fees are more common at the dedicated server level, where providers need to physically add hardware components based on your plan requests.
Normally, I wouldn’t mix domain registration and web hosting. It’s usually in your best interest to get your domain name from a domain registrar and your hosting package from a web hosting provider. That said, new websites can bundle the two, especially through Bluehost. All new Bluehost customers get a free domain for one year with a web hosting subscription.
It’s cheaper long-term to get your domain directly from a registrar. Bluehost’s domain renewal rates will be a bit higher. But overall, the added cost is pretty marginal. Most new website owners will just find it easier to bundle everything under one roof, as opposed to using different platforms for a domain name and hosting plan.
There are a handful of different security measures that should be added to your site. I’m referring to things like network protocols, spam filtering, malware scans, firewalls, and more. But you can get additional security directly from your web hosting provider.
At a minimum, every web host should be offering you a free SSL certificate. That’s become an industry standard, and I wouldn’t recommend any host that charges an extra SSL fee.
Managed Support and Server Maintenance
Managed web hosting has become increasingly popular over the years. The term has different meanings depending on the plan and provider you’re using, but in short, a managed web host will take care of all the server operations behind the scenes. This typically includes setup, maintenance, server monitoring, support, updates, and more. Alternatively, high-traffic websites could consider a managed WordPress plan.
Every web hosting provider makes an effort to sign you up for as many different services as possible. Navigating through upsells is just part of shopping around for web hosting. With that said, you can skip the vast majority of add-ons and upsells offered by web hosts, especially the ones that aren’t directly tied to web hosting.
Downtime is an indirect cost of web hosting. It’s not something that you’ll see on your bill.
But every time your site goes down due to a server crash or network error, it costs you money. The type of website you have and your monetization strategy will dictate exactly how much money you’re losing.
You can use uptime monitoring from Pingdom to see how different web hosts stack up with each other.
Don’t just look at an uptime guarantee from a hosting provider and assume you’re in good shape. Those guarantees typically come with all types of contingencies. If they fail to meet the uptime agreement, you’ll just get credit off of a future bill.
Always look at reviews to see what real people have to say about the uptime reliability of different web hosting providers. Frequent downtime can be costly long-term.
Your total cost to host a website will depend on several different factors. I’ve identified the top ten costs associated with web hosting above. As you can see from this list, it’s fairly easy to keep hosting costs low if you understand what to look for.
Bluehost is a favorite way to save money on web hosting. So if you sign up with them, you’re on the right track. You’ll even get a free SSL certificate and free domain name.