The Best Cheap Web Hosting Site
Most of the 15,000 web hosts out there offer super-low introductory prices, and then spike their fees when you renew. So to find the best cheap web host, we didn’t look at price alone. The best cheap web hosts don’t skimp on the necessities: reliability, top-tier features, and great customer support. We measured uptime, talked to numerous customer service agents, and then compared prices to find the best hosts under $5/month.
How we chose the best cheap web hosting sites
Just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean it should be painful to use. We made sure our top picks had intuitive, easy-to-learn interfaces that wouldn’t require a computer science degree to use.
Clear upgrade path
A good web host will grow with your website over time: that means it’s best to go for tiered service options that allow you to toggle your price and features as your site develops. Even if you start off on the cheapest plan, it’s good to have the convenience of levelling up with the same host rather than needing to start from scratch with a new company and contract when your website takes off.
Uptime of 99.95 percent or higher
Uptime refers to the company’s track record for successfully keeping sites online. Since technical difficulties are inevitable, companies can’t guarantee more than 99.99 percent uptime. We referred to a third party monitoring agency to verify companies’ uptime claims, and only featured those who have a verified uptime of at least 99.95 percent.
Excellent 24/7 customer service
No website is immune from occasional problems, and when you’re frantically looking for a solution, you want to make sure that there will be a knowledgeable, helpful human available to assist you. When your business depends on your website, you don’t want to have to wait all night before customer service reps get back to work in the morning.
The 2 best cheap web hosting sites
Why we chose it
Excellent customer service
We were impressed by multiple 24/7 customer support options, including phone, web, and ticket-based help. Bluehost’s help services are broken into three departments — Sales, Tech Support, and Account Management — which are each further broken down into up to eight subdivisions for more specialized assistance. Along with its 24/7 customer service lines, Bluehost also has a 24/7 live chat option.
Bluehost was also one of the top performers in our original server performance benchmarks, outpacing every other shared service we tested. It boasted a near-perfect verified 99.99 percent server uptime rating, which means that it’s safe to assume website crashes will be few and far between. Bluehost also offers decent storage and speeds for a bargain price: shared hosting plans start at $3.45 with 50GB of storage space and unmetered bandwidth. For growing websites, Bluehost also offers a clear upgrade path for users who may need to move to a VPS or dedicated server in the future.
With its easy-to-understand interface, a 30-day money-back guarantee, standard free domain offers, and one-click WordPress installation, it’s easy to recommend Bluehost for both beginners and professionals looking for a good deal. Whether you’re a web hosting novice or a seasoned pro, it won’t be too difficult to navigate Bluehost’s straightforward cPanel backend with all the trimmings.
Points to consider
Password security policy
The support agents at Bluehost may be knowledgeable, helpful, kind, and available at all hours, but they won’t help you unless you give them the last four characters of your password. This is a bizarre and backward policy that exposes users to would-be hackers and phishers posing as customer service in hopes of stealing their account information. This would have knocked Bluehost out of the running if it didn’t offer an alternative. Fortunately, it does; security-conscious users can opt to set up a special PIN to use in lieu of revealing sensitive data. We fully recommend taking this step if you choose Bluehost as your service provider.
Why we chose it
Fast, well-managed servers
GreenGeeks doesn’t let its planet-friendly slant get in the way of its services. This host ticks every box in our evaluation checklist. In addition to boasting an independently verified 99.98 percent server uptime, GreenGeeks sites are hosted on high-speed solid-state drives, have access to multiple one-click install interfaces via the standard cPanel backend, and enjoy free nightly backups. Free hosting plans start at $3.95 per month, and come with unlimited bandwidth and storage.
According to GreenGeeks, each web hosting company is responsible for up to 1,390 pounds of CO2 every year, just for consuming the power it needs to run its servers. With tens of millions of servers worldwide and counting, web hosting’s carbon footprint will only grow. GreenGeek is a 300 percent green company, meaning it buys three times as much green energy as it uses and pumps that clean, wind-farm energy back into the local electrical grid. It’s also a recognized EPA Green Power Partner. How many web hosts can say they’re doing something nice for the planet?
Points to consider
Slow customer service
As with Bluehost, GreenGeeks also offers a variety of support options by phone and online. However, its response times aren’t as quick as Bluehost’s. The company's phone lines are only open Monday to Friday 9am – midnight and Saturday to Sunday 9am – 8pm and the expected response time for its emails is 15-20 minutes. Similarly, its live chat claims to be 24/7, but we were told agents were unavailable several times while trying it. Still, if you can tolerate a short wait, GreenGeeks does offer solid customer service once it gets back to you.
Guide to cheap web hosting sites
How to choose a cheap web host
Make sure there’s a way to upgrade
If you’re looking for a cheap web host, you probably don’t need much power right now, but you might some day. Both our top picks offer an upgrade path for sites that garner too much traffic for a simple shared server to handle. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for when to upgrade, but if your site grows in popularity and starts to slow down, consider talking to your host about upgrading to a VPS or dedicated server.
If you do need to upgrade, be ready to pay for it: The cheapest VPS hosting packages start above $10/month, and can stretch beyond $50/month depending on how much storage space you need. Dedicated servers are more flexible, but are even more expensive, starting at $100/month. Hopefully your website will be paying for itself before you need that kind of power.
Navigate around renewal price hikes
Steep renewal prices may be industry standard, but it doesn’t mean you have to pay them. You can always move to another host to take advantage of another new customer discount. Many hosts offer free migration to make this easier. But before you make any drastic decisions, try simply asking your current host for a cheaper rate. These companies want to keep your business, so saying you’re thinking of moving to another host may get you a discount on your renewal.
Track your bandwidth to figure out when you need to upgrade
We didn’t have a bandwidth requirement for our review because what may be plenty for one site may be inadequate for another and bandwidth allowances are directly correlated to price.
To figure out how much bandwidth your site uses, you’ll need to track three factors:
- The average number of visitors per month
- The average number of pageviews per visitor
- Your site’s average page size
If you don’t know your average page size, test a few and find the average. Then, plug all three numbers into a bandwidth calculator to get an estimate. Until your site has been up long enough for you to get a sense of how your bandwidth needs change over time, the best you can do is make an educated guess and tweak accordingly.
Cheap web hosting site FAQs
How much traffic can a cheap web host handle?
It’s worth noting that both of our recommendations are shared hosting packages; a simple, inexpensive form of web hosting that shares a single server’s resources among hundreds of customers. This is fine for a lot of smaller websites, but if you expect to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors per month, you may want to look into higher-end VPS or dedicated server packages. Luckily, both of our top cheap web hosts offer viable upgrade paths should you ever need them.
What is cPanel?
cPanel is a standard graphical user interface for managing a website. This backend control panel lets users create email accounts, configure domains, set up databases, and manage files with just a few clicks. It’s not the only administration interface in the world of web hosting, but it is the most common.
What are the options for free web hosting?
The old adage rings true: You get what you pay for. There are plenty of hosts out there that will rent you server space for significantly less than our top picks, but those savings come with compromises: free options usually come with strict storage and transfer limits, little to no support, and almost no extra features.
If your site is still in its digital infancy and you’re not ready to shell out for a traditional web host, a free hosting option might be a good choice.
Awardspace: This fully-featured web host almost made it to our final contender list, but lost points for poor customer service. Awardspace’s free tier offers the same 99.9 percent server uptime as its paid plans, packs in a web-based email client, and even includes one-click installation for WordPress and Joomla blogs. However, 1GB storage and 5GB bandwidth limits for free accounts mean you won’t be able to host large files, like videos, or sustain more than a few thousand visits a month. Awardspace will also relentlessly try to upsell you to its paid packages.
Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace — The easiest way to build a free web presence is actually to avoid traditional web hosts altogether and use a site builder. These are services that not only provide web hosting, but also help you build beautiful, robust websites in minutes. All three of the top site builders — Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace — offer free and paid options. They’re not perfect, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of managing your own web space, they’re a good entry-level option.