Is Cheap Website Hosting Dependable?
Tips to finding inexpensive and reliable web
Website hosting doesn’t have to cost
an arm and a leg. But as with everything else on the Internet, you
need to do some research and know what you want and expect from
your site. If you don’t do a little homework, you’ll end up paying
for things that you don’t need.
First, the Internet is really just a collection
of computers and servers connected together – a network. You
need to rent space on one of those servers, so people can access
your site. That’s essentially what website hosting is. A company
providing this service is called a web host. ISPs (Internet Service
Providers) and Domain Name Registrars may also provide hosting options.
Monthly costs can vary from nothing to hundreds
of dollars, depending on a number of factors. Here are some tips
to finding website hosting that’s both cheap and reliable.
Why free web hosting is a bad idea
You might be tempted to sign up for free hosting, because that’s
really cheap. But that’s too cheap. Although they’re free
of charge, there is still a big cost to you: some of your website’s
real estate is going to be used to promote the hosting company’s
advertisers. So, expect banners and pop-ups. All that clutter is
going to get in the way of your website.
Free hosts aren’t usually fast, so your visitors
can expect delays and time-outs. And because they’re free, there’s
going to be a lot of people using them, which further adds to the
Finally, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to use
your own domain name. Instead, your free host will give you something
like: www.freehostcompanyname.com/~yourcompanyname. Not very professional
– and it’s hard to remember.
In the quest for cheap website hosting, your company
might come across looking penny-pinching, and that’s not good.
The basics of website hosting
To decide on a web hosting company, you’re going
to need to know roughly how much space your going to need, what
kinds of technology your site will be using, and how much traffic
you think you might get.
Your web designer can give you an idea of your website’s
size. Most basic hosting options vary from several to a couple of
hundred megabytes of storage space, and that’s enough for the average-size
business. Unless you’re running an adult, file-sharing, or software
site, you probably are not going to need a lot of space. And if
you’re involved in any of those ventures, you can forget about cheap
Next, if your site features basic HTML or Flash
pages, then you don’t have to worry about added features. However,
if you’re using forms, e-commerce, or special scripting languages
like CGI and PHP, which add functionality to your site, you will
need to look at upgrading to a more-than-basic package.
Finally, most web hosting options have bandwidth
limits. Essentially, web hosting is like a cell-phone package: you
have a certain number of hours or minutes available every month.
With hosting, it’s not minutes, but quantities of information, measured
in megabytes or gigabytes, can be transferred from the host to your
So, every file, picture, sound clip, movie, HTML
page, and Flash movie which on your webpage counts towards your
bandwidth or transfers. These limits exist because traffic for adult
or file-sharing sites can cripple the quality of service to a host’s
If you exceed your bandwidth limits, you may be
asked to pay for more, and if you’re using more on a regular basis,
it may be more economical to upgrade your hosting.
Choosing a web host
There are a lot of companies out there, so make sure you read the
fine print. A low-cost web hosting option may not include all of
the features you need. You can always upgrade your hosting option
down, but make sure you start off with everything you need.
Hosting shouldn’t cost you any more than $20–25
a month, and if you’re running a site with no special forms, e-commerce,
or scripting language, you should be able to get it cheaper than
But don’t stop at the price tag. Finding a low-cost
web host is just the beginning, now you need to test whether they’re
dependable or not.
Find the technical-support telephone number for
the host you are considering. Is it a local number or a long-distance
call? Then, call the number and see how long it takes to reach a
support person. Also, pay attention to how many hoops they make
you jump through to get support.
If the technical support number is busy, if the
hold time is excessive, if they’ve got you pressing 1, 0, then 2,
then 4 – making you listen to long and confusing messages
– or if the support hours are too limited, find another host.
Go to their website. Is it professionally designed
or is it do-it-yourself
web design? Does that fill you with confidence? Do you
want to put your website’s accessibility and level of service in
the hands of someone who doesn’t even have the good sense to hire
a professional designer?
Is their website riddled with spelling mistakes?
It’s a small thing, but isn’t that indicative of the level of service
you might expect?
Do they have a FAQ (frequently asked question) section?
If they’re cheap on information, they might also be bad on service.
If you can find an e-mail address or contact section, send them
a question just to see how long it takes to get a response. If you
can’t find an e-mail address, find another web host.
It’s important to take your time because if you
get it wrong and you sign up with a lousy host, you could have trouble
moving your site later on. Many web hosts will walk on water to
get your business, but once you “fire”
them, they’re not so helpful.
Don’t buy the hype
Finally, the most important thing you can do is remain focused.
Don’t buy the hype. When the technical jargon starts flying, start
doubting or “be suspicious.”
Don’t be impressed by big numbers and words you don’t know.
Don’t buy extras you don’t need. A lot of hosting
companies will offer to register a domain name for you, but they’ll
charge you a premium. They may offer you extra space, extra mail
boxes, design services, search engine submission services, or discounts
on multiple domain name registrations. Remember, it all costs you
something. Keep asking, “Do
I need this?”
Your best bet is to ask your web designer about
hosting options. They probably already have a couple of companies
they know and are happy with. No matter who you choose, make sure
that you record your host’s information, all of the login and password
information they give you, and the instructions for uploading and
maintaining your site.
We had one client who needed to have his site moved,
but couldn’t remember which host he had signed up with. We spent
four days in back-and-forth e-mail correspondence between four hosting
companies before we figured it out.
Also, keep your contact and payment information
current with your web host. If they can’t reach you because you've
changed your e-mail address and your credit card has expired, your
website comes down. And if you don't keep your contact information
up to date, the host will require you to photocopy and fax many
documents, including photo ID and business registrations, before
they will release the site back to you.
If you need a dependable web host, we'd be happy
to discuss your needs and recommend one for you. We'll hold your
hand through the technical stuff, and we'll explain exactly what
you've got and why you needed it. We think the Web really should
be “simple and easy.”
Check out our full range of web