Last Updated 9th March 2017
Having a website or blog can be a good or bad experience. A lot of that experience depends on the type of web hosting service you end up purchasing. I often get asked “what hosting plan should I be using”, “will this hosting plan be enough for my needs”, “will this cheap hosting plan do the job”. I’ve been telling people for years to make sure they get the right hosting for the job at hand. Many website owners don’t know what is right for their site. I can’t count how many times I’ve told people they need to pay more for their website hosting demands. I ALSO can’t count how many times I’ve told people that cheap web hosting is the best solution for them and probably always will be. So I’m here to help you know when and why you should use cheap web hosting.
In this article I will cover the 4 main problems that websites encounter where cheap web hosting is not suitable. There are more reasons why some websites may need to pay for more expensive web hosting but for 95% of the time the following 4 reasons will be the cause for a websites need to shift from cheap to a more expensive hosting option.
4 Main reasons for upgrading your website hosting
- Increased computing and processing power / Server resources
- Special web hosting features and services
- Larger disk storage space
- High file count / Inode usage
I have deliberately left out “Customer Service/Support” from this list. The reason is because customer service is simply a hit and miss, trial and error experience. Paying more money for expecting better support and a better customer experience often does not mirror reality. If you are simply wanting better service than you currently have then it is worth trying another hosting company with prices in your budget range. There are many cheap hosting options out there that provide excellent customer support.
How cheap is cheap and how expensive is expensive?
Cheap can be as low as free but there will be some caveats such as advertising on your website or very minimal services available almost certainly not including email services. Free web hosting is not recommended.
A full service web hosting account price can start as low as $2 per month or $24 per year, however their renewal prices are usually 200-400% more than the initial first year fees. The minimum price for full service and good customer support has a starting price around $4-$8 per month, approximately $50-$100 per year.
Expensive web hosting prices do not have an upper limit to price. In theory the price can be infinite, however the starting price of expensive hosting can be about $20 per month. Prices higher than $20 per month will start to include more power, more features and services, more disk space and higher inode quotas.
Whats Wrong With Cheap Web Hosting
NOTHING! It all depends on whether it is suitable for your needs. Cheap web hosting is the best way to get started on the internet. It is also the best way to go for many businesses and blogs. In fact, most will find that a cheap web hosting plan will be suitable for the entire life of their business or blog. If not, then it is easy to upgrade and move on but it is by far the best place to start your online existence. When looking for a cheap web hosting company be sure to search online for web host reviews.
With the many hosting companies out there today it is easy to find one that offers all the features and services you require. Some will offer more, some will ofter less. More or less come in different forms but the one decisive factor between expensive and cheap web hosting is the amount of computing power of the server your website is allowed to use.
Reason #1: Why is computing power important for websites (web server resources and processing power)
When a website is loaded in a web browser or when your PC or phone checks for new emails, a web server needs to use computing power to process the requests. If your website and email accounts are using too much of the allocated computing power you will experience slow loading times and/or errors.
The amount of computing power your website requires is a function of several factors but the 3 most important are:
- website design
- website software
- number of visitors to your website
When it comes to computing power these 3 factors can be exclusive from each other or they can be highly related. Lets take a look at each of them.
Factor #1: Poor Website Design
A question many cheap web host companies hear from some customers, “Why is my website loading so slowly?”. It turns out that some themes and plugins use a lot of computing power to simply process and load a website. This is a good sign of poorly written code. Basically you don’t want to be using these types of themes and plugins. There is always an alternative which will save you money, time and headaches down the track.
Factor #2: Resource Hungry Website Software
Not all website development software is equal. Different types of software serve different purposes and each require varying amounts for computing power to function correctly. A well managed WordPress website will consume much less computing power than a heavily loaded shopping software application even when there is not much traffic to the website. The same goes for poorly written software. A simple application can be resource hungry simply because the programming of it is flawed.
It’s important to know how much computing power your software consumes to understand if cheap web hosting is the right option for you. You don’t need to pay for expensive web hosting just because you chose bad software. Know your software, do some research and don’t get trapped by someone else’s programming.
Factor #3: High Volume Website Traffic
It’s very obvious that everyone wants to get thousands of visitors each day to their website. The reality is this rarely happens. But this can’t stop you or anyone else from having a website. Everyone with a business or a blog needs to start somewhere and that means having a website, it is essential to marketing a business or starting a blog.
If you have a big business with many thousands of customers or you have an established blog that receives many thousands of visitors a day, then yes, you should avoid cheap web hosting. Basically your site requires more computing power to process the thousands of people loading your website pages. But if your website does not receive that many visitors just yet you don’t need to worry about this and cheap web hosting is a great way to start building traffic to your website.
If you have poor website design or resource hungry software and you receive a lot of traffic to your website you can try to fix the design or software problem to reduce the web server load. If that doesn’t help reduce the load enough, then you might want to consider paying more for web hosting and look for a provider who can offer the resources your website demands.
Reason #2: Does cheap web hosting offer enough features and services
On the whole, web hosting has become like a commodity or utility. Most web hosting companies can offer all the essential elements needed to operate a domain name, website and email. There maybe times when a business requires more specific features but still, any specific needs will most likely be found through one of the many cheap hosting companies out there.
If the features you require cannot be found with cheap web hosting then is it likely that a more expensive hosting option is required. If this is the case it probably means you have employed the services of a web developer who has recommended software that has very specific needs. Your web developer should have a good idea of where you should host your domain and website.
Reason #3: How much disk space does the average website actually need to store its files?
Cheap web hosting is not considered to be a file storage facility. It is a service allowing customers to operate fully functional websites and email addresses. The amount of disk space provided by a cheap web host can be anywhere from around 2GB to Unlimited, the average being 5-10GB. Though we all know unlimited is not realistic.
Unlimited means it is unlimited until you hit another type of limit. Another type of limit commonly emposed is the “total number of files/inodes” or “unused stored files”. Unused stored files refers to files simply being stored and not directly used by your website, including old emails that just sit on the server taking up space.
Approximately 95% of websites will not need more than 5-10Gb of disk space over their lifetime. You can easily operate a website or several websites and many email addresses with 5-10Gb of disk space for the entire life of a business or blog.
When more disk space is needed then it’s probably important files that you wish to keep stored, or your website is that big that it needs to use more space. Generally, such a situation suggests that your data is crucial to the existance of your business or organisation. Large amounts of important data also requires more regular backups and these backups will require more disk space. This is definitely a situation where you would be researching more expensive web hosting options.
Reason #4: Tens of thousands of website files/inodes, are they really needed?
While most cheap hosting will give you enough disk storage space to host your website files and emails, most hosting companies need to put a limit on the number of files stored. Each file is referred to as an “inode”. The limits usually range from between 50000 and 100000 inodes/files. This is more than enough for most websites and email accounts.
If your website is using more than the limit then there is usually a problem somewhere. Old backups, unused software installations, old themes and plugins, old website files and images and years of old emails that have not been deleted can cause an account to exceed the inode file limit. These are all easily fixable by cleaning up your hosting account and deleting old and unused files and emails. It is always a good idea to download old emails and delete them from the web server to ensure your account does not exceed the disk storage and inode limits.
If your website really does need to use more than the allocated inode limit or you really want to keep all your past emails on the web sever then you should think about spending more money on web hosting. If your email storage is the problem then there is another alternative that has become very popular. You can use your domain name to host your email using Gmail and leave your website on a cheap web hosting plan.
Understanding your website hosting needs
You don’t need to pay for something you don’t need. If you don’t already know your hosting needs you will soon discover them once you get your website up and running. You should start with cheap web hosting and take it from there.
If you have a general understanding of what your needs are you can use this guide to determine if a cheap web hosting option is suitable for you or not. If you use the “4 Main reasons for upgrading website hosting” as a guide to better hosting management, I can guarantee you will know when, why and if you ever need to avoid cheap web hosting.
Web hosting accounts do need to be managed. They don’t need to be managed all the time but they do require some management from time to time. If no management is done you may find yourself being told by someone that the only solution to fix any problem is to pay more money for a bigger, better hosting plan.
For most people I hope this guide is used to identify where a problem may exist and to easily address that problem. Problems that can be easily fixed that will save you money and time to allow you to successfully continue using cheap web hosting for the lifetime of your online presence.
Thanks for reading. Cheers!
ps. I’m here to help, so let me know if you need help deciding what web hosting will best suit you.