Cheap Web Hosting’s List of Hidden Costs

Cheap web hosting is designed to look good until it breaks – a lot like a pinata full of cole slaw.

You may have seen the ads on TV or in a sidebar of a blog: “Web Hosting for only $3.99* Per Month*!” or “Unlimited* Websites for One* Low price of 1¢*.” If you haven’t seen those ads, once you do a Google search for “Who is the best web host, Hostgator or Godaddy?” you’ll start seeing those ads everywhere.

Cheap web hosts are not only hoping you are not successful, they are counting on it! Click To Tweet

How Can Web Hosting Be So Cheap?

Web hosting happens on a server. That server is like a suped-up version of the computer at your desk. The more you make that computer do at once, the slower it will go. If one program crashes your computer, it might just bring all of your programs to a dramatic halt.

hidden costs of cheap web hosting

So let’s think of your website as a computer program. Cheap, shared web hosting is basically hundreds, if not thousands, of websites (programs) running off of that server (computer). The more customers a web host can put on one server, they more profit they are going to make. They don’t have to add hardware for each website customer, just another folder on the hard drive. The problem comes up because the more people hit those sites, the more the computer has to work. How does that impact you?

Here are two common scenarios of impact:

  1. A website gets a surge of traffic. Hooray for them, right? Well in the one-size fits everyone hosting, this isn’t a good thing. That web server that is running 1,217 websites has a limit to how hard it can work. This website that earned a link from Huffington Post is now eating up resources and all of the other websites on the server are paying the price with a slow page load speed, intermittent bouts of unresponsiveness, and server time out errors.
  2. A website gets hacked. Sucks for them, right? Well not just them. Again with your “everyone in the pool” server, you are at the mercy (good or bad) of your neighbors. If one of those other websites goes down because of a hack, whether you like it or not, you might be going down with it. You may also get exposed to malware or mail server blacklists by association because they set their password to 12345. Monitoring services (even Google search results) flag, and sometimes block suspicious or compromised websites.

Sample Search engine result with malware warning

How much would it cost you if Google were to tell everyone your website might be dangerous?

Google red screen malware warning

What if this were the landing page of your website, greeting first time users with the only option of a button that says “Back to Safety” and then taking customers away from your site? 

Web Hosting is Too Expensive

If you insist on going with Bluehost, Godaddy, Hostgator, etc. hosting because it is so cheap, here are some suggestions for success:

  1. Reconsider how valuable your web presence is in the first place, if you only want to spend $2.99 per month on it. (People spend more than that on coffee, ice cream, haircuts, those light-up sticks at the circus, parking for the Evansville Philharmonic, and the cheapest combo-pack of fireworks!)
  2. Backup your website regularly. The best of these are services like Code Guard or VaultPress. They have a cost, but if your site is hacked or a plugin update goes bad, it will be worth that to easily get your website back online.
  3. Use a trusted theme. Downloading a free WordPress theme from a file-sharing site all but guarantees that you will be hacked or will be out of date soon. Purchase a theme or have a reputable web design company make one for you. If you use a free theme, use one that is well-reviewed on WordPress.org and shows ongoing activity and support.
  4. Prepare to learn a lot. The cheap web hosting companies don’t make as much money once all of those clients start calling with support calls, so you’ll be getting a lot of support via chat or impersonal customer service reps. You might have to do a lot of the maintenance (plugin updates, WordPress updates) on your own and be prepared if something goes wrong (see #2).

If you figure in the cost of keeping your site maintained in admin office hours (that is, time you will be doing web hosting work and not what you actually make money doing) and the necessary backups and unpredictable support, cheap web hosting begins to be not so cheap.

These are all reasons to choose a local web host like Lieberman Technologies, of course, because we do daily backups, WordPress updates, pro-active plugin maintenance and we know who you are. Knowing that your support person is in Evansville has a big impact that doesn’t carry a price tag. If you are ready for business class web hosting, contact us and we can give you the confidence and performance that comes from a professional web host.

* Whenever you sign up for web hosting, read the fine print. We put our hosting agreements in easy-to-read print.