Discover the pros and cons of a low cost hosting service for those shopping for web hosting on a budget.Posted on 29 September 2017 -
If you’re working to a tight budget when choosing your web hosting, you might be in the market for a low cost hosting service.
The lower end of the web hosting market is saturated, so you will not be short of options. The tricky part is making sure you don’t pick a provider who ends up costing you money in the process.
Low cost web hosting is likely to be shared hosting in one form or another. In other words, you and a number of the web hosting company in question’s other clients will be using some or all of the same infrastructure.
The most basic and cheapest version of this is shared hosting itself. This involves several websites belonging to different organisations residing on a single server. It is very cheap because the cost of the server and maintenance is spread between all those using the server.
The downsides are that, because all of the technology is shared, there needs to be a system administrator. Individual customers are very limited as to how much control they have over admin.
They will also be restricted in terms of what technology and software they can use by what the host is prepared to support.
Finally, there are inherent security risks associated with hosting your website, app or data on a server that is accessed by so many other people.
Slightly more expensive but offering better features than basic shared hosting is VPS hosting. Once again, it involves sharing a server. VPS hosting involves creating for each client a virtual server, which is effectively a single hosting environment within shared hardware. This results in each client using the shared server having their own virtual machine.
Unlike shared hosting, VPS hosting provides root and admin access to individual users. And each user can only access their virtual machine’s operating system, not the server itself, which increases security. We’ve previously written about how to improve VPS security.
Although VPS hosting can be made more secure than shared hosting, it retains some of the security risks of sharing hardware with third-parties. Another disadvantage is that VPS hosting depends on sharing the resources of a single server between multiple tenants, so performance might be hindered.
For personal websites or business websites that have little commercial value for the organisation, a low cost web hosting service is probably fine. But it is worth considering alternative options if any of these considerations apply to you:
Do you host commercially or legally sensitive information on your server? Would a cyberattack that resulted in a data breach or took your website offline for an extended period of time be dangerous for your finances or your reputation? If so, it is really worth considering spending a bit more to get private cloud hosting or dedicated bare metal server to avoid hosting your data on shared infrastructure and mitigate against those risks.
Many low cost hosting service providers rely on selling packages that limit your use of their resources. Often there are steep financial penalties for overusing bandwidth. If your site is or can occasionally be busy (or if you’re planning for significant growth in the near future), a package with unlimited bandwidth or at least the option to scale up cost-effectively would be preferable. It might save you money in comparison to racking up additional charges on your low cost web hosting service.
If your website is busy or resource-heavy (e.g. your customers view or download lots of images), the limited performance standards provided by shared hosting might impact the experience for customers using your website. You might find that the money saved by using a low cost hosting service is outweighed by the cost of lost sales if people find your website frustrating to use.