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If your business is drastically growing and you require more than a standard web hosting pack, it may be time to get a Virtual Private Server (VPS).
By buying a VPS plan, you will have your own virtual server environment with complete control over the OS (operating system), settings, extensions and apps.
While you will still have to share a server with other sites, there are generally fewer websites using the same physical server compared with shared hosting.
Sounds great, right? But what if the virtual private server was 100% free, no strings attached?
Too Good to Be True...
In a time where money is tight, it only makes sense that companies would want to save money anywhere and everywhere they can. But when it comes to your business, you should never compromise on security just to save yourself a few quid.
Whilst free VPS plans do exist, we don't know of a single 100% trustworthy provider that won't let you down. With a free plan, you risk having your site hacked, having data stolen or being upcharge pretty heavily.
You wouldn't hand out your bank details to any old person you meet on the street, so why would you give any old VPS host your personal business information?
Given how hard it is to find a free VPS plan without the risk of being scammed, we simply couldn't go ahead and create a guide listing the best free VPS services on the market. Instead, we have scoured the internet to find the top 5 cheapest VPS hosting providers in the UK.
4 Reasons Why Free VPS Services Are a Scam ⚠️
If you still aren’t convinced that free VPS plans are risky and generally inferior compared with their paid counterparts, we’re here to explain why free VPS services are a complete scam and should be avoided at all costs.
Free VPS Services Are Usually a Scam: Risks and Referrals 🤝
When it comes to free VPS plans, individuals are typically encouraged to sign up for the service and provide bank details as "proof of payment."
The scam becomes evident once the user's bank card is charged for a service the VPS hosting provider claimed was "free of charge."
We don't know of a VPS provider that would give out a free service without asking for something in return, which is why most of the free providers on the market have a referral program.
With these programs, you get free hosting whenever you share your personal link and a friend signs up for a paid service. The more friends who sign up, the longer you will be able to enjoy free shared hosting.
Free VPS Services Aren't Secure: Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) Attack 🔒
In addition to your bank details, you will need to input your personal information when signing up for a free VPS service, such as your password, email address and full name. The question is: Would you trust any old VPS hosting provider with your personal data? And are you able to relax knowing that your information won't be sold to other services or third-party companies? With a free VPS service, we think not!
But your personal data being sold isn't all you're risking when signing up for a free service.
When accessing a VPS, an attacker could perform a man-in-the-middle attack, making you believe that you're entering a legitimate site, server or router. By doing so, the attacker is able to gain access to sensitive information such as your personal information. With that being said, man-in-the-middle attacks can occur with both paid and free VPS services, though with the security features offered by paid plans, it's less likely to occur.
Free VPS Data Breaches: A Thing of the Past? 🏴
Up until the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, many VPS hosting providers could get away with murder.
In recent years, many businesses that were previously looking to gain access to user information in order to sell it have now discontinued their VPS services.
Some claimed that the running costs were too expensive, others went offline without a word. While many individuals may claim that this is a coincidence, there's no denying that it's a little shady.
Free VPS Hosting Restrictions: Free VPS vs Paid VPS ⚔️
If selling your data isn't bad enough, free virtual private servers are extremely limited compared with paid plans when it comes to important features such as storage options and resources.
As you would expect, this can negatively affect loading speeds and the overall performance of your site, which in turn, could lead to income losses.
Here at Hosting Data, we don’t know of a free virtual private server that will keep you completely safe online, so if you’re looking for a 100% free service, you’re looking in the wrong place.
Having said that, we do know of several trustworthy VPS providers that offer a 30-day free trial, allowing you to test out the hosting plan before opting to pay a monthly service fee.
5 Best Free VPS Providers (UK 🇬🇧)
Before we begin, you should know something. Finding a high-quality free hosting provider is hard. If it's free VPS you're looking for, it's practically impossible.
We cannot, in good conscience, recommend any of the countless online services marketing themselves as free VPS hosts. If we did that, we'd be setting up our readers for data theft, malware, and participating in borderline cybercrime.
If you're real serious about upgrading to a virtual private server, scroll further down and examine the cheapest VPS hosting providers. It'll be better for you in the long run.
Best Cheap VPS (UK 🇬🇧)
Not all VPS providers are free. Although this means you’ll be shelling out a small cost each month, it also means you’ll be free from a lot of the issues that plague so-called “free” VPS offers.
For our money, these are the best value VPS providers on the market.
1. A2Hosting Dynamic - A Reputable £4.02 VPS Plan
Developer Friendly 🤓
Many of their A2’s plans are definitely designed for developers to take an interest. In our experience, most would take a second look at their unmanaged (Dynamic) VPS plan that comes at under £5/mo.
Give your clients a surprising boost with their website’s speed and reliability (even those on an especial budget), with a company that holds up well performance-wise.
A2 will of course work for all of the popular CMS's, whether it be Joomla, Wordpress, Megento, or Drupal.
Get your CMS-of-choice installed with only a couple of clicks, even without a developer's assistance. And there is also the option to use their own native website builder, which is fully integrated.
Free Migration 🏝️
Let’s say you already have a website running with another web hosting provider or even under a different A2 plan. Their team will get you transferred onto their own server for no extra charge.
Just hop onto the live chat support window and a customer support representative will sort you out in no time. Not that many providers will charge you an extra £80 for a migration, so it's definitely a fantastic added value.
Because you are on a VPS plan (considered to be an intermediate to premium type, rather than a basic shared one), they will give you up to 25 free migrations. That’s more than enough for most.
To get this going, just give the support team your cPanel info and they’ll take the problem over from you, giving you an update when the work is done.
Environmentally Conscious 🌳
Last but not least … despite it being a high-octane speed-freak webhost, A2 is actually one of the few “green” hosting companies out there.
They’ve made a commitment to be carbon-neutral, partnering up with CarbonFund.org... Partner up too. Let people know you are working with Earth in mind whichever plan you choose.
In fact, Neilson’s ratings found that almost three-quarters of Millennials would pay more money in order to support sustainable companies. (Millennials are those born between 1977 and 1995, an important target for most businesses). Not only good for the environment but also good marketing.
2. Hostwinds – Fully-Managed VPS Hosting
Hostwinds is a complete one-stop-shop for VPS hosting. They have an incredible range of VPS hosting plans and incredibly low prices, fully managed support, and a great uptime record.
Wide Range of Plans 📈
Their plans range from 1 CPU core, 30 GB of storage and 1GB of RAM to 16 CPU cores, 750GB of storage and 96GB of RAM. If you want it, they’ve got it.
They’re a great option for someone looking for a no-fuss, fast-performing VPS host that can offer you room to grow as your website does.
3. Hostinger – Premium (Yet Inexpensive) VPS Hosting
Hostinger is our number two pick for excellent value VPS hosting. They offer a full SSD infrastructure that boasts page loading speeds of up to 30x faster than shared hosting services.
Worth the Price 💸
The amount of RAM, bandwidth and disk space that you get for the price is unmatched, and any issues you face building your website will be easily handled by their 24/7 support team.
In short, what’s not to like? Check out our in-depth Hostinger review for more.
4. InMotionHosting – Market-Leader in VPS Hardware
While reviewing InMotionHosting, we found out that it has top-of-the-line VPS hardware, free backups and SSD drives, and great management software. As far as VPS offers go, they’re one of the most complete there is.
Secure & Reliable 🔒
Their VPS plans come with super fast and secure RAID-6 arranged SSD storage, as well as buckets of RAM for the price you’re paying. Most importantly their uptime reputation is unbeaten in the marketplace, so for reliability, it’s hard to find a better choice.
Lastly, if you’re unsatisfied for any reason, they throw in a 90-day money-back guarantee. Pretty good right?
5. DomainRacer – Devs Will Love It
DomainRacer offers VPS hosting with complete root access. They offer impressive connectivity, solid state storage, and reliable, low latency infrastructure. Alongside this, their security is relatively formidable and they offer OS installation and server reboot. For a cheap VPS starting at £6.69 per month this is nothing to sniff at.
Great for Developers 👨💻
Full root access won’t be necessary for an out and out beginner, but for a more experienced web developer this kind of service could be exactly what they are looking for.
However, while DomainRacer’s storage is superfast solid state tech, it is also limited to a mere 20GB, which most users will find themselves using up in no time, causing them to need to spend more money upgrading their plan. With that in mind, the cheap plan is little more than a taster.
6. GreenGeeks – Who Doesn’t Like Nature?
Green Geeks VPS hosting isn’t the most popular or well known option, but it comes with dozens of enviable features, making it an option that’s definitely worth considering. Chief among these features is their 24/7 365 days per year support. As any web development process is going to encounter obstacles, having this on hand can be a life saver for experienced or beginner devs.
Simple to Use and Eco-Friendly 🌳
Green Geeks also offer an easy to use VPS management portal, where you can control all elements of your VPS through your account - meaning that DNS management and re-installs are extremely simple.
On top of this, the company boasts an impressive 99.9% service uptime, and, more uniquely, 300% renewable energy infrastructure. Which, if you ask us, is pretty cool.
7. Interserver – Affordable With Low Storage
Aside from being an incredibly affordable option, Interserver hosting comes with a number of benefits. Firstly, they don’t put any limits on accessing or updating your data or service. You are free to do whatever you want to your database, files, and folders, giving you an impressive range of control. Second, they provide you with root access, extending this level of control to a level desired by more experienced developers.
Self-Healing Hardware 🚑
Importantly, they also provide what they call “self healing hardware”, which essentially means that if a glitch is encountered on a US server, they will redirect your server to another node - all at lightning fast speed, so that your site is unaffected.
In terms of reliability and control, Interserver are hard to beat. However, 30GB storage is far from exhaustive and may leave you wanting.
How We Reviewed VPS Providers
We spent a couple of weeks hunkered down sifting through the mass of web hosts to find you the best free VPS provider there is.
It took a lot of signing up, a lot of website building, and A LOT of performance testing…
The results were… Interesting.
There’s a lot of sneaky behaviour going on in the world of free VPS. Everything we encountered that is promised as “free VPS hosting” is little more than scams designed to get advertising revenue, email addresses or other data.
This means that a lot of testing left us putting on heads (or rather, data) on the chopping block.
First, here’s what you want to look out for:
- Sign up programs designed to get you clicking adverts - Your clicks equals their money.
- Email signups that lead nowhere - Your email can be sold for money.
- Unnecessary levels of data collection - Information about you can be sold to advertisers.
Start to tread carefully if you see anything like that.
Free/Cheap VPS Providers: Things to Look Out For
Best Uptime Guarantees 💯
The worst thing that can happen is renting a server that’s never online. The best VPS hosts will give you an uptime guarantee, which means they promise your server will not go offline (taking your content with it).
The better the company you're dealing with, the better their infrastructure and ability to offer you better uptime guarantees.
At a minimum, we recommend 99.95% uptime guarantees as a baseline - anything less than this will cause your business to suffer when visitors search for your content and cannot access it (that's lost sales and lost trust).
Should You Get a Managed or Unmanaged VPS? 🤵
This is another thing to consider. When you go for a managed VPS plan, this means the hosting company takes care of much more of the day-to-day running. You don't have as much ability to customize managed servers, such as with performance patches, data backups, security updates, and so on.
By comparison, a non-managed VPS hands much more of the control of the server over to you. You directly take care of many of the technical aspects, as the site owner - that includes how the server and the operating system are configured.
If you don't know much about the technical side of running a server, this could be a lot of time and headaches on your part (you already have a business to run), and we would recommend you hire somebody who does have the technical knowledge - or to pay the extra for a managed plan.
Overall, a managed to VPS plan is best for somebody who does not have technical know-how with servers. However, if you do have that knowledge, an unmanaged VPS can save you some money as long as you have time to deal with the technical elements (it could be offered as a long-term add-on to client sites, for developers out there with a team).
Best Hardware 🌐
You want to give the server hardware some thought as well, as it makes a difference. You will find two main hardware options. Firstly, you can rent out a virtual space using a physical server. This single physical server gives you excellent reliability and performance capacity with less starting costs.
The main drawback with using a physical VPS server, especially if it is a single server, is that if something goes wrong - due to another website eating up a lot of traffic - this might affect you (shared hosting also has this issue).
Even worse, if a trojan gets into that server, potentially all of the connected websites will be affected, although VPS plans offer you more protection by far then shared plans do. VPS systems do this by creating a virtual mimic of a dedicated server, giving you extra protection from viruses.
NB. If you want maximal insulation from cybercriminals and hackers, which will be especially true for people who are storing sensitive data such as healthcare websites, cloud or dedicated hosting may be preferable.
Benefits of the Cloud by Comparison ☁️
Although cloud hosting has not been around for that long, it has made great gains due to some of the unique advantages it gives its users. For one, cloud hosting decentralizes your data, as it is powered by many servers often located in other parts of the country or even world.
You get data redundancy with this hosting type. It’s particularly useful when it comes to sidestepping traffic bottlenecks. Data redundancy basically means that your information is duplicated across every server powering your website. If one server struggles to deal with the load, your website queries are automatically and instantly rebooted to other servers that are inactive.
This gives cloud hosting an extreme level of reliability. This data redundancy serves as extra insulation against the sorts of downtime disasters that can happen during the busy periods like Black Friday. They also offer an immense level of scalability that can be immediately implemented. And usually charges are only made for the data bytes that you actually use.
Dedicated vs VPS Hosting 🆚
So you’ve been at your blog for a while and it’s starting to get noticed. Every new post takes you a considerable amount of time, and making the graphics to support the content is no easy task either.
The hard work’s paying off. You’re getting a decent number of unique visits each time you publish a new post, and seeing yourself higher-up in the search engines than you previously were. You're worried that visitors may notice a performance drop, because there are more of them using your website.
What do you do?
In truth, most bloggers out there go for a VPS. This typically gives you the best value for jumping up from a shared hosting type.
In either case, you get what you pay for with a dedicated or VPS plan. But dedicated would typically be recommended more for those who are dealing with a media-intensive website and lots of sales...
(speed is the killer factor with conversions)
VPS’s Offer More Pricing Variety
There’s more to choose from with VPS pricings compared to Dedicated hosting, and you can likely find your ideal tier, which is usually why most people go to a VPS. You also have the option to get an managed or unmanaged plan with either choice.
Both options give you a lot of control over your server’s customisations.
Dedicated servers have the edge when it comes to the higher-end of performance (not your average blogger’s needs)... You are also more insulated against distributed denial-of-service (DDOS attacks). Because you will have your own server, when you are in a dedicated plan, you do not need to concern yourself with what your neighbors are up to at all.
VPS plans secure you virtually and also come with dedicated IP addresses, but it's a little less likely that you will have an intrusion if you go for a dedicated server (as long as you install the proper security measures, which will happen automatically if you get a managed plan).
As we said at the start of the article, there are certain things you want to keep your eye out for as they give away which VPS providers are actually offering a decent service.
While at the start, we focused on things to avoid, such as forcing you to click on advertising. Now we want to focus on the kind of features you should look for as they will present you with the best kind of service, performance, and support for your VPS hosting.
Free Trials (Test it First 🔬)
Who doesn’t love a free trial? It costs nothing, you get to see how it works, and, if you’re smarter than we are, you’ll remember to cancel to automatic payment a month down the line if you don’t like it.
Free trials are a crucial thing to look for when taking up VPS hosting. They allow you to get a feel for the hosting service, a deeper understanding of how it works, an opportunity to see its strengths and weaknesses in action, and, most importantly, a chance to see if it’s right for your experience level.
I cannot stress this last point enough. If you’re a complete beginner, the last thing you want is to be paying for VPS hosting you have no idea how to use. This will make your development process a lot harder and grind your learning to a halt.
So look for a free trial and take the different VPS hosting services for a spin. Just remember to cancel the ones that aren’t right for you.
Customer Support ☎️
Great customer support on your hosting is invaluable. Unless you’re the Yoda of web hosting, you’re almost guaranteed to come across bumps in the road that are beyond your ability to solve.
Website crashing. Getting hacked. Installing plugins. All of it.
Enter customer support.
A good customer support agent will be expertly trained to deal with your problem. This means no matter how confusing or impossible it might seem, they’ll be able to figure it out.
But here’s the best bit. A good customer support service is available 24/7, 365 days a year. This means no matter when you encounter your problem, you will be able to get help to solve it.
When looking for a good VPS hosting service you want to make sure it comes with great customer service. Look for reviews that indicate this to be the case, and make sure they offer year-round 24/7 service. Doing so will vastly increase the quality of your hosting and help you maintain your site year-round.
Dependability and Proof of Service 🤝
A good reputation is hard to win but easy to lose. This is especially true when it comes to web hosting.
If a VPS provider has a solid reputation for dependability, then it means they’ve put in the work and consistently delivered what their customers have wanted time and time again. This means they’ll do the same for you.
These are the kind of providers you want to look for, but additionally, you want to look for proof that they’ve provided great service to customers. Look for testimonials from reputable websites (especially if they’re in your niche) that indicate the hosting service has helped them get to where they are.
Discounts & Deals on VPS Purchases 🤑
Many VPS providers will offer sales and discounts on their hosting options. A good example of this is Black Friday sales or Hostinger’s Cyber Sale which can offer deals at discounts of up to 90%.
Buying VPS hosting during these periods can lead to massive savings in both the short and long term. As you’re likely going to be looking for hosting across a period of months of years, finding a good discount on an already cheap service can make your hosting bills as painless as possible.
If you combine that with a service that offers excellent features, hardware, performance, and customer service - then you’ll end up getting top quality hosting for next to nothing at all.
Automatic Backups, Added Security, Extra Features, and Freebies 🔐
If there’s one guarantee in the world of web hosting, it’s that something is going to go wrong, and problems are going to pop up like weeds.
This is normal.
It could be anything from your website crashing, to your hosting getting hacked, to you suddenly needing more functionality from your website in order to meet your creative / business needs.
When this happens, you want a VPS provider that helps you solve these problems as easily as possible. To do this you want to look for a provider that comes locked and loaded with a set of extra features that are going to help you handle these problems, or, even better, solve them before they occur.
Features like added security help to prevent or deter hacking, while automatic backups consistently keep your web content backed up in case your site crashes or gets corrupted by a bad update. This helps you get your content back online often at just the click of a button.
Many of these extra features will be free, but it will depend on the hosting package. Take time to understand what extra options are included and consider whether they’ll help you down the line.
VPS Hosting – Frequently Asked Questions
We get a lot of questions about VPS hosting, and this is no surprise. Without a great website builder and code knowledge, website building is difficult. Thus, finding the right hosting service is a key part of getting that building process right.
You don’t just want a service that works, but you want one that actively makes your website building process less expensive and more simple.
To help you, here are some of the most common questions we get.
Why Would I Need a VPS?
You may need a VPS if your website requires greater performance than shared hosting can offer. For example, if you need a customisable environment for your server, more RAM and more CPU cores, as well as a service that is scalable - then you will need a VPS.
How Much Does Good VPS Cost?
VPS hosting can be quite cheap. Some providers have plans for as little as a few pounds per month. However, these plans will be for low traffic websites.
If you require a high performing VPS that comes with more robust hardware, then it could cost you as much as £20 per month or more.
Is VPS Better Than Shared Hosting?
Yes. A VPS has significant advantages over a shared hosting plan.
For starters, a VPS is compartmentalised, which means although you share a physical server with other users, each VPS is its own environment.
Likewise, there is no need for you to share resources on a VPS, which means that if there is a traffic spike on one site, it won’t affect your own in any way. This is because your VPS has its own resource allocation that determines its own bottlenecks - an allocation that is scalable if you need more RAM or CPU cores for your business.
A VPS is also typically fully customisable, giving you much more control over the settings of your servers environment.
What Are the Benefits of Using a VPS?
A VPS comes with a variety of benefits. These are:
- Increased reliability and stability.
- Total control of the server.
- Ability to instantly scale server resources.
- Improved performance.
- Dedicated resources.
What Are the Best Free VPS Providers?
There are many options when it comes to free VPS providers. Although free website builders usually aren’t good or free, there are some decent options to consider such as VPSWala and Gigarocket. These companies both have strong reputations and respectable offerings at zero cost.
What Is the Cheapest VPS Provider?
The cheapest VPS provider is Hostinger. Their plan starts at £3.95 per month.
That’s our list of the best free and cheap VPS providers on the market. Although it can be tempting to look for a free VPS, it’s important to remember that any free VPS provider is looking to make money out of you in some way.
A good host will do this by charging you for the use of their hardware, a lesser host will do so by offering you a poor service riddled with ads or data collection schemes.
However, if you do your homework, utilise free trial periods, and keep an eye out for “scammy” or sub-par services, you can find extremely cheap VPS hosting that can meet most of the needs of any beginner website builder.