Have you ever considered launching your own website? Whether it's for a personal hobby like blogging or you're trying to set up an online store, the need for an online presence in today's online world has never seemed more necessary.
Still, one of the biggest concerns among those who aren't in the know is the costs of web hosting, but have you ever considered how much upfront investment it actually takes to set up your first website?
Understandably so, many people hold reservations about the logistics of hosting a website — is it too expensive? Is this sort of thing reserved for large businesses or tech-savvy individuals only?
In reality, this couldn't be a bigger misconception. We've come a significant distance from the early days of website hosting, and gone are the days of having to manually configure, install, or otherwise maintain your server to keep it running. Nowadays, web hosting costs can actually be surprisingly affordable, even for those unable to commit too much money.
Throughout this article, we'll aim to provide some insight into web hosting costs, including sections highlighting the process for free domain registration and various other expenses. Aside from broadening your understanding of web hosting, we'll explore a few tips and tricks you might find useful for keeping web host costs down without needing to sacrifice the quality of your site.
Hopefully, when you are finished reading the article, you'll have a much clearer understanding of all things web hosting and what steps you can take to ensure you're getting the maximum value for your money. Without further delay, let's begin.
Table of Contents:
Understanding The Different Methods Of Web Hosting 🔎️
To kick things off, it's important to know that there are a bunch of options when it comes to how you're hosting your website — all of which have their own costs and benefits. Given the variety at your disposal here, it's definitely worth understanding what makes each option unique and whether or not they will align with your personal circumstances.
When it comes to popularity, shared web hosting is among the most frequently used ways of getting your site up and running with ease. When your site's hosted on a shared network, you're essentially sharing the same space on the server along with multiple other websites. As a result, all of the resources available on the network are shared among all the other website owners, which, as you may have guessed, can cause slower loading times when there's high server traffic.
Having said that, what makes this method so popular is the pricing structure, as you're also dividing the cost between the other users, like a shared taxi. As a result, it's mostly smaller businesses and bloggers that opt for this form of web hosting when seeking a reliable platform that's within their budget.
As touched on, the fact that you're sharing the overall cost of web hosting among different users makes the price of this method far more manageable than any of the other options on this list. So, if you've only recently decided that you want to host a website and you do not want to splash out on expensive features right off the bat, it might be better to consider this option instead.
User-friendly Control Panel
Again, if you're a beginner, you'll most likely appreciate the intuitive control panel that's provided on most of these shared hosting plans. With tutorials and support lines at reach, if needed, you shouldn't run into any major problems when setting up and managing your first website.
Suitable For Smaller Websites
Let's say that you're just starting a blog and are yet to attract any major following yet. That's okay, and we're sure you will, but in the meantime, shared hosting is designed specifically for any site receiving low to moderate web traffic. Still, when you begin gaining a buzz, you can easily upgrade to a more appropriate web hosting method that gives your site a bit more dedication.
Limited Resources & Bandwidth
Naturally, although you're able to benefit from the low prices, you're always going to have slower loading times when multiple websites are sharing the same server. Depending on which web hosting provider you've decided on, this can be pretty frustrating for anyone that's using your website, possibly even resulting in bounces.
Because these aren't dedicated servers to focus entirely on your website, you're at a slightly higher risk of any security risks, such as malware or hacking attempts. Think of it like living in a shared hostel with 15 people in comparison to having your own house.
As an example, if one of the websites on your shared web hosting server is hacked and there's been malware uploaded to the server, this theoretically can cause all the other websites on the network to get infected too.
Not Suitable For High-Traffic Websites
For this kind of web hosting, all the other sites on the server share the same resources, which also include the CPU, RAM, and storage space. After this, the website gets assigned a certain amount of resources based on your hosting plan subscription (normally all relatively cheap).
Though the web hosting service typically uses a mix of software and hardware solutions so that the resources are fairly distributed (and no one site is consuming an excessive amount at the detriment of the others), you're never going to be able to accommodate for high web traffic.
If this is the position you find yourself in, you actually do need to consume more resources than the other websites you're sharing the server with, making it an untenable solution.
VPS Web Hosting Providers
Next up, we'll be covering a Virtual Private Server (VPS), a notable step up from shared hosting. Though your website is still being hosted on a shared server with other people, you're allocated your own private section with many more dedicated resources.
This offers the same overall benefits as shared hosting, but you have a lot more control and flexibility over the way the web hosting space is managed.
Better Customisation Options
Though you're still not accessing the same level of control over your server as a dedicated server, VPS hosting plans offer far more customisable features in comparison to the strictly shared hosting providers.
In general, this gives you a lot more freedom to configure and manage the server the way you want it to be, ensuring everything's in accordance with your website's specific requirements. As a result, anyone visiting your site should have a much easier time navigating around all the various pages.
More Affordable Than Dedicated Hosting
Rather uniquely, VPS hosting fills a gap between affordable, lower-quality shared hosting and superior, more expensive dedicated hosting. This balance lets it offer a wide variety of resources to users at a more affordable price than a dedicated web host.
Better Security Than Shared Hosting
Now that your website has its own dedicated section of the server, you have access to much stronger protection in the face of any potential security breaches. As other websites sharing the same server can be prone to malware and other forms of cyberattacks, you would always want to make sure you won't be affected if the server is ultimately compromised.
More Expensive Than Shared Hosting
Though this is certainly a cheaper option in comparison to a dedicated web host platform, it's worth considering whether you feel the added customisation is enough to make you pay the extra fee to upgrade from shared hosting.
In addition, while you do gain the ability to customise your website more freely, you're still not able to utilise the same level of flexibility as the more expensive options.
More Technical Knowledge Required
Shared hosting provides a much more spoon-fed process when you are looking to set up and maintain your website. All of your configurations are taken care of for you, and you don't need to have any major knowledge or history of running a website before.
On the other hand, VPS hosting requires some know-how if you want to get the most out of what you're paying for, so if you're less equipped for this topic, it may be worth sticking to shared hosting until you've gained more experience.
Having said this, the level of expertise required to run a VPS-hosted website is still less intensive than a dedicated web host, so you don't have to be a complete expert.
Though we've mentioned that you have a dedicated section of the server that allocates you more resources, there's still a ceiling for how much your website or business can grow when sharing the same resources as hundreds of other websites, no matter the slight advantage you have.
This means that if you're fortunate enough to have grown beyond the current amount of resources your VPS can provide you, you'll have to upgrade to one of the more expensive options, such as a dedicated web hosting server.
Furthermore, you would ideally want to have more control over your site's configurations and settings than you would be permitted with a VPS, especially if you're trying to scale your website and expand.
Dedicated Server Hosting
This is by far the most expensive option to host your website, but it generally provides the highest level of control, flexibility, and performance. With this method of web hosting, you have an entire server dedicated to hosting your website, giving you full control over its resources.
Maximum Control & Flexibility
With dedicated hosting, you have total control over your server's resources and configuration, meaning you can customise your server to your exact specifications and make any changes as you see fit. This level of independence and flexibility is generally unparalleled by any other hosting option.
High Performance & Speed
As you're no longer sharing your server's resources with other websites, your website can run faster and be more responsive. This plays a huge role in favour of better user experience and search engine rankings. Additionally, dedicated hosting can handle sudden spikes in traffic without experiencing any slowdowns, which can be especially beneficial for websites that experience seasonal traffic fluctuations.
Suitable For Higher-Traffic Websites
Dedicated hosting can handle high levels of traffic without experiencing performance issues, making it an ideal option for websites with a large audience. Additionally, dedicated hosting can provide better scalability options, allowing you to easily accommodate sudden traffic growth or spikes.
Although dedicated hosting offers several benefits, there are always a few downsides worth considering, namely the cost.
Being the most expensive hosting option out of all the web hosting services available, this method can generally be a barrier for small businesses and individuals with fairly limited budgets, so it might be best to consider shared web hosts or a VPS provider instead if this applies to you.
Requires In-Depth Technical Knowledge
In addition, although dedicated hosting comes with the freedom to manage your website however you like, it also comes with all the responsibility for the server's maintenance. Ultimately, this method requires a lot more technical expertise in comparison to more mainstream hosting options.
To successfully run a dedicated server, you'd first need to grasp a solid understanding of server administration, so come to terms with how operating systems, server software, and networking protocols all work, and you'd feel comfortable with troubleshooting them if necessary. In addition, you'd need to learn about command-line interfaces and have a relatively strong understanding of security practices.
While some hosting providers offer managed dedicated hosting plans where they handle server management for you, these plans can be more expensive. So, if you're on a tight budget (which start-ups and other beginners might be), learning how to manage a dedicated server yourself may be a more cost-effective solution.
Unnecessary For Websites With Low Traffic
Finally, if your business isn't attracting a significant amount of customers every day on your existing shared hosting plan, dedicated hosting may be slightly overkill, making any of the aforementioned hosting options more suitable.
Though you'll be able to have a smooth customer browsing experience thanks to the major boost in resources you're allocated, it's not dissimilar to opening a large shop on a busy high street when you're only averaging 5 customers a day.
Lastly, we have cloud hosting, which is a newer kind of hosting plan that utilises a network of servers for people to host websites. Essentially, this means that your website can access resources from multiple servers, making it more scalable and reliable than traditional hosting options.
Scalable & Flexible
One of the more lucrative advantages of this kind of hosting method is its adaptability, making it a solid choice for those with slightly inconsistent web traffic (or if your website experiences peaks and troughs throughout certain holidays).
Since cloud hosting providers work with a network of different servers, they can easily supplement or remove resources from your site as needed, which is obviously a huge advantage for those that look for flexibility in their hosting plan. As a result, you're able to scale up your resources during any particularly busy periods so you can ensure your website performs well, and when the demand wanes, it's easy to scale down to save on costs.
More Reliable Than Traditional Hosting Options
As mentioned, cloud hosting uses a broad range of different servers in comparison to more traditional hosting methods that only use one. In essence, this means that if any one of the servers on your network fails or has issues, one of the other servers on the cloud can take its place, ensuring your website always stays online.
Though all types of websites can benefit from reliable uptime, there are a few companies where cloud hosting packages serve better than others. For instance, if you're starting an e-commerce website that relies almost solely on online sales for revenue, you're going to need to stay online at all times to ensure your customers have easy access to your website and don't have issues making purchases.
Similarly, any websites that provide critical information or services require constant uptime, too, like government websites or financial institutions.
Pay-As-You-Go Pricing Model
Most of the popular cloud web hosting providers offer users a pay-as-you-go pricing model, meaning you're only being charged for the resources you actually use rather than a fixed amount each month.
Naturally, this can be pretty useful if your website experiences a sudden surge in traffic, as you can quickly invest more into your hosting plan to ensure your site stays at top performance. Following this, when demand slows down, you won't have to pay for any of the unused resources either.
Still, it's worth mentioning that while the flexibility is nice, this can be both a blessing and a curse. For example, while dedicated web hosting providers are normally able to give you a fixed quote to predict your hosting costs for each month, it's a lot more difficult to make an accurate estimation with cloud hosting providers. As such, it's generally good practice to closely monitor your resource usage so you can ensure you're not going out of your budget.
More Expensive Than Shared Hosting
Cloud hosting provides a lot more resources for your website, which means you have far more control over things like CPU usage, memory, and bandwidth. Although this is useful for websites that need fast performance and the ability to scale quickly, it's naturally going to come at a higher price.
That being said, the cost of cloud hosting has shrunk significantly in recent years, and many providers offer affordable pricing plans that cater to small and medium-sized businesses. Furthermore, the cost of cloud hosting can be offset by the benefits it provides in terms of scalability, performance, and reliability, which can ultimately lead to increased revenue and customer satisfaction.
Slightly More Complex
Cloud hosting is particularly more complex than traditional hosting options, so it requires a certain level of technical knowledge to set up, maintain, and customise according to your website's requirements. As such, you might need to hire a developer or IT professional to help you manage your cloud hosting environment.
Unfortunately, whenever your server is hosted on an online network of servers, there's always the risk of potential security breaches, given the increased attack surface available for hackers to strike from.
Having said that, there's still a range of ways you can mitigate this without having to go too far out of your budget. For example, you'll often find that most reputable cloud hosting providers implement strict security measures in an attempt to keep hackers out, so you can still have some degree of assistance.
When it comes to their lines of defence, they mostly use firewalls, various intrusion detection software, and of course, DDoS protection (or Distributed Denial of Service protection). Ultimately, just make sure you choose a cloud web server with a proven security track record in order to prevent any leaks. As always, you should try to secure a free SSL certificate, too, in order to share personal information with your customers through an encrypted channel.
Choosing The Right Hosting Provider ➡️
Let's explore a couple of the major factors worth exploring:
Different hosting providers offer different features, so make sure to select one that offers all the features you need. For example, if you're setting up an online store, look for a provider that offers e-commerce features such as SSL certificates and shopping cart integration.
Website performance is critical for user experience and SEO, so seek providers with fast loading times and minimal downtime. Additionally, check if they have a content delivery network (CDN) to help speed up your website.
Avoiding Common Pitfalls
When you're trying to select your hosting provider, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure you're getting the best deal. Firstly, try to avoid making a decision solely based on the price of the provider. While the cost is a crucial factor, a cheaper hosting provider has the potential to suit your site even better than a more expensive one — it's all down to your personal requirements.
Furthermore, another crucial error people tend to make when new to website building is a critical lack of research. The hosting provider you choose will ultimately play a huge role in your business's performance, so make sure you're giving it the due diligence it deserves by reading any reviews and comparing features/prices.
Lastly, although it may seem like this is an issue far on the horizon, your web traffic can grow significantly over a short period of time, so choosing a hosting provider that can give you the resources necessary to accommodate growth is essential.
How Much Does It Cost To Host A Website?
This generally depends on the specific hosting plan you choose, but shared hosting is typically the most affordable option, with prices ranging from £2.30 to £12 monthly. Dedicated hosting, on the other hand, usually costs anywhere between £60 to £300 per month, but this is largely dependent on the amount of additional features you're using, like website builders and backups.
What Factors Impact The Cost Of Hosting A Website?
No two web hosting plans cost the same, so the price of hosting is usually influenced by the type of hosting plan you've opted for and how much storage and bandwidth your site requires. As such, it's crucial that whichever hosting provider you select is able to supply you with all the features you need while remaining at a price within your budget.
Is It Necessary To Pay For Website Hosting?
Yes, website hosting is required if you want your website to be accessible online. Without hosting, your website won't actually be available for people to click on, so you won't be able to receive any traffic or generate any revenue. Having said this, there are some free website hosting options available, but they're typically not the best choice for business websites or high-traffic sites.
Can I Use Free Website Hosting Instead Of Paid Hosting?
While there are some free website hosting options available, these are mostly limited in terms of storage, bandwidth, and features. Additionally, free hosting may display ads on your website, which can be distracting for anyone visiting. Free hosting is better suited for personal projects, small blogs, and websites with low traffic.