Should you go with the cheapest web hosting option for your website? The short answer is (for the most part) no. We’ve all been there when it comes to selecting a web host. We’ve all asked ourselves the same questions (specifically when choosing a web host) at some point in our WordPress lives: can I work with this host? Can I get by with this host? Is it really worth it to get cheap web hosting?
Your WordPress site is literally housed on your web host. And as your site’s traffic grows, you’ll most likely need to upgrade your plan or web hosting provider. However, it is not only traffic that must be considered. A variety of factors should influence your decision. This can and should include the host’s average uptime, service quality (including performance, speed, and supported software), technical support skills, and, of course, cost.
Problems with Cheap Web Hosts
If you happened to come across this article while looking for a new web host, you’re in luck! Simply put, it is best to avoid cheap web hosts (as you will see shortly).
The majority of the factors discussed in the following paragraphs are interconnected. It’s more like a chain reaction. One deficiency leads to another. When you think about it from a business standpoint – basic profit and loss equations – the reasons are quite obvious. Let’s get this started.
1. Severe Resource Limitations
Cheap web hosts will typically use old or inefficient servers and/or cram as many users as possible onto those servers. This is particularly true of “free” or “$1” web hosting plans. As a result, the amount of resources available to each user is drastically reduced.
Consider a server with 8 GB of RAM, for example. If we cram 100 people into that server, each will get about 80 MB of RAM. (eight times 1000 divided by one hundred). That’s pretty good. If you increase that number, you will encounter difficulties. What are the issues, you ask?
- Low PHP Memory Limit: To begin, there is the excruciatingly low PHP memory limit. We’ve established that WordPress is powered by PHP, right? WordPress’ hands are tied due to the low PHP memory limit. When you install a new theme or use a resource-intensive plugin (such as a scheduled cloud backup), WordPress will fail and display the white screen of death.
- Database Overload: In all likelihood, you will be limited to a single database instance (that is, only one WordPress installation), and the database server will be severely overloaded. As a result, generating query results (i.e. latency) will take some time, degrading site performance.
2. The Hard Drive Conundrum
Server hard discs are typically more expensive than desktop hard discs. This is due to their increased dependability, faster performance, and longer average life. Any hard disc is a degradable resource with a finite lifespan. This means that after the specified lifetime, the hard disk’s failure probability increases significantly, as does its performance degrade to unacceptable levels. In short, once the hard disk’s specified lifetime has expired, it should be discarded.
However, this is not the case with low-cost web hosting. They will continue to rely on those beleaguered hard discs (or even desktop grade hard disks). And it’s unlikely that they’ll ever prioritise hardware upgrades.
3. Limited or No Backups
Most new users are unaware of the significance of WordPress backups. To maintain their WordPress site, new users frequently rely on built-in or automatic features. As a result, the responsibility for backups is frequently delegated to the web host.
Every good host, such as WPEngine, will perform regular backups of your website and keep them for up to 30 days. Using WPEngine as an example, backups are taken automatically on a daily basis. For security, this is encrypted and downloaded via HTTPS. They also backup your site’s database as well as your uploads, making for a fairly complete backup.
While budget web hosting providers such as Bluehost and Siteground include simple site backups as a standard feature, the chances of a free or dirt cheap web host performing regular backups are slim. Even if they do, there will be unacceptable size constraints and short backup retention periods (if at all). As an added bonus, they may charge you for restoring a backup!
4. Inexperienced Support
To begin with, responding to a ticket will be slow. You, along with who knows how many other people, are most likely experiencing similar problems and submitting tickets. Worse, there may not even be any proper support software. I’ve seen “free” web hosting sites that rely on an email address for contact.
If you get past these two obstacles, here’s the next big one: support may be unable to assist you with even minor web hosting issues. If you try to increase the PHP memory limit for your site (which is one way to fix the white screen of death), the support team may be unable or unwilling to assist. I don’t believe complicated issues are even in question.
5. Unskilled Technicians = Longer Downtimes
Backend technicians are responsible for server maintenance, which includes everything from connecting wires to installing OS upgrades and security. Skilled server administrators are very expensive – a concept that cheap hosts avoid like the plague.
Downtime, on the other hand, is an unavoidable part of the shared web hosting business. The best of the best have sophisticated software to counteract its effects. However, with low-cost web hosting, you will encounter insufficient and sub-par server resources, such as the hard disc issue we discussed earlier. Combine that with inexperienced technicians, and you’re looking at frequent and lengthy downtimes.
6. Poor Security
WordPress security is one aspect that is sadly overlooked by newcomers. However, this should not be used to justify the web hosting company. They’re supposed to be the most experienced, right? Cheap web hosts have extremely lax security safeguards. Basic firewalls, a lack of malware protection, and almost no DDoS protection leave your site vulnerable to a variety of attacks.
Malicious code injection is a prime example. Hackers can quickly identify security flaws in the database and quietly insert malicious code – a technique known as MySQL injection. As a result, your site becomes a malware-infected domain without your knowledge. When Google flags your domain as a malware distribution point, your SEO rankings plummet.
Single Point of Failure
If the server is using a single database server with no backups, a single malware attack can cause all database instances on the server to be infected. This means that all of the sites hosted on that database server are affected (all of them)! As a result, if someone else’s domain is attacked, you may be affected as well.
If your website is important to you, you should consider installing a dedicated security plugin like iThemes Security Pro and JetPack Backups for an extra layer of protection. There are numerous excellent WordPress security plugins to choose from, many of which are completely free, so you don’t have to break the bank to protect your site.
7. Frequent Overuse Notices
Your website will experience traffic spikes from time to time. For example, if your link is retweeted by a celebrity or becomes popular on Reddit. Any normal shared host will log that as resource overuse and suggest (or insist) that you scale up your plan.
But let us not think about that. Cheap web hosts limit your resources so severely that even a minor increase in traffic will result in an overuse notice. Repeat this a few times, and you risk having your account blocked and your data withheld until you pay a hefty fine!
8. Hidden Costs
Cheap or “free” web hosting may appear to be a good deal at first, but there are some drawbacks. Hidden costs occur when a company charges for products or services that should be free. Such twists abound in low-cost web hosting. They may charge you for the following:
- Restoring backups
- Domain transfer (a very big amount)
- Raising an escalated support ticket
- Resource overuse incidents
I once succumbed to my greed and purchased a one-dollar virtual private server. Why not give it a shot? I reasoned. Nothing worked, as expected. At the end of the day, I had to open a support ticket only to discover that they had charged me $5 for it. And this was just to open a ticket, let alone have them respond to it!
Wrapping It Up
Cheap web hosting is a recipe for disaster. We must exercise extreme caution when selecting a web host that meets our requirements. And, before you start arguing, keep in mind that there is a significant difference between a cheap and an affordable web host.
There are numerous low-cost web hosting options for WordPress sites, including SiteGround, Cloudways, and BlueHost, all of which offer a plethora of features and can help keep your website secure. These hosts all have low-cost plans, but you get what you pay for. You may need to upgrade your plan at some point for additional resources, but you will still have adequate hosting.
However, if your budget allows, it is best to go with a managed WordPress hosting plan from WPEngine or Kinsta. Managed web hosting means you have less to worry about, and by working with an experienced and reputable WordPress hosting company, you can be confident that you will have a great support team to reach out to (should you ever need to).
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