If you’re looking to start a website, WordPress is probably the best way to go. It powers more than a third of the websites on the internet and the numbers speak for themselves.
WordPress hosting plans have become very common and vendors are cutting corners to bring down pricing and it may be leading to the detriment of the whole segment. So, is cheap WordPress hosting a disaster waiting to happen? Keep reading to find out.
What is WordPress Hosting?
First of all, let’s see what WordPress hosting is all about. It’s one of many types of common hosting that are offered by most vendors. Shared hosting is fine-tuned for WordPress websites and sold with varying allocations of resources.
At a minimum, all vendors offer storage, bandwidth, and free WordPress updates. Most also offer things like domain and SSL for the first year, email accounts, free site migrations, and fast SSD storage. You can even find plans with things like backups, higher/unlimited storage and bandwidth, and even a money-back guarantee.
How do you categorize cheap WordPress hosting?
WordPress hosting prices vary from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars depending on the type of server and amount of resources that you order. The cheaper plans offer shared hosting with minimum resources while the more expensive ones may offer VPS or dedicated servers with almost unlimited resources. Managed services are another factor that greatly affects pricing. However, it is offered by many vendors in varying degrees making the term common even for the cheapest plans.
So how do you categorize cheap WordPress hosting? For this article, I will consider any shared hosting plan below $5 as cheap WordPress hosting. You can find many such hosting plans right on the first page of results on our Hosting Finder tool.
What are the advantages of cheap WordPress hosting?
Let’s start with the advantages:
Being economical, or like the title of this article puts it in a not so subtle way, being cheap is the main advantage of cheap WordPress hosting. Like I mentioned above, you can start at just a few dollars a month. If you are a new website owner, this may be the main thing you are looking for. You just want to get your website up and running and don’t expect many visitors right at the start; cheap web hosting will be exactly what you are looking for.
Less financial risk
Your risk in terms of what you spend is quite less. Most hosting plans expect you to sign-up for at least a year, or longer. They motivate you wit rates that dip lower with longer contracts. This seems very attractive, I admit it.
There’s nothing wrong with it either, as long as the hosting plan meets your needs as your website grows and you don’t need to upgrade. But what if you need to upgrade or if you are not happy? A money-back guarantee or a refund policy would be great. In case the vendor doesn’t offer one, it’s best to go for a cheap plan. So your risk is minimal and you look very little in case you decide to discontinue the hosting plan.
What are the disadvantages of cheap WordPress hosting?
Now to the disadvantages:
Non-transparent pricing plans
A lack of transparency is one of the main disadvantages of cheap WordPress hosting. To begin with, they show you a price which is only available with a long contract, mostly about a year, but usually longer. It may not be very important to most as they plan on hosting their websites indefinitely. But it ties you down and makes choosing a plan more complicated for newer users. Then there are all the add-ons which you only see on the check-out page.
While it is not a universal rule, vendors with more expensive plans don’t resort to this strategy as they make value their main proposition. They don’t need to coax users into buying their plans with these gimmicks. You can find many such value-centric plans here.
Free SSL is another type of bait used by vendors to hook customers. The “Something is better than nothing” principle doesn’t really apply when it comes to SSL.
Depending on what you are planning on doing with your website, you may need a reputed SSL certificate with a lot more protection than a free one can offer. You can learn more about free and paid SSL here. If you aren’t already on HTTPS, you should consider migrating soon.
One of the most common terms you see on cheap WordPress hosting plans is “Unlimited”. They offer unlimited storage, bandwidth, and some vendors resort to misleading customers with obvious things like unlimited uptime and unlimited WordPress updates. The thing about resources on WordPress plans is that most of the time you are on a shared server. So you don’t really have any dedicated resources other than for storage.
So having an unlimited allocation of such non-dedicated resources makes no sense. You’ll rarely use all of it either. More expensive plans that don’t need to bait customers will give you these resources in limited quantities, but in quantities that will actually be required. If you are curious as to how much bandwidth your website will really need, we have an entire article on that as well.
Performance is something that is always great on paper. But whether most of the cheaper WordPress plans actually provide solid performance is a question. In my experience, it hasn’t always been the case.
This is one of the main problems with cheap WordPress hosting. You can rarely rely on it in terms of availability or speed. This may just be how vendors cut corners. Again, more expensive plans will elevate your website with reliable performance.
Lack of proper security
Security is another area that suffers in cheap WordPress hosting. There are rarely any special measures taken other than updates to WordPress. There is no proper support for malware scanning or other types of security attacks.
You can learn more about properly securing your website on our other article on that topic.
Lack of proper support
Support is probably where cheap hosting suffers the most. Most vendors don’t provide managed support with these plans and don’t even make an effort to provide regular 24/7 support.
Again this is an additional cost or add-on. However, if you opt for a more costlier plan, these support options would most probably be offered for no extra fee. Proper managed services plans consist of a hassle-free experience to users where all maintenance of the hosting is taken care of by the vendor.
So is cheap WordPress hosting a recipe for Disaster?
Yes, cheap WordPress hosting can be a disaster if you don’t select your hosting plan wisely. If you look for the cheapest plan, then you are bound to face disaster. This can happen because the vendor may not be qualified and/or able to accommodate websites with higher needs. Secondly, they may be cutting corners on their cheaper plans in ways that affect website performance and reliability.
The only way a cheap WordPress hosting plan can be a good idea is if you truly only care about having a website up and running and don’t really have to worry about its performance and reliability. This is rarely the case and you should always take the utmost care about your website as it represents your organization.
Choose wisely, the hosting plan you choose for your website if one of the main contributing factors of its success. So make sure you spend ample time looking for a good deal but be smart about it as well. Our Hosting finder tool can give you a great head start.