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Reviews

Best Cheap Web Hosting

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To find the best cheap web hosting, we started from scratch, built a brand new website on each provider we review below, and spent weeks testing performance, contacting customer support, and comparing cost versus value. We did all this to figure out what’s real and what’s hype, finding Hostinger to be the best cheap web hosting for most people. It’s beginner-friendly, reliable, has great customer support, and starts at only $2.99 per month for one year of shared hosting.

The Best Cheap Web Hosting for Most

Hostinger

Hostinger

Best for Most

Want decent performance and tons of features with a shoestring budget? Get everything you need for your new website as well as solid site speeds and an easy onboarding process for the lowest rates available. There's no better way to stretch your dollar than hosting your site with Hostinger.

If you’re like most people, you’re looking for the easiest way to start a website. After more than a month of our rigorous testing, Hostinger crushed the competition in this regard and others.

Despite its incredibly low pricing, it doesn’t sacrifice any essential features. Hostinger’s entry-level plan includes everything you need to start your first (or next) website. At $1.39/month (for a four-year plan), you get more features than you would with most other hosting providers in the same price range. It’s our top pick for a reason—it offers the best combo of value, ease of use, and performance out there.

The 7 Best Cheap Web Hosting Options to Consider: 

  1. Hostinger – Best cheap web hosting for most
  2. DreamHost – Cheapest month-to-month web hosting
  3. HostGator – Best for starting a site that pays you to promote it
  4. SiteGround – Best for users who need extra support
  5. GreenGeeks – Fastest cheap web hosting
  6. Bluehost – Best cheap web hosting for WordPress
  7. A2 Hosting – Best for sites that focus on Europe and Asia

When It Makes Sense to Go With Cheap Web Hosting

Web hosting is the foundation for your entire online presence. 

If you’re looking to build a new blog, website, or ecommerce store, you need a place for it to call home.

There are dozens upon dozens of hosting options out there, ranging from dirt cheap to hundreds of dollars per month. Thankfully, shared hosting tends to be on the cheap side and is the perfect place for new websites to start.

Keeping your costs low is key when you’re first venturing into web hosting. You can worry about fancier, more powerful options later, once your site starts getting traction and attracting a ton of visitors.

You need to get your feet wet without breaking the bank. Fortunately, you may be surprised at how well some of these cheap web hosting options perform, meaning you can keep saving without having to upgrade as soon as your site gets popular.

#1 – Hostinger — Best Cheap Web Hosting for Most

Hostinger

Hostinger

Best for Most

Want decent performance and tons of features with a shoestring budget? Get everything you need for your new website as well as solid site speeds and an easy onboarding process for the lowest rates available. There's no better way to stretch your dollar than hosting your site with Hostinger.

Overall Score: 3.9 out of 5

If you’re looking for cheap hosting that’s reliable, fast, and easy to use, Hostinger is the way to go. Not only do you get a ton of value for every dollar spent, but it’s also a cheap web host that doesn’t feel cheap. It offers the best ratio of affordability and performance on the market, making it our top pick.

Here’s how Hostinger ranks in our six major categories:

  1. Upfront Cost = 5/5
  2. Renewal Rates = 5/5
  3. Onboarding Process = 4/5
  4. Website Speed =  4/5
  5. Customer Support = 2.67/5 
  6. Server Uptime = 1/5

Upfront Cost 5/5 – Hostinger got a perfect score for upfront costs because you can buy hosting for $2.99 per month—less than the cost of one Starbucks latte every month.

The entry-level hosting plan comes with everything you need, except a domain name. So, you’ll need to buy one separately. You can do so through Hostinger or one of our top domain registrar recommendations.

If you buy one through Hostinger, you’re looking at $8.99/year plus $5/year for domain protection. We highly recommend protection if you’re registering a domain name using personal information (phone number, full name, and address) because it masks your contact info in the WHOIS domain registration database. If you’re registering as a business, it’s less important since your business info is already public knowledge.

The total cost for everything, including upfront costs, a domain name, and protection for the first year is a mere $49.87. For less than $50 bucks, you get everything you need to get started.

On the entry-level plan, you get:

  • One website
  • One email address
  • Free SSL certificate
  • One-click WordPress installation
  • 24/7 customer support

If you’re not comfortable paying for a year in advance, you can opt for a monthly plan instead.

Heads up, though, if you’re thinking about monthly billing—Hostinger charges a one-time setup fee of $4.99 on month-to-month plans. The monthly rate also jumps way up to $9.49. It could make sense to do that for short-term projects. But it’s much more affordable to pay for at least a year in advance.

Hostinger provides top benefits for a fraction of the price of most web hosts and they keep actual costs transparent. That clear predictability is great for you and your budget when you’re just getting started. 

Renewal Rates 5/5 – Another amazing quality about Hostinger is they offer the cheapest renewal pricing out of all the hosts we tested—you’ll pay just $5.99 per month after your first year (with 12 months due in advance).

That means your second year of hosting is just $71.88. That’s better than the upfront cost of some of the other providers on this list, making it an absolute steal.

Though it’s double the price of Hostinger’s promo rates, the low initial costs allow them to offer you the best price both in the short and long term.

If you’re looking for hosting that won’t put you out of business with astronomical renewal rates, Hostinger is the way to go. You can count on reliable and affordable pricing for the lifetime of your account.

Onboarding Process 4/5 – When we set up our website on Hostinger, the checkout and onboarding process was beginner-friendly with step-by-step instructions throughout the entire process. You’re never left guessing what to do next—even if you’ve never built a site before.

It’s refreshingly simple in the traditionally over-complicated space of web hosting. After you select your plan, review your choices, and finalize your services, you’re greeted with a welcome message.

Once you click “Start Now”, you’ll choose a theme and start a guided website setup process. There are several high-quality options to choose from—but don’t spend too much time here. You can always change your theme later.

Also keep in mind that functionality and overall layout matter more than colors, look, and feel.

Just like everything else with Hostinger, getting started is nice and easy so far.

After that, you’re taken to your personal hosting dashboard, where you can view your plugins, manage your email, and even add or remove additional domain names. 

In just a few short minutes, you have WordPress installed, a theme set up, and basic configurations complete.

Hostinger makes sure you get a site that is complete and functional when you’re done. They hold your hand through the process, and it’s virtually impossible to not have a website when you’re done. It’s really as simple as following these three steps, making it not only easy but wicked fast to go from nothing to a ready-to-go website.

They lost a point because of the unexpected setup fee for monthly plans. But the overall onboarding process is pleasantly straightforward. 

Website Speed 4/5 – Now, you might be wondering, “What about site speed? Is Hostinger fast?”

Rather than relying on third-party data, we ran a one-month site speed test of our own. We set up a demo site with a fresh WordPress install and monitored server response time at one-minute intervals for 30 days

Over those 30 days, our site was pinged over 43,000 times to check the server’s response time.

Here’s what we found:

While we were making sense of the data, we came to a few conclusions:

  • Hostinger’s average response time was 670 milliseconds—anything under a second is great
  • The average of all the hosts we tested was 745 ms. Hostinger performed better than average
  • Occasionally, we’d see spikes to a two-second response time—this is consistent with a shared hosting environment and nothing to be alarmed of

While Hostinger isn’t the fastest option we tested, it’s better than average. Its speeds are comparable to more expensive hosts, so why pay more for the same performance?

Given Hostinger’s rock-bottom pricing, you get exceptional speed.

Customer Support 2.67/5 – To get a first-hand look at customer support, we reached out to Hostinger’s support team on three different occasions.

We used their live chat and asked questions about how to improve security, how to set up an email address for the domain, and how to improve speed. Each time we sat around for 30 minutes before getting any response at all. 

Sure, we received good responses—but most providers respond in about five minutes.

Slow response times are the main reason for Hostinger’s less-than-average score for customer support. Overall, Hostinger support is willing and eager to help, but you’ll have to wait a while to get your questions answered.

Server Uptime 1/5 – This is where Hostinger flopped and really struggled. They state online their uptime is reliably 99.99%. Our research shows otherwise.

Over a 30-day period, they maintained a 99.68% uptime, the lowest percentage out of all the other web hosts, and a total downtime of 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 22 seconds.

That’s way too much downtime in general, made even worse by an over 30 minute stretch of downtime. And that’s why Hostinger scored only one out of five in this category.

Can you imagine how many visitors and opportunities are lost with extended downtime like this? 

There were also 58 individual incidents that caused the site to be unavailable, all of which were connection timeouts. That’s very concerning to see in only a month’s time. 

In fact, that’s way more downtime incidents than any other provider on the list.  

Connection timeouts happen when your website is trying to pull more resources from the server than you have available. This results in your browser not being able to load the site at all (a common problem with shared web hosting). 

The high number of incidents likely means that there’s either a site on the same server that’s hogging up resources or there are way too many sites on the server in general.

Perhaps Hostinger isn’t great at allocating resources on shared servers, decreasing the value of their cheap hosting.

Hostinger still scores highest overall for cheap web hosting, because they give you incredible pricing, website speed that keeps your visitors from bouncing from your page (as long as you’re not experiencing server downtime), and website setup that makes getting up and running easy.

Above all else, Hostinger starts cheaper in year one than any other hosting provider and stays the cheapest with the most affordable renewal rate.

#2 – DreamHost — The Cheapest Month-to-Month Web Hosting

DreamHost

DreamHost

Cheapest Month-to-Month Plans

Worried about making a long-term commitment? DreamHost has your back with the most affordable month-to-month payment options on the market. Paid plans start at $4.95 per month for one website with unlimited traffic and no contract. All plans come with a free SSL certificate and WordPress pre-installed.

Overall Score: 3.7 out of 5

DreamHost’s monthly, no-contract plans are the cheapest such options we found. You get the best pricing without the risk of a long-term subscription. 

If you don’t want to commit to a year or more in advance, DreamHost is perfect for you. 

Here’s how DreamHost did in every tested category: 

  1. Upfront Cost = 5/5
  2. Renewal Rates = 4/5
  3. Onboarding Process = 2/5
  4. Website Speed =  2/5
  5. Customer Support = 3.3/5 
  6. Server Uptime = 5/5

Upfront Costs 5/5 – If you want huge discounts with no commitment, no long-term contracts, and no other unexpected fees, Dreamhost is picture-perfect for you. 

They offer two introductory plans. 

The month-to-month plan starts at $4.95 for one month of hosting and $7.99/year for a domain, running you a total of $12.94 for the first month. Then, it’s just $4.95 for the next two months. The price goes up to $7.99 per month after that (more on this below).

The monthly plan has no contract and is the absolute cheapest risk-free way to get started with web hosting.

The second option is to pay for a full year at a total cost of $35.40—that’s only $2.95 per month. That includes a domain name and the ability to protect your private information online with free domain protection. 

Both plans include:

  • WordPress pre-installed, so you don’t have to worry about installing it
  • Free WordPress migrations if you’re switching from a different host
  • Free domain name privacy (most charge extra for this)
  • A drag-and-drop WordPress website builder
  • Live chat, ticket, and phone support
  • A free SSL certificate

Renewal Rates 4/5 – It’s commonplace for your web host’s renewal rate to be two or three times higher than the original promotional pricing. That’s because providers know how much of a hassle it is to switch from one to another, especially after you’ve had your site hosted on one for a significant period of time. 

Hosting providers bank on this and really raise their rates on renewal, knowing that most folks will stomach the higher prices to avoid having to change hosts.

When you renew on the monthly plan, Dreamhost makes it just as affordable as when you started. The month-to-month plan is $4.95/month for the first three months. 

Then, once your fourth month begins, your price increases to $7.99/month—a 61.4% increase, but still the second-lowest increase for renewal pricing on this list. That keeps DreamHost as one of the most affordable cheap hosting options out there.

Onboarding Process 2/5  – Throughout the checkout process, there were confusing upsells that felt pretty pushy. 

What we mean is the provider automatically includes these services—even though you don’t actually need them—and it’s up to you to uncheck those boxes before submitting your payment and finalizing your order. 

The upsells they include:

  • DreamShield Protection for $3/month. This scans your site regularly to monitor its reputation and identify malicious code, out of date software, and more. 
  • DreamHost email for $1.67/month per mailbox. 

Other than that, though, the checkout process was smooth. 

After completing checkout, we got an email with four different logins, with no explanation as to what they are and why the logins are all separate (which could be pretty confusing if you don’t know what each of those things are). 

Here’s what you can expect:

  • 1st email – Account approval notification. This includes usernames and passwords for your file transfer protocol (FTP) account.
  • 2nd email – DreamHost secured file transfer protocol (SFTP) username and password (with no explanation why you need this) 
  • 3rd email – Successful WordPress installation on your site. The email has eight different hyperlinks, including a login link for your site, another for instructions on creating your website with WP website builder, a link for DreamHost Academy, and another for support. 

Another hurdle we found was that after you install WordPress, there’s not much guidance on what to do next, like how to connect your domain name or how to set up email if it’s included with your plan. 

There were also 15 plugins and 14 themes pre-installed, which are totally unnecessary. Having so many plugins and themes pre-installed by Dreamhost can actually negatively affect site speed. As a beginner, this starts you at a disadvantage, plus causes you more work when having to delete them. 

Website Speed 2/5 – Speed is where DreamHost has some limitations, but it’s not the slowest on our list. 

Our 30-day speed test discovered DreamHost as the second-slowest cheap web host on our list, with average response times of 813 ms. So, while it’s slower than others, it still has decent speed at a discount rate. 

See our test results below.

If price is your primary focus, DreamHost is all you need. It is cheap and offers great value for the price you pay from month to month.  But, if you’re looking for more speed, there are other providers that are just a little more expensive and offer faster response times.  

You’ll notice that there are spikes in response time that approach two seconds. While that in and of itself isn’t bad, keep in mind we’re looking at daily averages. 

That stretch you see in late May with those spikes implies that our site was always taking a good deal longer to load during that time. So, some visitors may have experienced load times inching close to that deadly number of four seconds (when most visitors are likely to bounce if your site hasn’t loaded by then).

Also, consider if your site’s visitors had an expectation of your site loading fast. Even going from one to three seconds may make them think something is wrong. 

Customer Support 3.33/5 – Our first and second interactions with DreamHost reps were pretty slow compared to other providers. The first one was also overly salesy and not very helpful. 

They told us that we needed to upgrade to a paid security plan and that’s all that can be done to secure the website (which isn’t true). 

The second interaction was very helpful and thorough. We asked how to set up an email account, but the plan we discussed above doesn’t include email and they walked us through how to upgrade and how to set it up, as well.

Our third and final interaction occurred during the evening, regarding how to improve loading speed for our site.  

We were immediately connected to a representative. They checked our website speed after greeting us and said it was okay. 

They asked if we had any specific questions.  We told them we were just getting started and we’re hoping for more general advice on how to optimize before getting started

They directed us to a support article that covers WordPress optimization and invited us to reach out again if we had any specific questions or experienced slow loading speeds going forward.

Server Uptime 5/5 – DreamHost has a winning combination of 100% uptime and the best month-to-month pricing on the list. Many providers will claim 99.99% and fall short with the numbers. But DreamHost delivered far beyond expectations in our research. 

The average downtime calculated for all the providers was 26 minutes 44 seconds. But Dreamhost demolished the competition with a microscopic total downtime of only 49 seconds.  

Take a look:

Now most providers won’t claim 100% availability. And Dreamhost never did. But looking at the screenshot above you can see they barely had a time when our site wasn’t available. Which means they manage their servers with impeccable accuracy.

The only issue was an HTTP 500 Internal Server Error (a catchall for server-side errors). But it only lasted 49 seconds. That was it.

That’s why DreamHost earned a perfect 5/5 rating for server uptime. 

This data clearly confirms that even on DreamHost’s inexpensive shared hosting, it’s never been easier to offer your visitors uninterrupted access to your website.

#3 – HostGator — The Best for Launching a New Site that Pays You to Promote It

HostGator

HostGator

Best for Ad Credits

Not only does HostGator offer bargain pricing for shared web hosting with above-average site speed and uptime performance, but you also get $250 in Google and Microsoft ad credits to start driving traffic. At the end of the day, HostGator actually pays you to launch and market your new site!

Overall Score: 3.6 out of 5

HostGator has an incredible promotion for all newcomers building a site on their hosting platform. You receive free matched credits for Google Ads spending at $150 and Microsoft Advertising credits at $100. 

And it doesn’t matter what plan you start with. You’re getting paid to advertise your own website.

HostGator is the third cheapest option for upfront costs, meaning you have the opportunity to receive incredible value at a relative bargain. 

Here’s how they did on our scorecard:

  1. Upfront Cost = 4/5
  2. Renewal Rates = 3/5
  3. Onboarding Process = 3/5
  4. Website Speed =  4/5
  5. Customer Support = 3.67/5 
  6. Server Uptime = 4/5

Upfront Cost 4/5 – HostGator’s upfront cost can be a bit of an investment for some. The best part about this company? All their plans are upfront and transparent, meaning no extra charges on top of what you’ve already paid.

Your initial out-of-pocket expense is $3.95/month for 12 months, equaling $47.40 for the first year of hosting. This includes a free domain name. Domain protection is $14.95/year if you need it. We recommend always getting this benefit, as it protects your private information from spammers and hackers online.  

That brings your first-year upfront price tag to $62.35. 

But, when you factor in the free ad credits they are actually paying you $187.65—which is a steal.

You can start your brand-new website at a profit.

Even as a beginner, you can find new customers or visitors with minimal expense and test your hand at ads without risk. 

When you select the Starter plan, you receive: 

  • Free one year of domain registration
  • One click WordPress installs
  • Free HostGator website builder
  • 45-day money back guarantee
  • Free email 
  • Free positive SSL upgrade 

Renewal Rates 3/5 – Our research found HostGator’s renewal pricing to be very reasonable and still among the cheapest on the list, even though it’s at an increase of 127%. 

Your renewal consists of $8.95/month for 12 months, which comes to $107.40 for your second year. 

So, even though most web hosts more than double the price per month on renewals, HostGator manages to still keep the price down and affordable, remaining one of the cheapest providers on the web. 

The company’s low pricing and generous money-back guarantee make them an excellent choice for anyone looking to find a hosting provider that doesn’t feel like they’re taking advantage of you. 

Onboarding Process 3/5 – The initial checkout process was littered with upsells that were pre-checked to make you feel like you definitely need to have them (which isn’t the case).

See the image below. There are five upsells in total. Two were pre-checked. You don’t need any of these, so uncheck them all.

As we went through the setup, we felt the UI was clean and modern with a straightforward checkout process. 

We liked that directly after checking out, you automatically go into a setup wizard. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process—you don’t have to wonder what to do next. 

There’s also a helpful WordPress tutorial that walks through the ins and outs of how to use the WordPress dashboard. 

Once you have WordPress installed, though, the instructions stop. There’s nothing telling you that you need to connect your domain and there aren’t any obvious instructions on how to do it. 

We did get an email about it later, but we think it needs to be much more obvious (especially for beginners).  

Website Speed 4/5 – HostGator has invested in its own data centers and network infrastructure to ensure that your site loads quickly for visitors, no matter where they are located. 

In the graph below you can see they are well above average, ranking not far behind the front of the pack.

You can use Cloudflare for a CDN (content delivery network) on any Hostgator plan, which helps the data from your website to always be available to your visitors around the world. 

HostGator also has its own global CDN which has been proven time and again as one of the fastest networks in the industry. It’s up to you which one you use. We did not test speeds on which one works best. 

Customer Support 3.67/5 – HostGator scored right in the middle of the group for customer support. We were connected with a rep immediately for all three interactions.

However, during the first one, when we asked, “What security features do you offer to help keep my site secure?”, they were unbelievably salesy. After asking about what we can do for free, the rep actually transferred us to someone else who introduced themself as a security expert. 

Our main thought was, “Why wouldn’t they know what we can do on the plan we’re already on?”

It felt like if we weren’t going to spend money, we weren’t worth the time and just got handed off for someone else to deal with it. 

However, the second interaction, later in the afternoon, was super fast and helpful. We asked,  ”Can you walk me through how to set up an email account for my domain?” 

They offered step-by-step instructions on where to go and what to click—it was an excellent interaction. 

The last interaction was average. When we chatted later in the evening we asked “How do I make my site load as fast as possible?” They offered a bit of advice, but we felt like they definitely could have helped more. 

Server Uptime 4/5 – Hostgator really does offer 99.99% uptime as advertised. 

Take a look below:    

After our month of testing, the uptime was smack dab at 99.99% with 5 minutes and 42 seconds of total downtime. We counted five incidents that caused the site to be unavailable.

We found that HostGator had one connection refused error (usually an issue with the person trying to view the website). Then, we saw three HTTP 400 internal server errors (a bad request response that indicates that the server cannot or will not process the request), and the last one was an unknown error. 

As you can also see, the longest duration of downtime was 2 minutes and 24 seconds. So though there was downtime, it was minimal. Which is a great sign for a cheap web host that offers shared hosting plans. 

In HostGator, you get incredible availability and a reliable provider for your website at a fraction of the price of many other providers.

#4 – SiteGround — The Best for Users Who Need Extra Support

SiteGround

SiteGround

Best for Extra Support

Never built a website before? No problem. Get everything you need to launch your website in a day (with no experience required), plus hands-on customer support that's always ready to answer your questions and help you out in an affordably priced hosting package with SiteGround.

Overall Score: 3.6 out of 5

Lots of hosting companies promise you the moon, but when things go wrong they just don’t have your back. 

Not SiteGround. They offer one-on-one support for all their customers and are always available to help via live chat or phone call. 

SiteGround has real humans answering customer service calls 24/7 in over 10 languages, giving them an advantage over other hosting providers who rely on bots to answer customer questions and avoid the hard work of hiring people to actually speak with customers. 

Our experience was pleasant and the best out of all other providers when dealing with customer service.

Here’s how well they did in our testing categories:

  1. Upfront Cost = 3/5
  2. Renewal Rates = 1/5
  3. Onboarding Process = 5/5
  4. Website Speed =  4/5
  5. Customer Support = 5/5 
  6. Server Uptime = 5/5

Upfront Cost 3/5 – SiteGround is the most expensive on our list for cheap web hosting. That’s the main reason for the score being so low overall. 

Right out of the gate you pay $3.99/month for 12 months, which equals $47.88 for year one of hosting. 

This does not include a domain name. If you need one, it’s $17.95/year. And, to add domain protection, you’re looking at another $12/year. 

That is a total upfront cost of $77.83 for your first year. 

Aside from hands-on support, you also get a good array of benefits and features on the cheapest plan, including:

  • 10 GB of storage space (plenty for new websites)
  • Daily backups in case something happens to your site
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • A free content delivery network (CDN)
  • Automatic core and plugin WordPress updates
  • A complimentary SSL certificate

Renewal Rates 1/5 – When it’s time to renew, you get the same high-quality service and benefits. However, now it’s $14.99/month for 12 months, which comes to $179.88 for the second year of hosting. That’s a 276% increase in price. 

This is definitely higher than most other providers, especially if you’re trying to budget out your web hosting and cut costs.  But the reliability and benefits you receive with SiteGround, in our experience, are well worth the price. 

Onboarding Process 5/5 –  Hands down, SiteGround offers the best checkout/onboarding experience out of everyone on the list. 

After we signed up, we received an excellent welcome email that outlined everything we needed to do (and the order to do them in) to get going. 

The onboarding portal, too, was very clear and straightforward. 

After choosing the domain, you get a simple choice between starting a new site or migrating an existing one:

As we were building a new one from scratch (like many of you), we selected that route and were greeted with another simple screen for selecting our preferred site builder:

Quite easy. Plus, a nice little bonus is how easy SiteGround makes it for new web stores by having a WordPress + WooCommerce option clearly and separately labeled.

After you finish in the widget, it tells you right away that you need to connect your domain on the backend, with instructions on how to do it. 

There’s also an entire step-by-step checklist in your dashboard of everything you need to do before you launch your site. 

Overall, we were very pleased with this experience—it’s extremely beginner-friendly and, with one-click WordPress and Woocommerce installation, your website is complete in under two minutes on average. 

Website Speed 4/5 – Slow websites are a problem for everyone. Website speed is important for SEO, conversions, and user experience. 

SiteGround’s results are the second-fastest in our tests over 30 days. 

Here are our results from the speed test:

You see they have an average response time of just 616 ms. This means that your website will load almost instantly when a visitor comes to your site from Google or any other search engine. 

SiteGround might not be the absolute fastest on our list, but it’s pretty close.

Customer Support 5/5 – SiteGround has the best customer support across the board. 

We were connected with a rep immediately for every request and the longest interaction took a total of eight minutes. The reps even went above and beyond by giving us step-by-step instructions, rather than sending us to a support article. 

They didn’t try to sell us anything, plus they were very friendly and helpful every time we spoke with them. 

We were really impressed with the last interaction about site speed as well. They offered several resources we could use and were also very encouraging about it. They didn’t make us feel like any questions we had were silly or were wasting their time. 

Server Uptime 5/5 – SiteGround is the leader in server uptime on this list. Testing their availability led to a staggering statistic—just two seconds of total downtime over 30 days. 

Those two seconds, of course, came in a single, isolated incident (an unknown error).

This kind of reliability makes your life easier because you don’t need to fret about unhappy visitors or losing money because of downtime. 

You can keep your website available 100% of the time on SiteGround’s servers, plus reap the benefits of their fantastic support and above-average speed. 

#5 – GreenGeeks — The Fastest Cheap Web Hosting

Green Geeks

GreenGeeks

Fastest Cheap Web Hosting

Get blazing fast site speed (the fastest out of all of the hosts we tested), reliable uptime, and great customer support at an affordable monthly rate. Get the most bang for your buck and the fastest loading speeds while giving back to the environment today with GreenGeeks!

Overall Score: 3.4 out of 5

If you want raw speed at a low price, go with GreenGeeks.

When we did our 30-day test, we were floored by how GreenGeeks blew away the competition in many categories. 

And the truth is, they don’t boast about site speed like other providers. That makes GreenGeeks even more enticing as a cheap web host because they do so many other things well along with being blazing fast out of the gate. 

Let’s see how GreenGeeks did on our scorecard: 

  1. Upfront Cost = 4/5
  2. Renewal Rates = 3/5
  3. Onboarding Process = 2/5
  4. Website Speed =  5/5
  5. Customer Support = 4/5 
  6. Server Uptime = 4/5

Upfront Cost 3/5 – GreenGeeks’ upfront pricing is right in the middle of the pack. So, it’s not the cheapest by any means. 

To get started, you pay $4.95 per month for 12 months, which comes to $59.40 per year. 

This includes a free domain name. For domain protection, though, you’ll have to pay $9.95.That brings your first-year hosting cost to a reasonable total of $69.35.  

GreenGeeks falls in the middle of the pack for pricing. But, as we said, this gives you one of the fastest web hosts on the market. 

With GreenGeeks, you can beat competitors for rankings on Google and provide a better website experience than most that use a standard cheap web hosting plan. 

The standard plan includes:

  • A free domain name
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Nightly backups
  • A complimentary SSL certificate
  • A free content delivery network (CDN)
  • Zero-day vulnerability fixes
  • One-click WordPress installation
  • 24/7/365 live chat, phone, and ticket support

Renewal Rates 3/5 – The rate for renewals is $10.95/month for 12 months, which totals $131.40 for your second year of hosting. This is a 121% increase in price after promo pricing goes away. 

For renewal rates, it’s the fourth-most expensive option.

Most hosts only increase the total price by about 90 to 120% on renewal. Though some on this list are much higher. So keep that in mind.

Onboarding Process 2/5 – Right away, we were told there’s a setup fee for monthly plans of $29.95, which is not mentioned anywhere else on GreenGeeks’ site. We weren’t expecting this whatsoever, so they lost a point for that. 

The checkout UI feels dated, but it’s simple and straightforward. 

After we signed up, we were told we may get a phone call or an email to verify our account (which was a step we did not expect). Despite them saying that we didn’t actually have to do anything to verify our account, so we don’t know why they said that in the first place.

After we got logged in, the initial process was pretty straightforward and beginner-friendly. 

We also liked that you can choose which plugins you want pre-installed, rather than having to manually delete the ones you don’t want. GreenGeeks’ setup wizard definitely streamlined the process.

But there wasn’t any information on what to do after we installed WordPress, so a point was taken away for that as well. 

Overall, it’s a standard onboarding process and something anyone new to web hosting can work through. But with the surprise setup fee for monthly users being sprung on us and the lack of clear direction on the next steps in the onboarding process, we docked GreenGeeks two points, giving it a score of three out of five. 

Website Speed 5/5 – The average response time over 30 days was the fastest out of all seven hosting providers. 

Take a look at the screenshot below:

This tells you it takes just under half a second for your website to respond to your visitor’s requests on average. This is twice as fast as some of the other hosts we tested.

And top tier performance for a shared hosting plan. That’s because you’re sharing a server with who knows how many other websites. And usually means very slow responses and a more expensive plan to get this kind of speed. 

But GreenGeeks gives you excellent speed even on their worst day they are faster than others on their best days.  

This is fantastic because you don’t have to add any plugins to boost speed. That means you can easily provide excellent website experiences for your visitors with no additional effort.   

Customer Support 4/5 – This is another area where GreenGeeks singles itself out for praise.

We received above-average customer support from reps who provided more info than just sending us to a support article. 

They walked us through everything and were very patient. They were also one of only two hosting providers that didn’t try to upsell us paid security features when we asked how to keep our site secure. So, that was really pleasant. 

For two of the interactions, we were connected to a rep immediately. And the last one only required us to wait a few minutes. So, they’re also super fast.

Though we had to take a point off because during the last interaction—when we asked the question “How do I make my site load as fast as possible?”—we felt a bit rushed.  They also told us to talk to our developer instead of offering any help. When we mentioned that we didn’t have one, they brushed it off and ended the chat. 

Other than that, everything else was great, earning GreenGeeks a score of four out of five for customer support. 

Server Uptime 4/5 – Our uptime test for GreenGeeks revealed nearly 100% availability for websites hosted on their servers. 

The servers were unavailable for a statistically insignificant total of 2 minutes and 6 seconds over thirty days. 

We only had three incidents over this time frame. There were two connection timeouts (the server was taking too long to reply) and one HTTP 500 internal server error (this means we encountered an unexpected condition that prevented it from fulfilling the request). 

The longest duration of downtime was only 1 minute 38 seconds, which is exceptional. 

Take a look at our report:

The above screenshot shows the availability of our website from May 7th through June 6th. 

GreenGeeks really shines in this category, adding more ingredients to their formula of success.

They’re not only the fastest host on this list, but you also get uninterrupted availability that keeps your website’s reputation for stability unblemished. GreenGeeks more than justifies their upfront and renewal costs this way.

#6 – Bluehost — Best Cheap Web Hosting for WordPress

Bluehost

Bluehost

Best for WordPress

Bluehost is one of only three hosting providers recommended by WordPress. Every plan comes with 24/7 customer support, one-click WordPress installation, automatic WordPress updates, hands-off plugin updates, a custom-designed control panel, a free CDN, and a free domain for the first year.

Overall Score: 2.8 out of 5

We highly recommend Bluehost for WordPress sites because it’s one of only three hosts officially recommended by the developers of WordPress.

Here’s how Bluehost stacks up after our testing:

  1. Upfront Cost = 3/5
  2. Renewal Rates = 3/5
  3. Onboarding Process = 3/5
  4. Website Speed =  1/5
  5. Customer Support = 3/5 
  6. Server Uptime = 4/5

Upfront Cost 3/5 – Bluehost is the second least expensive option on our list, making it one of the cheapest options if you’re on a tight budget.

The upfront costs are $4.95/month for 12 months, which equals $59.40 for the year. 

This includes a free domain name, saving you between $17.99 and $29.99 per year. Then there’s domain privacy protection to safeguard your personal data from the internet. You can include this for $11.88/year, bringing your one-year total to $71.28. 

The starter plan includes:

  • One website
  • 50 GB of SSD storage space
  • A free domain for the first year
  • A free content delivery network (CDN)
  • Free SSL certificate

Bluehost is one of the better hosting providers for beginners. They provide several helpful features, such as a website builder, one-click installs for plugins, and 24/7 support. All these benefits make Bluehost a solid choice when using WordPress for your site. 

But, because it’s not the cheapest, it scores a three out of five on our pricing scale. 

Renewal Rates 3/5 –  Bluehost’s renewal rates fall squarely in the middle of the pack. 

When it’s time to renew, you’ll pay $9.99/month for 12 months, which equals $119.88 for your second year of hosting. 

That’s a 102% increase from the original promotional pricing. Even with this increase, you’re still getting features and benefits you won’t find anywhere else for this price, such as automatic WordPress software updates.   

Onboarding Process 3/5 – Bluehost’s checkout process is simple enough and easy to follow. 

However, where we found Bluehost lacking was with the numerous upsells (for which we docked them a point) that were pre-selected. 

The upsells were CodeGuard Basic, priced at $2.99/month, and SiteLock Security, also priced at $2.99/month.

From there, though, the process was straightforward and easy to follow. 

You get a step-by-step walkthrough of what to do to get your site set up from start to finish. It was very beginner-friendly, with the option to skip the wizard if you’re more experienced.

However, there were no instructions on how to connect your domain name. So, Bluehost lost another point for that. Remember, connecting your domain name is what actually gets your website to show up on the internet—so it’s a very important detail to leave out.  

As a beginner, you don’t want to waste time struggling to find information that should be easily available to you.

Website Speed 1/5 – Bluehost failed miserably in our site speed tests. Over a 30-day period, the load time was a dismal 1107 ms. 

And, at one point, we saw a load time of eight seconds (ouch). They’re one out of two providers we reviewed that scraped the bottom of the barrel in website performance. 

You can see the proof below.

Site speed is a huge determining factor in search engine ranking and visitor experience. 

So, it’s a big ol’ yikes on site speed, but you get automatic WordPress installation and automatic core updates, so your site is always running the most optimized version of WordPress. 

These automatic updates are a crucial piece of keeping your site secure—even if you’re not around to update it manually. Which allows you to squeeze every ounce of speed out of your website that you can.  

Bluehost may still be a good choice for you, depending on your use case. A simple blog, for example, might not feel any effects of that consistent lack of speed. It all depends on what you’re trying to do with your website.

Customer Support 3/5 – Our experience showed that Bluehost’s support was very fast and we were always immediately connected with a rep. 

However, the first interaction was very salesly and pushy when we asked questions about improving security. 

The Bluehost representative simply copied and pasted a bunch of features into the chat without explaining any of them to us, which was not helpful whatsoever. 

We also didn’t like that the rep said their free security features are insufficient and that free plugins don’t help either (not true). 

Now, fast forward to our second interaction when we asked for help setting up email. It was excellent, very fast, straightforward, and friendly. 

However, the last one was frustrating. We asked, “How do I make my site load as fast as possible?” The rep sent us a bunch of information we didn’t ask for. None of it helped us find a solution and they took extremely long to answer our question. 

Bluehost support feels very hit or miss, but relatively speedy compared to other options.

Server Uptime 3/5  –  Every host claims to have impeccable uptime. We hear it all the time. But numbers speak louder than words. And our research laid out more concrete findings. 

BlueHost displayed an uptime of 99.95%, which is pretty decent. Their servers were unavailable for 20 minutes and 28 seconds of total downtime over thirty days. The longest duration of downtime was 10 minutes and 4 seconds. 

There were seven incidents that caused the site to be unavailable. Mostly, these were connection timeouts where the server took too long to reply. 

But there were also two SSL errors where the browser couldn’t verify the SSL certificate and showed a warning that the page wasn’t safe to visit. This is a big problem—it can freak a visitor out and create a questionable opinion about your URL that may never go away. This is much worse than simply being unavailable because of downtime. And something you ought to keep an eye out for, should you choose Bluehost as your provider.

Bluehost claims 99.9% uptime and they do deliver on that. With shared hosting, this can fluctuate—so remember that some months can be better or worse than others. But overall, you’re getting good reliability and average pricing and support from Bluehost.  

#7 – A2 Hosting — The Best for Sites that Focus on Europe and Asia

A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting

Best for International Audiences

Reap the benefits of A2 Hosting's data centers located throughout Europe and Asia to deliver excellent visiting experiences for visitors outside the US, as well as solid customer support and moderate renewal rates compared to other options on our list.

Overall Score: 2.2 out of 5

A2 Hosting is known for being fast. But you may not know this isn’t always true. 

What we found to be A2’s best asset are the data centers they have placed all around the world, especially in Europe and Asia. That makes them one of the most reliable web hosts for sites that cater to European and Asian visitors.

Now, with that said, we found A2 Hosting falls short on speed in our tests.

But, to be 100% transparent, we did our testing for the U.S data center and not for their data centers in Amsterdam or Singapore. But you can see testing for these data centers here

We’ll show you all the U.S data in a minute. But what we found made our research and testing surprising. And hard to believe, at first. 

Take a look below to see how A2 did with speed testing and the other six major categories we researched. 

  1. Upfront Cost = 1/5
  2. Renewal Rates = 3/5
  3. Onboarding Process = 1/5
  4. Website Speed =  2/5
  5. Customer Support = 3.67/5 
  6. Server Uptime = 3/5

Upfront Cost 1/5 – For a host that costs so much (the most expensive option upfront), you’d expect to get excellent service and performance. However, that is not our finding.

The costs for your first year are $6.99/month, which equals $83.88. No domain is included, but you can buy one from A2 for $14.95 per year. 

To protect your private info, domain protection costs you an additional $9.95/year. 

Altogether, your upfront costs total $108.78 if you include hosting, a domain name, and domain protection for the year. 

With this, you get:

  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Phone, live chat, and email support
  • A free SSL certificate
  • Uptime guarantee
  • A built-in website builder

They also offer an anytime money-back guarantee if you’re unhappy with your site’s performance for any reason. This is very unique in the web hosting space, so A2 reduces some of the pain of that high price tag with this offering. 

Renewal Rates 3/5 – Renewal pricing is $8.99/month for 12 months. That’s a total of $107.88 for your second year of hosting. 

We really liked that A2 has the lowest rate hike for renewal on our list—just 29% more than the promotional rate.

But, because the upfront costs are so high, they only score in the middle of the pack on renewal cost, with a 3 out of 5. 

Onboarding Process 1/5 – We have to say this was the worst onboarding and checkout experience of all of the providers we reviewed.

The checkout pages are incredibly overwhelming, with tons of information packed into a small space. There are lots of upsells and they try to trick you into upgrading your SSL certificate (for no good reason). 

Plus, A2 charges extra if you want to use their page builder, which is something everyone else offers for free (you could alternatively use an external page builder for free, as well).

After you create your account, there’s nothing telling you what to do, with no clear instructions whatsoever. We got an email with a ton of different login credentials and that’s about it. 

You’re basically left to figure it all out on your own, which is very disappointing for a host that’s so expensive. 

Website Speed 2/5 – A2 Hosting boasts of their extremely fast website speeds—when you go to their website it’s plastered right on the homepage. However, that is not the case for their cheapest web hosting plan. 

Your website should load in less than two seconds. And visitors will hit the back button if it takes longer than three seconds to load. 

In our 30 days of testing, we found that A2 does indeed respond in just barely under one second on average. 

But that is with no media, plugins, or traffic spikes on a server shared with other websites. Which will not be the norm for you, most likely. 

You can see a diagram below of our speed test results.

One thing A2 Hosting does to combat slower speeds offers a content delivery network (CDN).

The cheapest plan comes with a free Cloudflare CDN that helps improve site speeds and performance by caching the content on your site. 

Essentially, the CDN stores and displays a snapshot of your website, rather than loading it from scratch each time.

A2 speaks so highly of its speedy web services that we just expected them to dominate the competition in our testing. But that wasn’t the case. We also didn’t expect to have to upgrade to A2’s Turbo Boost—which they claim makes your site 20 times faster—in order to see raw server speed.

Customer Support 3.67/5 – A2 scored right in the middle of the pack for customer support. 

It took a few minutes to connect with someone during our first interaction But, for the other two, we connected with someone immediately. 

So, the initial responses are pretty fast. But it takes a while to get an answer to your questions. 

None of the reps were overly friendly, but they weren’t awful either. Just kind of average. The first interaction was salesy and the rep wasn’t super helpful.

They got the job done, but our overall experience wasn’t overly impressive—with the exception of the second interaction. 

Here we asked, “Can you walk me through how to set up an email account for my domain?” 

The rep was excellent and went above and beyond to give us step-by-step instructions with screenshots. 

Our support experience with A2 felt very hit-or-miss, but nothing exceptionally bad. 

Server Uptime 3/5 – A2 Hosting turned in a 99.96% uptime during our testing, with 15 minutes and 41 seconds of total downtime over thirty days. 

Here’s the screenshot for 30 days of uptime testing:

There were only two incidents that caused the site to be unavailable. The first was a short, 41-second connection timeout (the server is taking too long to reply) and the other was a 15-minute HTTP 500 internal server error. 

And though there are only two incidents, 15 minutes is a long time without access to your website—certainly not ideal.  

Think about how your visitors feel when trying to get information and they just can’t get through. It makes them question if they have the correct URL or ask, “Is my internet running fine?” 15 minutes is way too long to not have some negative after-effects on traffic later on. 

However—and fortunately—that was pretty much it for downtime. Outside of that eternity of a 15 minute period, A2 did decently well in terms of overall uptime. 

While they don’t particularly stand out in any of our categories, A2 Hosting demonstrated that they are mostly average or better all-around.

Methodology for Choosing The Best Cheap Web Hosting

How we determine who makes the cut is extremely time-consuming. It takes an entire month and a team of people to collect all the data for our recommendations 

For every host that we evaluated, we went through an exhaustive testing procedure:

  1. We opened a brand new account with the web host
  2. Starting from scratch, we went through their entire onboarding process
  3. We set up a new website by installing WordPress
  4. Across all web hosts, we used the exact same WordPress theme and settings
  5. Then we monitored site speed and uptime for an entire month
  6. And we finished by submitting three support tickets to every web host to see how helpful they were

After running all our tests, we rated them on a scale of one to five in six key categories. Then we combined all those ratings into a single score by weighting them, based on the importance for an ideal cheap web host. These are the rating categories and their weights: 

  1. Upfront Cost (25%)
  2. Renewal Cost (20%)
  3. Website Speed (10%)
  4. High Server Uptime (10%)
  5. Customer Support (20%)
  6. Onboarding Process (15%)

Obviously, this is cheap web hosting, so we factored in price heavily. But we also understand that most people looking for something cheap is also getting hosting for the first time or aren’t super experienced. So, we also heavily considered customer support (and, to a slightly lesser extent, onboarding).  

Our web host researchers not only double- and triple-check all the data we share with you, but also go through the exact same process you will once you make a decision. They chat, click, call, and work through all the same steps.

Promotional Pricing (Upfront Costs)

Getting a cheap web host is all about keeping costs down. That’s why the upfront cost has the highest weight on our list at 25%. 

Every provider that we reviewed has a monthly promotional fee of less than $7 per month. At first glance, everyone’s pricing can look very similar.

In practice, though, the total spend for your first year for hosting alone can vary from $35 to $85.  That’s a huge range.

The first thing to watch for is the cost of add-ons and other features you may need but aren’t included in your hosting plan. This includes things like domain name privacy, email accounts, a domain name, and extra security. 

Our research discovered that many “cheap” plans don’t include some or all of these things. Which keeps the promotional costs lower than the actual price you’ll end up paying. 

So, while something may seem to be the cheapest option out there, don’t forget to factor in these extra expenses when comparing prices for different providers. 

For example, many hosts will charge $8.99/year for a domain name plus $5/year for domain protection with their introductory plans. 

In order to simplify everything for you, we calculated the total all-in cost for the first year. That includes:

  • The total cost of hosting on the most entry-level plan over one year 
  • The cost of a domain name (if it’s not included for free) 
  • The cost of adding domain privacy and protection 

This gives you the total out-of-pocket costs for one year of hosting. 

Then, we gave each host a rating based on this scale:

  • 5 points for less than $50
  • 4 points for $51 – $65
  • 3 points for $66 – $80
  • 2 points for $81 – $95
  • 1 point for more than $96

There was a pretty even spread among the hosting providers we reviewed. Two came in at less than $50, one scored a four out of five for being between $51 and $65. 

Of the remaining four providers, three scored three points and one only received one point by virtue of it being more than $96. 

Renewal Pricing (Paying Over the Long Term)

Let’s say you get a great promotional price. You’ve paid as little as possible for your first year. Time goes by, you forget about your hosting entirely, and then one day…. you look at your credit card bill and see a 137% increase to your hosting bill out of nowhere. 

That happens all the time. It’s one of the biggest complaints about hosting. 

And that’s why we gave a second rating on renewals, weighted as 20% of our overall criteria score for finding a cheap web host.

No matter which host you pick, your second-year rates will go up. But some only go up by 50% while others can be as bad as 137%.

You could easily end up paying more than twice your original price if you’re not sure how the renewal pricing works. 

We calculated all the renewal costs for the second year of hosting after promotional pricing expires. Then, we ranked all the hosts by the amount of the increase from year 1 to year 2: 

  • 5 points for $75 or less
  • 4 points for $76 – $105
  • 3 points for $106 – $135
  • 2 points for $136 – $165
  • 1 point for $166 and higher

The cost for your domain name renewal or domain privacy is not included in the grading scale, as these are optional to continue with.

Let’s look at a few real examples.

At the time of this post, the lowest difference in renewal is $36, going from $35.88 for your first year of hosting to $71.88 for the second year.

The host with the highest difference in renewal goes up by $96, rising from $83.88 for the first year of hosting to $179.88 for the second year. 

It’s easy to think that you’re only paying $50 to $60 per year, turn around, and suddenly realize you’re paying $200/year for all the add-ons and renewal pricing. So, pay careful attention to the full renewal price.

There is one trick to keep your costs down. When you sign up, choose the longest subscription length that you can. Many hosts will offer a promotional rate and an extra discount if you purchase three years of hosting at once.

We didn’t want to assume that everyone is in a position to do this, which is why our ratings just look at second-year renewals. But if you do want to keep your total spend as low as possible and can afford to spend a bit more upfront, that’s the best way to do it.

24/7/365 Support 

Whether you’ve never set up a website before, have set up hundreds of websites, or are migrating from a host you’re unhappy with, 24/7/365 support is crucial. We weigh it as 20% of overall importance when selecting a provider. 

So how do you know if what you’re reading about a provider’s customer support is valid? 

Will they really answer you in 30 seconds? Will they be able to really solve the problem that’s costing money or visitors? 

Quick access to an experienced customer service rep should play a role in your decision, so we decided to test the support quality ourselves.

Our process involved reaching out to customer service via live chat three separate times with each host on this list in order to gauge their response times throughout the day:

  • In the morning, around 8 – 9 a.m. PST
  • In the afternoon, around noon – 1 p.m. PST
  • In the evening, around 7 – 8 p.m. PST

To stay transparent we stuck exclusively to live chat support, as some providers on this list don’t offer phone support and we wanted to keep things consistent. 

Then, we took screengrabs of all of the conversations and noted how each interaction felt. 

We started the support interview process by asking one of these three questions to each provider’s customer support staff: 

  • What security features do you offer so I can make my site more secure? 
  • Can you walk me through setting up my email address at my domain? 
  • How can I make my site load as fast as possible? 

Here’s an example of a conversation we had about security features:

You can see the recommendation the representative made on installing a plugin for better security, along with pointing us towards a guide to help us use it. This is a great solution because this plugin offers help with recognizing security vulnerabilities and how to fix them. And you can try it for free.  

After our conversations, we scored each host on five areas of excellent support: 

  1. Offered advice/support that didn’t feel salesy or push unnecessary paid products 
  2. Ended the chat in less than 15 minutes
  3. Offered advice beyond sending me directly to a support article
  4. Initial response took 5 minutes or less
  5. We felt like the rep was knowledgeable, patient, and friendly/eager to help

If they did well, they received a point for each factor. If they did poorly, they did not. At the end of that, we totaled out those points for a total customer service quality score.

Some providers on our list outsource customer support, meaning their representatives aren’t a part of their in-house team. This can lead to extremely frustrating service experiences, particularly because they may not know enough about the technical side of your hosting plan to actually help you resolve the issue.

Another trend we noticed is that some providers upsell you when you call in to get help before they attempt to solve your problem. 

But there are others who went above and beyond for us. 

The best way to test response times and overall support quality yourself is to take advantage of money-back guarantees. 

Sign up for an account, pay the initial fees, and get to know their customer support team to see if your experiences match our research.

This is even true if you don’t expect to contact them for anything because you never know what’s going to happen. 

Page Loading Speed

If you want more traffic, more revenue, or more exposure, site speed makes a difference. 

We thought it would be hard to tell the difference in performance. As it turns out, we were wrong. 

Different hosts gave us completely different results with their speed. 

Here’s how we tested hosts and gleaned results. 

First, we built identical websites using the default 2021 WordPress theme.

Then we deleted all of the plugins, media files, pages, comments, themes, menus, and such so that every site we tested was exactly the same. 

But your site will have more data, media, and content. So your results could differ. Keep that in mind.

With that said, creating a transparent testing environment was our top priority. So, we stripped each site bare. 

The only difference between them is the host powering it behind the scenes. 

Then, we plugged the URLs into Freshping, which monitors uptime and average loading time at one-minute intervals. 

Over 30 days (May 7 through June 6, 2021), we pulled the average load time for each site during that timespan and compared the results. From there, we assigned a score based on the grading scale below. 

The lower the time, the higher the score, with five being the best. 

  • 5 points for less than 550 ms
  • 4 points for 551 – 675 ms
  • 3 points for 676 – 800 ms
  • 2 points for 801 to 925 ms
  • 1 point for higher than 926

Our tests discovered only one provider scored a high grade of five. Three scored a grade of four with solid average response times. Two scored just below average with a grade of two out of five and one was surprisingly slow, getting just one point. 

Sites that claimed to be the fastest weren’t even close. The image below shows the speed test of a provider that heavily promotes how fast they are. We were a bit shocked by the results—response times are the second slowest out of the providers on this list. 

Now take a look at the huge spikes in response time for the provider above. Since you’re going to be on a shared hosting plan these are very important to pay attention to.

On a shared hosting plan, these are completely normal. Shared hosting means that you share the same hosting server with other sites. That’s how web hosts get the price so low. But it also means that if another site on your server gets a spike in traffic, that can impact your site speed.

So, occasional spikes aren’t something to worry about.

But there are a few items to pay attention to in these charts.

First, you want a provider with maximum traffic spikes of two to three seconds. So, even when the server gets bogged down, that means it’ll still be pretty fast. For the host above, the worst traffic spikes reached between five seconds and 23 seconds for short periods of time, which is pretty bad. The max response time you see at the top of the graph of 23217 milliseconds confirms this. 

Second, you also want low overall average response times. In general, we recommend 630 milliseconds or less. Again, the host above averaged almost a full second in their response time. That’s much slower than other hosts that we tested. 

Let’s look at another example.

In this case, the provider below doesn’t market their site speed at all. They’re not known for it and rarely talk about it. Well, here’s their data: 

They smoked the competition—almost twice as fast as some of our other hosts.

In the above image, you can see how even though there are traffic spikes, they are minimal. Even the worst spikes only slow loading time down to three seconds.  And the average response time was less than half a second.

Any web host that keeps spikes below two or three seconds is ideal. You want them to average somewhere between 500 milliseconds and one second. 

Finding this will give you all the speed you need.

Any web host that meets those benchmarks will give you all the speed that you need.

A Clear and Easy Onboarding Experience

Once you’ve done your research and decide on a provider, you’ll have to take the time to set everything up. 

We find this area of your journey to be important, particularly for inexperienced users. It’s 15% of the overall weighted score for setting up your website hosting. 

Ideally, this should feel effortless. When we set up our sites with a few providers, our experience was excellent. We walked step-by-step through the setup and felt confident along the way. And, most importantly, we felt any beginner could easily do the same.

After you choose your plan, choose your domain, and review all the details you’re introduced to the welcome screen below. 

You then hit the “Set Up Site” button and begin your extremely easy onboarding process:

You can see the selection is simple. Either make a new site or migrate an existing one over to this host. 

If you’re going the route of creating a new site as we did in our testing, your next step is to choose the platform upon which the site will be built. In this case, you can select from WordPress, WooCommerce on WordPress, or Weebly. 

You don’t see any complicated code or messages or use any more effort than simply pointing and clicking. 

This is the simplest onboarding process and we rated it the best out of all providers on this list. 

But some are not quite so simple. Here’s a screenshot of a not-so-user-friendly UI:

The whole process can be very confusing if you have no idea what’s going on. And it doesn’t seem like they’ve done much to help simplify the process. 

This is the first screen after purchase. We have no direction on where to go next. What’s the first step? How do you create your new site? Do you install WordPress or is there an automated way to do it?

We had no idea. 

All we received was an email with a bunch of login credentials and a dashboard that doesn’t help whatsoever. 

We found this to be exactly what not to do as a web host. It’s a complete disaster of an onboarding process. 

Imagine sitting in front of your computer, the excitement of getting started running through your veins, only to be faced with the screen above or something similar. Now you’re forced to call or chat with support because you don’t have a clue what comes next and there’s no guide to creating your site.    

Server Uptime 

Every host says they have great uptime. 99% this, 99.9% that. 

So they’re all really good right? 

Not exactly. 

We set up test websites on entry-level plans for each host. Then, we installed the default 2021 WordPress theme on each one in exactly the same way, just like we did when testing site speed. 

We deleted all the menus, media files, comments, pages, plugins, other pre-installed themes, and posts (except for the default hello world post) so that every site is exactly the same except for the host powering it. We also activated a free SSL on each site. Which is important to uptime because it tells visitors that your site is safe and helps the server recognize your site is secure. 

It’s not optional anymore. Every site needs it, even if you’re not selling merchandise or taking payments. It’s why we included it in our research. 

Then we plugged each homepage URL into Freshping, which monitors uptime at one-minute intervals. 

After 30 days of collecting data, we reviewed it and assigned a score to each host based on our grading system below:

  • 5 points for less than 1 minute of downtime
  • 4 points for 1 to 15 minutes of downtime
  • 3 points for 15 to 30 minutes of downtime
  • 2 points for 30 to 45 minutes of downtime
  • 1 point for more than 45 minutes of downtime

The total downtime the provider experiences determines the grade. 

Here’s an example: 

As you can see, the downtime over the full 30 days was 5 minutes and 42 seconds. Which is a great score. 

The key things for you to keep in mind are:

  • Which host has the lowest percentage of downtime
  • What causes the downtime (scheduled maintenance, security issues, server-side errors, or browser-side errors)
  • How long individual instances of downtime last

Let’s look at causes of downtime just a bit further to really help you understand what they mean. Scheduled maintenance is when your web host does security checks for the server and optimizes its performance. 

This spills over to security issues that they missed or have been hit with. And the safest procedure is to stop all access to websites on that server, so they can keep data safe. 

Often they have server problems, like disconnections or requests that the server can’t handle. This can also create downtime for your website. 

When it comes to browser-side errors, downtime can be caused by old software or updates you need to make in order for that website to be made available.   

In most cases—with shared hosting situations, especially—there are scheduled downtimes for server maintenance. But we do have some providers that manage this extremely well, only having downtime of under 50 seconds for 30 days. 

Some providers also have uptime guarantees, to soften the concerns you might have for inadequate performance levels. 

In short, if your site does go down for more than 60 minutes that month, you could get 5% of that month’s fees back for every hour of downtime. Compensation for excessive downtime varies from provider to provider.

Be aware though, there are numerous events that don’t qualify for their 99.9% guarantee, including scheduled maintenance and network outages. Also, connection timeouts where your server just doesn’t deliver a website in enough time to where your server times outs. This can be from internet connections being slow. Or data you’re requesting is at a data center too far from your location. 

The bottom line, downtime will happen. But too much downtime will cost you revenue, tarnish your reputation trustworthiness, and destroy your ability to gain any real traffic. 

Most cheap hosting providers are rock-solid, though. But uptime may vary from month to month, especially on a shared hosting plan. 

All of the cheap hosting providers we reviewed showed well above 99% uptime.

That’s incredible.

So go with one of the hosts we tested that performed well, but keep an eye on fluctuations in the host you choose. 

It might seem tedious at first but having the peace of mind to know your website is running all of the time is worth the effort.

Hostinger

Hostinger

Best for Most

Want decent performance and tons of features with a shoestring budget? Get everything you need for your new website as well as solid site speeds and an easy onboarding process for the lowest rates available. There's no better way to stretch your dollar than hosting your site with Hostinger.

Summary

Finding a cheap web hosting option that performs well enough for your needs can be hard. We hope our post takes some of the mystery and misery out of finding the best choice.

Our advice is always to sit down and take the time to list out your requirements. Then, make an educated decision based on your priorities and specific needs. 

If you’re still stuck, Hostinger and DreamHost are our top cheap web hosting recommendations. They’re both safe bets that let you get started for next to nothing. But if they don’t check all your boxes, you can use this post as a guide while you go through the process of making your final decision. 


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