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FAQs – Getting Started, Picking a Web Host, and Hosting Prices
How much does web hosting cost?
Whatever you’re looking to pay for web hosting, chances are that we can find a host willing to take your money. Broadly speaking, hosting prices can range anywhere from $1 each month all the way to $500 monthly.
Although just about every hosting provider markets their services on a per-month basis, most offer discounts to customers who sign up for extended periods of time. The longer period of time that you commit to a host, the larger your discount will be. Some discounts appear in as short as three months, while the biggest savings can sometimes be found by agreeing to a three-year plan.
Shared hosting plans are the most affordable, usually costing $5 or less each month. Prices for VPS hosting plans can vary pretty widely, depending on the amount of computing power or level of managed services. On average, however, $20 per month is a reasonable starting point for cheap VPS hosting.
Site owners looking for dedicated servers, however, can expect to pay quite a bit more. Dedicated hosting plans typically start with price tags between $75 and $100 monthly for a basic server.
Which hosting plan should I choose?
With so many hosting providers and services from which to choose, selecting a specific plan can be daunting. Identifying appropriate hosting services largely depends on how much traffic you expect your website to attract.
If you have no clue where to start, you’ll probably want to seek out a shared hosting plan. Most individual developers, bloggers, and professionals don’t need much computing power and are best served by the most affordable hosting plans that can handle modest audiences.
When trying to choose between hosts, compare providers based on uptime guarantees and the responsiveness of the company’s support teams. Be aware of user experience-impacting features such as the number of domains or websites you can have on one account or whether the host offers free transfers or backups. For the most part, hosts will offer adequate storage, bandwidth, and memory — don’t get bogged down in those metrics.
If you expect your traffic to grow to the point where you might want to look into VPS or dedicated plans, we highly recommend finding a full-service host that will seamlessly upgrade your account without any hassle. Take it from us, few things are more tedious and aggravating than moving your site from one host to another.
What types of payment do web hosting providers accept?
As we alluded to in our response to the first question, web hosts have a vested interest in making it easy for customers to give them money. The vast majority of providers will accept credit cards, with many others also welcoming payments from services such as PayPal. A handful of hosts will accept checks, money orders, or wire transfers, but not many. Regardless, we can say with confidence that it’s rare for a web host to credit your account upon receipt of a cash deposit.
Is month-to-month billing available?
Most providers advertise their services in terms of month-to-month prices, but in reality, most will apply that rate and bill customers for a full year. A few hosts offer month-long plans, but be prepared to pay a little extra for the privilege.
Monthly billing is a more common practice in VPS, cloud, or dedicated hosting plans because of the scalable memory, storage, and bandwidth resources. If this payment schedule is important to you, be sure to read the fine print when signing up with a host.
How does domain pricing work?
Particularly at the shared hosting level, many hosting providers throw in a free domain registration (or domain transfer) when a new customer purchases a plan. Domain name registrations must be renewed each year, however, and the perk usually only covers your first year. A select few hosts, including WebHostingHub, will cover your domain name fees for the life of your account. Otherwise, expect subsequent renewal fees to cost between $10 and $15 for typical domain names and hosting providers.
The same fee will be deducted from any refunds you request from hosts, usually plus an administrative fee. This allows you to retain ownership of the domain, in case you’d like to transfer your account to a new hosting provider.
Heads up: Not all hosts enable customers to register domains — the vast majority do, but you should certainly check that feature before committing to hosting your site for a year. You can always register a domain separately from your website, be sure to check my domain registrar reviews.
What is domain privacy, and is it included in most hosting packages?
Simply put, domain privacy protects your personal information by keeping it out of a publicly accessible database. The global organization in charge of overseeing domain name ownership requires a name, mailing address, phone number, and email address to be associated with every registration. The data is compiled into the WHOIS database, which can be searched and mined by anyone for information.
Domain privacy is almost always an add-on service, usually costing an additional $10 to $15 per year per domain, that substitutes your personal information with the contact information of either your hosting provider or their domain registration partner. That way, you won’t be contacted by spammers and direct marketers or attacked by identity thieves and others with malicious intent.
What is an uptime guarantee, and does it cost extra?
Uptime, which is basically another word for reliability or availability, is simultaneously critically important and one of the least worrisome components for most people’s quest for a new hosting plan.
Uptime guarantees are essentially a promise that your hosting provider will make sure the infrastructure supporting your website or application is working properly and making your content available online for a prescribed amount of time. This is especially important for business websites and online stores, as time directly equates to revenue and positive customer relationships.
Uptime guarantees are included with hosting contracts, technically without an extra charge. Hosting providers use uptime guarantees as a marketable feature to attract new customers. However, plans with better uptime guarantees tend to cost slightly more than those at the industry average of 99.9% or lower.
Obviously, 100% uptime is ideal, but few hosts can pull that off without charging an arm and a leg. That rate is typically reserved for premium VPS and dedicated services.
Most shared hosting customers will do perfectly well with 99.9% network uptime, which effectively means a site will be unavailable for roughly 45 minutes each month. Anything less than what is colloquially called “three nines” might be cause for concern, while a competitively priced plan offering 99.99% or even 99.999% is a good bargain.
Can I get help upgrading to a VPS or dedicated server when I’m ready?
Of course. Hosts are happy to see customers succeed and move through the ranks of services. Just as several hosting providers offer free site transfers or migrations to welcome new customers to shared servers, the companies have a vested interest in getting you up and running on the more powerful hardware.
Help is usually just a chat, phone call, or support ticket away. Reputable hosts will help you choose the best plan for your hosting needs, configure your virtual or dedicated server, and get to work transferring your files and databases.
Is managed hosting worth the added cost?
Like so many of our answers to these questions, our response here is along the lines of the ultra-decisive “it depends.” How much technical expertise do you have? What’s your budget? How much time do you want to spend?
Even if you have the know-how to stay on top of security patches and software updates, we find many experienced website and business owners would rather skip the tedious server maintenance in favor of focusing on creating great content and products. Many hosts are inclined to include basic levels of managed services in hosting plans for free, with others offering various levels of management for an extra fee, be sure to check out my managed hosting reviews.
Is there a money-back guarantee?
The vast majority of web hosts offer some sort of refund policy if you decide you don’t need or don’t like the plan you selected. Some give customers only a week to decide, while others, including sister companies InMotion Hosting and Web Hosting Hub, allow for 90-day money-back guarantees.
Of course, not all hosts include money-back guarantees — but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an untrustworthy host. Liquid Web, for example, is known for superb service and top-notch infrastructure but does not include a money-back guarantee — we still give the company some of our highest ratings.
Regardless, money-back guarantees typically only apply specifically to the hosting services and not add-ons such as domain registrations or privacy, which are nonrefundable. The moral of the story: Do enough research into prospective hosts so that you don’t need a money-back guarantee in the first place.
Do I need a hosting coupon code to get the best deals?
For most of these hosting offers, you only need to click on the hosting deals above to get the great bargains we’ve exclusively negotiated with web hosting providers across the industry. Please be sure to read the fine print, however: as a few hosts do require you to use a promo code at signup.
We’re happy to share the benefits of our strong relationships with hosts with our loyal readers, so we strive to make purchasing services as easy as possible. As folks who have hosted plenty of websites and applications with dozens of companies, we know how invaluable a happy hosting partnership can be. Best of luck!