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How Cheap Is Cheap (Web Hosting Cost)?

When it comes to shared hosting, there is a certain understanding the service price and quality correlation, as in any industry. And if you have a website, you need to put up with the idea that you will have to pay for hosting of your site forever (meaning, for as long as you own it), it’s inevitable. Thus, it makes sense to have the issue of prices ruled out.

Table of contents

  1. Shared Hosting Price Components
  2. Web Hosting Price Evolution Overview
  3. How Cheap is Cheap
  4. Choose Web Hosting Wisely

1. Shared Hosting Price Components (What You Actually Pay for)

In order to understand the nature of the shared hosting price formation, we need to get the idea of how a web hosting works in general.

First of all, a web hosting is meant to help businesses and individuals to have their presence on the Internet. Thus, the company that offers such services, actually, provides space on it servers (that are located somewhere in data centers that are, in their turn, always connected to the Internet).

Thus, two major conditions that make web hosting possible are:

  • server hardware
  • and server operating system (OS).

Server maintenance price is one of the reasons why some web hosting companies do not have their own servers but rent them from datacenters. Such an approach affects the quality of hosting service (frequently not in the best way). And so does the cost of a support team. Support can be either in-house or outsourced. The latter is clearly cheaper.

Since a server is expensive, it is more profitable to offer it for shared use, in other words, to have many users on a server, rather than only one.

  • Shared hosting allows to have a lot of websites on one IP address and one server. Which means that every resource is shared.
  • Shared hosting cannot be manually managed. Which means that there is no option to run any 3d-party applications or introduce any changes other what is included into a shared hosting package.

Hence, the price.

For a customer, it is a bargain.

All the aforementioned features make shared hosting the first choice for individual website owners and small businesses.

(Note: we are not talking here about other web hosting options such as dedicated, cloud or VPS hosting as those serve different user groups with higher demands and needs).


2. Web Hosting Price Evolution Overview

If you ask Google “How much does web hosting cost?”, you are hardly likely to get a unanimous answer.

Most commonly, review websites list popular web hosting offers somewhere at $1 – $4 per month.
Yet, if you go and check the providers’ websites, you’ll see that the average shared hosting prices are actually in the range of $2 – $12 per month depending on the plan and subscription term, and also whether you look at a promo or a renewal price.

But is it exactly cheap?

Over the past decade, the notion of what is cheap has changed with regard to many things. With shared hosting, there is an idea that it used to cost more in the 2000s and it has become more affordable now, more than a decade later.

We have decided to carry out our own research and see whether this assumption is true.

We took 10 largest web hosting providers by size (number of domains) and compared their prices in 2008 (via accessing their archived pages on web.archive.org) and in 2019:

Web Hostings Price Chart 2008-2019


Web Hosting Providers Price Chart 2008-2019 by HRank, May 2019

In our comparison, we took each provider’s cheapest and simplest plan and its monthly price for a 12-month billing period as this was the only billing period equally present in each plan and with each provider (so, the comparison is valid). Another reason for choosing this very value was the fact that a 12-month billing period is usually more economical than a monthly payment option.

Important!
We compared regular prices (the ones that are written in fine print) that customers pay after the happy “first term”, so, the numbers can look unusual and differ from what web hostings advertise on their main pages. Keep that in mind.

Also, we have calculated the average prices of these providers in 2008 vs. 2019:  

Average Provider Prices 2008-2019

Interestingly enough, as you can see, the top providers have not gone cheaper. Quite the contrary: the given example shows that they got more expensive on average.

All in all, it can be concluded that the prices didn’t undergo an expected change (a decrease in price). It’s true that cheaper options appeared universally, and some plans became more affordable, however, all in all, we haven’t noticed any great drop in prices for the past decade, rather, in many cases, the prices got higher.

Certain explanation to the notion of shared hosting having become cheaper, however, can be drawn from the fact that the shared hosting market has been continually growing (according to Statista.com) as the following chart suggests:

Statista, Shared hosting market size
Size of the shared hosting market worldwide from 2010 to 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars)

Despite the fact that the web hosting market lacks both a physical location and the other attributes of a traditional market, it does have many common features and similar dynamics. It somewhat explains why some prices got lower as more providers and offers emerged in the market.

At HRank, we have drawn our own price chart based on the data of 307 web hosting providers. The prices included in our chart are the cheapest deals that are offered for the longest subscription period (these differ from one company to another, most commonly, it is 36 months.)

Here is how it looks like:

Price Distribution Chart by HRank
Web Hosting Providers Price Chart by HRank, May 2019 (36 months billing period)

As you can see, regardless of the fact that $1-$2 web hostings are numerous, the price of avg. $3-$4 is no less common.
There is plenty of more expensive offers as well, however, we can definitely say that most shared hostings are from $1 to $4.
Whether it is really cheap or not, it is possible to say only with regard to every given situation and personal request (features, length of a subscription plan, etc.).

However, keep in mind that we have chosen here the prices for the longest billing term (usually 36 months), while monthly prices are usually much higher.


3. How Cheap is Cheap?

Any shared hosting plan should now come with a package of features that meet the current market standard.

About ten years ago, you got one set of features for this price but now the number of things included is naturally much larger.

Features offered:

The number of features is great, however, their average offerings are not so varied with regard to each provider. Some of them are more generous, others are less. Here are the major ones you usually get:

  • Domains (1 – 100, or an unlimited number),
  • Storage space (max 500Gb, or unlimited),
  • Bandwidth (max 1,000Gb, or unlimited).

Most providers offer this unlimited everything, though, you have to understand that it’s not exactly what it means.

Bluehost.com shared plans

Shared plans (Bluehost.com)

Plan Options and Billing Options

  • There can be any number of plans offered. The difference is in the features offered (e.g. 1 domain vs 3 domains, or 100Gb of disc storage or unlimited).
  • There can be 1-,3-, 6-, 12-, 24- and 36-month billing options or even longer, it depends on the provider. Usually, the cheapest prices are offered at the longest terms (i.e. 36 months).

Renewals and Other Things to Be Aware of

All web hosting providers (with very few exceptions) state the promo price clearly visible on their main page. And this is where the catch is: promo prices only last until the promo term ends, then the hosting subscription is renewed at regular price (which is always higher). Here, it is important not to forget this little marketing fact when you purchase a plan and learn in advance how much you will actually have to pay.

There are more marketing tricks that hosting providers use in order to make customers pay more. Make sure you are aware of them.

Uptime Is Important

The quality of performance should also be taken into account because the industry is developing rapidly and it is now no longer acceptable to have regular downtime glitches and slow response times.


4. Choose Web Hosting Wisely

When you take into consideration the fact that most shared hosting providers offer similar packages (in terms of the number of domains, unlimited disk space, and bandwidth, basic tech support and simplicity of installation), it is still possible to make an informed decision when searching for the right hosting provider.

And we hope we can help you here:

Providers by HRank

Web Hosting Providers by HRank, May 2019

You can choose a web hosting plan with regard to their price and billing period. There is also an option to sort providers according to their other parameters. You can go to 9 – 10 HRank and have a look at the web hostings that proved to be either very good or almost faultless in their performance over the monitoring period.

Also, if you have a lower budget, you can check a list of providers with a more modest HRank ranking – from 8 to 10 (the prices there are lower, but keep in mind that you can get some issues with the web hosting performance).

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