Web Hosting Buyer's Guide

Buying cheap web hosting based on price alone, is not the best way to choose a low-cost website host. That method, may actually cost you more in the long run. HostMiser helps you make better (informed) choices, by pointing out other key factors you need to think about.

5 Steps to Choosing the Right Web Host

It is easy to overlook ‘hidden extras’ when buying web hosting from low-cost hosts.

Especially… if you have no clear idea about what you need to host a website and, you don’t read or understand the small print fully.

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Follow these five, must-do, steps to avoid ending up with buyer’s remorse.

  1. Understand the different types of web hosting and their benefits
  2. List the features you need to host your website
  3. Make a shortlist of three cheap hosting plans to compare
  4. Calculate annual cost AND renewal prices to make comparisons
  5. Visit web hosts and check that their terms of service suit you

Different Types of Web Hosting

There are four main types of cheap web hosting package: shared, virtual private server (VPS), cloud and dedicated server. Understanding the main differences between them and their key benefits is essential if you want to get a good deal AND find the best host for your website.


With this type of plan, your website will be hosted on a single web server with many others. You essentially share the software, hardware, capacity and performance of the server with other users. This includes sharing things like the CPU, disk space and RAM.

For the most part, this tends to be the very cheapest web hosting option. It is best suited to small personal projects rather mission critical business use. Mainly because the speed and availability of your site can be affected by other users who may be consuming high amounts of resources.

Think about it. A server can only cope with a limited load at any moment in time. Too many users and processes being run at the same time will slow it down. In extreme cases, a server will be unable cope. It will stop responding and your visitors may not be able to reach your website at all if that happens.

This is unlikely to happen if you choose a well-known host. Good companies monitor usage carefully. If a user is consuming more than their fair share of resources, their account tends to be suspended pretty quickly.

Expect pay up to $3 USD (£3 GBP) a month for the cheapest of these plans. However, there are a few more pro’s and con’s you should know about before choosing this option.

Read more: What is shared hosting?

Virtual Private Server (VPS)

A VPS is a step up from sharing a server with other users. With VPS web hosting, your website lives in its own virtual environment. You get to choose the amount of RAM, processing capacity and disk space available to your virtual server AND only you will be able to use it.

You are not limited to the software installed and managed by your Web host either. You can install software of your choosing. For example, you could choose to run Nginx or Lightspeed web server software rather than Apache.

Pricing is very affordable for a low spec, entry-level VPS. Expect to pay from $5 USD (around £5 GBP) per month. The downside, is that you need to more technically able. The responsibility for installing, updating and managing server software and security in your hands, rather than those of your web host.

Read more: What is VPS hosting?

Cloud Packages

If you have no interest in having technical responsibility, then cloud hosting is worth considering. This setup is similar to the shared type. The main difference is that your host will store and serve your website from a pool of web servers, rather than one standalone machine.

This means that the speed of your site is less likely to be affected by other website owners. When resources begin to approach unsatisfactory levels, web hosts can simply add more servers to the pool.

From your viewpoint, it is equally useful to know, that you can specify the amount of resources you would like to use.

If you are starting out, it makes sense to begin with a low-spec combination of RAM, CPU cores and disk space. As your needs change, you can change your combination (up OR down) to suit. This gives you the option to manage the amount you spend on hosting per month.

Dedicated Server

For larger projects, and those that require higher levels of privacy and security, the only serious option to consider may be dedicated hosting. Essentially, this involves having a server that is dedicated to your use alone.

You are responsible for software installation, updates and security but, the hardware is usually supplied and managed for you by your hosting company. The exception to this is Colocation. Where you to run servers, that you own, in a data centre managed by a service provider.

Clearly you will need technical knowledge for both these options. HostMiser can help you learn the basics but, this is not an option that should be chosen lightly.

Expect to pay a minimum of $30 USD (£30 GBP) per month for the cheapest (managed) dedicated hosting plans.

In-house or Self-service

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My cheap web hosting servers

Rather than pay a third party, you COULD do everything in-house. This option requires technical know-how and funds. You will need to purchase hardware, pay for an Internet connection and (optionally) a system administrator.

Hostmiser.com and the page you are reading right now are served from a self-hosted platform. And, all of this is run from the home of the founder!

However, professional web hosting is cheap AND recommended. Unless you have very good reason to do otherwise, that is the route to follow. I am just a miser (and a little geeky), so I choose to self-host.

Next: How to read cheap hosting plans and pick the perfect package

Get Extra Advice for Free Via Email

You may find that we have not covered the type of service you are interested in yet, or maybe you just need to double check information you have read here or elsewhere.

Either way, if you need extra advice or you can’t find what you are looking for, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email. You can connect with me on Facebook too.