Say No to Cheap Hosting!

Okay, I have to say this and remind all website owners again, cheap hosting will cost more in the long run.

What I mean by cheap are the $5 or $10 per month hosting accounts. The hosting that looks like it includes everything and the unicorn. But underneath the hood, it’s a hot mess.

THERE… I SAID IT… DONE. RIGHT?

OKAY, I SHOULD EXPLAIN FURTHER. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU NEED CONVINCING.

So why not go with a cheap host like GoDaddy or HostGator or Network Solutions that charges under $10 per month? It comes down to six reasons: (1) continuous operations or uptime, (2) tech support availability, (3) hosting configuration, (4) website performance, (5) negative SEO effects, and finally, (6) security.

I’ve been in this digital marketing business for over 20 years and have worked with many, many hosting companies. Most of the hosting companies I started with started small but got purchased by the big guys. This is natural and part of growing and thriving in business. Then you start seeing the decline, and you notice poor growth policies and unacceptable customer service and/or high website downtimes. 

Let’s start with your company. You have an exceptional product. You have highly trained and efficient team members. You have world-class customer service. In short, you have all the pieces to deliver an outstanding experience to your customers. However, if you don’t have a reliable web host, which can be the first time your customer comes in contact with you, then you will still lose out in the end.

How important is a good web hosting service? Consider this: on Cyber Monday of 2015, Target’s website crashed, causing untold financial losses and tarnishing the brand’s reputation for months afterward. Disgruntled customers immediately turned their attention to competitors that had a reliable infrastructure in place.

Of course, Target is an enterprise-level organization, and it eventually recovered from the fiasco. But here’s the question: if something similar happened to your website, would your company be able to recover? Can your business afford such losses over time?

It’s true; there are many cheap web hosting options on the market. However, such cut-rate plans come with some serious disadvantages. 

The following information discusses 6 significant issues with cheap hosting that you should consider before selecting a provider.

1. Lack of Continuous Operations and Uptime

As you may already know, in the world of websites, uptime is essential, and downtime is (very) bad. Uptime is the amount of time (often expressed as a percentage) that your web service is available to consumers. Downtime is, of course, the opposite: the amount of time your website is not available.

Most businesses shoot for at least 99% website uptime, which translates to 7 hours and 12 minutes of downtime every month. Some companies need a higher percentage than that, such as 99.9999% uptime (3 seconds of downtime per 30 days).

Unfortunately, cheap web hosting providers generally have poor uptime/downtime records. One reason for this is that most of these hosts have all (somethings hundreds or thousands) of their clients on shared servers. As a result, increased traffic for one client could cause downtime for other companies on the same server. That’s not to mention the vulnerability that shared hosting services have to DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks.

2. Limited Tech Support Availability and Knowledge

Remember the adage, “you get what you pay for?” That is true with web hosting providers. 

With today’s technology (PHP, Unix, PHPMyAdmin) and website platforms (WordPress, Drupal) and website page builders (Divi, Beaver Builder, Elementor), a tech support agent that is knowledgeable enough to understand the issues that commonly arise is crucial. As with everything online, it is getting more and more complicated. 

Databases, connection errors, hacking, and more have become common occurrences and issues. We are long past the days of simple HTML websites and images. It’s fundamental to be able to talk to someone with knowledge not only of a server but the applications that reside on it. Then the next criteria are how fast they will respond? How long do you wait on a chat or email or phone to get help? Does it take 5 minutes or 30 or 1 hour?

With cheap web hosting, you’re not going to get that.

Instead, you may be forced to wait in long queues to talk to a person live or sometimes wait for days to receive an email response. And once you finally reach tech support, you may find that the agent is not familiar with your problem and cannot solve it. 

In my first-hand experience, they inform you that you’ll need to upgrade your account to handle the issue. 

As an example, working with a large web hosting company, my customers are repeatedly told that they need to upgrade the hosting package to do the simplest things like adding a free SSL encryption.

3. Reduced Configuration and Scaling Capabilities

As mentioned above, cheap hosting services usually run on shared platforms. One consequence of this model is that you may not have the freedom to use preferred software or applications for your business. 

While your host’s array of software options may be easy to use, it often will not be the most suitable solution for your particular business needs.

What if you need to ramp up your online presence in preparation for an event? Or what if other companies on the shared server want to do the same? Since all of the clients on a shared platform are dividing the same CPU, memory, and server space amongst themselves, the installation and operation of new applications may result in slowdowns and even server overload. 

Another example is as technology changes; your hosting server needs to stay current. I’ve seen instances where websites still sit on ancient server technology or platform like PHP 5.4. We are at PHP 7.5. Sometimes this technology is so out-dated that it becomes a performance and a security risk. The host will not or cannot update your server without ultimately moving your account which is not in their best interest and takes time.

Again, you have to ask yourself: is it worth it?

4. Poor Website Performance

According to some experts, the ideal page load time for a website’s HTML elements should be 1.5 seconds or less. Longer than that and visitors are prone to leave or “bounce.” One Google study found that the bounce rate for mobile sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load is 53%

Unfortunately, shared web hosting often leads to slow load times and poor page performance. Again, this is because the host’s back end resources (CPU, memory, disk space, etc.) are divided among several different clients. Shared hosting services can’t hold a candle to dedicated or premium hosting when it comes to fast load times.

5. Negative SEO and Sales Effects

There is a direct correlation between page load time and Google’s rankings and therefore are undoubtedly indirect effects from using a shared hosting service. For example, research from Search Engine Journal indicates the “correlation between lower time-to-first-byte (TTFB) metrics and higher search engine rankings.” In other words, servers that could deliver web content to the front end more quickly caused client sites to receive higher Google rankings. 

In contrast, shared servers often have significantly slower response times for client-side requests. According to a study conducted by Amazon, a difference of just 100ms — a unit of time that a human can’t even perceive, was enough to reduce their sales by 1%. Walmart found similar results.

Of course, Google’s algorithm also takes the bounce rate into account (see the section above). High bounce rates could indicate slow load times and poor site performance will result in more visitors leaving your site (quickly), which in turn will cause your site to drop in Google’s SERP rankings.

6. Security Drawbacks

Finally, the hard fact of the matter is that cheap web hosting providers don’t offer the same level of security that higher-end dedicated hosts do. Cheap or free hosts are more susceptible to hacks, malware, phishing scams, and other cybercrimes than their counterparts. If you go with a cheap web hosting service, then you run the risk of suffering from a damaging breach of security in the future (for example, stolen passwords or vital personal identification leaks like names, phone numbers, or emails).

Just Say No!

The bottom line is, if you are serious about your business’ online presence, then I insist that you invest in a secure, dedicated web hosting solution. There are simply too many risks and disadvantages associated with cheap web hosting.

At GlobalSpex, we offer a wide variety of practical, reliable website maintenance and care plans. Also, we have directed many of our customers to reputable web hosting services that met their budgetary and technical needs to a tee. If you’d like to learn more about the services we offer, reach out to our team of friendly experts today for further information.

Christina Hawkins

Since 1999, Christina has been designing and building exceptional websites. With many years of experience in creating thousands of websites, she understands the need for continuing education in her field and, therefore, is constantly learning and teaching others about internet marketing and digital processes. Christina is known for her highly-collaborative methods that help her realize the vision each customer has to successfully create engaging content to captivate targeted audiences across multiple platforms. Christina has honed her digital marketing and graphic design skills so that she can help B2B industries get their message out to their target audience in the right way. In addition to her ability as a digital marketer, Christina serves as a coach and mentor with WPElevation to other digital marketing freelancers, helping them grow their businesses. She is a sponsor and co-leader of Houston's WordPress Meetup. Recently, she spear-headed the next Houston WordCamp 2020 as its coordinator after a 10 year hiatus and became the Houston Interactive Marketing Association Director of Technology.

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  1. […] there are few other reasons not to use cheap hosting, but we understand how enticing it can be. We can certainly recommend one or two hosting companies […]

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