Cheap web hosting: The Roundup
Time to round up and so a side-by-side comparison of the hosts I looked at last week. I started with 3 of the top hosts from Digital.com's list of best web hosts. They were then followed up with two hosts from my own experiences. The full list of hosts covered are (links go to my articles - not the hosts):
All the hosts which I looked at did some form of WordPress hosting. The odd one here is DigitalOcean where you either need to set it up yourself, or get the WordPress image from the marketplace.
I looked at the cost of using the basic packages across 1, 3, and 5 years. Costs include UK sales tax at 20% and are listed in Pounds Sterling unless otherwise stated.
|1 year||29.64||262.65||154.67||$48 (USD)||28.80|
|3 years||245.16||787.94||420.81||$144 (USD)||168.00|
|5 years||460.68||1,313,23||701.35||$240 (USD)||307.20|
The figures for Bluehost look appealing, but the full amount for 1 year needs to be paid up-front, and there's no domain renewal included for future years. DigitalOcean is also linerly priced, but there's no domain included at all with their offering. You also need to fully manage the server yourself with DigitalOcean.
|Storage Space||10 GB||10 GB||50 GB||10 GB||25 GB|
|Number of websites||1||1||1||1^^||1|
|SSL Included||First Year||Yes||Yes||Yes^||Yes|
|Email Address Included||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
^ Set up using Let's Encrypt when using the Marketplace image
^^ Technically more could be included by playing around with the server
^ If your spend is more than $1000
Looking at the what you get vs the cost to the end-user, I can see why Bluehost is so popular - at least for the first year. I don't like that the SSL certificate is only free for the first year, especially as it's a Let's Encrypt certificate which is free anyway; I don't think it's right to charge for running a script to keep renewing the certificate.
I also found the high long-term cost of SiteGround to be disappointing especially when you get past the intorductory pricing. Hostinger has the best storage offering with middle-of-the-road pricing, but their lack of support options makes it something I can't recommend to someone starting out.
With my two entry options, DigitalOcean is not for the faint hearted. You need to have some knowledge of Linux administration, or have access to someone who does, and be willing to support yourself for the most part. IONOS seems to cover all bases: a good amount of resource, low, consistent costs, and comprehensive support.
If you are running a WordPress site, or looking to start one, then IONOS is probably the best option for your. I'd love to see Digital.com review them and have their experts cast an eye over them.
When looking at the hosts on an individual level it's easy to pass judgement on whether you get value for money. However because they don't offer the same entry-level offering the only fair way to compare them is to pick a machine they can all offer. Or at least get very close to.
All of the VPS prices below are for 4vCPU, 8GB RAM and >= 120GB storage. It shows the monthly cost, excluding any introductory offers to show what an ongoing, non-promotion cost would be.
|Disk Size||120 GB||120 GB||160 GB||160 GB||160 GB|
|Data Transfer||3 TB||5 TB||8 TB||5 TB||Unlimited|
|Monthly Cost||99.15||100.80||101.99||$48 (USD)||19.20^|
^ Has a 1-off set-up fee of £10 unless you commit to a 12-month contract. Payment is still monthly.
Should VPS be the route you want to go down, then IONOS is the clear winner here. The cost is half-that of DigitalOcean, and is only 20% of the other options on the list. Add into that the same support offering as with their WordPress hosting, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better offering just about anywhere.
I didn't cover this in the individual reviews as only Bluehost and IONOS offer the service. Based on what has already been stated, there's no surprise here that IONOS again come out on top.
Bluehost have an entry-level dedicated server at £123.94 per month. That gets you a 2.3GHz CPU with 4 coures and 4 threads, 4GB RAM, and 500GB storage (RAID 1, so there's mirroring of drives in case of a failure).
IONOS only have higher powere servers: a 3.5GHz CPU. Still 4 cores, but it has 8 threads, 16GB RAM and 1TB disk storage. Basically twice the server capacity of Bluehost. That's £72 per month. Or there's an AMD server option with 6 cores, 12 threads, 32GB RAM and the same 1TB storage for £66 per month. More than triple the resource for half the cost.
The hosts on Digital.com's list are a good starting point with appealing introduction offers. The costs spiral after year 1, and most people won't want to put the effort into moving away from the host after that first year - especially if business is starting to grow. Other things will be a priority, so you will be likely just to pay more to your current host.
I came into this process not expecting one of my options to be the best overall, but I can't argue with the data. IONOS offer a lot for what you pay. They are also uniquely positioned on this list to actually be able to help your business as you grow. You could start with their entry-level hosting, and move all the way up to their dedicated or cloud services (I've not covered the cloud option here).
Are you after a new host, or just a host at all to run your business/blog etc.? Then take a look into IONOS - they have come along way from the 1&1 branded days, and offer great value.
Do you need more options or other information to help get your business started? Head over to Digital.com and check out their resources. They may be US centric resources, but they may help guide you anyway.