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Best Cheap Web Hosting Services: Top Budget Shared Hosts in 2020

Looking for the best cheap web hosting provider, but you can’t decide because all budget hosts seem to offer the same features?

You’re in the right place.

Quick summary:

Need a quick answer? Here are my top 3 low-cost providers:

  • DreamHost – best value cheap host for bloggers and portfolio websites (from $2.59 / mo.)
  • InterServer – best for 2 or more websites and for high-traffic sites (from $4.00 / mo.)
  • SiteGround – best for hosting an e-commerce website (from $6.99 / mo.)

The three cheap providers above offer free SSL certificates, free auto website backups, easy WordPress installation, excellent customer service, hands-off security features, and excellent speed and uptime.

What’s on this page?

Choose your destiny!

Cheap hosts comparison tool

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Use this interactive tool to easily compare the cheapest hosts on price and features from all angles

Overviews of cheap hosts

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The pros and cons of each cheap host. Which providers are worth your money and which to avoid?

Performance tests

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Uptime, speed, and server stability tests for each host. For readers interested in the technical aspects.

Quick note before we dive into the details: most cheap hosts list their “per month” hosting price. I do that here as well.

However, no matter which host you choose, you’ll have to pay upfront for the entire shared hosting subscription.

For example, although the cheapest web hosting per year may be priced at $3.00 per month, your actual bill will amount to $36 ($3.00 times 12).

That’s why, in addition to listing the standard “per month” price, I also include the full price of each shared hosting plan I discuss.

Cheap shared hosting comparison tool

Note: information and features in the table below are for the cheapest shared hosting plan offered by each provider.

Click one of the options below to compare hosts on price and features. Click table column headers to sort web hosts in an ascending or descending order.

My opinion:
First term prices:
Renewal prices:
Features:

 3-year plan
(per month)
Annual plan
(per month)
Monthly planAnnual plan
2-year plan3-year plan
Monthly planAnnual plan
2-year plan3-year plan
Monthly planAnnual plan
2-year plan3-year plan
Monthly planAnnual plan
2-year plan3-year plan
My commentMoney-back
(days)
More infoFree domain.com registration (annual).com renewal (annual)Websites allowedDisk spaceBandwidthEasy WordPress
installation
Free auto backupsPlan nameE-mail address in your domainMaximum email addressesEmail sending limitInode limitMax. MySQL databasesMax. database sizeFree SSL?Free migration?Main strengthsMain weaknessesPriceEase of useLive chat tech supportSpeedValue
DreamHost$2.59$3.95$4.95$3.95-$2.59$4.95$3.95-$2.59$4.95$47.70-$93.24$4.95$47.40-$93.24Best for personal website97Scroll to detailsYes$7.99$15.99150 GBUnlimitedYesEvery two weeks"Starter"$1.69/mo. add-onUnlimited100 per hourUnlimited62-3 GBYesYesFree domain. fast, tech support, ease of useNo free email5/55/54.5/54.5/55/5
InterServer$4.00$4.50$5.00$4.50-$4.00$5.00$4.50-$4.00$5.00$54-$144$5.00$54-$144Best for multiple and large sites30Scroll to detailsNo$1.99$11.00UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedYesWeekly"Shared"FreeUnlimited200200 000UnlimitedUnlimitedYesYesUnlimited resources, fast, price-lock guaranteeNo free domain4.5/54/54.5/54.5/55/5
SiteGround$10.49$6.99$19.99$6.99$9.99$10.49$19.99$14.99$14.99$14.99$19.99$83.88$239.76$377.64$19.99$179.88$359.76$539.64Best for e-commerce site30Scroll to detailsNo$15.95$15.95110 GB10,000 visits/mo.YesDaily"StartUp"FreeUnlimited400150 000Unlimited500 MBYesYesBest tech support, exceptional speedExpensive renewals and 3-year plans4/54/55/55/55/5
Hostinger*$0.99*$2.99$9.99$2.99$1.59$0.99$7.99$3.25$2.85$2.15$9.99$35.88$38.16$47.52$7.99$39$68.40$103.20Cheapest overall, but with cons30Scroll to detailsYes$8.99$10.99110 GB100 GB/mo.YesWeekly"Single"Free1500800 00013 GBYesNoVery cheap, decent speedVery long live chat tech support queues, low bandwidth limit5/54/53.5/54/54.5/5
A2 Hosting$2.99$7.82$10.99$7.82$4.35$2.99$10.99$8.99$8.99$8.99$10.99$93.84$104.4$107.64$10.99$107.88$215.76$323.64Good but overpriced30Scroll to detailsNo$14.95$14.951100 GBUnlimitedYesDaily"Startup"Free25100600 0005UnlimitedYesYesSpeed, tech supportExpensive renewals, outdated user interface4/54/54.5/54.5/54/5
BlueHost$2.75$5.45-$5.45$3.95$2.75-$8.99$8.49$7.99-$65.40$94.80$99-$107.88$203.76$287.64Popular, but not too good30Scroll to detailsYes$17.99$17.99150 GBUnlimitedYesDaily"Basic"Free5750200 000UnlimitedUnlimitedYesNoEase of use, popular brandPoor customer support, unstable performance, expensive renewals4/55/53/53.5/53.5/5
HostWinds$2.35$3.29$4.23$3.29$2.82$2.35$8.99$6.99$5.99$4.99$4.23$39.48$67.68$84.60$8.99$83.88$143.76$179.64Cheap, but nothing special60Scroll to detailsYes$14.84$14.841UnlimitedUnlimitedYesNo"Basic"FreeUnlimited25250 000UnlimitedUnlimitedYesYesUnlimited resources, speedExpensive renewals, no free website backups4.5/54/53/54/53.5/5
AccuWeb$3.09$3.24$3.25$3.24$3.19$3.09$3.70$3.71$3.66$3.55$3.25$38.88$76.56$111.24$3.70$44.52$87.84$127.80Cheap, but nothing special30Scroll to detailsYes$12.99$12.99Unlimited10 GB500 GB/mo.YesDaily"Personal"Free150500250 000UnlimitedUnlimitedYesYesCheap renewalsTech support quality varies, speed issues4.5/53.5/53/53.5/53.5/5
HostGator$2.75$3.95$10.95$3.95$3.45$2.75$10.95$8.95$7.95$6.95$10.95$47.40$82.80$99$10.95$107.40$190.8$250.2Not recommended45Scroll to detailsYes$12.95$15.001UnlimitedUnlimitedYesDaily"Hatchling"FreeUnlimited500100 000UnlimitedYesYesRecognizable brand, cheap first termSupport quality, website stability, expensive renewals3.5/53.5/52/53.5/52.5/5
GoDaddy$4.49$4.99-$4.99$4.69$4.49-$8.99$8.99$8.99-$59.88$112.56$161.64-$107.88$215.76$323.64Avoid at all costs30Scroll to detailsYes$11.99$15-$191100 GBUnlimitedYesNo"Economy"Free10500250,00011 GBYesNoRecognizable brandEverything2/53/52/53.5/51/5

* Hostinger has a 4-year plan instead of a 3-year plan

Best cheap web hosting overviews

First I’ll go over my top 3 best affordable hosts and their features. Then, I’ll discuss other popular budget providers.

Top 3 cheap web hosting plans

#1: DreamHost “Starter” plan:

Best for a personal blog or portfolio site

DreamHost offers the perfect value for the money out of all budget web hosts I’ve tested. The free domain name, affordability, beginner-friendly control panel, and quick load times make them my top recommendation.

  • 12-month term $3.95/mo
  • 36-month term $2.59/mo
  • Disk space 50 GB
  • Bandwidth Unlimited
  • Free Domain Yes
  • Refund guarantee 97 days

Pros

  • Very cheap first terms and renewals
  • Great speed and uptime
  • In-house customer support
  • Longest money-back guarantee in web hosting
  • Beginner-friendly control panel
  • WordPress Website Builder
  • Free SSL certificate and backups

Cons

  • No free email with the Starter plan

Back to comparison tool

“Starter” plan pricing (per month):

DreamHost first term and renewal price comparison

Total cost of hosting:

  • 12-month term: $47.70 ($3.95 x 12)
  • 36-month term: $93.24 ($2.59 x 36)

Why is DreamHost my #1 best budget host?

At just $2.59 per month (3-year contract), DreamHost is one of the cheapest web hosting providers around.

Even their annual plan, which costs $3.95 a month, is very budget-friendly.

DreamHost also has a fantastic set of features and tools: a very beginner-friendly control panel, free domain name for one year, great live chat tech support, fast servers, reliable security features, and the best money-back guanratee in the industry.

Importantly, DreamHost’s shared hosting plans renew at the same price as the first term. This is in stark contrast to competitors, the majority of which charge significantly more for renewals than they do for the first contract.

As far as the best cheap web hosting services go, DreamHost offers the top value for the money.

What’s included?

DreamHost’s Starter shared hosting plan allows you to host a single website, and it comes with 50 GB of storage and unlimited bandwidth. This is more than enough for a new website and even for the majority of established sites.

All industry-standard tools and features, such as automatic website backups, automatic WordPress installation, and SSL certificates, are included for free.

What about email?

The shared “Starter” plan doesn’t include free email hosting. This means that if you’d like to send email from an address in your domain (e.g. [email protected]), you’ll need to purchase DreamHost’s optional email add-on for an extra $1.67 per month.

Doing so would drive up the price of a 3-year contract from $2.59 to $4.26 per month.

As a result, if email hosting is important for you, consider InterServer (see my next recommended host) as an alternative because they include E-mail hosting for free with their $4.00/month plan.

Both DreamHost and Interserver have very similar quality standards. However, DreamHost has a more intuitive admin panel and is easier to use.

Domain name costs

A great thing about DreamHost is that they offer new customers a free domain name for a year.

Once the first year is over, you can renew your domain for $15.99 a year, which is around the average domain price in the hosting industry.

Other DreamHost hosting plans

If you ever need to host more than one website, or if your site outgrows the Starter plan’s 50 GB storage limit, you can upgrade to DreamHost’s “Unlimited” shared hosting plan.

This plan costs $4.95 and $5.95 per month for a 3-year and 1-year term, respectively. It also includes free e-mail hosting bundled in.

For the most demanding websites, DreamHost also offers products such as VPS hosting (starts at $10/mo.) and dedicated servers (starts at $149/mo.).

Developers can also make use of the cloud hosting and computing platform, DreamCompute.

See my DreamHost review for a comprehensive overview of their different plans, features, and service standards.

#2: InterServer “Shared” plan:

Best for multiple websites and high-traffic sites

InterServer offers the perfect plan for hosting more than one site and high-traffic sites. Unlimited resources, excellent speed, great uptime, and solid tech support – all at an affordable price.

  • 12-month term $4.50/mo
  • 36-month term $4.00/mo
  • Disk space Unlimited
  • Bandwidth Unlimited
  • Free Domain No
  • Money-back 30 days

Pros

  • Unlimited resources
  • Cheap renewals
  • Great speed and performance
  • Discounted domain price ($1.99) for first year
  • Free website backups and SSL certificates
  • Price-Lock Guarantee – pay the same price, forever
  • Easy WordPress installation

Cons

  • No free domain name

Back to comparison tool

“Shared” plan pricing (per month):

InterServer first term and renewal price comparison

Total cost of hosting:

  • 12-month plan: $54
  • 36-month plan: $144

Just like DreamHost, InterServer charges the same fee for renewals and first terms.

And while the “Shared” plan costs more than DreamHost’s “Starter” plan, the higher price comes with two benefits:

  • Free email hosting – which costs extra with DreamHost’s cheapest plan
  • Support for an unlimited number of websites

As a result, if you value email hosting, InterServer is an excellent alternative to DreamHost – even if you don’t need to host more than one website.

What’s included with the shared hosting plan?

You receive unlimited bandwidth and disk storage, and you get to host as many websites as you want.

If unlimited sounds too good to be true, please read my guide: understanding “unlimited” hosting resources.

InterServer’s shared hosting plans also includes a free SSL certificate for every one of your sites, free website backups, and even a free website migration for a single cPanel account in case you need to move an existing website from a different hosting company.

Domain name costs

Although InterServer doesn’t include a free domain name, as a new customer, you can purchase a single domain for one year a discounted low price of $1.99.

After that, the cost is $11.00 per year – which is one of the best domain prices in the shared hosting industry.

Other InterServer plans

As far as cheap shared hosting goes, InterServer offers just the one plan I discussed above.

For more advanced users, Interserver offers services such as:

  • Linux VPS – from $6.00 / mo.
  • Windows VPS – from $10 /mo.
  • Dedicated hosting– from $199 / mo.

See my detailed InterServer review for more details on pricing, tools & features, and my speed test results.

#3: SiteGround “StartUp” plan:

Best for e-commerce websites

SiteGround is not as cheap as the other providers, but they offer superior technical support and rock-solid performance.

  • 12-month term $6.99/mo
  • 36-month term $10.49/mo
  • Storage 10 GB
  • Suitable for 10,000 visits/mo.
  • Free Domain No
  • Money-back 30 days

Pros

  • Best speed, reliability, and uptime
  • Highly capable technical support team
  • Refunds on unused subscription months
  • Free website backups and SSL certificates
  • Easy WordPress installation

Cons

  • Expensive renewals
  • No major discount on 3-year terms
  • No free domains

Back to comparison tool

“Startup” plan pricing (per month):

SiteGround first term and renewal price comparison

Total cost of hosting:

(First term / Renewal)

  • 12-month plan: $84/ $180
  • 36-month plan: $377.64/ $540

SiteGround is the most expensive of the cheap shared providers I cover here.

What you get for the money is the best speed and uptime (jump to my performance tests for the details) – both of which are very important for e-commerce and business websites.

You also get a support team with exceptional knowledge of the technical aspects of hosting. This will prove helpful when trying to troubleshoot the type of advanced hosting problems you might run into with an e-commerce website.

Although all of the web hosts I discuss here offer solid speed and performance (except where I say otherwise), the extra stability you get from SiteGround is important for e-commerce sites in particular.

That’s because even minor speed and uptime fluctuations that don’t matter for a personal website, can have a negative impact on an e-commerce website’s business and sales.

What’s included in the plan?

The shared StartUp plan comes with 10 GB of storage and support for one website.

While there is no official data transfer limit, SiteGround states that the plan is ideal for hosting a site that receives up to 10 000 visitors per month.

You also get all the basic tools and features such as a free SSL certificate and a free migration of an existing website, along with free automatic daily backups of your site.

Domain name costs

A .com domain from SiteGround will set you back $15.95 per year, while .org and .net domains both cost $17.95 annually.

Customer service

SiteGround’s technical support team is the best in the business.

I’ve spoken with well over a hundred support representatives from various cheap hosting companies while conducting my tests, and none seemed as genuinely courteous and eager to help as the good people at SiteGroud.

They make you feel as if they were your personal assistant, and their full attention is on solving your problem at all costs.

You can request help via live chat (24/7) or through email.

Other hosting plans

If you need to host more than one website or if your website serves much more than 10 000 visitors per month, consider SiteGround’s GrowBig ($9.99/mo.) or GoGeek ($14.99/mo.) plans.

These two upper-tier shared hosting plans aren’t cheap by any means, but they offer more resources.

SiteGround also sells high-end managed Cloud hosting plans starting at $80 per month.

See my full SiteGround review for more about their shared hosting plans.

Other popular cheap web hosting providers:

#4: Hostinger “Single” plan:

Very cheap, but with drawbacks

If price is your only concern, Hostinger is unbeatable. However, their service has a few drawbacks (see below) that make DreamHost a generally better recommendation.

  • 12-month term $2.99/mo
  • 48-month term $0.99/mo
  • Storage 10 GB
  • Bandwidth 100 GB/mo.
  • Free Domain Yes
  • Money-back 30 days

Pros

  • Chepest web host on this list
  • Good speed and uptime
  • Friendly and helpful customer support
  • Free website backups and SSL certificates
  • Easy WordPress installation

Cons

  • Tech support chat queues can get extremely log
  • Relatively low bandwidth (data transfer) limit

Back to comparison tool

“Single” plan pricing (per month):

Hostinger first term and renewal price comparison

Total cost of hosting:

(First term / Renewal)

  • 12-month plan: $35.88 / $39
  • 48-month plan: $47.52 / $103

Why isn’t Hostinger in my top 3?

Considering the low price alone, Hostinger is definitely the cheapest web hosting provider on my list.

So why didn’t I rank them as the #1 best cheap web host instead of DreamHost?

Three reasons:

  1. In my experience, Hostinger’s post-sale live tech support can take an hour or more to respond.
  2. Their user interface isn’t as beginner-friendly as DreamHost’s – even though Hostinger’s overall website design is great
  3. Their servers aren’t as fast as DreamHost’s

I strongly believe that quick and responsive technical support is essential when it comes to customer satisfaction.

When your website is down or loading very slowly, you don’t want assistance an hour later – you want assistance right now.

Still, if quick technical support isn’t a priority for you and you don’t slightly slower (but still reasonably fast) website load times, Hostinger is a viable alternative to DreamHost.

Domain name costs

Hostinger offers a free domain for one year with their annual or longer shared hosting plans, which I didn’t expect considering the very low cost of their service.

Renewing a domain name costs $10.99/year, which is one of the best prices in the industry.

Customer service

As I mentioned earlier, live chat queues are very long; it can take more than an hour to connect to Hostinger’s post-sales live chat technical support department.

While I understand that cheap web hosting providers need to cut costs wherever possible, I don’t think support quality is where they should be looking for savings.

On the flip side, the quality of support – once I managed to connect – was very good, particularly for a provider with such wallet-friendly prices.

Support agents went out of their way to help and even consulted their colleagues when they didn’t have an answer to my question.

See my detailed Hostinger review for more.

#5: A2 Hosting “Startup” plan:

Good host, but price not justified

A2 is a quality provider. However, they are overpriced compared to DreamHost and InterServer.

  • 12-month term $7.82/mo
  • 36-month term $2.99/mo
  • Disk space 100 GB
  • Bandwidth Unlimited
  • Free Domain No
  • Money-back 30 days

Pros

  • Knowledgeable live chat support
  • Great website speed and reliability
  • Cheap 3-year subscription (first term)
  • Free website backups and SSL certificates
  • Easy WordPress installation
  • Refunds on unused subscription months if you cancel

Cons

  • Expensive annual plan
  • Expensive renewals in general
  • Outdated user interface

Back to comparison tool

“Startup” plan prices (per month):

A2 Hosting first term and renewal price comparison

Total cost of hosting:

(First term / Renewal)

  • 12-month plan: $93.84/ $107.88
  • 36-month plan: $107.64/ $323.64

Why isn’t A2 Hosting in my top 3?

Although they offer quality support and great speed, the fact is this isn’t enough – good support and speed are very common in the competitive shared hosting industry nowadays.

A2 is simply too expensive (as far as cheap hosts go), and I don’t feel that the price is justified.

The only exception is the 3-year contract ($2.99 per month). However, it renews for $8.99 per month, which is double what my top two web hosts charge.

Domain name costs

Unfortunately, A2 doesn’t offer a free domain.

The cost of registering and renewing a domain is currently $14.95 per year.

Customer support

Queue times are usually shorter than a minute, which I really enjoyed. The standard of support I received from A2 while testing their shared hosting service was very high.

See my A2 hosting review for more details about their shared hosting.

#6: Bluehost “Basic” plan:

Very popular, not that good

You’ve probably heard of Bluehost and seen them recommended by a number of websites. I disagree with these recommendations. Bluehost’s service quality is subpar and gets worse with every year.

  • 12-month term $5.45/mo
  • 36-month term $2.75/mo
  • Disk space 50 GB
  • Bandwidth Unlimited
  • Free Domain Yes
  • Money-back 30 days

Pros

  • Cheap 3-year term
  • Beginner-friendly control panel
  • Recognizable brand
  • Free website backups and SSL certificates
  • Easy WordPress installation

Cons

  • Poor customer support quality
  • Unstable speed and performance
  • Expensive renewals
  • No monthly terms

Back to comparison tool

Basic plan prices (per month):

Bluehost first term and renewal price comparison

Total cost of hosting:

(First term / Renewal)

  • 12-month plan: $65.40/ $107.88
  • 36-month plan: $99/ $287.64

Why isn’t Bluehost in my top 3?

Bluehost is one of the most popular cheap shared hosting providers; more than 1.2% of the world’s active websites are hosted with them.

And while I would have probably recommended them five or ten years ago, ever since they’ve been acquired in 2010 by Endurance International Group (EIG), the quality of their service has gone downhill.

Currently, Bluehost suffers from two major drawbacks:

  • Their shared hosting servers are overcrowded, as you can see in my review. This leads to frequent problems with website speed stability.
  • Bluehost outsources its customer service. Their support agents aren’t native English speakers, which sometimes causes frustrating communication issues.

Granted, Bluehost has some upsides, such as a recognizable brand, free domain name registration for one year, competitively priced shared hosting subscriptions, and one of the best control panels.

However, DreamHost offers all of the above without sacrificing on performance or support quality, and they top things off with much cheaper renewals and a better set of advanced features and tools.

Domain name costs

Although you can get a free domain from Bluehost for 12 months, they have one of the most expensive domain renewals in the shared hosting industry – $17.99 per year.

Customer support

While knowledgeable and helpful, Bluehost’s support agents sometimes had difficulty understanding my questions.

They can also take a long time to reply to questions. Overall, their support is very far from the best.

See my full Bluehost review for more.

#7: HostWinds “Basic” plan:

A decent host, but with some drawbacks

They definitely have attractive prices. Unfortunately, their website backup policy and customer support quality could use a lot of improvement.

  • 12-month term $3.29/mo
  • 36-month term $2.35/mo
  • Disk space Unlimited
  • Bandwidth Unlimited
  • Free Domain Yes
  • Money back 60 days

Pros

  • Host unlimited websites
  • Long money-back guarantee
  • Cheap first term
  • Good speed and uptime
  • Free SSL

Cons

  • Fairly expensive renewals
  • No free website backups (costs $3.00/mo. extra)
  • Variable live chat tech support quality

Back to comparison tool

“Basic” plan prices (per month)

HostWinds first term and renewal price comparison

Total cost of hosting:

(First term / Renewal)

  • 12-month plan: $39.48/ $83.88
  • 36-month plan: $84.60/ $179.64

Why isn’t Hostwinds in my top 3?

Hostwinds gets all the basics right, and their shared hosting plans don’t break the bank.

Unfortunately, they fail to shine in any one particular area, and their renewals are a bit expensive compared to DreamHost’s and InterServer’s.

What’s more, Hostwinds don’t offer free website backups; they charge $3.00 a month for a premium backups add-on.

The quality of their live chat support is a bit hit-and-miss.

One upside is that they offer unlimited storage. However, you’re site is unlikely to ever need more than 10-20 GB of disk space. In fact, most WordPress sites – even large ones – take up less than 10 GB.

Overall, HostWinds is a decent budget provider with all the basic features in place (except free backups). It’s just that my top 3 picks offer much better value for the money.

Domain name costs

Hostwinds is one of the cheap web hosts that offer a free domain for one year, which is always great to see.

Renewing a domain after the first year costs $14.84/year, which is one of the better deals around.

Customer support

Even though live chat queue times are short, the quality of support I’ve received from Hostwinds has been mixed.

Instead of directly answering my questions, their support agents often provided me with links to extensive FAQ articles on their website and asked me to look through the articles for an answer to my questions.

Not exactly my idea of “quality support.”

See my Hostwinds review for more details.

#8 AccuWeb “Personal” plan:

Cheap, but not much else

Just like HostWinds, AccuWeb doesn’t shine in any one particular area, and they have mediocre customer support.

  • 12-month term $3.24/mo
  • 36-month term $3.09/mo
  • Disk space 10 GB
  • Bandwidth 500 GB/mo.
  • Free Domain Yes
  • Money back 30 days

Pros

  • Host unlimited websites
  • Cheap first terms
  • Cheap renewals
  • Free website backups and SSL certificates
  • Easy WordPress installation

Cons

  • Unpredictable tech support quality
  • Some speed and reliability issues (see test)
  • Dated user interface

Back to comparison tool

“Personal” plan pricing (per month):

AccuWeb first term and renewal price comparison

Like Bluehost, Accuweb doesn’t sell a monthly term. There’s also very little difference in monthly fees between subscriptions.

Total cost of hosting:

(First term / Renewal)

  • 12-month plan: $38.88/ $44.52
  • 36-month plan: $111.24/ $127.80

Why isn’t AccuWeb in my top #3?

For exactly the same reasons as Hostwinds:

  • Even though they are affordable and offer good performance, they don’t excel at one thing in particular
  • Their customer support quality is mediocre

Accuweb is definitely cheap. But is it the best cheap web host for any particular purpose? I don’t believe so.

Domain name costs

You’ll get a free domain for one year if you purchase an annual-or-longer shared hosting plan.

After that, you’ll pay $12.99 per year for a .com – one of the best prices anywhere.

Customer service

Although live chat queues are short and the quality of support is good, I really didn’t enjoy the support experience overall:

  1. I was disconnected from live chat in the middle of a conversation multiple times (my internet connection was fine). This is unacceptable.
  2. Support agents sometimes take way too long to reply. Imagine asking a question, receiving a reply, then asking a follow-up question, and waiting 10 minutes to hear back.
See my AccuWeb review for more about their shared hosting services.

#9: HostGator “Hatchling” plan:

Generally not recommended

HostGator invests a lot of money into branding at marketing. What they should actually be investing in is improving their below-average support quality and frequent speed issues.

  • 12-month term $3.95/mo
  • 36-month term $2.75/mo
  • Disk space Unmetered
  • Bandwidth Unmetered
  • Free Domain Yes
  • Money back 45 days

Pros

  • Recognizable brand
  • Free website backups and SSL certificates
  • Cheap first term
  • Easy WordPress installation

Cons

  • Poor tech support quality
  • Unpredictable performance and load speed
  • Very expensive renewals

Back to comparison tool

“Hatchling” plan prices (per month):

HostGator first term and renewal price comparison

Total cost of hosting:

(First term / Renewal)

  • 12-month plan: $47.40/ $107.40
  • 36-month plan: $99/ $250.2

Why isn’t HostGator in my top #3?

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way:

HostGator is a very popular shared hosting provider, and they have a cool crocodile as a company mascot. They also have reasonably cheap first terms.

Now for the bad:

  • Poor technical support (post-sales). They’re just not that helpful.
  • My test website experienced frequent speed issues; it would load quickly (in less than 2 second) at one time, but would take 5 or 6 seconds to load later in the day.
  • Very expensive renewals given the average performance quality

HostGator would have to undergo some major changes to earn a spot in my “top 3” lineup.

Domain name costs

HostGator now offers a free domain name for one year with their 12-month, 24-month, and 36-month shared hosting plans.

After that, HostGator’s standard domain name renewal price of $17.99 applies.

Customer support

Like Bluehost’s, HostGator’s support agents are not native English speakers and often have communication difficulties.

I’ve also found them to be downright incompetent at times. For some examples, see my experience with HostGator’s live chat support.

#10: GoDaddy “Economy” plan:

Avoid them at all costs

If there’s one cheap host you should never consider, I’d say it’s GoDaddy.

  • 12-month term $4.99/mo
  • 36-month term $4.49/mo
  • Disk space 100 GB
  • Bandwidth Unmetered
  • Free Domain Yes
  • Money back 30 days

Pros

  • Recognizable brand
  • Good website speed

Cons

  • Poor support quality and long queues
  • Aggressive marketing tactics
  • Expensive domain renewals
  • Complicated pricing structure
  • Basically, low value for the price

Back to comparison tool

“Economy” plan prices (per month):

GoDaddy first term and renewal price comparison

Total cost of hosting:

(First term / Renewal)

  • 12-month plan: $59.88/ $107.88
  • 36-month plan: $161.64/ $323.64

Why not in my top 3?

Like HostGator, GoDaddy is an extremely popular company.

In fact, around 6% of the world’s active websites are hosted with GoDaddy. This makes them the most widely used web host on the planet.

Unfortunately, they have so many drawbacks I’m not sure where to begin:

  • As far as “cheap web hosting” goes, GoDaddy’s plans are expensive
  • Hosting renewals cost more than twice as much as what you’ll pay at DreamHost
  • My GoDaddy test website couldn’t handle 10 simultaneous visitors without issues
  • They constantly try to sell you on add-on services you don’t need
  • Live chat queue waits are often longer than 60 minutes (phone support is much faster)
  • Their domain name renewals are the most expensive around ($18 / year for a .com)
  • Their privacy agreement is way more complicated than it needs to be
  • Their 3-month plan comes with a 48-hour money-back guarantee instead of their usual 30-day money back guarantee.

I would strongly recommend against hosting with GoDaddy.

Performance tests

I purchased a cheap shared hosting account with each host I discussed above and set up a test website with each one. (Here’s my procedure for setting up a test site.)

I then performed the following tests for each site:

  • Uptime tests – to measure the length of time each website remained accessible online
  • Speed tests – to see how quickly each website loaded
  • Traffic spike tests – to see if the website can maintain good performance even under heavy traffic loads

Here’s what my research revealed.

#1: Uptime test

I used Uptime Robot to track the uptime of all websites for 3 months:

HostUptimeMonthly downtime
InterServer99.99%4 minutes
Bluehost99.99%4 minutes
SiteGround99.99%4 minutes
iPage99.98%8 minutes
AccuWeb99.98%8 minutes
Hostinger99.96%16 minutes
DreamHost99.96%16 minutes
HostWinds99.96%16 minutes
HostGator99.96%16 minutes
A2 Hosting99.95%20 minutes
GoDaddy99.95%20 minutes

Uptime (availability) expresses the amount of time a website remains accessible online. The higher the uptime percentage, the better.

The lower the uptime percentage, the more downtime your website experiences. When your site is down, visitors can’t access it.

Here are examples of how long your website would be offline in a typical month for a given uptime percentage:

UptimeMonthly downtimeAnnual downtime
99.999%26 seconds5.2 minutes
99.99%4.3 minutes51 minutes
99.95%21.6 minutes4.3 hours
99.90%43 minutes8.6 hours
99.80%86 minutes17 hours
99.50%3.6 hours1.8 days
99%7.2 hours3.6 days

An uptime below 99.95% should be a red flag. Luckily, all of the hosts I tested had up-times of 99.95% or higher.

#2: Speed test

I used GTMetrix to test the speed of my sites once per hour for an entire week. That’s close to 170 speed tests per website.

Here’s the average load speed for each cheap shared hosting provider:

Cheap shared hosts average website load speed

SiteGround outperformed all competitors with a stellar load speed of 0.6 seconds (600 milliseconds).

All websites loaded in less than 2.0 seconds, which is very good.

Traffic Spike Test

I used LoadImpact to simulate real-user activity on each of my test websites.

During the simulation, I kept an eye out for:

  • HTTP request errors
  • I/O timeouts

HTTP errors and I/O timeouts suggest that the host experienced difficulties handling the sudden onslaught of traffic. A real user would experience this as a page failing to load or loading very slowly.

Simulation #1 – 100 simultaneous visitors:

cheap shared hosts server stress test simulation - 100 users

Only SiteGround, InterServer, and A2 were able to handle 100 concurrent website visitors without problems.

DreamHost handled 63% of requests correctly, meaning that around 37% of requests resulted in an error – an obvious sign of resource overload. The remaining hosts did even worse than DreamHost.

HostWinds and Hostinger performed the worst – my test sites were under so much stress that they went offline.

Overall, if your site serves 100 or more simultaneous visitors on a regular basis (that’s a lot of traffic; most sites don’t ever come close to this), and you don’t want any of your visitors to have trouble loading your pages, I strongly recommend that you choose SiteGround, InterServer, or A2.

Simulation #2 – 50 simultaneous visitors:

cheap shared hosts server stress test simulation - 50 users

At 50 concurrent site visitors, HostWinds was now able to handle 100% of incoming traffic – a great improvement over the previous test.

Hostinger is still at the bottom of the barrel

Simulation #3 – 25 concurrent users:

cheap shared hosts server stress test simulation - 25 users

Now, iPage was performing flawlessly, and Hostinger saw a great improvement (from 21% to 90%).

GoDaddy was barely able to handle 51% of server requests correctly. Clearly, 25 simultaneous website visitors was too much for GoDaddy.

Simulation #5 – 10 concurrent users test:

cheap shared hosts server stress test simulation - 10 users

I was shocked to see that even at 10 simultaneous users, GoDaddy’s web servers were struggling and returning an error for 25% of traffic.

Verdict: best cheap shared hosting for high-traffic sites

Based on my traffic spike research, here is my conclusion:

If your site regularly serves 100 concurrent visitors, you probably have a monster of a website with thousands of daily visitors. In that case, InterServer is my top recommendation overall.

For new or smaller sites with dozens or hundreds of daily visitors, any shared hosting provider will do – just make sure to avoid GoDaddy and HostGator.

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