The REAL Cost of Your Cheap Website Hosting

A pile of money burning in front of cheap website hosting servers

It seemed like a no-brainer. For less than $100/year, your pals over at Godaddy, Bluehost, or HostGator would host your website for you. You heard about some of the better hosts but once you saw that they cost more, you ruled them out. It’s just hosting, right?


While it might seem like you’re saving money at first, I can promise you that in the long run that cheap hosting is going to wind up costing you a fortune.

Read on and I’ll explain the top reasons why.

Hidden Cost #1: Bad search engine placement

Google has recently added page load times as a ranking signal. This means that slow sites are just punished by having people leave your site, but you’ll actually get less traffic to begin with because Google will rank you further down the results page. The best and easiest SEO move you can make is to spend just a little more on better website hosting.

Hidden Cost #2: Increased development time and cost

When you pay your web developer to work on your site for you and you’re paying them by the hour, that time can rack up fast when they’re waiting 10 seconds for each page to load. I’ve experienced sites that were so slow that it literally added 50% or more to the time it took us to do anything. 

Whether you’re being billed $50/hr or $500/hr, that’s going to add up quickly. Even if you only have them do 1 hour of work per month, we’re talking about hundreds extra that you’ll be spending each year simply on maintaining the site.

Hidden Cost #3: Increased operating expenses

This one is counter-intuitive, but research has shown time and time again that slower websites with bad hosting have increased operating costs. This cost maybe isn’t even so hidden, just unexpected.

Hidden Cost #4: Your wasted time

If you work on the site yourself, you’re going to struggle getting through everything when the site takes forever to load. Your time is extremely valuable, and any time you waste waiting for your site to load could have been spent making money. Consider the opportunity cost

Hidden Cost #5: Missed sales

Let’s face it, people on the internet are not patient. They have no time to wait for your page to slowly pop up or stare at a spinning wheel while your dumpster server tries to figure out what to send them. They’re just going to leave. Depending on just how bad your hosting is, you might be losing a ton of sales. And depending on what you sell, even a single missed sale could make your cheap hosting actually more costly than something better.

Hidden Cost #6: Lack of support

If you’re at one of the bargain barrel hosts, odds are the support isn’t good. You’re responsible for fixing issues with your site, and even if it’s their fault, it’s you’re job to a) notice the problem, and b) sit on hold for ages with them while they figure out their mistake. With decent hosts, they’ll help you without putting you on hold. With good hosts, they’ll take care of it for you. And with great hosts, they’ll notice the problem before you do and fix it. With incredible hosts, they’ll prevent the problem from happening to begin with.

Hidden Cost #7: Upsells

Sometimes you might literally be spending more at the cheap hosts even before all of these other factors are taken into account. They try to get you with the search engine placements (these are a ripoff), or the directory listings (even worse), or they might even try to upgrade you into purchasing the services they should have been providing to begin with, such as backup recover and other core offers. Even basic email hosting often costs an arm and a leg.

Take a look at your bills and see if you’re spending what you think you are. That premium host might not look so expensive now!

Hidden Cost #8: Backup and disaster recovery

Usually at a cheap website host they won’t be providing any backups for you (unless you forked over the extra cash for it each month, of course). So if your site gets hacked, you’re just going to have to fix it. If you accidentally delete it, it’s gone. Or if their server blows up one day or their data center floods, it’s gone forever.

Can you afford to be completely without a website for months, and to pay for a new one?

Hidden Cost #9: Downtime and poor service

If your site is down, you’re losing sales. Cheap hosts often go down frequently for a variety of reasons. They typically have hundreds and hundreds of websites on one server, and if just one of those starts taking too many resources or gets hacked, the whole thing can go down.

But I’ve also had plenty of downtime at cheap hosts just from sheer negligence. I’ve had them change the hosting over to a new server and not tell me that I needed to update my records, causing lengthy downtime. I’ve had them decide to disable all outgoing email from the webserver (for things like contact form submissions) without telling me. If a problem like that goes unnoticed it can be devastating to a business. Often times there is no way to find out what you missed!

The list goes on.

Taken in aggregate, these things are all more than just simple annoyances or headaches. They are real costs that can blow up your entire marketing budget in no time. And since premium hosting really isn’t very expensive, you have absolutely no reason not to utilize it.

What do premium hosts offer?

Generally the higher-end hosts will provide many of the following:

  • Powerful servers which lead to faster load times and more stability
  • Expert support specialists who will help you with any issues that may arise
  • Automated backups and recovery
  • Email hosting

And much more! There are lots of great hosts out there, and many will cater to your platform of choice. For example, we specialize in hosting just WordPress sites, and our servers are optimized for high-performance WordPress installations in addition to including extra tools that make administering WordPress easier.

What is “Managed” hosting?

Managed hosting typically means that the host will handle everything hosting-related for you. Everything from migration, to maintenance, to configuration, to troubleshooting is all handled so that you don’t need to worry about it at all. Generally it is significantly more costly but it can be worth it!

We provide Managed WordPress Hosting and take care of everything for you. We even throw in free email hosting, automated off-site backups and recovery, site monitoring, and more! Basically you never need to worry about anything. And it is genuinely not very expensive, starting at just $25/month. You might even be paying close to that already!

There’s no reason not to upgrade.

About Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is a website developer and designer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a passion for code and WordPress. He spends his days building WordPress websites for small businesses, developing new code with the online community, and living life.

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