Web hosting is critical for maintaining a website, but reliable web hosting can be surprisingly expensive. While you don’t want to break the bank on hosting, it’s important to find a plan that meets your needs in terms of both speed and uptime. Budget web hosting plans may save you money upfront, but they won’t be worth the savings if they push users away due to poor performance.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common types of web hosting and help you identify a web hosting arrangement that could work for you or your business. We’ll also discuss some other costs to budget for, including email hosting, content management system (CMS) fees, security expenses, and charges associated with registering or renewing your domain.

Web Hosting Costs Explained

How much you’ll spend on web hosting depends on the kind of plan you’re seeking. Shared web hosting, for example, tends to be more affordable than most other forms. Meanwhile, it typically offers a smaller range of customization options and may not be able to sustain performance for high-traffic websites.

Dedicated web hosting plans give you full control over your hosting arrangement, but they are often orders of magnitude more expensive than shared hosting options from the same provider. Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is generally somewhere in between while cloud and WordPress hosting prices vary widely depending on the provider and details of the plan.

How Much Does Shared Web Hosting Cost?

Shared web hosting arrangements allow multiple websites to be hosted on the same server. This helps reduce the cost of subscriptions by spreading server resources across a larger set of users, but it also comes with some important disadvantages. Shared hosting is available for as little as a few dollars per month.

Bluehost, for example, offers shared hosting for $3.95 per month for new subscriptions in exchange for a three-year commitment. Other popular shared hosting providers include Hostwinds, DreamHost, HostGator, and IONOS. Check out the table below for a detailed price comparison and links to find out more about each platform.

Provider Bluehost Hostwinds DreamHost HostGator IONOS
Cheapest Shared Hosting Plan $3.95 per month for initial 3-year commitment, then $8.99 per month for additional 3-year subscriptions $5.24 per month for initial subscription, then $8.99 per month (regardless of subscription length) $2.59 per month for a 3-year commitment $2.75 per month for initial 3-year commitment, then $6.95 per month for subsequent 3-year subscriptions $4 per month for initial 1-year commitment, then $6 per month for subsequent 1-year subscriptions

How Much Does VPS Web Hosting Cost?

VPS web hosting occupies a kind of middle ground between shared and dedicated hosting arrangements. Typically, VPS hosting is significantly more expensive than shared hosting plans from the same provider while still being far more affordable than most dedicated hosting options.

VPS hosting essentially imitates dedicated hosting by giving users access to virtualized server instances on a shared server. This means that your VPS will operate like a dedicated server even though the physical server is still split between multiple websites.

With VPS hosting, you’ll gain root access to your server instance (a collection of server databases) as well as exclusive rights to your allotted resources. This minimizes the impact of other websites on your site’s performance.

Prices also vary depending on whether you want your provider to manage your hosting arrangement or whether you want more control over ― but also more responsibility for ― your own configuration. While HostGator’s most affordable VPS subscription is roughly 10 times that of IONOS, users on a managed HostGator VPS plan will have far more support than those on the basic $2 per month subscription from IONOS.

Provider Bluehost Hostwinds DreamHost HostGator IONOS
Cheapest VPS Hosting Plan $19.99 per month for initial 3-year commitment, then $29.99 per month for subsequent subscriptions $10.99 per month $10 per month for a 3-year commitment $19.95 per month for the first subscription term $2 per month

How Much Does Dedicated Web Hosting Cost?

Dedicated web hosting is significantly more powerful and flexible than both VPS and shared hosting, but it can also be a pricey investment. Whether dedicated hosting is worth the additional cost primarily depends on your budget and the scale of your site. There’s no reason to pay more for a dedicated server if a VPS hosting arrangement will give you the same performance. These plans often cost five or more times what you would pay for VPS hosting.

Provider Bluehost Hostwinds DreamHost HostGator IONOS
Cheapest Dedicated Hosting Plan $79.99 per month for initial 3-year commitment, then $119.99 per month for subsequent subscriptions $106 per month for the most limited configuration (8GB of RAM and 8 internet protocol (IP) addresses) $149.99 per month when paid annually $89.98 per month for initial 3-year commitment, then $189 per month for subsequent 3-year subscriptions $45 per month for the first 6 months, then $65 per month

How Much Does Cloud Hosting Cost?

Cloud hosting is different from shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting in that your website is hosted across many servers in the cloud rather than being tied to a specific physical server. This helps improve uptime by increasing resource flexibility and making your site’s performance less reliant on any individual server.

Some providers offer cloud hosting access by the hour, but you can also sign up for monthly or yearly subscriptions. Keep in mind that certain platforms also offer VPS hosting through the cloud. Hostwinds, for example, has separate pages for VPS and cloud hosting, but they lead to the same service. The only difference is that cloud hosting is billed hourly rather than monthly.

Provider Hostinger Hostwinds DreamHost HostGator Cloudways
Cheapest Cloud Hosting Plan $9.99 per month for an initial 4-year commitment, then $18.99 per month for subsequent 4-year subscriptions $0.006931 per hour Maximum of $4.50 per month ($0.0075 per hour, billable up to 600 hours per month) $4.95 per month for an initial 3-year commitment, then $8.95 per month for subsequent 3-year subscriptions $10 per month

How Much Does WordPress Web Hosting Cost?

Premium WordPress subscriptions are available for a monthly fee of $4, $8, $25, or $45, billed annually, depending on your needs. The $4 per month Personal subscription, for example, comes with 6GB of storage, payment processing, unlimited email support, and a free domain for one year. It also removes WordPress.com ads, which are displayed on every free WordPress site.

Meanwhile, eCommerce plans cost $45 per month and provide a deeper set of features for online vendors. You’ll get 200GB of storage, 24/7 live chat support, SEO and Google Analytics tools, custom plugins, and support for international payments. WordPress also offers custom Enterprise solutions starting at $1,700 per month. Paid WordPress plans include a domain name, web hosting, and CMS, rolling these separate tools into a single subscription.

Plan Free Personal Premium Business eCommerce
Monthly Fee (Billed Annually) $0 $4 $8 $25 $45
Storage Space 3GB 6GB 13GB 200GB 200GB
SSL Certificate Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Free Domain for One Year No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Email Support No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ad-free No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Payment Processing No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Live Chat Support No No Yes Yes Yes
PayPal Payments No No Yes Yes Yes
Priority Support No No No Yes Yes
SEO Tools No No No Yes Yes
Custom Plugins No No No Yes Yes
International Payments No No No No Yes
Integration With Shipping carriers No No No No Yes
E-commerce Marketing No No No No Yes

Extra Web Hosting Costs to Consider

While web hosting plans can be pricey on their own, there are several other expenses to keep in mind when budgeting for a new hosting arrangement. In this section, we’ll cover some of the most common costs associated with web hosting and how much you should expect to spend on each service.

Registering or Renewing a New Domain

Your web hosting provider will store your site for online access, but you’ll need to make that site available at a domain to receive traffic from internet users. Some providers offer built-in domain access with a web hosting subscription while others will require you to find your own domain. Squarespace, for example, gives users one year of free domain registration when they sign up to host and build their site through Squarespace.

Domains vary widely in cost depending on demand. Simple, intuitive domains can be surprisingly pricey, but you can also find good deals on unique domains that other users have overlooked. Of course, you can also contact the existing owner if a domain is already taken — GoDaddy’s Domain Broker Service, as well as similar programs from other providers,  will do this for you for $119.99 plus 20 percent of the final sale price.

When we searched for domains related to “bike shop,” we found that while bikeshop.com was taken, there were still some decent options. Bicyclingmart.com, bicylingmarket.com, motorbikeshopping.com, and bicyclingoutlet.com were all available for 99 cents for the first year, followed by an annual fee of $17.99.

If you’re having trouble finding a suitable domain, consider adding your name or city to target a more specific set of domain names. Even though bikeshop.com was taken, we were able to find dallasbikeshop.com ($1,499 plus $17.99 per year), portlandbikeshop.com ($2,000 minimum offer), and LAbikeshop.com ($2,488 plus $17.99 per year) through the GoDaddy domain browser.

CMS Fees

WordPress is the most popular CMS currently available, although it’s one of many good options in 2021. Other popular providers include Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, and Joomla and new competitors are expanding the market constantly with unique and innovative features.

Your CMS will make it easy to set up an aesthetically pleasing site and add content as necessary later on. While you can access some CMS tools for free, premium subscriptions are often a worthwhile investment given their advanced features. Drupal and Joomla are both free and open-source, and WordPress offers a basic CMS package at no charge.

Considering the price gaps between various WordPress tiers as well as pricing from other providers, your monthly CMS fee could run anywhere from a few dollars to several thousand depending on your needs and the scale of your site. Many providers will let you change your plan as needed, so you’ll be able to scale up or down over time.

Email Hosting Fees

Email hosting is available from some web hosting providers, and it typically comes at an additional charge. Most of these programs integrate with either Office 365 or G Suite, allowing users to link business emails to their website and create customer-facing email addresses under the site’s domain name.

If you’re selling products online, your brand will appear more professional if you have an email address at your own site rather than at another domain, such as Gmail, Yahoo, or iCloud. Email hosting also makes it easy to separate your personal inbox from messages that are related to your site.

With that in mind, email hosting is often a worthwhile investment, especially for e-commerce vendors. You could pay anywhere from around $5 to $15 per month for an email hosting add-on, but some providers include free business email for a certain period of time with new subscriptions. Squarespace, for example, offers free G Suite email hosting for one year with subscriptions at the Business tier or above.

Security Fees

You’ll need a secure sockets layer SSL certificate to support HTTPS connections, which are a fundamental layer of security for any website in 2021. Fortunately, SSL certificates are priced into every subscription from most of the major web hosting providers, so you won’t have to worry about any additional security fees.

Of course, an SSL certificate is just one aspect of website security. There are a few simple ways to keep both you and your users safe on your site, and following these basic best practices will go a long way toward minimizing vulnerabilities. If you’re using a CMS, for example, make sure to use applications, plugins, and themes from trusted sources. If possible, look for third-party downloads that are still receiving regular updates.

Furthermore, admin access should be limited to a small number of users, and everyone with access to your site needs to have an extremely strong password. Roughly 80% of all hacking-related breaches stem from compromised login credentials, so don’t underestimate the risk of using weak passwords or using the same password for multiple accounts. Check out our guide to web hosting security for more tips on keeping your site as safe as possible.

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