As with many things in life, people and businesses with a web presence try to achieve a balance between reliable and affordable to get the best deal possible.
Cutting corners when selecting a web hosting service may save pennies in the short term.
Downtime, technological challenges, and security concerns may cost more dollars over the long term.
Finding the best hosting solution requires research and an understanding of anticipated webpage growth in the immediate and long-range future.
Here are 10 reasons that web hosting companies are so expensive.
Why Is Web Hosting So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Bells And Whistles We Want
Many things must be considered when seeking the best place to host an online presence.
Websites need a web hosting platform that can provide a variety of mission-critical services to ensure the webpage is accessible, uploads and downloads perform properly and securely, and many behind-the-scenes functions work properly.
Not all web hosting companies work in the same way.
Some offer a free or very inexpensive platform where web pages digitally congregate.
Many provide lucrative, low-cost deals to get individuals or businesses to select their platforms.
They hope that users will overlook or accept steep price increases after the original bargain-basement deal comes to an end.
Other web hosting platforms charge higher fees, touting a variety of features that make them a better choice than the free and low-cost alternatives.
They promise multiple security layers, spam removal, frequent scans to detect malware, and vigorous protection against hackers.
They pledge to perform automatic backups and guarantee access to large or “unlimited” disk storage.
Be careful of words such as “unlimited,” since even they have limitations that appear in the fine print.
These more costly alternatives may offer email accounts, free domain names, and assistance with website design and maintenance.
Some guarantee that they employ a helpful team of representatives who are on duty 24/7 to handle customer support and technology issues.
The best web hosting option involves more than a guess, a flip of a coin, or a few moments consulting an ouija board.
Those comfortable with web designing or hiring freelancers to build their web pages may seek a web host that keeps the digital engine running.
Others may want the web host to take a more active role in their website’s activities.
In either case, the web hosting platform should have some way to guarantee that the bandwidth, security, access, maintenance, and technical support necessary to keep the website functioning are available with little or no interruption.
Some clients ask for more than they need and pay dearly.
Others underestimate, and also pay dearly.
2. Support Teams We Expect
Some web hosting services offer 24/7 phone technical support with talented, savvy technical staff.
Others have less-talented techies, chat support, online ticket systems, or limited hours that may not meet the needs of a client.
When a person or business seeks a web hosting solution, an important consideration should be the regular and uninterrupted availability of excellent technical support and customer service employees who can solve problems.
High-quality employees cost money, and this adds to the expense one should expect.
The best path is to select a web hosting company that can solve problems around the clock.
Life is less stressful when one does not have to worry about an online ticket disappearing into a forgotten corner of the internet.
The best customer service and technical support operations team members require salaries commensurate with their abilities and experience.
This is true whether they work out of their home offices, a support center in California, or a faraway facility in another country.
Cheaper solutions do exist, but they could result in other costs if there is no way to get immediate results from a web hosting provider when a glitch or unexpected downtime occurs.
The best practice involves engaging in some thoughtful consideration about the level of web hosting support one might need.
A person who has an online blog or small personal or organizational website may not want to pay a premium for round-the-clock support.
An entity that survives by generating web traffic and engaging in e-commerce, online shopping, business-to-business buying and selling, or similar online activities for its survival should make the necessary investment to ensure uninterrupted access through its web hosting platform.
3. Some Prefer VPS Or Dedicated Hosting
Not all hosting options are identical.
Shared hosting offers a common and basic service, where a website shares space and resources with other sites.
Those who are Gen Xers or older may think of shared hosting similar to the “party lines” some telephone customers used to have.
If one party spends too much time on the line, others have limited access.
Shared hosting comes at a reasonable price and may work for those who generate or require less traffic.
However, if one of the parties on the shared host experiences a spike in traffic, customers and visitors to other sites that share the space may get a digital “busy signal.”
Cloud hosting offers a newer alternative.
A variety of distant servers may assume the responsibility for hosting web access.
No longer does a single server have to attend to a website’s needs.
An immediate benefit is that cloud-based servers can pick up the slack, handle upticks in traffic, and offer services that are scalable based on demand.
However, similar to the ever-changing shapes and sizes of the clouds in the sky above, one needs to have faith that inclement internet traffic will not cause an electronic storm.
Two more expensive options exist.
These make sense and save dollars and cents for entities with a more vibrant internet presence.
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a step higher on the shared hosting ladder.
A website still shares space with others on this single VPS host, but the number of sites sharing this resource is lower.
VPS hosting allows for faster file transfers, more traffic, and better uptime rates than a traditional shared host.
Making the migration from a traditional shared hosting arrangement to VPS hosting involves greater cost.
Dedicated hosting costs the most, and arguably offers the best way to host.
In this arrangement, the website has an entire server devoted to its operation and technical needs.
Dedicated hosts do require more costly upkeep since a single entity assumes responsibility for updates and maintenance rather than sharing that cost with other parties.
4. Demand For More Bandwidth
Regardless of the hosting platform selected, more bandwidth will be required for websites that have the purpose of generating more money.
Once a website occupies a server, it consumes bandwidth anytime someone clicks on it, visits it, or surfs through it.
Some hosting services tout that they provide “unlimited” bandwidth.
When hearing that, remember that nothing is free in the world.
Even if they promise an all-you-can-click-and-surf broadband buffet, hosting companies will usually specify how many visitors they will permit before placing limits or additional expenses on this “unlimited” digital experience.
Scalability plays an important role in the way web hosting sites address the issue of bandwidth.
Web hosts must scale their networking capabilities and infrastructure to handle increases in the number of clients they host.
This is similar to the way a growing region needs to build more lanes and highways for increased vehicular traffic
or the way an expanding brick-and-mortar business needs more space for customer access and inventory.
If a web hosting company promises unlimited bandwidth to an unlimited number of clients, a digital traffic jam of unlimited proportions will surely result.
This principle of scalability assumes that as a company or interest in a website grows, the web hosting bandwidth has to grow in scale to accommodate this increase in demand.
Additional bandwidth comes at an increased cost.
Shared plans may not meet the anticipated bandwidth needs and traffic levels over a longer period.
Some businesses that see upticks or generate “too much” activity may encounter “overage” charges.
When considering the cheaper and most expensive web hosting alternatives, one must anticipate immediate and long-term bandwidth growth before locking into a contractual commitment.
A blogger sharing travel stories or cat photos may find that a shared server satisfies their bandwidth needs.
A Fortune 500 company hoping to climb even higher on the business mountain has entirely different bandwidth needs.
5. Demand For More Storage
Web hosting companies must maintain sufficient levels of storage for the website files they keep on their servers.
In many cases, they offer additional storage because of frequent website backups, additional data, and mailbox capacity for emails.
Unlike the tape, disk, and floppy drives of yesteryear, much of this storage management must occur on solid-state drives with incredible memory capacity.
A website’s storage demands depend on its purpose, what options it will include, and the lack or presence of memory-intensive audio and video files.
Incorporating multimedia content will escalate the web host’s usage demands, as well as the price a website’s owner must pay.
When anticipating the amount of storage a website requires, one must consider present and future needs during the life of a contract, so unexpected charges do not result.
Similar to housecleaning, decluttering a website reduces storage needs.
Full disks that become fragmented have a slower performance capacity.
Before upgrading to a new and more expensive web hosting plan, consider the suggestions listed below as helpful ways to declutter.
These include removing unused plugins, images, and content, as well as unsubscribed users and old posts.
Get rid of old emails unless legal requirements mandate their retention.
Consider a separate email hosting server as an alternative.
Remove outdated and half-finished web pages that may affect the page-count allowance on the server.
Discard redundant analytics tools that have never been consulted.
Consider whether memory-consuming multimedia files, such as video and music, are necessary.
Decide whether log files that are older than a log cabin or installation backups from years ago are still necessary.
Finally, evaluate whether users should have the ability to upload content and, if so, what limits should be placed on size or file formats.
6. Infrastructure Expenses
Web hosts must continuously upscale their infrastructure to meet the ever-increasing demands of the websites on them.
Some web hosting services own their hardware and manage proprietary data centers, and they will pass along these operational costs to the websites they host.
Other services may serve as brokers that resell web space available elsewhere or co-locate with other companies and share data center resources.
Understanding how a particular web hosting service manages its digital and physical data resource centers will give the consumer a better idea of its price structure.
Any person or entity that wants to create a web presence should do research and planning.
This up-front homework will guide the selection of the best web host to meet the needs they anticipate.
Websites that are primarily blogs, online portfolios, or individual websites generally require one type of web hosting service.
A different web host with greater infrastructure assets is needed for business websites, online stores, and other entities that derive some or most of their income from electronic commerce.
7. Need For Security
Whether an individual operates a small business or a big company seeks an online platform, internet security is a high priority for those who use web hosting services.
Web hosting entities must invest money and human capital to limit and prevent cyberattacks and cybercrimes.
Fortifying servers to secure them costs money, and these expenses are passed along to those who occupy the server space.
The need for security does not just involve a company’s data.
It also extends to the trust that individuals place in a company and its brands.
This is especially true if the online platform processes payments.
A well-publicized data breach is an event no business wants to experience.
At a minimum, a web host must ensure basic security measures.
These include firewall configurations, mandatory passwords, multi-level authentication, spam filters, regular security audits, frequent scans for malware and viruses, and well-defined network protocols and user permissions.
Similar to the way few people leave their front doors unlocked or keys in the car’s ignition, web hosting services have had to strengthen their security protocols in an increasingly interconnected world.
8. Server Maintenance
Servers require regular maintenance.
Web hosting enterprises must hire people well-qualified to inspect the physical and electronic assets necessary to maintain uninterrupted service for the websites on their platform and the viewers worldwide who access them.
Although maintenance expenses are a given for all web hosting platforms, the frequency and intensity of maintenance required varies by the types of websites they host.
Servers with archived ephemeral data and low-traffic non-commercial websites require one maintenance schedule.
Servers owned by web hosting companies that handle traffic for businesses that rely on e-commerce require a more rigorous maintenance schedule.
Servers that use extraordinary electricity and require incredible computing power to handle blockchain transactions for Bitcoin or other types of cryptocurrency on peer-to-peer networks need a very high level of maintenance, along with a profound level of security.
Whichever web hosting service one selects, the last thing they want is a host with an install-it-and-forget-it mindset!
9. Cost Of Choosing The Wrong Service
There is a reason some web hosting services tout that they are “free” for others to use.
They may serve the needs of an individual who creates a personal blog or other infrequently accessed website.
Free hosting services have to make money somehow.
They may populate a page with banner ads that distract and offer click-bait that takes users away from the site or makes the site less attractive.
Other costs may also occur, such as slower connection speeds, fewer security features, and limited options for expansion or enhancement.
That is the cost of “free.”
If one chooses their web host entirely based upon price, the free or cheaper alternatives may have them digging their own digital grave.
Their promises of “unlimited” this-or-that certainly have limitations, even if not found in the fine print.
They may pack too many websites into too little cyberspace.
This will slow down traffic, cloud and obscure search engine optimization (SEO) capabilities, and limit the ability of a website to expand capacities.
Even for smaller, non-commercial websites, the free or cheap web host may not offer the best alternative if the folks behind that website hope to make the best impression, enhance their presence, and expand awareness through SEO that has their sites appear in searches.
10. Cost Of Just Renewing
Before renewing a web hosting service, one should shop around and evaluate the alternatives.
Brand loyalty and past performance may matter, but even these have limits.
Think about a relative who has kept their landline, even though they have the web and more than one cell phone.
If they pay for the same long-distance service plan that met their needs in the 1990s without doing their homework, they throw a lot of money away every month.
Some web hosting services offer a cheap introductory price for a year.
Those who renew without checking the fine print may suffer sticker shock if the host raises their prices significantly under the new contract.
Discount prices usually disappear after a contract comes to an end.
One alternative involves locking in a set price for a contract that lasts for a longer term.
This is how airlines purchase fuel and avoid the spikes and unexpected increases we see at the pump.
But even doing this offers no guarantee, especially if increased traffic, bandwidth, or storage needs trigger other price increases.
Promotional prices are great, but anyone with a website needs to budget for increased costs.
They should also remember that web hosting companies have become true experts at finding ways to conceal the real price of their services.
One must look below the often-touted price tag to avoid sticker shock.
Remember that a web host hopes to keep its clients within its ecosystem.
Hosts also know that there are costs associated with websites that choose to move to a different web host.
This is digital food for thought we must all consider.