For those setting out to build a website for the first time, one of the most daunting aspects is what hosting service to use.
There’s so many service providers available, and on top of that a whole gamut of options, with terms such as c-Panel, monthly bandwidth limits, unlimited databases being thrown around – what the heck does it all mean?
Well the good news is, there’s some excellent packages out there for beginners that help remove all the confusion.
These companies provide cheap web hosting (although we prefer to think of it as affordable hosting designed for those on a budget), with everything a beginner could need to get their first website online.
How Our Top 5 Web Hosts Made the Grade
The 5 packages we have picked for this review all strike a superb balance of entry level prices, and feature rich hosting.
We have also focused on level of customer support. As a beginner you need that reassurance that when you have a problem, a representative is just a quick call or online chat away.
We have also taken into account the broad functionality that first time website owners may need.
Whether you’re looking to start a new online business, run a blog, build a personal resume site or even a large e-commerce site; our chosen picks all provide the necessary options to ensure your website enjoys maximum uptime, speed, security and performance.
Finally, we have also taken serious consideration on the many extras that these ultra-high value services provide; from free domain registration to credits to jump-start your online advertising budget – web hosting is big business and these providers all go that extra yard in the hope of getting you on board.
So if you’re ready to find out what the best cheap web hosting for beginners is in 2018, let’s jump to it.
Best Budget Web Hosting for Beginners – Top 5
(1, 2 or 3 years)
UNLIMITED Disk Space
FREE SSL Certificate
FREE Domain Transfer
FREE 24/7 Support
FREE Website Builder
30 Day Money Back
(2 year term)
50GB Disk Space
FREE SSL Certificate
25 Sub Domains
FREE 24/7 Support
5 Email Accounts
100MB per account
30 Day Money Back
(2 year term)
NO FREE Domain
UNLIMITED Disk Space
FREE SSL Certificate
FREE SSD Storage
FREE 24/7 Support
25 Email Accounts
30 Day Money Back
(3 year term)
UNLIMITED Disk Space
FREE SSL Certificate
UNLIMITED Sub Domains
FREE 24/7 Support
FREE Website Builder
45 Day Money Back
WEB HOSTING HUB
(3 year term)
UNLIMITED Disk Space
FREE SSL Certificate
FREE SSD Storage
FREE 24/7 Support
1 Click Installer
90 Day Money Back
1. TOP PICK: iPage Shared Hosting Review
For those of you that have read any of our website guides, it will come as no surprise that iPage is our top rated pick in the affordable web hosting for beginners’ category.
With one of the lowest monthly prices available, yet packed to the seams with extras, iPage have really come up trumps with their entry level hosting package.
I personally have been managing websites on iPage since around 2004 and in that time I have never been disappointed with the performance or support that the service has provided.[hr]
Who are iPage?
So who exactly is behind our top rated pick?
Well one of the reasons these guys can afford to provide feature rich hosting at such a low price is that they are part of the large hosting conglomerate, Endurance International Group (EIG).
EIG have been around since the late 90s, (founder Thomas Gorny launched the service back in 1998), and are one of the biggest players in the web hosting space.
iPage Hosting on its own now has offices in six worldwide locations serving over one million websites between two data centers in the U.S.
Not only do iPage have ample infrastructure to support all this hosting, as we will see, they have also maintained a high level of customer satisfaction and support alongside their immense growth.
Not all web services are perfect however. Lets take a look at some of the pros and cons of signing up with iPage.
Pros of iPage Shared Hosting
1. Cheap, Inexpensive Hosting
iPage Hosting comes in at an extremely affordable $1.99 per month. You want the best cheap web hosting for beginners – that price is extremely hard to beat, (in fact at the time of writing no full web hosting package does come cheaper).
Furthermore, this is no introductory term special offer arrangement.
When signing up to ipage you get the choice of 1, 2 or 3 year terms. No matter which one you choose, you will get that incredible $1.99 a month rate for the entire term.
That’s amazing value for money.
2. Good Customer Support
I have mentioned this one already, and it really is where I personally have a lot of respect for iPage.
From my time creating client websites I have used countless hosting providers. I kept coming back to iPage however because of the speed and accessibility of their online support.
Whenever my client or myself had an issue, it was simply a case of logging into the account, and clicking the live chat button.
A support representative would be with you at best straight away, at worst within a couple of minutes.
The issue was nearly always resolved from that first chat.
Prefer to open an email ticket, you can do that too.
And of course, some actually like to speak to someone on the end of a phone line. That option is well facilitated also.
One of the trade offs with ultra low budget hosting is the support you can expect to get. Well iPage really does buck the trend there.
In my experience, these guys offer the best customer support out of all of the cheap hosting plans I have reviewed and used in recent years.
3. Top Notch Security & Back Up Options
Today’s internet is rife with hackers, malicious code, and other dubious activity designed to undermine websites large or small.
And this is one area that average cheap hosting providers can be lacklustre on, (or charge extra to cover).
However, with iPage this is not the case.
All their plans come with the industry leading SiteLock Security Suite.
This is powerful, inbuilt software that is designed to be your websites frontline security.
It is an important addition too. In 2014, iPage and SiteLock did a user study and found that 12%+ of subscriber sites contained malware at some point in 2014.
And this is growing year on year.
SiteLock works by regularly scanning your website for malware issues, (malicious code injected by bots designed by hackers).
Once discovered the suite will alert you to the issue so that you can take action.
Choose the option on signup and iPage will automatically get rid of these issues for you, (you also have the option of using a specific online security company such as Sucuri, or security plugins if running a WordPress site).
The suite also creates a firewall to help prevent any potential security leaks.
One of the most important aspects of the iPage web hosting plan is the fact they provide daily backups.
This ensures that if anything goes wrong with your website, you can have a backed up version loaded and up and running in no time at all.
4. Upfront, Honest (Cheap) Pricing
We have covered this to some extent in the affordability section.
The great thing with iPage is that there are no surprises on the cost during the signup process.
So many providers are guilty of this; they advertise a cheap $2.99 a month service yet once you have gone through all the details, there’s a minimum term, additional extras and you end up being charged substantial higher than you expected once you reach the checkout page.
Not with iPage.
Honesty and transparency is one of the most important aspects of a service, especially for a beginner who is uncertain on what they are getting and what they need.
iPage will provide you with the same, cheap monthly price no matter the length of term.
The optional extras are all set out in an easy to understand way, (read anyone of our guides to see what you should opt for).
And of course the first year domain name registration is absolutely free.
Once you reach the checkout page, there are no surprises.
You understand exactly what the price is and why.
5. Third Party Application Support
iPage is compatible with a bunch of external services straight out of the box.
Want to set up a WordPress site? Easy, even without their dedicated WordPress hosting plan you can use the one-click install to have the world’s number one CMS installed on your site.
Connecting up with Google Apps and PayPal is easy if your aim is to set up an e-Commerce store.
And let’s not forget the extras that iPage thrown in free of charge.
The $1.99 a month package will offer $200 of bonus credits on new accounts for Google AdWords, Yahoo, and Bing.
Not bad for the internet’s cheapest beginner hosting plan hey.
6. 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
Another great feature for beginners is the 30-day money back guarantee, (I have never had a client need to use this however).
You can sign up with confidence, knowing that if what ever reason you change your mind, you can opt out of the service completely free of charge.
In fact, iPage Hosting claim that as long as you get in touch within the first 30 days they will cancel your hosting no questions asked.
7. Strong Uptime of 99.98%
Uptime is an extremely important issue when it comes to your hosting provider.
The problem with some cheap shared services is that when maintenance of the server needs to be carried out, your site may suffer by the fact it will be down during the repair schedule.
iPage boast some enviable statistics in this regard,
Their average uptime of 99.98% over the past 12 months is .04% better than the industry average, and significantly better than many of the shared plans available from other providers, (stats according to HostingFacts.com)
iPage also features 24/7 uptime monitoring.
This means technicians are on standby around the clock. If a site or server goes down, iPage’s technical support will be available to get things back online ASAP.
This is the kind of service you expect with dedicated hosting. To have that level of support on a $1.99 a month plan is truly outstanding.
8. iPage is an EPA Green Power Partner
Finally, we have the reassuring fact that iPage is an EPA Green Power Partner.
This means that their data centers and web servers are powered by wind energy.
As a result iPage are certified as a green site, and the company purchases enough Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) to offset their energy use by as much as 200%!
In short, by hosting with iPage, you’ll be contributing to their commitment to helping the planet.
Now that’s something to be excited about.
Cons of iPage Hosting
It can’t be all roses however. Like any service at scale, there are some negatives to the iPage hosting plan.
On some issues their level of performance could be better.
Let’s take a look.
1. Lack lustre page load times
This undoubtedly stems from being such a popular shared hosting provider.
Servicing over a million websites has to have a detrimental impact somewhere; loading times seems to be one of them.
Whether iPage need to increase of update their servers to meet demand is something we can only guess at, however with an average page load time of 868ms, there are plenty of other cheap hosting providers that can beat iPage on speed.
(As you will see, others in our top 5 bring that average down to an impressive sub 500ms page load speed.)
When you consider that site load time can negatively affect your SEO, this is a cause for concern.
However, a speed of less that one second is still good and well within Google’s recommended levels.
Add that to the fact you can use free WordPress caching and performance plugins to eek out further speed and efficiency, and you no longer really have a problem.
Definitely something to consider before opting for iPage, however it is far from being a deal breaker.
2. Expensive Renewal Costs
So we have waxed lyrical about the amazing value of iPage and their transparent pricing structure; however there is one little issue here.
That fantastic $1.99 a month offer does not continue past your term renewal date.
So while you can enjoy that unbeatable price for up to 3 years should want to, once the initial term has run out you will move to the standard $8.99 a month rate.
That’s a significant hike.
Still in the realm of cheap hosting, but it does then become the most expensive provider in our top 5 list.
Again, something to be prepared for over the long haul.
3. No cPanel
As a beginner this negative aspect will unlikely affect you, however iPage do not opt for the industry standard cPanel as the admin area to their hosting.
Instead they use an alternative called vDeck.
It’s still intuitive and easy to use, however considering the rest of the online hosting world uses c-Panel it is a strange choice on the part of iPage.
iPage – An overview of the different plans
In this review we have aimed to highlight the Best Cheap Web Hosting for Beginners. To this end the bulk of our iPage appraisal has looked at the $1.99 a month plan.
Let’s take a brief look at the full range of what the company offers:
1. Shared Hosting Plan
The subject of this review, the ‘Essential Plan’ as it is currently called starts at $1.99 per month when you first sign up. ($8.99 upon renewal)
It offers 1 year free domain registration, unlimited storage, bandwidth, domain names and MySQL databases.
It also comes with several integrations, apps and site builders like Wix.
An incredible value, low budget hosting plan that is our number one pick for all those reasons and more.
2. WordPress Hosting Plans
iPage have two main WordPress hosting plans.
While in our opinion the beginner website owner may not need this, if you are dead set on having specific WordPress hosting these are definitely worthy of consideration.
- WP Starter: $3.75 per month. Features a customized control panel designed for WordPress use, and has important plugins preinstalled. You also have a choice of WordPress themes out of the box.
- WP Essential: $6.95 per month. Same as the Starter plan, but uses a SSD-based infrastructure for better speed and performance. It also has unlimited disk space and malware protection and is designed to handle millions of visitors monthly.
The Bottom Line
Our number one cheap web hosting provider for very good reason. Unlimited bandwidth, sites and databases, along with excellent support and that incredible low, low price.
Yes your site may be a bit slower on iPage (but this can be rectified by other means) and you need to consider the costs come renewal time; however if you are just starting out and wish to dip your toes, (or jump head first) into running your own website, this is the place to start.
Bluehost are an enormous player in the webhosting space.
Endorsed by some of the top bloggers on the planet, used by over 2 million websites, and even one of the few providers to have the full backing of WordPress, these guys have a formidable presence.
And with their shared hosting starting at $2.99 a month including all the extras you could need, Bluehost do indeed come a close second to iPage in our recommended best cheap web hosting for beginners.
And with a corporate vision that states they wish to create “a better safer web for everyone,” it’s easy to see why the provider is such a popular choice for many.
With all that said, they do have their problems, which we will uncover in this in depth, unbiased review.
First though, let’s have a quick look at what they offer with their lowest priced shared hosting plan:
Who are Blue Host?
At this point the strategy was all about growth, and grow it did, as of 2018 over 2 million websites are made accessible online using Bluehost servers.
Their data center under Utah’s Wasatch Mountains currently houses well over 700 skilled personnel.
Like iPage, the conglomerate EIG took over Bluehost in recent years. Mike Olson is now the CEO of Bluehost with the company running independently in pursuit of their vision of bringing affordable web hosting to all.
Pros of Bluehost Web Hosting
As is the format for our reviews, I’m going to jump straight into the pros and cons section. This way you guys can get a proper understanding of how a service is excelling, and where there could be improvements.
Based on your own personal requirements, this will help you decide which is the best hosting service for you.
So let’s take a look at what Bluehost are currently getting right.
1. Value for money
No arguments here. Their shared hosting couldn’t form part of a best cheap web hosting for beginners if their monthly fees didn’t come in at a good price.
The $2.99 a month price does lose out to iPage on value for money, but this is still highly competitive in the shared hosting space.
An excellent price which ever way you look at it.
2. Performance and uptime
On the uptime stakes, Bluehost actually comes ahead of iPage with a 99.99% uptime. That’s extremely impressive when you consider the amount of users relying on their service.
However, of the small percentage of those that have suffered downtime some have complained about how long it takes for Bluehost to react, (an issue we will look at within the support section).
On the flip side, the company allows you to cancel your hosting agreements because of downtime without having to pay any cancellation fees. But at the end of the day, who actively wants things to occur so you can take that route?
3. Load Times
We complained about iPage’s load time; well if speed is what you want, Bluehost has it in spades, (as far as a cheap shared hosting package goes).
Speed tests by HostingFacts.com found an average page load speed of 419ms. This is highly competitive in the shared hosting space.
The breadth of Bluehosts server penetration also means these speeds can be enjoyed for users all over the world.
For those that don’t make the grade, the fact Bluehost offers free Cloudflare integration straight out of the box is another major benefit. (See more on Cloudflare here).
4. Bluehost security and backups
Security and regular backups are just as good as iPage.
Like our number one pick, Bluehost uses SiteLock to scan your website daily for viruses and malware and also performs 24/7 network monitoring.
Dual quad processors are there to ensure the best performance of your site, as well as provide the daily backups.
Additionally, the company’s servers have an uninterrupted power supply generators to keep things up and running under all circumstances.
5. The Bluehost control panel
Bluehost uses the industry standard c-Panel, but also provides a Bluehost control panel on top of this which is even more user friendly.
This enhanced control panel enables you to manage everything related to your website’s hosting and accounts.
This includes taking care of your domain names, hosting, registration, renewals, or transfers, your email address and inbox configuration, as well as payments/billing for the services you receive.
This all in one management area really does shine, and for ease of use beats the panel provided by iPage hands down.
6. Thorough support materials
As you will see in the cons section of this review, Bluehost sometimes have issues when it comes to live support.
However, one presumes in efforts to over come this, the company has put together a very thorough support portal.
This includes a wide range of how-to-guides, video tutorials, FAQs, and articles a huge variety of issues you are likely to encounter.
Aimed as reference point to lessen the demand on the live technical assistance, there is a lot of great stuff here.
However sometimes you just want to talk to someone to resolve your problems, (especially if you are a beginner) and that’s something the company needs to improve upon.
1. Bluehost live help and support
With 2 million users (double that of our top pick iPage hosting service) it is no surprise that the level of support that Bluehost often provides has been met with frustration, (see Trustpilot for some of the most recent customer reviews).
Yes the company does have 24/7 support with the usual live chat, support tickets, telephone, and email all being accessible.
However, the biggest complaint from users is the time it takes to get a response.
Tech questions especially have a high wait time and don’t always get satisfactory answers. While this is not the case for everyone, (in my own experience I’ve not had any problems with the Bluehost support), there’s enough said online about this aspect of the company to be a cause for concern.
2. The Bluehost money-back guarantee
Much like iPage, Bluehost offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
However, there are some terms and conditions you need to be aware of. Firstly, the money-back guarantee only applies to the hosting plans.
This means that if you opt for any extras including domains, you will not get your money back on these.
Furthermore, cancel after the 30 days, you’ll only receive a pro-rata rate for what’s left on the term.
3. Price hike on the renewal
The $2.99 a month only applies to the first term. Once renewal date comes around you can pay more than 2 times that, (the current regular price is $7.99 however this does flutuate).
Most cheap web hosting does this, the extra value prices do not last for ever.
As with the iPage package, you need to consider the long term costs before you buy.
4. Other small flaws
Bluehost are one of the very few hosting providers that charge a fee to have your site migrated from a different hosting company to their servers.
While for beginners this may not be an issue (we’re assuming you’re building your first website here), if you already have a website and hosting and are considering jumping ship to Bluehost, this migration fee could be a show-stopper in light of the other providers that will take care of this for you.
Another issue that might not impact the average beginner is the fact that Bluehost only offer servers in Linux, Windows hosting is not available. It has never been a problem for me however.
The bluehost hosting packages
The great thing about Bluehost is that they offer a variety of different packages, so as your budget and demands grow, the service you use can be updated with ease, (Bluehost make the transition easy with upgrade options)
Anyway, here’s an overview of the different plans that they currently offer:
1. The basic shared hosting (what we have reviewed here)
You have the low down above really. With a promotional term of just $2.99 a month, the Basic shared hosting package includes 50GB of storage, with unlimited monthly data.
They offer a free domain name (that you can only keep for free while using Bluehost hosting) as well as free domain name transfer.
With add-ons and resources to host one website this is an excellent cheap beginner hosting plan and is currently one of the best on the market.
Bump up to $6.95 a month and you can have the Plus Package.
This adds unlimited storage, an anti-spam tool, host up to 10 websites, and 100 mailboxes on top of all the features you get with the starter pack.
The Prime and Pro Packages are the top plans on the shared hosting servers and these have everything the lower priced plans have with a few bells and whistles on top: SSL certificate, dedicated IP address, there’s also 2 antispam applications, full site backup, and importantly for an expanding online enterprise, unlimited websites and email accounts.
Dedicated hosting packages are normally outside the realm of the beginner. Your website will be too small to justify the outlay on such services.
That being said, it is good to know that you can expand within the Bluehost ecosystem.
The company offers options such as a Linux-based Ultimate VPS hosting plan with 240GB storage, 8GB memory, and monthly data transfers capped at 4TB, (like we say, if your website requires that kind of power from the outset you’re doing good things).
There is a dedicated server starter plan that might be of interest as your site grows however. This comes with a Linux operating system, 1TB of hard drive space, 16 GB of RAM, and 15TB of monthly data transfers.
The WordPress hosting is more likely to peak your interest as a beginner.
In fact, if you have a larger budget and would prefer to invest more than just the $2.99 a month on your hosting, one of the following packages could be for you, (assuming you plan to create a WordPress website):
Click the link for more details of each. These plans offer a wide range of features including the pre-installed WordPress CMS, plug-in updates, enhanced cPanel, SiteLock CDN, automatic site backups, and more besides.
The basic shared starter package from Bluehost is a highly competitive beast.
With tons of add-ons, good site speed and security and excellent uptime, it is easy to see why over 2 million websites are hosted with these guys.
However, when compared to iPage there’s two areas that we consider Bluehost to fall short from a beginner’s perspective; the live support can be delayed and essentially it is more expensive.
If they managed to improve on these two areas Bluehost would be our top pick budget hosting for beginners in 2018.
The A2 web hosting team have gone a long way to help change webmaster attitudes that shared hosting plans perform terribly when compared to specialised, dedicated hosting.
And while you obviously get what you pay for, (you can’t expect a $3.99 a month package to be as good as a $150 a month package); the A2 shared plan has some exceptional technical additions that makes them standout from the shared hosting crowd.
And all at a great price too.
Their ‘Lite’ shared hosting plan is one of the best cheap web hosting packages for beginners; not only is it just a mere $3.92 a month, they include what is called SSD (solid state drive based servers – faster and more reliable than standard drive units) as well as a free SSL certificate, (more on that later).
Who are A2 Hosting?
A2Hosting was launched back in 2001 as Iniquinet, a web hosting startup. The business was based in Ann Arbor, MI.
The business survived the downturn after the .com bubble burst and slowly began to grow.
Just a few years later they changed the company’s name to A2 as a tribute to their base location.
The company has always liked to stay on the cutting edge of server and hosting technology, (A2 became one of the first web hosting providers to support PHP5 in 2004) and this helps explain, both their growth in recent years and the dedication to providing sophisticated hosting solutions on even the lowest price plans.
A2 introduced Solid State Drive (SSD) hosting to support its SwiftServer platform in 2013.
By adding SSDs to their shared hosting infrastructure, A2 helped solidify themselves as a forward thinking company, (as well as great value for money)
Essentially, A2 have grown into one of the most reliable and high-speed web hosting companies around.
This is evident in some of the scores the company has received from industry insiders; A2 has a rating of “A+” (on a scale of A+ to F, with A+ being the highest) from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
The Pros of A2 Hosting
Let’s jump straight into the pros of the ‘Lite’ shared hosting plan, (their cheapest option):
1. Performance – Speed
As explained in the introduction to this A2Hosting review speed is where this company excels; in fact tests show that websites hosted with A2 have the fastest page load speed when compared to the other plans in our top 5.
The company has invested heavily in its infrastructure in order to provide SSD to their shared hosting network..
Add that to their turbo servers (said to be up to 20x faster) you have a consistency of speed that puts others to shame.
Not only that, the SwiftServer platform of A2 also ensures the smooth functioning of your site, irrespective of a heavy traffic load.
Running a viral site with traffic peaks, the A2 shared plan can cope with the action.
That’s definitely something to be reassured about.
2. Data Centres spread across 3 continents
A2’s priority of high performance hosting even for their lowest price plans is further ensured by the fact the company has data centres spread across three continents:
- Michigan (USA),
- Singapore (Asia)
- and Amsterdam (Europe).
This provides you with a server located closest to your target market; again helping to enhance the speed and performance of your site.
Like iPage and Bluehost, the servers are monitored round the clock with fast reaction time should anything go wrong.
A2Hosting claims to provide a 99.9% uptime guarantee and most of the existing customers confirm this (if the reviews are anything to go by).
This can also be backed up by the fact their server uptime statistics are being tracked by a third-party, such as WebsitePulse.
A2 Hosting go beyond most shared hosting providers by limiting the amount of people on a shared hosting server.
This reduces demand placed on a server (in the event of traffic spikes or maybe even malware contamination); so that server down time his at a minimum.
4. Security and Backup
A2’s data centres are SSAE16 certified; in other words you would probably have a better chance of breaking into a high security prison.
Both physical security and video surveillance are used to keep tabs on their data centres.
From a technology point of view, A2 offers a server rewind backup facility.
This allows you to recover data from saved account backup snapshots.
Continuous, automatic data security comes in the form of HackScan (which is part of A2’s Perpetual Security initiative), and their dual web hosting firewall.
On top of this they provide virus scanning, security monitoring and a brute force defence mechanism.
The wonderful thing about all of these security measures is that A2 takes care of them all; they are not add-ons you need to select as extras (and pay more for); every site hosted by them has this security built in, right out of the box.
You can see all the properties of what CloudFare offers on A2’s CloudFare hosting page.
However, as a summary your site’s pages will automatically be delivered via Cloudflare to help in further with speed and reliability, (Bluehost also offer this option).
6. Customer Support
Being smaller in scale than both Bluehost and iPage, A2 Hosting has created an in-house support team that has received high praise from customers across the board.
Labelled the “Guru Crew Support”, these guys know what they are talking about and provide top notch customer service and support.
This ‘insider knowledge’ means that the A2 support team can answer advanced technical queries without the need to delegate – you get the right answer sooner.
Furthermore the team is available 24×7 and 365 days a year!
The usual forms of communication are available, (live chat, phone calls, and email ticket.)
7. Free Site Migration
Listen up Bluehost, if A2 can provide free site migration, why can’t you?
Another positive point for this provider. If you already have your site hosted elsewhere, they will take care of the transfer for you completely free of charge.
8. C-Panel Control Panel
The industry standard control panel, cPanel is used on the shared hosting plan.
As mentioned earlier, this is intuitive and easy for the beginner to pick up and run with.
A2 use Softaculous so you can install WordPress script or scripts of other CMS with just a few clicks.
(Joomla, Drupal and many other applications are also supported).
9. Linux or Windows – you get a choice
Opt for a shared hosting account with A2 account and you can decide whether to go for a Linux or Windows based server.
To be honest, this is probably outside the realm of experience for the average beginner.
As we are looking for the best cheap hosting for beginners we recommend the Linux plan, (for more information on the differences between the two head here).
10. 30-day money back Guarantee
As with both Bluehost and iPage, A2 offers a risk-free 30-day trial complete with anytime money back guarantee.
This is an important reassurance for a beginner. Not only does it show that the provider believes in their product, it also gives you a chance to get out if things don’t live up to expectations.
Pro-rated refunds are also available (based on your usage) if you end up deciding to cancel after the initial 30 days.
A2 is a technically advanced shared hosting provider. Their Lite plan has some excellent additions.
However, at $3.92 a month it is almost double the price of iPage.
And while we are not talking tons of money here, when looking for the best cheap hosting plan, it is clear the competition is under-cutting them on price.
Furthermore, this lowest rate $3.92 is only available if you sign up for a 2 year plan. iPage allows their $1.99 price on any term.
Want a shorter term with A2 and you will have to pay $4.90 a month.
Suddenly it isn’t so cheap anymore.
2. No free domain registration
On top of your monthly fee, you will also have to pay for your first year domain registration.
Again this won’t break the bank at around $15 per year (+VAT); however we are starting to add up our price here.
Taking A2 Hosting further away from the amazing value set by other hosting providers.
The A2 Hosting Plans
A2 actually have a wide variety of hosting packages. With the split between Linux and Windows based servers they have 6 shared hosting plans alone.
Add that to the dedicated hosting, Cloud based hosting options, VPS hosting and it all starts to get a overwhelming, (especially within a review article aimed at beginners).
The bottom line is, one of the shared hosting plans is what you should be looking at. For this review we have covered the ‘Lite’ package.
To find out more on what else they offer, head here.
Overall A2 Hosting is an excellent option for beginners willing to pay more for better page load speed and customer support. However, when you consider that a one year term is 3 times the price of the iPage lowest priced package, it does raise questions.
Clearly not the cheapest web hosting service but one of the most technically advanced in the shared hosting space. If you want to stretch the budget, the Lite package comes highly recommended.
Houston-based HostGator is a titan in the world of web hosting.
While iPage and Bluehost may seem large with 1 and 2 million users respectively, Hostgator host a mammoth 9 million domains.
That’s an incredible amount of data.
So are they any good? Are all those user signed up because of brilliant performance and price points?
Or do Hostgator just offer super rewards to affiliates (those that promote hosting companies) with a giant marketing budget to match?
Before we dive in to take a look, here’s an overview of their lowest price ‘Hatchling’ shared hosting plan and our score:
Who is Hostgator?
These days the company has two U.S. based data centers in Houston and Provo, Utah.
They have also moved into the rapidly expanding Indian market after opening up offices there in 2012.
It is actually difficult to pinpoint the reason behind Hostgators massive success when compared to their competitors.
Marketing has had a large part to play because as we will see, they are not 9 x better than our top pick iPage, (if you base this upon number of domains hosted)
Let’s dive in with the pros and cons so you guys can see for yourself.
Pros of using HostGator (shared) Hosting
As always we like to start with the good points.
And Hostgator do stand out from the competition in two easy ways to measure; a longer-than-average money back guarantee and an easy-to-use interface for beginners.
1. 45-Day Money Back Guarantee
Considering all of the other web hosts in our top 5 review round up offer only 30 day money back guarantees, Hostgator opting for a 45 day time line is significant.
This gives you an extra two weeks to test drive their hosting before fully commiting.
As we have said ealier, that’s some peace of mind that a beginner wants.
With all that said, there are a few terms and conditions behind this extend play:
- Only applies to shared, reseller, or VPS hosting, (great for us)
- If you pay for your package with a check, money order, or through a bank wire transfer, you won’t get your refund. So take care of the way you pay.
2. Very User Friendly for Beginners
HostGator is very user-friendly for beginners.
The interface is highly graphical and intuitive, taking point and click management to a whole new level.
In fact it feels as if the entire c-Panel has been redesigned so that the complete novice can get to grips with what it all means as soon as they login.
In a round up looking at the best affordable beginner hosting, this is a very important point.
Furthermore, they have tons of tutorials that are well laid out, along with FAQ pages, documents and video walkthroughs to cater for any problem you might have.
3. Good Uptime
For a service that caters for 9 million websites, Hostagtor’s uptime is a highly impressive 99.97%. This is .03% better than the industry average for shared hosting.
You can keep an eye on the uptime with sites such as HostingFacts.com.
4. Enhanced Security and Free Migration
HostGator are another web hosting provider more than willing to offer free migration services should you want to move your site over, (again, why are you charging for this Bluehost?)
Another great aspect for the beginner, (or any webmaster for that matter) is the automated daily database backups, automatic malware removal and a free SSL certificate for processing website transactions.
HostGator also provide sophisticated protection against DDoS attacks.
In short, even though your website is on a shared hosting plan (we’re security risks are greater), Hostgator up the anti in regards to site protection.
Cons of using HostGator (shared) Hosting
Despite raising above the bar in a few important areas, there’s some essential performance based issues that Hostgator fall short.
1. Site page load speed
With 9 million websites hosted it comes as no surprise that Hostgator fail to beat the competition on page load speeds.
Where as A2 Hosting have invested heavily in this like SSD technology and super servers, Hostgator lag behind with averages close to 1 second.
Again, this isn’t outside the paramaters set by Google on what is considered acceptable; it is still damn slow when compared to other web hosts in our list.
The fact is smaller hosting providers have the ability to turbo charge their offerings even in the shared space; the lumbering giant that is Hostgator is currently unable to keep up.
2. Struggling support
The HostGator support nearly went in the pros section of this review.
This is because we personally have never had any complaints when managing sites on Hostgator, (and obviously calling upon their support team for assistance).
However, there’s an abundance of complaining customers online not happy with the response time of Hostgator support. But then when do happy customers get the motivation to report online?
That being said, when people are reporting 20 minutes for a live chat to begin you do have to ask questions. The trade off of having 9 million hosted sites maybe?
You only need make a cursory check through online reviews of hostgator to find less that lacklustre appraisals of their support.
And that is cause for concern.
As with all the other providers in this review, they do offer 24/7/365 support through the phone, live chat, and email.
So as long as you can handle a potential wait, (put the kettle on, browse Facebook) you will get hold of someone eventually.
Or as in our case when calling upon help, with a couple of minutes.
3. Extra fee for automatic Backups
Despite the fact we praised HostGator security options, they do fall short on back up protection.
Yes, they make it easy to perform manual backups by default in cPanel; however, how many beginners are going to regularly login initiate that?
If you want automated backups it will cost you an extra $15.95 annually.
4. Price Hikes
Hostgator opt for the oldest pricing structure ‘trick’ in the book; i.e to benefit from that low, low price they advertise of $2.64 a month, you have to sign up for 3 years.
That’s just one more reason that iPage is our top choice; their amazing $1.99 a month deal is available on all terms.
Select the 1 year term with Hostgator and you will end up paying $5.37 a month.
What was the second lowest price in our top 5 cheap hosting for beginner round up, now becomes the most expensive.
Shame on you Hostgator.
As with all other hosts offering promotional prices, expect a further price hike come renewal time.
Other web hosting plans with Hostgator
The subject of this review is the shared hosting Hatchling plan. Starting at $2.75 per month, (as long as you opt for the 3 year term), this provides 1 domain name, unlimited disk space and storage and unlimited subdomains.
The promotional price on this one over 3 years is $5.95 per month. It supports unlimited storage, bandwidth and domain names.
The final plan on Hostgator’s shared hosting starts at $5.95 per month.
Here you get unlimited storage, bandwidth and domain names. You will also get a free dedicated IP, SSL and toll-free number with this one.
We’ve just cover the shared hosting options today. Should you be interested in other forms of hosting through Hostgator, head here.
So are the owners of 9 million websites right in choosing Hostgator?
Yes and no.
It is clear that this hosting provider is doing many things right. With good uptime, online support materials and an easy to use interface for beginner’s, they have a lot of happy customers as a result.
However, if some of these customers knew what was available elsewhere, they might think differently.
Hostgator is not the cheapest basic provider by any means. Their live support has issues for some, and average site load speed can be terrible.
With options like iPage for mega cheap rates, or even A2 Hosting with the superior technology we recommend you look elsewhere.
Web Hosting Hub are another great option for beginners looking for quality hosting at a discount price.
For those starting out they offer a free domain. Site builder and some great eCommerce tools are also thrown in with their cheapest package.
We’re a big fan of WordPress here, and to that end the plan comes with Softaculous 1-click software installer straight out of the box.
Let’s take a look at what else you get with their lowest rate $3.99 a month plan.
Who are Web Hosting Hub?
Founded in 2010, Web Hosting Hub are owned by the conglomerate InMotion Hosting.
They are headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, and they have two U.S. data centers – one on each coast.
What’s great about this hosting service is that they have a 200+ U.S. based team, with only 40,000 customers.
That’s borderline bespoke when compared to the stretch of our other hosting picks that cater for up to 9 million domains.
The tech here is similar to A2 Hosting with the company investing heavily in solid state drives and superior security protocols.
Anyway, before we cover too many of the details here; let’s jump in with the pros and cons of using Web Hosting Hub.
Pros of using Web Hosting Hub
1. Faster Page Load Times than the Competition
We’ve already touched on it above, however with the installation of a complete SSD infrastructure, Web Hosting Hub claim to be up to 20x faster than the competition using standard drives.
While tests from a page load perspective do not demonstrate a 20 times difference, there’s no denying that the Web Hosting Hub servers are fast from a shared hosting perspective.
Often clocking in at around the 600ms region, this is significantly faster than the close to 1 second times experienced with other hosts.
2. Good Support
With only 40,000 customers you would expect a good level of support, and with Web Hosting Hub, you won’t be disappointed.
Live chat wasn’t an instant pick up on a couple of occasions (a 2- minute wait at one point); however, once the security checks are complete you can expect a thorough response to your issues.
Beyond our own use of their support team, customers online generally rate the Hub highly in this regard.
3. Easy Website/Blog Setup
We actually loved how easy Web Hosting Hub was to sign up to and get started.
Clearly designed for the absolute beginner, there’s no jargon or complicated price and term structure, (they make it clear that the rock bottom price comes with the longer term).
Using their Account Management Panel (above) you will have you hosting and site up and running in no time.
With a simple click you can install WordPress as your website/blog content management system or Prestashop for eCommerce.
They take care of everything else.
4. Free Domain Name & Site Migration
This ease of use and beginner friendliness goes as far as any site transfer too.
The team will transfer up to three websites and databases for you, with zero downtime on top.
For complete newbies or those looking to start a brand new site, a free domain name is offered on signup too.
5. 90-Days Money Back Guarantee
Another killer bonus in terms of the beginner webmaster. Not sure if you want to keep with Web Hosting Hub for the long term?
They will give you a full 90-day money back guarantee. More than enough time to trial the goods and back out if you aren’t happy.
That being said there are a few non-refundable fees to be aware of.
If you purchase a SSL certificates, domain privacy you will not get your money back. The free domain name is also non-refundable.
If you decide not to proceed you will be charged $11.99 for the year plus a $5.00 administrative fee.
6. Okay Uptime
Finally we have the all important down time / uptime issue. I am pleased to say that Web Hosting Hub is above industry average here with an uptime of around 99.95.
1. Basic Hosting
While Web Hosting Hub is a very simple hosting service to use (making it ideal for beginners), once your site grows and your skills develop you could end up out-growing their hosting.
Unlike others in our top 5 there are no alternative plans to move onto beyond the shared host packages.
If you want to expand power and services in the future you will literally have to move hosts.
2. Price Tricks
That $3.99 a month deal is only available for 3 year terms. Yes they are pretty clear about it, however it does mean that if you opt for a 1 year plan, you will end up being charged $6.99 a month.
That’s terrible compared to the competition reviewed here.
So be wary when you sign up. And maybe go for the 3 year in the first place knowing you have 90 days to reconsider anyway.
3. Extra Fees for Backups & Security
To have automated daily backups with the Hub will cost you an extra dollar each month.
They also charge extra for anti-virus and anti-spam protection.
While these will add little to the overall cost, the price is still getting further away from the amazing deals you can get elsewhere with the likes of iPage and Bluehost.
Other Hosting Plans on the Hub
As mentioned above, unlike other web hosts, Web Hosting Hub only offers shared hosting.
Here is a quick overview of the plans
- Spark plan: The subject of this review. Opt for this and you will pay $3.99 per month (on the 3 year term). You can launch 2 websites, have 10 MySQL databases and 25 sub domains.
- Nitro plan: $6.99 per month. With this you can have unlimited websites, unlimited sub domains and unlimited MySQL databases
- Dynamo plan: This plan costs $8.99 per month. It supports unlimited websites, unlimited sub domains and unlimited MySQL databases.
All shared hosting comes with a free domain name, are hosted on SSD and come with SSH access.
Web Hosting Hub is a good budget web hosting service.
With their easy signup, helpful support and instant WordPress installation they are great for first-timers starting a simple blog or creating a small website.
However, if you need to grow, you may need to look elsewhere as they do not offer anything beyond the shared hosting options.
On top of this you do have to opt for the 3-year plan to enjoy the large discount.
In short, there are better options in our top 5 round up.