why you need to stop using cheap website hosting

I think we’ve all heard the phrase ‘you get what you pay for.’ That is absolutely true when it comes to who you use for website hosting. These 5 reasons for not going with the cheapest host will help you understand why.

Resources mentioned in this post:

laptop with mistys website

How I learned my lesson about website hosting


Years ago, I woke up on the morning of Black Friday and was scanning through my email. I had so many emails from people saying, “I think your website’s been hacked.” I jumped over to my website and sure enough, it was covered with pornography! Someone had completely hacked my website.


Now this was particularly difficult for me because I earned most of my income over Black Friday weekend. Maybe not quite the majority, but I earned a good 20-30% of my yearly income on Black Friday weekend.  So this was no small thing.


I called up my website host to tell them I needed help. Sadly, they didn’t answer the phone and I had to wait on hold for a couple of hours. Then, when they did answer the phone, they told me that they couldn’t fix it, that they had no backups. They had no way to restore my website to where it was the day before. I ended up having to pay thousands of dollars to a developer to fix my website.


Having your website hacked is only one of many reasons that I want you to avoid cheap website hosting. 


Before we jump any further into why you should avoid cheap website hosts, I want to make sure you know what website hosting is. I’m going to give you a brief description here but if you really want to understand the tech that runs your website, I suggest you listen to episode #24, of The Goodness Squad podcast.


An analogy to understand website hosting


The best analogy I have found, for understanding this tech, is building a house. If we compare building a house to building your website, your website host is the land. It’s the physical ground that you build your house on.


It’s actually a physical computer. Wherever your hosts’ computers live is where the files for your website are. That’s what your website host is. Sure, if you were tech savvy and had a lot of money, you could create your own server, your own hard drive at your house, where you host all of your website files.


But there’s a lot of tech that goes into making sure that your website can quickly appear anywhere in the world that someone looks at it. This is not really something that you want to do on your own. So you pay a website host to host those files for you. That’s what website hosting is.


Now, I was hacked over black Friday weekend because I was on the least expensive, $4 per month, Bluehost plan. I know that many of you have had other influencers and people recommend Bluehost to you. Bluehost does have an upper tier, more expensive hosting plans, and those are fine, but the lower entry level hosting plans on Bluehost are not.


Why you don’t want to use the $4/month Bluehost plan


Here are the things that I experienced when I was using Bluehost. Some of which I didn’t even realize were a problem. For example, my website was down multiple times a month. Sometimes it was only for a minute or two, but sometimes it was for hours. I just thought that was part of having a website, that it was just down sometimes. NOT TRUE.


My website was very slow and I didn’t realize how slow until I switched.


 The support you’ll find on very inexpensive hosting plans is, to put it lightly, less than stellar. Sometimes you’ll be on hold for hours.


As I experienced, they have very unreliable backups. When I really needed my backup, it wasn’t there.


Since that time, I have learned other things about very inexpensive hosting. One is that you have a very low, PHP memory limit. Now you don’t need to know technically what that is, but it means that plugins like Elementor and other types of page builders, anything that takes some memory to actually use on the backend, aren’t going to work very well, or aren’t going to work at all.


In addition, they typically don’t come with a staging site. The staging site is a copy of your live website. They take your live website and they make a copy of it for you. And then you can work on that copy behind the scenes and no one sees what you’re doing. And then, when you have things just like you want them, you can push them to your live site. Cheap hosting plans do not include a staging site.


Why quality website hosting is actually less expensive


So the interesting thing is when you really look at all these different factors and a few others I’m going to talk about, quality website hosting is actually less expensive. Let’s talk about why.


#1 – Security


A quality host will make sure that your website is extremely secure. Remember that developer I hired to help me fix by hacked website? He told me that 90% of the websites that he fixes that have been hacked are hosted on Bluehost’s basic ones.


Hackers know this and they also know that’s where the majority of newbies host their websites. And so that’s where they go. Please know that if your website is hacked, you are going to lose customer trust and possibly your entire website. And even if you are able to get your website back, it’s possible you’re going to have to pay a developer a lot of money to do it. Cheap website hosting is actually more expensive.


#2 – Uptime


Remember I told you that my website was down fairly often? I switched to a quality host and my website is maybe down for a minute, once or twice a year. On cheap hosting it was down multiple times a month and sometimes for hours.


That is a lot of lost traffic, a lot of lost email subscribers, a lot of lost purchases. Cheap website hosting is expensive.


#3 – Traffic


High-quality hosting can handle a sudden rise in traffic. Now, why does this matter? Well, I want you to think of hosting like a water heater and you live in an apartment complex. If there’s one water heater for four different apartments, things might run fairly smoothly as long as you’re all using water at different times, right? The water heater could keep up. It’s fairly big.


But what happens if you all decide to take a shower at the same time? Well, whoever went first is going to get the hot water, whoever went last isn’t. In addition, what if your neighbor invites all their family over and all of a sudden they’re using two or three times as much water as they usually do. You’re going to suffer with cold water.


Cheap website hosting is shared website hosting. You will share resources, speed, bandwidth – all these technical terms. I want you to think about it like the water in a water heater. You’re going to share that with multiple other people and if one of them has a huge spike in traffic, guess what? Your website’s going to go down.


If you have a huge spike in traffic, their website’s going to go down. A quality website host can handle that sudden rise in traffic because you have your own resources, your own water heater. Cheap website hosting is actually very expensive.


#4 – Fast


A high-quality website host will be fast. There’s a lot that goes into how fast your website is, but the first and most important is the time to first respond. So how long does it take for your website to actually respond? That is 100% dependent on your host. All quality website hosts have a fast time to first respond. 


In addition, most of them have extra things that help your website run faster. Again, I’m going to say some technical terms here and you don’t need to understand what they all are, but they have a CDN, which is a cloud delivery network. So your resources are hosted on the cloud, not on your actual website, which means your website loads faster.


They’ll provide you with caching, which can help your website load faster. Cheap website hosts don’t do this and they have a slow time to first response. Cheap website hosting is actually more expensive.


Why would this matter in this situation? Well, there’ve been many studies done, and all of them differ slightly, but the general concept is that for every second that it takes your website to load you lose about half of your traffic.


So say a thousand people come to your website and it takes a full second to load – 500 of them will stay. It takes two seconds to load 250 will stay. It takes three seconds to load 125 will stay. If it takes four seconds to load, 60ish will stay. If it takes five seconds to load 30 will stay.


You want your website to load fast. The more people you can get to stay on your website, the more people are going to join your email list and eventually purchase your products. Cheap website hosting is actually expensive.


A quality website host will offer you stellar support. I personally believe this is one of the most important places you want support. You do not want to have to worry about all these technical terms that I have mentioned in this podcast post. You don’t need to learn them all.


What you need to do instead is have a website host that understands it all and knows how to communicate to you about all those technical terms so that you can make informed decisions for your business and then let them handle the technical side of your hosting. This frees you up to spend time serving your clients, answering questions, creating more products.


Cheap website hosting is expensive when you have to spend hours waiting for someone to help you. And then even when they do help, they barely know more than you do. That’s a problem. That is a huge waste of your time. And time is money.


Cheap website hosts will often employ people from all over the world, whose first language is not English, and put them on the very front line. The people who answer the phone have very little training, they typically don’t know the answers to more complex questions. Oftentimes, they cannot help you with your issue and then you have to go to the next level. You ask for their supervisor, you get bumped up, there’s more time on hold. It is not worth it. 


#5 – Backup


You must have backups of your website. Not just for situations like mine, where I was hacked, although it’s absolutely essential there, but backups allow you to fix your own mistakes.  If you change something on your website and it breaks, if you have a quality host, you don’t need to freak out. You just log into your host and you click ‘restore this backup’ from yesterday.


You can even go in before you make a change on your website and click ‘create backup.’ They’ll do them daily, but you can go create one anytime you want, then you go make the change and maybe you find yourself saying “my website broke.” You quickly log in to your host and restore that backup you took.


This saves you so much time and stress and worry and fear. It also gives you the confidence to try things on your website. I’m going to go try something because I know I have a backup.


Staging sites do a similar thing. They’re not backups, but they allow you to make those changes on a completely separate website. So basically you have two websites. When you have a staging site, you have the one that’s live and the one that’s not, and you can log into the one that’s not live and make a change. If it didn’t break anything on your staging site, then you can make that change on your live site.


This gives you so much confidence. You don’t have to hire someone just to come in and update all your plugins that haven’t been updated in a year. I’ve seen the backend of your website, of many websites. I know that your plugins and your themes are not updated. That’s because you were afraid to break it!


But guess what, when you don’t update your plugins and your theme, more things are likely to break. And worse, your website is very insecure. Plugins that have not been updated are like a big welcome sign to hackers saying, “come on in, check out my website.”


Having backups and the ability to create a staging site solves this problem. You don’t have to go out and hire someone. You can make these changes on your own and easily restore a backup. If there is an issue again, saving you the cost on hiring developers to make those small changes is incredible. Cheap website hosting is expensive.


All of these ideas are a little bit more abstract though. What if you never get hacked? What if your website isn’t down? What if you don’t have some of these problems? They’re a little bit more abstract to understand that quality website hosting really is worth paying for. But I want to give you one more reason.


One more reason you don’t want to use cheap hosting


There are a lot of hidden costs, real hidden costs, in cheap websites.


For instance, you may have to purchase your SSL certificate separately. That is the piece of tech that allows your website to be HTTPS. You may have to purchase a separate security plugin if they don’t offer high-quality security wrapped into your hosting. There are plugins out there that will do it for you. But that’s an extra cost. Same thing with backups. If they don’t offer daily backups, there’s plugins out there that will do it for you. That’s an extra cost.


In addition to all of those things being an extra cost, now you have different developers tech on your website. So instead of just your host’s tech, you have your host’s tech, wherever you purchased your SSL certificate from, wherever you got your security plugin from, wherever you got your backup plugin from, and your website is more likely to contradict itself. The code that’s written by different developers is more likely to cause issues on your website.


Two website hosts I recommend


Please stop paying $3-$5 a month for your website hosting. It is not worth it. There are two hosts that I recommend. I have done a lot of research, trying to find hosts that are still relatively affordable, that offer all of the things that I’ve talked about today. They’re secure. They have nearly 100% uptime. They can handle a sudden rise in traffic. They are fast. They offer stellar support. They offer daily backups and one-click backups and they provide staging sites.


There are two that I have come to recommend. 

  • WPMUDEV offers everything that I’ve said here and you can start at $10 per month.
  • Flywheel is a fantastic host. They start at $13 a month if you pay yearly or $15 a month if you pay monthly.


I believe Flywheel support to be just slightly better than WPMUDEV. So when people ask me, “is there one host you’d recommend above all others?” I say Flywheel. But if that $5/month is a big deal, WPMUDEV is really good.


2 ways to get help setting up hosting


If you want help setting up your website hosting or setting up a staging site, I have two recommendations for you.


First join my Ask Me Anything group. You can come in there and ask me any question you have during the entire process. I will answer it. Most of the time, I will actually log onto your website or your host and show you exactly how to do it.


Second buy a website template from me. I include very detailed tutorials for how to set up your website hosting with every single template purchase. 


Hi fives if you made it to the end of yet another very technical post! I know this isn’t the fun stuff to learn about (unless you’re super techy, like me), but you will be so glad you took the time to learn about it from the very beginning. *Did you already forget about my Black Friday fiasco?*


Thanks for being here. Stay tuned for more tech tips and website design fun.

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This post originally aired as an episode of The Goodness Squad podcast. New episodes are no longer being created, but you can still listen to past episodes in your favorite podcast app.

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