How Much Does It Cost to Host a Website?

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Your website hosting cost can range from under a hundred dollars per year to over a hundred dollars per month, depending on your needs.

Some types of hosting plans cost more, certain types of domains are priced higher, and more. Understanding all the costs involved in hosting a site is critical if you want to be able to budget well.

If you just want to set up the simplest website possible, all you need is hosting and a domain. From there, every charge is optional. This means if you’re on a budget, you can start small and increase your hosting expenditure over time.

In this article, we’ll break down the overall website hosting cost. We’ll talk about the obvious costs, the hidden costs, and the optional charges. We have a lot of information to go over, so let’s get to it!

What ‘hosting’ is (and why it costs money)

Every website you visit is a collection of files on a remote computer. The computers we use to host websites are called servers. When you pay for hosting, you’re paying for a slice of a server’s space.

As you might imagine, different and more powerful types of servers (that can handle more traffic) command higher prices. Of course, these are represented as hosting tiers. Here’s a quick guide of the most popular hosting types and what makes them different:

  • Shared hosting: With this type of plan, your website shares a server and its resources with other users.
  • Virtual private server (VPS): Using a VPS, you get dedicated resources and an environment all to yourself – although a physical server can host multiple VPSs.
  • WordPress hosting: This type of plan is customized for WordPress users, and you sometimes get access to perks such as free themes and plugins.
  • eCommerce hosting: With eCommerce hosting, you get plans built for online stores. In many cases, you’ll get help setting up WooCommerce or whichever eCommerce system you use.
  • Dedicated server: With this type of plan, you pay for an entire server to yourself, which usually makes it the most expensive option.

Ultimately, if you want to launch a website, you’ll need to pay for hosting.

However, you’ll also notice a lot of free hosting providers available. By and large though, the free hosting isn’t going to offer the quality of service you’d want or need for most sites.

For example, bandwidth is usually low, and performance can be sketchy. In may cases, you won’t even be able to use your own domain with free hosting.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to find shared and WordPress hosting plans to suit your budget. Here’s a quick price comparison from three of the most popular web hosts around, to give you an idea:

Website hosting cost
Shared hosting VPS WordPress Hosting eCommerce Hosting Dedicated server
GoDaddy $5.49 $4.99 $6.99 $94.99
Bluehost $2.75 $18.99 $2.75 $6.95 $79.99
InMotion Hosting $6.39 $29.99 $6.99 $115.69

Keep in mind, those are the prices advertised on-site. Generally, these are the lowest possible price per plan – and they’re only available through pre-paying long-term. It’s not uncommon for web hosts to charge for one, two, or even three years of hosting in advance.

As such, if you’re checking out a web host, don’t trust their ‘marquee’ sticker prices. Instead, proceed with the checkout for the plan you want to use and before you get to the payment, you can see their real prices for different contract lengths:

Different hosting contract lengths.

If you can pre-pay for hosting, you can massively reduce your website hosting cost. To save you some time, we put together a list of the best budget hosting options you can use.

How much it costs to register and renew a domain

Besides hosting, a domain is the only other obligatory cost to running a website. In some cases, web hosts will give you access to free subdomains you can use, such as mywebsite.hostingcompany.com. However, those subdomains look unprofessional and they’re not a viable long-term solution.

The best option for most people is to register a domain. How much it costs to register a domain will depend on two factors:

  1. The TLD you use. You can usually register .com domains for around $10, whereas other options can be cheaper or more expensive.
  2. Which registrar you use. Some web hosts enable you to register domains through them, but you can also use dedicated services known as ‘registrars‘.

The price of domains can vary slightly depending on your choice of registrar. In practice, though, the differences tend to be small, so your choice of a registrar isn’t as critical as with hosting.

When you register a domain, you usually only pay for one year of ownership. You’ll then need to renew your registration, which usually costs the same as the initial purchase.

Keep in mind, you’re free to pay for up to ten years of registration upfront, but there’s often little advantage to doing so:

Registering a domain for multiple years in advance.

Since domain costs vary wildly depending on the TLD and name you want, it’s important to compare prices. Some of our favorite registrars include Domain.com, Bluehost, and Namecheap.

Quick note: If you register a domain with a discount, you’ll probably have to pay full price when it comes to renew it, so keep that in mind!

Five other factors in website hosting cost

Hosting and domain registration are the two ‘primary’ parts of the website hosting cost. However, they’re far from the only ones. There are plenty of extras you can pay for, and both hosting and domain registration companies will often try to talk you into buying them.

With this in mind, let’s break down those extras and talk about the ‘hidden’ costs you may run into. Let’s start with hosting renewals.

1. Hosting renewal

Hosting companies are masters when it comes to hiding real prices. In many cases, the cost to host a website for your first contract won’t be the same as when you renew it.

If you look closely, most hosting providers will show you this information right below their sticker prices:

The cost to host a website with full renewal prices

Those ‘regular’ prices show what you’ll have to pay once your initial contract is up. The idea is to lock you into their ecosystem, at which point you may be willing to pay more versus moving to another web host.

If you’re hosting somewhere that uses this billing approach, we’d recommend trying to lock in the promo prices for three years if possible.

2. Overage charges

Web hosts don’t just charge you host server space – they also take into account your traffic levels. As your website grows in popularity, you’ll need more expensive hosting plans so its performance doesn’t suffer due to traffic.

With shared plans, your website might not be able to handle high amounts of traffic with grace. Depending on who your host is, you can incur ‘overage’ charges. Some providers will charge you extra, whereas others will restrict your resources.

If your website is getting ‘too much’ traffic, your web host will likely let you know. If this happens consistently, it’s usually in your best interest to upgrade to a better plan, so you can enjoy better performance.

3. Email hosting – Free to $6 per month

If you want to use a professional email address with one of your domains, you’ll need to pay for a special type of hosting dedicated to email:

Email hosting can play a role in the cost to host a website

We’d suggest that you don’t need to pay for email hosting. Many shared hosts will even bundle this into your regular plan. If they do, they’ll usually advertise it under the plan’s features, so keep an eye out for it!

If your host doesn’t offer email hosting, you can get free email hosting with Zoho Mail or pay $6 per month for Google Workspace – formerly G Suite (here’s how to set up Google Workspace).

4. Domain privacy – Can be free

Domain registration information is available to the public through the Whois database. At any time, someone can look up a domain and see who registered it:

Running a Whois search.

In practice, this means your contact information is public knowledge. As such, most domain registrars will offer you extras such as domain privacy or Whois ‘protection’ to obscure this data:

Paying for Whois protection.

Since you can get Whois protection for free depending on the registrar, it doesn’t make much sense to pay an extra dollar or two (which is what it usually costs) to set it up. When you’re shopping for a domain, make sure your registrar doesn’t try to upsell the feature.

Some domain registrars that offer free Whois protection include:

5. SSL certificate – Can be free

An SSL certificate tells visitors your website is safe to use and secure by use encryption to protect data. If a website has a valid certificate, your browser will display a lock icon in the browser:

A valid SSL certificate.

It’s important to understand that there are different types of SSL certificates. Basic ones tend to be free now and most quality hosts make it easy to take advantage of a free SSL certificate.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re trying to set up a basic website and your web host tries to charge you for a certificate, you want to say “No.” You can easily set up your own for free or opt for a different provider.

However, if you’re running anything related to eCommerce, it may be a mandatory purchase, as your security needs may be higher.

If you do need to purchase a premium SSL certificate, they usually start around $20 per year and range up to $60+, depending on the level of validation.

Website hosting cost: conclusion

The cost to host a website can be cheap. However, when figuring out how to host a website, it’s important that you always read the your web host’s fine print. Many will try to lock you in for as long as possible and charge you for as many extras as they can.

As long as you understand the costs associated with hosting and know when to say “No,” you can stay under budget with ease.

To get started, check out our guide on how to choose web hosting, as well as our collection of the best hosting companies for WordPress.

Do you have any questions about hosting costs? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!

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