There are a few misconceptions around web hosting. The term itself can sound complicated and it can scare a technophobe ecommerce retailer, but in 2021 web hosting isn't that complicated.
A lot of retailers are sort of semi-aware of what it is, but also feel like it's not that important. This is the biggest misconception. Picking between hosting companies should be one of the first things you do as a retailer, right up there with choosing your platform or deciding on your store's name.
But why is picking a hosting service that big a deal? What is it to start with? When you do have it what's its benefits?
These are all questions we plan to answer in this guide. As well as this, we'll highlight why WordPress is a great option for your ecommerce store and identify which cheap WordPress hosting options are the best for your business.
What is web hosting?
So firstly, what is it? There's often confusion around its definition and often ecommerce retailers will mistake web hosting for a domain name. However, these are two completely separate entities.
Web hosting is when a hosting provider assigns room for your website on a server.
That might sound a little scary, but it's really not. It's essentially where all the files for your website I store. So when someone comes along and types in your domain name, the server on which your website is stored sends the files back to the user.
If you plan on setting up a website then it's absolutely essential and companies know this. Therefore there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of providers on the market today. As well as the companies there is a range of different plans available, starting from $1-2 a month right through to almost 4 figures. Your choice is dependent on many factors, but mostly it's about the amount of traffic you anticipate to your site.
Benefits of web hosting
Deciding which web host you go will have a massive impact on the speed and reliability of your website. If someone comes to your website and it takes too long to load then they'll go elsewhere, it's that simple.
But that isn't the only benefit, here are a few that we think are important reasons to using a hosting provider.
The factors on deciding which web hosting service you use should also apply to your ecommerce platform. You're looking for reliability and security with great SEO benefits. That's why WordPress is a great fit, it offers all those.
If you're just starting out as well and money is at a premium then WordPress is great as it's free. That doesn't mean it isn't powerful though as it has the scale to grow with you.
👉 Read our comprehensive WordPress review.
The best WordPress hosting providers
When it comes to affordable managed WordPress hosting services, we've identified 7 of the best. Check out each of these below, with some in-depth information of pros, cons and which types of businesses they suit.
SiteGround is one of the big players in the web hosting game. Since its inception in 2004, they now boast over 2 million domains. One advantage over its rivals is that SiteGround comes recommended from WordPress themselves.
It's a little more difficult to find their pricing initially and it's easy to see why. SiteGround offer 3 plans for WordPress hosting which are StartUp, GrowBig and GoGeek.
SiteGround‘s basic plan starts at $5.99 a month, this is double the price of most entries on this list. What's odd about this plan is that it actually costs more to currently take out the 24 or 36-month deal which comes in at $8.99. A month by month subscription comes in at a whopping $16.99.
Understandably though the StartUp plan does offer what the other basic plans have and a bit more. You get SSL certification, daily backups, email, free CDN (which is beneficial if your customers are international), as well as out-of-the-box caching. Caching essentially increase the number of hits your site can take and improves its overall speed.
The higher two packages offer more tailored support, options to increase contributors and faster speed times.
- Uptime – arguably the best on the list in regards to this measure, which gives them justification for being more expensive.
- Free Migration – a way that SiteGround set itself apart is that via their free WordPress Migration plugin. This requires a little work from your end but it's pretty seamless. Of the people that reviewed it 80% have given it the full 5 stars. If you are on the GrowBig plan or higher then you can have a specialist do this for you.
- CDN and SSL – we've mentioned SSL enough, but Content Delivery Network (CDN) is another big bonus for your site. SiteGround's servers are spread over 3 continents ensuring that no matter where your users are they'll access your site quickly.
- Pricing – you get what you pay for, but in comparison, it's much higher than most other providers. That price doesn't come with a domain name, plus renewal rates can double in most places after a year.
Best for ✅
SiteGround uses its exceptional reputation for uptime and speed to justify its pricing. If you want one less thing to worry about then this is the service for you.
👉 Read our comprehensive SiteGround review.
Founded in 1997, DreamHost is one of, if not the biggest names in web hosting for WordPress websites. As of 2021, they host 1.5 million websites, over 100 countries.
DreamHost specialises in a number of different types of web hosting, which we will break down now.
If you are just starting up your WordPress site, then shared hosting is probably your best bet. This means you share server resources such as RAM and CPU with other websites.
The downside of this is that increased usage from other websites may affect your site's performance. However, it's the most cost-effective option.
Virtual Private Server (VPS)
VPS is the next step up from shared hosting. It's on a shared platform, but your website will have its own unique space. It can suffer from the same issues as shared hosting in that other websites may affect your performance, however, it offers the same control as dedicated.
Dedicated Server Hosting
As you can imagine, dedicated is a step up again. This allows you full administrative access to the control panel and security. This option does require a bit of technical know-how plus it will cost you.
This is the hottest property in web hosting. It works by computers pooling resources together, the benefit of this is that this is spread across several servers which increases your uptime.
The big benefit of cloud hosting is that it's scalable so can grow with your business.
Managed WordPress Hosting
This is when the company, such as DreamHost manages all aspects of your websites hosting such as setup, support and administration. This will include the infrastructure and security of your site. This will be the most costly option.
DreamHost offers three levels of hosting, WordPress Basic, DreamPress and VPS WordPress.
If you a startup then basic is the best option. This is shared hosting and starts at $2.59 a month, however in order to get this price you need to sign up for their 3-year plan. If you want a monthly plan then it will cost you $4.59 per month for the first 3 months, before moving up to $7.99.
SSL certificates are included with the lowest pricing plan which is great for new ecommerce sites.
With each of these 3 levels, there are up to 4 different options, which means there are 9 options in total. DreamPress starts from $16.95 and offers email setup and hosting. VPS WordPress offers more backend control and allows you hosting for up to 5 websites, this pricing starts from $27.50 a month.
- Monthly Hosting – you have the option to use DreamHost on a month-to-month basis and you cancel at any point. Additional to this they offer a 97-day money-back guarantee. Like a lot of companies, there's no catch. If you don't like it, you can simply cancel.
- Free WordPress Migration – don't expect hosting companies to provide a free integration with WordPress, in fact, DreamHost didn't offer this until recently. However, they now offer this for free on even the most basic plans.
- Custom Control Panel – most hosting comes with a standard control panel called CPanel. DreamHost have built their own which is much more user friendly and actions can be taken in just one-click.
- Unlimited Features – even on their basic plan DreamHost offers unlimited traffic. This means they don't track bandwidth and you won't be overcharged dependent on how well your site performs.
- Basic Features – the features on the lowest-priced plan are phenomenal. You get a domain name and an SSL certificate, plus WordPress comes installed which is great for you technophobes.
- Speed – as we mentioned website speed is extremely important. If users bounce from your website this can affect your SEO. DreamHost's average loading time is 1320ms which wouldn't put them in the top end of web hosting services.
- Uptime – most WordPress host providers gurantee close to 100% of uptime, but this isn't always the reality. DreamHost's is more near 99.90%. The upside is that you will be financially compensated for any downtime
- Support – their support is shown as 24/7 however a lot of this done via a chatbot. If you want to speak to a representative you need to do this Monday-Friday 9am-4pm (PT).
Best for ✅
If you are just starting up this is an ideal solution for you. The number of options out of the box are unmatched. The pre-installed WordPress plugin and custom control panel also make it ideal for people who aren't technically savvy.
👉 Read our comprehensive Dreamhost review.
Offering the cheapest WordPress hosting, Hostinger initially started out in 2007 under a different guise. In 2011 they rebranded as you see them today.
Since then their user base has grown to over 29 million users in 178 countries. They are situated in Lithuania and all have an office in Cyrpus. They boast that they acquire a new client every 5 seconds.
Hostinger's pricing plan is one of the cleanest to look at. Rather than splitting their plans into their own terminology, they have use phrasing that people researching web hosting will be familiar with.
They use 3 options, Shared Web Hosting, Cloud Hosting and VPS Hosting, within this, there are 12 options. Additionally to this, they also offer Email Hosting.
Hostinger‘s prices are unmatched with the most basic plan coming in at $0.99 a month if taken with a 48-month plan. Similar to DreamHost this includes a free SSL certificate. If you take this plan on a monthly basis then the price jumps massively to $9.99.
Hostinger's top-end plan costs $29.99 offering 8TB of bandwidth 8 Cores of vCPU power.
- Speed – their speed is unrivalled. Hostinger has servers in several continents which boast a connection speed of 1000mbps. Their average speed is 356ms which is lightning quick
- Support – the live chat support option with Hostinger is fantastic. Their staff are proficient and highly knowledgeable on technical questions. This is reflective in their guides and blogs which offer advice on every stage of the ecommerce retailer journey
- Guarantees – Hostinger offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and a huge array of options to pay for your web hosting
- Interface – similar to DreamHost it doesn't use the traditional cPanel, but it's much better for it. It's incredibly clean and the functionality allows you to manage your domains and settings with ease
- Price – the most cost-effective option on the market if you're willing to agree to 4 years worth of web hosting.
- Refunds – only parts of Hostinger's services are refundable. The biggest issue is around domains. Hostinger doesn't offer a free domain name with their basic plan, plus you only have 4 days to refund rather than 30 days
- Uptime – normally a strong point for them, they saw a dip in uptime at the backend of 2020. It's worth watching this space and seeing how they react
Best for ✅
Whereas DreamHost is could for ecommerce retailers testing the water, Hostinger would appeal more to retailers who are a bit more serious. They offer some great plans and very affordable prices but in order to take advantage you need to be locked in to 4 years.
Since forming in 2008, GreenGeeks now hosts over 600,000 websites. Not as big as the 2 we've mentioned so far, but importantly they come with over 40 years of experience.
Found Trey Gardner has been working in web hosting since 1999 and has experience which no fewer than 8 web hosting companies.
The first thing to note is that it's a little more difficult to find their pricing plans than their competitors, note how it's not in their mega menu. Never a good sign.
Their pricing is very simplistic, which is neither a pro nor a con. If you are looking for a bit more flexibility though, then perhaps GreenGeeks isn't for you.
They offer 3 pricing plans for WordPress, Lite, Pro and Premium. The Lite package does offer some great freebies including an SSL certificate as well as a domain name (for the first year) at a price of $2.49 a month.
Pro offers all the features of Lite with the added benefit of unlimited web space and the promise of faster performance at $4.95 a month. Premium then offers the dedicated hosting that we mentioned earlier at $8.95.
Similar to Hostinger these prices are only guaranteed if you a willing to be locked into 3 years. The Lite plan jumps to $10.95 if taken on a monthly basis.
- Uptime – of the web hosting providers mentions so far GreenGeeks has the best and most consistent uptime. Vital for ensuring your website is always available.
- Speed – not quite matching the speeds Hostinger, but not a million miles away. They are seen to be much better than the industry average and report figures of 487 ms.
- Domain Name – unlike the two other services mentioned, GreenGeeks offers a free domain for the first year. From there its just $13.95 per year for the domain.
- Support – they have a dedicated WordPress customer support team that is available via live chat, ticket and phone. Their knowledge base also offer hundreds of WordPress based tutorials.
- Ethical – you'd hope that a company called GreenGeeks would be environmentally friendly and they are just that. GreenGeeks adds up their annual energy consumption and promises to give 3 times as much back via wind energy.
- Guarantees – like many of its competitors, GreenGeeks matches the 30-day money-back guarantee, which is available across all 3 of its WordPress plans.
Pricing – unlike its competitors there are only 3 options, which doesn't allow for much flexibility. That pricing jump to $10.95 on a monthly basis makes it more expensive than most in the sector
Refunds – there is a slight downside to the free domain option. If you took them up on the free domain then you will only be deducted the amount that you paid for the registration fee
Best for ✅
If you like simplicity in your pricing plans and are prepared to pay a bit more knowing there's more clarity around what you're getting, then GreenGeeks are for you. If you are environmentally conscious as well then they are a great fit.
5. A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting is an independently run hosting service that's been around since 2001. There are many benefits to using a web hosting service of which speed is probably the most important. This is A2 Hosting's strong point and they pride themselves on this.
Unlike the other providers, there is no mention of the customer base, which give us the impression they are smaller than the others listed here.
A2 Hosting has 2 parent options for WordPress hosting Shared Hosting and Managed Hosting. The former has 4 pricing plans which are Startup, Drive, Turbo Boost and Turbo Max. All these options are available with 3 years, 1 year and monthly costs.
The Startup option comes in at $2.99 offering similar options to the previously mentioned services with the addition of unlimited email accounts. This price does jump to $10.99 for a month which makes it one of the more expensive options.
A downside of the most basic is that it doesn't offer automatic backups. Turbo Boost upwards benefits from HTTP/3 which is 20-30% faster than HTTP.
With Managed Hosting there are 3 options and picking one depends on the number of websites you have. All of these choices come with Jetpack which is a security plugin that is the most popular plugin WordPress offer.
- Speed – they are by far and away the leaders in this department. They boost up to 20x faster speeds than some of their competitors, which will have an impact on your conversion rates.
- Uptime – an industry leader in uptime as well. Their servers are super reliable and rarely found out. This probably explains how they can justify the slightly higher cost.
- HackScan – all of A2 Hosting's servers are protected by HackScan. It's an always-on service that checks for malware and hackers. Ensuring your site is secure.
- Free Migration – if you decided to go for the dedicated hosting over a shared hosting plan then A2 Hosting will migrate your website(s) for free. Most providers don't offer this, all you need to do is give them access to your cPanel and away you go.
- Cons 👎
- Domain Name – they don't offer a free domain name on any of the shared hosting pricing plans. This is quite rare and a bit of a letdown, meaning you'll need to fork out an extra $14.95 per year.
- Basic Plan – $2.99 for the lowest price plan may sound cheap, but it's when you consider Hostinger have a basic plan for $0.99. Throw into that no automatic backups and just 100GB of storage, it's probably the weakest basic plan on this list.
Best for ✅
A2 Hosting is ideal for retailers who have a bit more to spend. If you want reliability in regards to speed, uptime and security and are willing to pay for it then they are ideal
Even if you had no prior knowledge of web hosting then it's likely you will have heard of GoDaddy. They power over 82 million websites which makes them bigger than all the others in this list combined.
They hire over 9k people worldwide and are the world's largest services platform for entrepreneurs. But how do they match up when it comes to WordPress hosting?
For their hosting GoDaddy offers 4 packages, Basic, Deluxe, Ultimate and Pro 5+. Their plans are recommended based on website traffic with the Basic plan suggested for a website with up to 25,000 visitors per month and Pro 5+ for 800,000+.
The Basic plan is in the higher tier of prices, but I feel GoDaddy can justify this on their name alone. The starter plan comes in at $4.99 a month but does include a free domain, daily backups and sign up forms for lead capture.
Unlike the others you don't get an SSL certificate on the lowest paid plan, in fact, you have to get to Ultimate in order to receive that. Similar to other providers the lowest price is based on you taking out a 36-month plan.
- Uptime – you'd expect nothing less from the web hosting giant. Some of the best uptime across the sector.
- Speed – all of their plans include CDN which can increase website speeds by up to 50%. Most other providers offer this at a higher package which sets GoDaddy apart.
- Control Panel – GoDaddy hasn't got to where they are on just providing good performance indicators and uptime. Their service is incredibly user friendly, their custom cPanel is arguably the best around.
- Basic Plan – for the biggest company on this list they have by far the worst offering on the basic plan. They offer no SSL certification, backups, site migration or security at $4.99 a month which is more than double what others are charging
Best for ✅
Despite the issues with the basic plan, if you're an established ecommerce retailer and are looking to change your hosting then this is a great fit. Also if you are just launching your site and expect big traffic quickly, then GoDaddy‘s Ultimate and Pro 5+ plans are as powerful and reliable as you can get
👉 Read our comprehensive GoDaddy review.
Last but by no means least is HostGator. They are one of the oldest web hosting providers, having been founded in 2002. They have been a WordPress partner for years and launch a managed WordPress service in 2015 to complete their offering.
HostGator offers 3 plans for their WordPress hosting Starter, Standard and Business.
The Starter plan offers an SSL certificate a free website domain as well as 1GB of backups, this plan is recommended for a website with up to 100k visitors a month.
Their basic plan is the 2nd most expensive on this list at $5.95 if taken with a 36-month plan. The month by month price is $14.95. It does some additional perks thrown in for the lowest plan including a $150 Google Ads voucher and free email.
You don't get anything different if you go up to Standard or Business. These plans are just recommended for multiple sites which have more traffic.
- Uptime – for $5.95 you'd hope their uptime would be great and numbers over the last 12 months mean you can reply on HostGator
- Guarantees – HostGator offer a 45-day money-back guarantee which is only 2nd best to DreamHost. The catch is that this doesn't apply to HostGator's dedicated services, however, it's unlikely you'll exercise this as their SSD is so powerful
- Support – probably the best support on this list. Their knowledge base is unrivalled, plus their live chat is super quick. Their premium support is even offered on the basic plan
- Extra Fees – when looking at the pricing plan they look basic and that's because they are. Additional fees for backups and malware are common place. You only have to visit their checkout and see that there are 5 additional services at a cost including higher security SSL, email and SEO tools.
Best for ✅
Similar to A2 Hosting and SiteGround, HostGator is one of the more high end hosting providers. If you want to pay a bit extra on the basic plan and have some of the bigger features that the other providers provide in their more expensive plans, then HostGator is a great fit
For 7 companies that offer the same service, they are all wildly different and have their own unique pros and cons.
If you're a business that is just starting up and want a reliable provider at a low cost then we think Dreamhost is a great fit. If you are looking for better speeds and uptime and are able to commit to 4 years of service then Hostinger will suit you.
If ethical ecommerce is a primary concern of yours and you want your service provider to give back then look no further than GreenGeeks.
If you have a bit of money to spend and perhaps you're expecting a lot of traffic early on then GoDaddy will be your pick.
As we've mentioned throughout speed and uptime are the biggest features that people look for in a WordPress hosting provider. If you're willing to pay more for that luxury then its a shootout between A2 Hosting, HostGator & SiteGround
Hope you enjoyed this review. Which web host are you going to choose?