Web hosting used to be exorbitantly expensive. However, with the abundance of data centres available from major players like Google, Amazon, and others, hosting companies have access to best-in-the-class computer servers. As a result, the cost of shared and virtual private server (VPS) hosting has dropped substantially for end customers in the last few years. The better web hosting companies can deliver a loading time, server performance, and added features at a competitive price.
With hosting, once you pick a quality host, the more you pay, the better the hosting. Shared hosting allows more sites on a single server whereas VPS plans provide faster speeds and a degree of dedicated performance for a higher, but still very affordable cost. Global web hosts also have an edge over an Australian-located host. The latter tend to be overly expensive compared to the lower prices that scale affords global hosts with data centres around the world.
Best Cheap Hosting for Australians
This review covers four web hosts. They’ve been chosen because they’ve paired strong performance with low pricing. The uptime rating was strong, performance not reflected in the lower cost, and many provided extra features too. The first host is the cheapest pick and an ideal one to get started on a budget. The second host is better known and considered a mid-tier shared hosting provider. The last two are more premium for hosting buyers who need more speed and performance and don’t mind paying for it.
Live tracking was used to verify site performance. Server locations included some tested in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and other major cities across Australia to be representative of what Australians can expect from these locations.
1.Hostinger – Extremely Affordable High-quality Hosting
At just $1.39 per month for the lowest plan, it’s tough to argue with the pricing deal from Hostinger. This cost rises to only $2.99 monthly when renewing. So, for a minimal cost, you’re getting a basic shared hosting plan. Hostinger has been around for many years too, so they’re no fly-by-night operators either. They have a strong reputation in the industry.
Let’s now dig deeper to learn more about their features.
Loading time for a website should be below 3 seconds according to Google, with under 2 seconds being a sensible target. Few websites are capable of loading in less than a second unless the hosting costs a small fortune. So, this provides a baseline.
With Hostinger, their load time was around 389ms for the initial response from the server with the page loading quickly after that. The company uses the LiteSpeed cache which significantly improves loading times with the hosts that have it. Fortunately, that’s included even with their Single Shared Hosting plan, their basic plan.
Uptime metrics should be above 98% to be competitive. With Hostinger, they managed 99.90%, so you have nothing to worry about there either.
Customers need to watch out when looking for cheaper shared hosting plans. It often means that the company overloads its services with sites that then suffer from poor resources. Performance becomes a problematic hurdle they can never overcome from there. However, with Hostinger, their previously mentioned speed and uptime confirm that it’s a good deal and sacrifices weren’t made here.
The initial price for their Single Shared Hosting plan is only $1.39 per month, with the renewal price set initially at $2.99. The plan is restricted to a single site, but it does include LiteSpeed cache, SSL encryption, one email account, and a limit of 10,000 monthly visits. This should be plenty.
Their premium shared hosting is a little more at $2.59 per month, rising to $5.99 a month, but includes support for 100 websites, free SSL, a 25,000 monthly visitor limitation, a free domain, SSH secure account access, and unlimited email accounts and databases too.
The pricing and what’s available for the price are extremely clear here. An effort has been made to do so.
The Hostinger hosting plan comes with their Zyro page builder. It has been modernized and improved to match the features available on website builders from other web hosts.
The user interface is easy to learn quickly and begin building your first website. A domain can be authenticated through the page builder, and the SSL access linked together to show the lock symbol when accessing the site too.
Helpfully to avoid problems with royalty images, the builder includes an expansive library of licensed images that customers can safely use without concern.
Also, there’s a logo maker built into the software if you don’t wish to purchase one elsewhere.
Hostinger offers their plans with a 30-day money back guarantee. They also confirm a 99.99% hosting uptime expectation that’s included in the guarantee. Any decline in the uptime will be reflected in part of the payment being returned related to how much the uptime was impacted.
There is a limitation of one site hosted on the most affordable plan. However, as we mentioned earlier, their premium plan isn’t much more expensive and can host up to 100 websites.
No free domain is offered with the hosting plan.
Phone support is also lacking. However, most hosts have switched to email and/or live support now anyway.
Lastly, Hostinger uses its own control panel, so users familiar with cPanel may find that an extra hurdle.
2.SiteGround – Overall Affordable Hosting Option
SiteGround has an excellent reputation as a higher performer for shared hosting compared to bargain-basement offerings. They’ve been around for years and know what they’re doing.
Many major sites rely on SiteGround for their reliability, decent uptime, faster speeds, and a host of extra features.
Free access to the Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate allows customers to avoid paying for an expensive SSL certificate and set up a free one in a few minutes.
Customer support is high quality and provides a timely response. Unlike other hosts where you sometimes need to reply several times to get your point across fully, they have support personnel with experience in coding and setting up sites correctly.
Additionally, there’s a searchable knowledge base providing plenty of detailed answers that’s worth searching through first.
Telephone support is a dying thing with hosting, so again, it’s chat-based here too. Support is via a ticketing system and is offered 24/7.
SiteGround has a strong record for uptime with few blips. This is demonstrative of the quality of their servers, server management, and more.
Uptime is 99.99%, so customers have nothing to worry about.
For hosting customers with another host already, they can help to transfer your hosting account across to their hosting platform. Transfers usually require a couple of days to complete.
The main downsides that customers have with SiteGround occur in the following years. After the first year, the renewal price jumps up considerably from a low initial one. While this can partly be avoided by paying for two or three years in advance, that’s not always desired. It seems many customers move away from SiteGround after the first year to avoid the price hike.
Access to cPanel has been removed from SiteGround shared hosting plans. This was a real bugbear from existing hosting customers that were already used to cPanel and didn’t like to be forced to switch. The SiteGround control panel still has some bugs to work out of it.
Also, there are limits on the maximum website visits per account necessitating moving up to a higher plan when exceeding it. As such, hosting can begin to get costly as a shared plan when growing too fast. Most customers see their sites growing slowly and so don’t have this problem though.
3.HostPapa – Premium Hosting Option
HostPapa provides affordable hosting matches with strong performance. They don’t try to be the least expensive because they know, as customers should, that providing better quality comes at a price.
The page loading time average started at 450ms for the first byte and then the page loaded quickly after that. For shared hosting, that’s impressive stuff.
The uptime has been 99.97%, which is a strong performance but not quite as good as some other hosts. Nevertheless, it’s not a cause for concern.
The Shared Hosting plan from HostPapa starts at just $3.95 monthly. For WordPress users, they have a separate WordPress Hosting plan that is a little more at $5.95 per month. Prices do rise the following year, but not alarmingly so.
The basic plan permits a couple of sites to be hosted, so you won’t feel restricted. It also generously includes a free domain, 100GB of fast SSD disk space, and unlimited bandwidth (with a fair use policy, no doubt).
For cPanel users, they’ll be pleased to learn that it’s offered on these plans along with free transfers from other hosts, and 24/7/365 support too.
The hosting plans from HostPapa include everything a beginning site or a growing site will require.
Along with the aforementioned ample support, the cPanel has Softaculous that lets you quickly install over 400 separate apps on your hosting plan. This includes quick WordPress installs, whether you selected the WordPress Hosting plan or the Shared Hosting one.
The Let’s Encrypt SSL for free on all plans and respectable performance make this a good hosting option.
As with all shared servers, they aren’t as fast as a VPS hosting plan because more sites are loaded onto it. Consistent speeds are less controllable in that sense, but that’s the trade-off between shared hosting and VPS hosting plans rather than a criticism of HostPapa. It just means that you must temper your expectations at the sub-$10 a month price point.
For small sites with low traffic requirements and those with tens of thousands of monthly visitors, the HostPapa plans will be more than adequate. Beginning bloggers will also be happy with them.
4.HostGator – Good Speeds & Better Uptime
HostGator is a popular choice as a web host. They have a long-running promotion around their Gator mascot and incorporate it into their logo and marketing materials too. It certainly helps to make the hosting company feel more real.
They have a strong reputation and provide affordable shared hosting (plus many other types) for customers. So, it’s possible to start with them and grow into bigger plans as your site requires them.
Uptime has been around 98%. This certainly isn’t the best we’ve seen; however, the hosting uptime is fine for the majority of hosting customers.
The hosting speed is around the 1,000-2,000ms range to load a page. So, it requires a second or two, which is fairly typical for a shared hosting account. To get much better, you’ll need VPS hosting to get you there.
The price for their Shared Hosting plan begins at $2.75 per month. There is the option to select the WordPress Hosting plan for $5.95 too. Also, if you require a website builder to get your site designed, then there’s a Website Builder plan for you at $3.84 which includes hosting, etc.
It’s possible to purchase up to a 3-year plan at a fixed price by paying upfront, or you can select a one-year and see the pricing double in the second year.
Beyond these hosting options, HostGator also provides VPS hosting and dedicated hosting for the really adventurous!
HostGator still has phone support which separates them from many hosts that have firmly moved away from it. Their support is also offered 24/7.
Their plans come with unlimited disk space and bandwidth which is technically unlimited but likely could hit a fair use limitation if traffic suddenly went through the roof. That’s fair enough.
Free SSL access and a reliable reputation are backed by their mascot who doesn’t take any prisoners. That’s one tough Gator! We try to keep on his good side.
HostGator is a good all-rounder option. It doesn’t excel in one area, but many customers are incredibly happy with them and stay for years.
The Reasons We Dislike So-Called Free (or Almost Free) Web Hosts
Web hosts that promote their hosting plans either for free or under a dollar a month aren’t good for a few reasons:
Free or almost free hosting plans provide little incentive to the web hosting provider to offer top-quality service. Because it requires years for them to see a profit, they can only survive by loading too many sites onto slow servers with too few resources to handle them. As a result, website loading times suffer enormously in almost all cases.
Due to the cheap pricing, spammers and other unsavoury characters choose their hosting plans. Google picks up on this and often blacklists the IP addresses used by these hosts. So, if you’re hoping to start a new site and rank well in Google, good luck with that.
Along with the poor uptime performance, when they’re down, it can last days. Also, reaching them when your site is offline is a nightmare, so you’ll typically have no idea how long your site will be offline for either.
Ultimately, quality hosting only costs a few dollars a month. It’s just not worth trying to spend less than this because the hardware, software, server management staff, and technical support staff don’t come cheap, so the hosting shouldn’t either.
Hosting Plans by Type – Finding the Value for Your Needs
Hosting plans come in different types and flavours. Below we explain several of the different types for people who are less familiar with what they are.
Shared hosting is the entry-level hosting plan. Most hosts will offer it with different hosting plans to scale up within it before needing something more advanced.
The idea with shared hosting is that many websites with small traffic requirements can be hosted on a single physical server. With sufficient processor cores, allocated memory, and solid-state drive space, the server can operate reasonably well.
Using hosting software, host companies provide access to a shared account to each customer. While the customer won’t have root access to control the physical server itself, they can set up WordPress and install other packages on their hosting plan. This is usually done via cPanel or a custom control panel system.
Performance may be impacted occasionally when one site begins to receive a much larger amount of traffic and uses excessive server resources. The better, shared hosts will manage this to avoid it affecting all the other sites on the shared server. There is far less control over settings and performance with a shared hosting plan because it’s managed by the host. However, it’s the most affordable hosting for a reason.
Also, IP addresses are shared amongst many different websites. So, it’s not allocated to one site or only your hosting plan.
Dedicated hosting is on the opposite end of the hosting spectrum.
With a dedicated hosting plan, access to a single server is provided. The web host may or may not provide a managed service where they take care of the technical requirements for updates and an overview of the server software and hardware.
A single IP address is allocated to the server. Therefore, any websites that you host on the dedicated server can be found under that single IP address. This helps to avoid being in a bad neighbourhood using shared IP addresses that have been used by email spammers, and so forth.
With a dedicated host, you can select the number of computer cores, memory, SSD space, and more. You’re able to access the root directory, install software directly, and to a certain extent, do whatever you like with it. Therefore, you can reboot the server if it begins to struggle, perform server-wide backups, and more. Ultimately, control is more or less absolute compared to shared hosting where everything is done for you and control is minimal.
Bandwidth and often disk space too are usually allocated per server or per dedicated plan. Customers may have a restrictive amount of SSD storage space and need to pay per megabyte of bandwidth used above the allocated amount. As such, dedicated hosting ramps up in pricing as the site receives more traffic.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting
A virtual private server (VPS) is a halfway point between shared hosting on the cheaper end and dedicated hosting on the pricier end.
VPS servers are created to provide a virtual server environment similar to what’s available with a dedicated server. However, as stated, it’s virtual. Therefore, effectively, the server is divided up into virtual areas for individual hosting customers, who have access to the root area for their virtual server. They can make changes to server settings within their virtual server, and even reboot it But, they’re only rebooting their virtual hosting environment and not the physical server itself.
Customers can select the VPS provider, several processor cores, allocated memory, SSD space, and more for their virtual environment. This allows them to scale up and down as required. Bandwidth may be included up to certain limits with a VPS plan, but it does depend on the provider.
The idea with a VPS is to allow sites that have outgrown the shared hosting environment to move up to higher performance with greater control at a moderately higher price point without needing dedicated hosting. The latter can cost hundreds of dollars every month which is out of the price range of many site owners, whereas a VPS is far more affordable.
Many VPS providers also include powerful content distribution networks (CDNs) that let site visitors automatically pull images and static files from a nearby server to speed up site loading times even more. Also, bare metal (the server) has enviable speeds and is better resourced, so sites typically load faster with increased time to first byte (TTFB) speeds too.
With VPS plans, there is less hand holding with technical support. Therefore, it’s beneficial if you’ve used hosting plans for a while and have some technical knowledge built up during that time.
Who Needs a VPS Hosting Plan?
VPS servers are perfect for website owners that have either already exceeded the monthly traffic limitations of their shared hosting plan or require a faster loading time than shared hosting can offer. With the Google Core Speed update, more attention is now being paid to faster loading times, so many shared hosting customers have switched to VPS hosting to boost up.
Greater server control, improved caching, selectable server specifications and custom features are present in VPS plans that aren’t with shared hosting. Further customization is possible along with the ability to scale the resources of the VPS server as traffic increases to keep pace with visitor demand.
Inexpensive Hosting Buyer’s Guide
For bloggers starting with no traffic, then all that’s needed is shared hosting. It’s the least expensive and will be fine for their needs.
A decent shared host can load the site in a reasonable time. You won’t likely see sub-1 second loading times, but it’s not needed at that stage.
A small business needs to look respectable with a modern site that loads quickly. Therefore, regardless of whether the business website has many visitors yet, it will represent the company better when the site loads faster. Therefore, a premium shared hosting plan, or a VPS plan if the company can stretch to it, are advisable here.
When should a website be moved to a VPS plan? Either when it’s a company that needs better loading performance and uptime reliability, or when the site has become too slow because it has grown in visitors and size.
The cost of VPS hosting is usually 4-5 times that of a reasonably priced shared host. Therefore, for smaller sites with a limited amount of monthly traffic, a VPS might cost $15-$25 per month compared to a few dollars for a shared hosting plan. It won’t break the bank.
With hosting in general, don’t buy cheap. As long as the hosting brand is respected and provides good performance, they need to be paid a fair rate to maintain that. You get what you pay for with quality hosting at the shared hosting, VPS, and dedicated hosting levels. That’s always been the case.
Recommended Inexpensive eCommerce Hosting
An eCommerce site is another matter altogether.
Whether using a dedicated eCommerce content management system like Magento or relying on WordPress for it, loading up 100s or 1,000s of products onto a website, including graphics, video content, and more, weighs down even a fast site. It’s not something that a shared hosting plan should be running whether it’s only got 50 products and 1,000 monthly visitors, or something grander.
For eCommerce, loading times are also important. You’ll require VPS hosting with a CDN to ensure the secure site loads quickly enough that people aren’t abandoning their shopping carts and going elsewhere. Slow speeds cost far more than VPS hosting does with eCommerce sites.
Why SSL is So Important Now
All websites today require a secure socket layer (SSL). It is the default standard for encrypting the information on the website to ensure it cannot be read even if it’s intercepted between the web server and the end-user.
Customers will not purchase from websites that don’t have the lock symbol in their web browser confirming that their purchase is encrypted. This includes when providing their personal information or payment information too.
SSL is either provided via Let’s Encrypt for free or it needs to be purchased by acquiring an SSL certification. A web host can discuss what’s required and usually help to set it up for you too. SSL – don’t leave home without it.
FAQ for Discount Hosting Plans
All free web hosting plans should be avoided. They have many downsides and usually won’t even let you use your domain name unless you pay to have it added on. Then they’re no longer free but still inferior to other paid hosting options.
It is, but you’ll find that it provides an inferior, slow, and often offline hosting service. Also, sometimes their advertising banners are added at the bottom of every page to generate revenue for the website. That will get old fast.
Not really. GoDaddy bundles in various services but isn’t superior to the other hosts reviewed in this guide.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS). It is not a website builder. It does now include Gutenberg that uses blocks with different features to allow novices to build out their site page by page. There are also many free and paid website designs known as WordPress themes to install a fresh website design in seconds. To use WordPress, a hosting plan is required.
Some website builders come free with a hosting plan. They have to be learned and if changing hosting providers later, access to the page building will be discontinued. This can leave the hosting customer with a site that they cannot modify easily and is incompatible with other page builders too.
It is better to use a widely used CMS like WordPress (40% of websites are built on WP) because it can be easily installed on virtually any web hosting plan. There are also support and customization options available due to its popularity.
Any of the four shared hosting companies reviewed provide a high-quality service. If you are going with shared hosting and need something faster, then SiteGround or Hostinger may hold the most appeal. They’re a little pricier but you get what you pay for. HostGator and HostPapa are also very respectable, affordable options too.
For more, then you’ll require either a VPS hosting or dedicated hosting plan. The upgrade to VPS isn’t that expensive but dedicated hosting costs will bite. While a solid VPS plan won’t be more than $15-$25 per month from most decent providers, dedicated hosting can quickly run into hundreds of dollars each month. Also, the uncertainty over the added bandwidth costs for high-traffic websites quickly makes them an expensive option. Websites need to pay for themselves or the business as a whole, to cover the cost of a dedicated server or two. Most starting hosting customers find that shared hosting plans are fine for at least the first year.
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