5 Smart Ways to Avoid Sneaky Web Hosting Fees

Building your own website is a hugely satisfying endeavor, especially as an aspiring blogger or new business venture. However, the path to building a website can be overwhelming and confusing, especially for cash-strapped new builders. There are many options to consider, including your potential site’s domain name, server type, and server operating system.

Unfortunately, web hosting services add a lot of extra features during the checkout process, which makes building a site even more complex and expensive. Follow these tips to avoid these additional fees and reduce your hosting costs.


1. You don’t need an annual hosting contract

Hosts always present their best rates first, with rates corresponding to annual or multi-year contracts. An attractive $2 per month rate sounds great until you read the fine print or head to the payment page and realize that the monthly charge shown is for a long 1-year commitment. (or multi-year). Adjusting the term of the plan so that you are billed on a monthly basis usually reveals charges closer to the web host‘s renewal rate, which is usually a much higher price. In fact, depending on the service and type of hosting you need, you might not even find plans for less than a year. This means that you are liable for a significantly higher long-term bill than you anticipated.

However, not everyone needs long hosting commitments. If you want hosting for a short time, like for a special occasion or maybe a charity campaign, a one-year hosting plan is a waste of your money. If you find yourself in this boat, the first thing to do is research a host’s monthly accommodation rate. If you can’t find that, move on to another company. Don’t be afraid to shop around; there are many excellent web hosting services that charge on a monthly basis.

That said, keep in mind that shorter, month-to-month contracts forgo many of the bonus benefits associated with the advertised offer. If a host promises a free domain registration or SSL certificate, this only applies to the annual contract listed on the plan page. The shorter durations lack these extras, so all you get is accommodation.


2. Beware of free domain names

Web hosting services often bundle domain registration into their hosting packages. At a glance, this can save you a lot of money because you don’t have to register a domain elsewhere at potentially higher fees. However, these are often introductory prices that significantly increase the price. Typically, you’ll have the domain for a year; thereafter, you must renew the domain with your host, usually at a significantly higher rate than if you had purchased it directly from a registrar. What was a free feature in the first year could easily become an additional $15-$30 that is added to your web hosting renewal fees.

A free domain is not a bad thing, mind you. Do not hesitate to take advantage of the offer. That said, do your due diligence and find out what the domain renewal rate is with your web host. This information is not immediately obvious and may require you to contact the web host’s customer support team for exact values. With this information, you should shop other registrars to see which offer better rates. See our domain registration guide for more details.


Domain privacy costs extra with most web hosts.

3. Avoid private domain registration (if you can)

Each time you register a domain, your name and address are listed in the WHOIS database. If your domain is registered at a business address, that’s not really a problem. However, if registered with youanyone interested will know where you live.

Most web hosts don’t include this privacy protection for free. HostGator, for example, does not include this protection with its included domain. Instead, it’s an annual charge of $14.95. However, if you only need short-term hosting and don’t mind having your address in a public database, you can create a website without this privacy protection and save money.


4. Decide if you really need an SSL certificate

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a fairly standard Internet technology that secures the web connection between the server side and the client side. This is a useful feature, especially if you want to sell goods or collect visitor information through a web form. SSL encryption is so common that many visitors feel safer when a URL has familiar HTTPS and a lock icon in the address bar. In fact, many browsers now warn users if they venture to a page without SSL security, which may discourage potential visitors from sticking around.

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That said, SSL is common, but it’s not. necessary. If you are creating an amateur or purely informative blog, this level of security is not necessary. Additionally, SSL certificates are potentially expensive. Their price ranges wildly, from free (usually for a year when signing up for hosting) to hundreds of dollars a year.


5. You don’t need all the security options

Beyond SSL certificates, web hosting services offer additional security options, such as malware detection, daily website backups, site monitoring, and DDoS protection. Some hosting services include this as part of the annual subscription, and others include security features that you can add to your subscription on a piecemeal basis.

If your prospective website deals with valuable or sensitive data, such as customer credit card information, live security monitoring should be at the top of your security concerns. However, you could potentially forgo some security aspects altogether if you’re not running a business or handling valuable data. For example, you can manually back up a website yourself, instead of paying Bluehost $2.99 ​​per month.


To learn more about web hosting, check out 5 Things You Need to Know About Web Hosting Before Creating an Account. Also, be sure to take a look at some of the best website builders we’ve reviewed, as these highlighted services offer hosting and security features you should consider.

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