The Potential Costs of Virtual Host

When you view the hosting packages on a virtual hosting provider’s website, it is easy to see the prices for each different package plan. Because of this, we often assume that this price is the total cost we have to pay.

Indeed, for some hosting providers, this price does include all the fees. However, many virtual hosting providers have hidden costs that make the actual usage cost much higher than the package price.

The potential costs of general virtual hosting services mainly include these two types:

  1. Price changes in virtual hosting packages
  2. Additional components or services for virtual hosting that require extra payment

Price fluctuations

The most common reason for hidden costs is the fluctuation in prices of virtual hosting packages, which is especially common among cheap virtual hosting providers.

Many inexpensive virtual hosts offer promotional prices to new customers. This price is only applicable for the initial billing period (which can range from one to three years depending on the host) or the first purchase promotion period.

If you choose to purchase for three years at once, the promotional period will be locked for three years, and the price during these three years will remain at the discounted promotional price.

In fact, many virtual hosting services attract new customers by offering discounted promotional prices and capturing market share.
Virtual hosting providers such as SiteGround, Bluehost, and FastComet operate in this way.

When your promotional period expires and you start renewing the hosting at the regular price, you will find that the regular price is generally 4-5 times higher than the promotional price during the initial period.

Many virtual hosting users find this unacceptable, and some may look for other new hosting providers to migrate their websites and enjoy the new hosting provider’s promotional prices for new customers.

If your primary consideration when choosing a virtual host is affordability, you need to make sure that when making a purchasing decision, you are aware of both the promotional price during the initial period and the regular price after the promotional period.

Otherwise, when you go to renew your virtual hosting, you may be surprised by the 4-5 times increase in price and may find it difficult to accept.

In fact, when purchasing a package, the corresponding hosting package will usually indicate the original price or the regular price. It’s just that the visual design of the discounted promotional price is more prominent, which may distract you from noticing the regular price of the hosting package.

When making a purchase, these virtual hosting packages usually display the words “Regular” or “Normally” or a price with a strikethrough.

This is well understood by everyone, representing the original price, which is now offered at a discount, highlighting the discounted price and downplaying the original or regular price.

Not only cheap hosts offer promotional discounts. As mentioned in previous articles, almost all hosting providers generally use low initial prices to attract and lock in new users, and try to win customer trust with services and quality during the promotional price lock-in period, and find ways to retain customers for renewal.

This process is like scooping water from a pool into a bucket with a bottom hole. The hosting provider ultimately profits from the long-term value of retained customers, and customers who remain after the promotional period ends and the regular price is restored are the ones who bring long-term value.

Pay attention to the billing period for promotional discounts. Usually, you need to prepay for a longer period to get the lowest discounted price.

For virtual hosting, it is usually three years, while for more advanced website hosting types, it is usually only one year.

Additional components or services payment

In addition to price changes in virtual hosting packages, another factor that incurs hidden costs is that users may need to pay extra for additional components or services other than website hosting.

Some hosting providers will charge you additional fees for common things like:

SSL Certificates – While many hosting providers now offer free SSL certificates, you may still find some so-called “popular hosts” charging for SSL certificates.

Furthermore, if you need a wildcard SSL certificate (i.e., one that supports any subdomain *, most virtual hosting providers will charge an additional fee because the SSL certificates they provide are basic and do not support wildcard domains.

Backup – Many virtual hosting providers charge additional fees for backing up your website.

Although there are now many free and easy-to-use WordPress website backup plugins, many beginners in website building may not be aware of this and may choose additional backup services when ordering hosting packages.

Security – Some virtual hosting providers offer value-added security services and charge additional fees for security firewall features or malware scanning.

For example, SiteGround provides daily website detection and scanning services to check if the website has been hacked or injected with malicious code. The cost is $19.80 per year.

CDN – Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a good way to speed up your WordPress website.

However, some hosting providers may charge you additional fees to use a CDN.

In this case, you would have topay for both the hosting package and the CDN service separately.

Domain Name – While not specific to virtual hosting, if you don’t already have a domain name, you will need to purchase one separately.

The cost of a domain name varies depending on the domain extension (.com, .net, .org, etc.) and the domain registrar you choose.

Email – If you want to have a professional email address using your domain name (e.g., [email protected]), some hosting providers may charge additional fees for email hosting or integration with third-party email services.

Support – Basic customer support is usually included with virtual hosting packages, but some providers may offer premium support or priority support for an additional cost.

Among the services mentioned above, backups deserve special attention. Although you can perform website backups and set up automatic backup plans using WordPress, there are still some inconveniences. For example:

If your website encounters minor issues or glitches that you cannot troubleshoot but can still access the website’s backend, you can use a backup plugin’s restore function in the backend to restore the website files and databases from the most recent backup, effectively reverting to the state before the problem occurred.

However, if your website experiences a severe failure and you cannot access the backend, it becomes more complicated to restore the website using backup software.

In this case, you would need to use FTP or similar tools to access the website’s file directory and locate the directory where the backup plugin stores the backup files.

You would need to download the compressed backup files of the website files and databases, then use a database management tool such as phpMyAdmin to restore the database and upload the backup website files.

This manual process is required to restore the website to its backup state.

The entire process can be a bit cumbersome. Good virtual hosting service providers that prioritize customer support may assist with the website restoration process.

However, if your hosting provider does not offer assistance, you would need to perform the manual steps, which can be more complicated.

Therefore, if your hosting provider offers website backup services, it can be very convenient. You can directly restore the backed-up website without having to log in to the website’s backend.


Virtual hosting indeed may have some hidden costs. However, many of these hidden costs can be avoided.

In this tutorial series, I will strive to help you minimize unnecessary expenses and make the most of your money.

All Done.

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