What are the hidden costs of virtual hosting?

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

For some hosting providers, indeed, this price includes all the expenses. However, many hosting providers have hidden costs that make the overall cost higher than the package price.

The hidden costs of general web hosting services mainly include the following two types:

  • Price fluctuations of hosting packages
  • Additional components or services that require extra payment

Cost changes due to hosting package price fluctuations

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

Many cheap virtual hosts offer promotional prices for new customers, which only apply to the first billing cycle (ranging from one to three years depending on the host), or the initial purchase discount period. If you choose to purchase three years in advance, the discount period will be locked for three years, and the price during these three years will remain at the discounted rate.

Many virtual hosts attract new customers with discounted first purchase prices. SiteGround, Bluehost, FastComet, and other virtual hosts operate in this way.

When your discount period expires and you need to renew your hosting at the regular price, the regular price is generally about 4-5 times higher than the discounted price during the initial purchase period. Many virtual host users find this unacceptable, and some users will look for other new virtual hosting providers to migrate their websites and enjoy the new customer discount period offered by the new hosting provider.

If your first principle in choosing a virtual host is affordability, then you need to make sure that when making a purchase decision, you are clearly aware of the promotional price during the initial purchase period and the regular price after the discount period. Otherwise, when you renew your virtual hosting, you may be surprised and unable to accept the price increase of 4-5 times.

In fact, when you purchase a package, the corresponding hosting package will indicate the original price or the regular price. It’s just that due to the visual emphasis on the discounted price, you may not pay attention to the regular price of the hosting package. It is usually indicated by the words “Regular” or “Normally” or a price with a strikethrough. This is commonly understood to represent the original price, which is now offered at a discount, highlighting the discounted price and downplaying the regular price.

Not only cheap hosts offer initial purchase discounts, as mentioned in a previous article, hosting providers generally use low initial prices to attract and lock in new users, and try to gain customer trust during the discount period by providing quality services. They also try to retain customers and obtain customer renewals. 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 the customers who remain after the end of the discount period and continue to use the service are the customers with long-term value.

Pay attention to the billing period of the initial purchase discount. Usually, you need to prepay for a long-term period to get the lowest discount price. For virtual hosting, it is usually three years, while for more advanced types of web hosting, it is usually only one year.

Cost changes due to additional components or services that require extra payment.

In addition to the fluctuation of hosting package prices, another factor that contributes to hidden costs is that users may need to pay extra for additional components or services other than web hosting.

Some hosting providers may charge you additional fees for the following:

SSL certificates: Although many hosting providers now offer free SSL certificates, you may still find some so-called “popular hosts” that charge for SSL certificates.

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

Backup: Many virtual hosting providers charge extra fees for backing up your website.

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

Security: Some virtual hosting providers offer value-added security services and charge extra fees for features such as security firewalls or malware scans.

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

CDN (Content Delivery Network): Using a CDN is a good way to speed up WordPress websites. However, some hosting providers may charge you extra fees to use a CDN.

In this case, you would need to pay for both the hosting service and the CDN service. However, this is not a big problem. Once you learn how to build websites, you have the freedom to choose.

You also have the option to choose not to use the CDN service provided by the hosting provider and instead pay for a third-party CDN service.

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

For example:

If your website encounters minor issues or malfunctions that cannot be resolved, but you can still access the website backend, then it’s okay. You can use the restoration function of the backup plugin in the backend to restore the website files and database to the state of the most recent backup, thus reverting to the state before the problem occurred. However, if your website experiences a major failure and you cannot access the website backend, it becomes cumbersome to perform website restoration using backup software.

You would need to use FTP-like tools to access the website file directory where the backup plugin stores the files, download the compressed files of the website backup and database, and then use database management tools such as phpMyAdmin to restore the database. After that, you would upload the backup website files, manually restoring the website to the state of the backup.

The entire process can be a bit cumbersome. Good virtual hosting service providers in terms of customer support would assist with the website restoration process, but if the hosting provider doesn’t provide assistance, you would need to perform the manual operations yourself, which can be a bit more complicated.

Therefore, if the hosting provider offers a website backup service, it would be very convenient. You wouldn’t need to log in to the website backend to directly restore the backed-up website.


In summary, virtual hosting may indeed have some hidden costs. However, there is no need to worry, as many of these hidden costs can be avoided.

In this tutorial series, I will do my best to help you avoid unnecessary expenses and spend your money wisely.

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