When you start a new WordPress website, you’ll have to consider some hosting options. Basically, there are three types of hosting services:
- the budget-oriented shared hosting
- the WordPress-focused shared hosting
- the managed WordPress hosting
As you might expect, the least expensive is the shared hosting where you get a portion of a server connected to the internet, but you have to share the resources with other customers. It’s quite cheap because the hosting provider can squeeze quite a lot of websites to a single server.
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For starting bloggers, there’s nothing wrong about it, but until recently, it has been quite complicated to set up WordPress if you weren’t exactly tech-savvy. You would have to download the WordPress installation from wordpress.org, unpack it on your computer, upload it via FTP to your hosting account, set up the database, edit configuration files. This whole process was quite time-consuming and prone to errors.
Later, with the advent of cPanel and Softaculous, everything became much easier. You would be able to select a WordPress app from the menu and with just a few clicks, you would have your WordPress up and running.
These days, it’s even better because most hosting providers offer the so-called WordPress-focused shared hosting plans where WordPress is already preinstalled for you.
Finally, the truly managed WordPress hosting is something totally different as you’ll get your own reserved resources, which is a must if your website enjoys a lot of traffic, but the price is probably too steep for beginners. Truly managed WordPress hosting is offered by companies like Kinsta (this is by far the best managed hosting provider in our opinion), followed my WP Engine (still great, but less-performant than Kinsta), and finally Flywheel (great entry option if you outgrow your shared hosting but aren’t ready to move to the top with Kinsta).
In this article, I’ll focus on Hostinger, which offers quite a good deal and if you’re careful not to fall into spending frenzy, you can get a pretty nice hosting for a ridiculously low price. Of course, Hostinger wants to earn money, so what they offer seemingly for free at the beginning needs to be compensated for later down the road when they tend to ask money for things that can be obtained for free. I will show you how to navigate these traps and avoid them.
To start, just navigate to hostinger.com and choose your web hosting plan. Hostinger offers some nice discounts on a regular basis. At the time of writing this post, I was able to grab the basic Single Shared Hosting for just $0.99 per month which is nuts :)
For a measly $3 per month, though, I was able to grab a plan with an unlimited number of websites, email accounts, and bandwidth, along with a free SSL certificate and some other goodies.
If this sounds too good to be the truth, it is. Hostinger tries to upsell you and nobody in the right mind would expect anything unlimited for such ridiculous pricing. Here at TodayWP, we know better, but that didn’t stop us to test this plan.
The first thing, you’ll realize is that this price is valid only if you opt for a 4-year plan. Yes, they want to lure you in and lock you down. After 4 years, your website will be probably so full of content and plugins and individual tweaks that you wouldn’t mind paying whatever they will ask instead of trying to find a better deal and moving the whole website away.
That’s the reasoning behind this ridiculously low pricing in our opinion, but it doesn’t mean that the service is bad. We’ll take a look at the performance later. If you want to test the plan without any long-term commitment, you can try it for a month for $10.99 which is quite steep and nobody should ever take this deal. 12 months will cost you $5.99 per month, which is quite reasonable for a shared hosting plan, and the further you are willing to commit, the better deal you’ll get.
I have decided to bite the bullet and jump in with the 4-year plan. After all, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s nothing to lose.
As you can see, Hostinger is trying to sell you other services right away to make the whole deal more interesting for them. What I consider extremely offensive is the Cloudflare Protection of $9.95. Yes, it’s only a one-time payment, but since you can get this absolutely free, it seems unfair asking customers to pay for this service, but we’ll get to that later in more detail.
On the other hand, Daily Backups for $0.95 sound like a pretty reasonable deal, but I wouldn’t waste money on SEO toolkit or Priority Support.
Finally, I picked the domain name which is free for the first year. If you don’t have your own domain yet, this is a nice offer. However, after the first year, you’ll have to pay almost $11 for renewal, which again, is overpriced compared to other registrars.
And one more thing. Hostinger asks $5 yearly to hide the personal information of your domain. That’s again, pretty shady. Most registrars these days offer this co-called WHOIS privacy protection for free. So, we see the pattern here clearly. Start cheap and get overpriced deals later.
Getting the domain name via Hostinger is simply not a good deal at all. Including the WHOIS privacy protection, you would pay a whopping $16 per year after the first year. That’s simply a bad idea.
Compare it to Porkbun for example, where you get the very same domain much cheaper and the WHOIS privacy protection is included.
Ok, with everything carefully considered, I ended up with $223.25 for 48 months of web hosting plan with free domain name for 1 year and daily backups. That’s a great deal when we ignore some shady tactics along the way. So let’s create a new account and complete the order.
Once your payment is processed, you should see the similar welcome page.
Once you choose the domain name you want to use and fill out the necessary information, you can choose whether you want to start with a brand new website or migrate the existing one.
Hostinger offers few apps you can install, so you’re not limited to WordPress here.
Nevertheless, we’ll choose a default WordPress installation here. Once you create the admin account, you can choose the template you would like to start with.
And just like that, your website is ready.
I must say that for shared hosting, this onboarding experience was very smooth. Past are the times when you had to manually set up everything. This is the setup you would expect on a managed hosting plan but shared hostings are quickly offering the same ease of use, which is definitely a great move.
Once you’re done, you can sign in to the administration area of your new WordPress installation. Hostinger preinstalled some useful plugins like All-in-One WP Migration and LiteSpeed Cache.
To be fair, I was quite impressed with the performance of the vanilla WordPress running on Hostinger’s shared hosting.
I tested the site speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights with some impressive results, but we need to take into consideration the fact that this was truly a fresh WordPress install without any meaningful content.
When I compared Hostinger with SiteGround on Pingdom, I was very pleased as well.
So when it comes to performance, I’m not afraid to recommend Hostinger to beginning bloggers. For the low price, they should have plenty of performance room to grow.
What I didn’t like
As I already mentioned, Hostinger offers some competitive prices, but they want to make up for it by offering some services you can get for free.
1. Paid Cloudflare DDoS attacks protection
The most stupid way to spend your money is paying Hostinger for its flavor of Cloudflare DDoS attacks protection. Hostinger asks $9.95 for the lifetime subscription of Cloudflare protection, however, you’ll get exactly the same service for free if you just add your domain name to Cloudflare manually and use their name servers.
I even asked the tech support why I should pay for something I can get directly from Cloudflare for free and the tech support apparently really struggled when coming up with some meaningful reasons and here’s the answer:
“Our Cloudflare package connects with Cloudflare right away, the nameservers are also kept ours, so the DNS zone remains here and you manage Cloudflare settings from our control panel.”
So all you get for 10 bucks is the ability to manage Cloudflare settings from Hostinger. In my opinion, it’s simply not worth it. Cloudflare has a very nice and easy to use platform and you’ll probably set everything just once so there’s no reason to have the access from Hostinger management page, especially for $10. That’s nuts!
How to set up free Cloudflare protection?
Now, let’s see how to change your domain’s nameservers and point it to Cloudflare.
First, you need to create a new Cloudflare account and add your domain.
Cloudflare will scan its DNS records and you should see something like this:
This means that in order to be able to use Cloudflare security features, you need to change your current nameservers to the new ones.
Hostinger uses two nameservers, ns1.dns-parking.com and ns2.dns-parking.com, while Cloudflare uses aron.ns.cloudflare.com and james.ns.cloudflare.com.
Now, where to change this?
Go to your Hostinger account administration and select Domains management from the top menu.
You should see your primary domain name and when you scroll down, there’s a form named Update nameservers.
Just change the names to Cloudflare’s nameservers and hit the Update button.
It make take few hours before the changes are propagated through the Internet, but once it’s done, you should see the message in your Cloudflare account.
That’s it! Do you think it was worth the 10 bucks you would spend on Hostinger? Me neither…
2. SSL Certificate
Another famous trick in the portfolio of Hostinger’s shady tactics is to get you buy SSL Certificate for your domain.
For years, thanks to Let’s Encrypt, you can get SSL/TLS certificate and run your website through HTTPS protocol for free, yet there are still some providers who wants you to pay for this feature, and sadly, Hostinger is one of them.
If you use Cloudflare with your domain, SSL Certificate is included. Just go to SSL/TLS, and select Full from the list of available certificates. And you saved $12 just like that.
3. WHOIS domain privacy protection
This is another way how to squeeze some money from you. Hostinger asks $5 per domain per year so the WHOIS records for your domain get redacted.
But guess what? Cloudflare doesn’t even ask and protect your domain automatically for free.
And Cloudflare is not alone. Most domain registrar offers WHOIS protection for free, like my favorite Porkbun for example.
This means that all you need to do is to transfer your domain nameservers to the registrar with free WHOIS protection included and you’ll save those 5 bucks per year.
I tried to address this with Hostinger and again, their answer was pretty shady:
“And in regards to domain privacy protection that you mentioned, it is up to you where you choose to keep your domains. Just have in mind that domain transfers are usually a paid service, so you might actually end up paying more with the transfer.”
I was pretty said when I learned from the tech support that transfers are a paid service because that’s not true. You pay for another year of domain registration, not for the transfer and the tech support should know this. I’m not sure if I were misled by honest mistake or by purpose here, but in the end, who cares?
Hostinger offers very affordable and frankly quite performant shared hosting plans which I can recommend to starting bloggers. However, I don’t like their shady tactics when it comes to trying to sell you features you can get for free elsewhere.
The whole business model based on seemingly low prices compensated by added cost later is very bad for a long-term relationship with hosting provider. From this point of view, I don’t like how Hostinger treat their customers.
This experience only proves that it’s better to pay the fair price without any hidden cost and there are quite some great hosting providers who opted for this approach, like my favorite Kinsta or Flywheel.
On the other hand, not everyone needs top-notch service and if you’re vigilant and careful enough, you can navigate through Hostinger without spending much. This shared hosting will serve you well and once your WordPress website gets famous, you’ll probably choose to move to some serious managed hosting anyway.