Besides building great WordPress websites for customers throughout southeastern Wisconsin, SunAnt Interactive provides secure, cloud-based hosting. Recently a SunAnt web design client opted to use an economy web hosting provider who charges less than $5 a month for web, database, and email hosting. With a promised yearly price tag of less than $60 (the cheapest web hosting I’ve ever heard of), our client immediately saw how much money they would save compared to hosting with SunAnt Interactive, but that price greatly increased over the 3 weeks that followed the launch of their new site.
In the following three posts, I will lay out what $5 monthly hosting actually cost our client in relations to their SSL Certificate, Database Integrity, and Hosting Environment.
The Challenge of the SSL Certificate
This first post is about the unexpected costs and challenges related to getting an SSL certificate working on the site. For reasons of security, our client’s new website required an HTTPS connection for every page, so a working SSL certificate was essential.
Our client’s old website already used an SSL certificate and they just renewed it for the next 2 years. For our server, it’s a very simple process to transfer SSL certificates. Unfortunately, the economy web host does not support SSL certificates purchased outside of their system. So our host had to purchase a new certificate with the new host, meaning they spent over $100 renewing their original SSL certificate, wasn’t able to use it, and was stuck spending an additional $89 for what they already had!
If that wasn’t bad enough, for the first two weeks after launching their new WordPress site, the SSL certificate would hop back and forth between being valid and invalid. We at SunAnt Interactive worked with the economy hosting company’s support and had to point out their issue on 3 separate occasions. Each time the web host would take up to 24 hours to fix the SSL error. But why did it take three times? Our best guess was that within 12 and 24 hours of fixing the issue, another support technician at the economy web host would see the support ticket and somehow immediately undo the work the last technician did. Needless to say, that host’s support staff lacked some necessary communication that left us feeling like it was groundhog day for 2 weeks. And during this time, plenty of people were going to our clients site, seeing a big warning about how the site might not be safe, and leaving.
In the end, our client had about 10 days over a 2 week period where their site looked dangerous, they had to spend $89 on a new SSL Certificate while abandoning the SSL certificate they just renewed for over $100, and then we had to charge them for 2 hours of support for troubleshooting issues with the web host at our $100 hourly rate.
In the first 2 weeks of hosting with the economy web host, our client paid more than it would have cost them to host with SunAnt Interactive for a little over a year. Had our client opted to host with us, the new WordPress website would be running securely from the launch date avoiding any lost traffic caused by the invalid SSL certificate warnings.
So, when looking for cheap hosting, make sure you keep this post in mind and choose wisely!