Do you have a website for your small business?

How much do you pay for it a month?

If you have a fairly simple website, then there’s a good chance you don’t need to pay monthly charges at all.

Let’s look at some of your potential existing costs.


Your website is likely hosted on someone else’s computer, using their bandwidth. These days it’s usually a virtual server, meaning that you’re using a slice of physical hardware. One physical computer can host a large number of virtual servers, allowing a hosting provider to more efficiently host a large number of sites.

“Raspberry Pi” by RaeAllen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A newer choice is a container, which is similar to a virtual server, but even lighter weight, allowing for even greater customer density.

These technologies allow for quick and easy scaling of complex applications, which is unnecessary for simple websites.

If you want to avoid monthly hosting costs, your needs may very well be met by a $35 computer called a Raspberry Pi.

Setting up a website on a Pi does require technical knowledge, so you may hire someone to do the work for you, but once complete the site will be able to run on your existing internet access with no additional monthly costs. Do you know someone who is tech inclined and would like to make a few bucks?

Add in a free Cloudflare account for managing certificates and fault tolerance in case you lose internet access.

Software Costs

There’s a lot of popular proprietary software out there for hosting websites. If you have a dedicated virtual machine running Windows, some of the money you pay will be heading to Microsoft.

If you’re using a hosting provider that develops their own platform for managing costs, then your monthly fees help pay their developers.

If your needs are simple, they can probably be met by Open Source software, which is free for use and allows for customization of the code itself.

There are free operating systems. Instead of Windows, use a Linux distribution like Fedora or Ubuntu. Both offer versions you can install on your laptop or desktop computer, in addition to server versions.

Linux itself runs on devices that may already be in your life. The Android phone operating system uses Linux as it’s base. Many TVs run Linux. Many set top appliances like Tivo and Roku use Linux. Even your car may run Linux.

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You also need webserver software. There’s a number of Open Source options here, including Apache and Nginx.

Whatever tools you need, there are likely Open Source options available.

Hosting Provider Expenses and Profit

If you’re paying a monthly fee, then the computing and bandwidth costs are likely only a small piece of where the money goes. The rest goes to other business expenses or profit.

These are reasonable things for a hosting business to charge, but an unnecessary expense for your business if you’re able to move your website to hardware you own.