Choosing the right web hosting service is an important decision. Placing your trust in the wrong web host can cause hours, or even days, of frustration and reflect poorly on your website’s reputation. Just imagine choosing a mobile company that has no reception. Your website host is a major piece of the puzzle to maintaining a successful blog or website, therefore, it’s crucial that you choose a reliable hosting provider.
I’ve created this guide to save you some time, so you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting. Below you will see my recommendations based on in-depth research and review of 15 web hosting companies. I’ll be adding more hosting companies from now onwards.
Here is the evaluation methodology I used:
- Performed “reputation and credibility check”, by collecting information from the top web hosting review sites on the web. Here is the link to the data collected.
Also, I signed up and tested each web hosting company with their basic price plans:
- Reviewed all features and products companies offer.
- Tested their support, by submitting tickets via available channels.
- Looked at the price options and signup periods available.
- Monitored uptimes and checked load times for each company.*
*Note: I didn’t rank web hosting companies based solely on uptime and load time tests as many other review websites do. The reason is, these tests bring no value to future customers. When you perform tests on a single website that is hosted with a specific company on a single server and companies can have thousands of servers. It’s just like picking one berry from the bucket and assuming that all of them are good. To receive legit tests one has to test multiple servers of each company, which is impossible to do since you have no access to data centers.
I ranked hosts based on all the data collected, my personal opinion and paid close attention to user reviews from the web.
Top 3 web hosting companies for February 2020:
One of the largest hosting services powering millions of sites. Read more
A hosting provider that boasts outstanding support and high uptime.Read more
The industry leader in managed WordPress hosting for sites or blogs.Read more
|Visit WP Engine.com|
Often, when people are asked what services are most important to look for in a good web host, they cite things like 24/7 phone and chat support, reliability and reputation. Good hosting providers offer additional features such as database support, back ups and free email. Most hosting companies offer similar options and features and as a beginner, you won’t have to go deeply into technical details to use them. Just follow my guide and it will help you to choose your web hosting provider so you can start your online journey.
A closer look at top web hosts
Starting price $2.95 per month
- Customizable cPanel
- Good uptime
- Consistently great response time
- Specialized WordPress hosting
- Costly additional features
- Lack of website builders options
- Unclear discount duration for shared and cloud hosting
Bluehost was founded in 1996. Now owned by Endurance International Group, the company hosts more than one million websites. Bluehost is one of the biggest hosting companies in the world. Bluehost is the top-rated recommended Web Hosting company on WordPress.org.
Hosting plans and pricing
- Shared hosting: $2.95 per month
- VPS hosting: $18.99 per month
- Dedicated hosting: $79.99 per month
- Cloud hosting: $7.95 per month
Starting price $3.99 per month
- Pre-installable CMSs
- 90-day, money-back guarantee
- Stable loading time, no matter the location
- Unlimited email with every plan
- Telephone confirmation did not work
- Additional login for website builder
- Lack of lower-cost monthly packages
Founded in 2001, InMotion hosting is an interesting company. It’s employee-owned and employee-operated, so there’s no heavy management level pulling the strings—for now at least. InMotion is based in Virginia and California and their support is outsourced exactly 0 percent.
Hosting plans and pricing
- Business hosting: $3.99 per month
- VPS hosting: $19.99 per month
- WordPress hosting: $4.99 per month
- Dedicated: $105.69 per month
Starting price $31.50 per month
- Daily backups
- Outstanding security
- Automatics updates
- Customer support
- No email hosting
- No domain purchase
- Don’t provide DNS nameservers
In 2010, WP Engine enters the scene. Today they manage more than 120,000 customers in 140 countries. 500,000 digital experiences are powered by WP Engine. 5% of the online world visits at least one experience on WP Engine each day.
- Startup hosting: $31.50 per month
- Growth hosting: $103.50 per month
- Scale hosting: $261.00 per month
How to find the best web hosting provider
- What is web hosting?
- Web hosting types
- Evaluate the web hosting company
- Confusion between “web hosting” and “hosted solutions/platforms”
- What type of website are you planning to make?
- What tools/software should you use?
- Complete list of hosting companies
- Top 10 providers comparison chart
- Web hosting services explained (Free PDF)
What is web hosting?
Definition: Web hosting is the activity or service of providing storage space to individuals or organizations, for the websites that are accessible via the World Wide Web.
Note: Hosted website or blog. You could hear these terms and might think that this is the same thing as the website hosting. However, these terms are different from what we call “web hosting”. In this case the hosting and most of its related functionalities are done by a third party company. You usually get the tool/software to create your website but restricted to the functionality offered by that company. Another downside of the hosted solutions is that you can’t move your website anywhere else and it could be difficult to expand. More about that later.
What is web hosting Infographic
Feel free to use this infographic on your site
Web hosting types
Let’s take a look at different hosting types that are offered. Hosting services can be roughly separated into the following categories: shared, VPS and dedicated servers.
These options differ by the server space size and hardware packages.
I’m also going to mention a WordPress Hosting option. This content management system powers millions of websites worldwide and its hosting solutions require a closer look.
On a shared server you share space with other users. It is the equivalent of doing your business at a farmers market, meaning that you have some restrictions and what you do may affect others and vice versa. However, it is the cheapest option and everything you need for a small business website is included in the plan. The price of a shared hosting plan is very affordable and may vary between $5 and $15 with the good providers.
Virtual private server
A virtual private server (VPS) is a hybrid of dedicated and shared servers, but you can also look at it as a higher class of shared server. It is equivalent to having your business in a mall. Unlike shared servers, where you share all of the resources, a VPS is divided into sections and each website resides within its assigned section. Pricing is somewhere in between dedicated and shared hosting (from $15 to $100) and might be a good solution if you run a high traffic website.
Dedicated servers are the easiest to explain. They are, as their name says, dedicated. It is a physical server that you do not share with anyone else. You can host one or more websites, it is up to you. It is the equivalent of having your own business on your own piece of land. They are the most powerful option, you can do virtually anything, but also the most expensive option, ranging from $50 to $2,000 per month.
According to w3Techs data, WordPress’ share is 60% of the global CMS market which is 29.4% of the top 10 million websites – making it the most popular CMS of them all. It is by far much more used then its main competitors like Joomla, Drupal, Magento, and Shopify. Because of WordPress’s popularity, all the best web hosting companies now come with easy one-click install options for WordPress.
- Cloud hosting essentially means that multiple servers are joined together to provide better and faster hosting performance. Having cloud hosting means that websites load faster and their workload is balanced. There is a small question of security for the most conscious users because multiple websites share the same cloud. However, for the majority of users, the pros outweigh the cons
- Collocated hosting is similar to dedicated hosting, it literally means co-located hosting. It allows you to place your own server on the service provider’s location. It is the same as having a server in your own office, but this way it will be located in a place that is designed specifically for servers.
- Managed hosting is almost the same as the dedicated hosting. You get your own server; the only difference is that you do not have full control over it. This way service providers prevent users from potentially changing configuration or modifying the server. But don’t worry; you can still manage all of your data.
- Reseller hosting is if you (as a client) want to become a web host yourself. What it means is that you buy a provider’s services and sell them (for a profit) to a third party. This option can include any other type of hosting, but it requires that you have IT knowledge since you will become a host, meaning that you will have to solve all hosting problems.
- Clustered hosting you have multiple servers that host the same content. That way even if one server needs a reboot or goes down, your site will still be online. This option is for sites with huge international traffic.
- Grid hosting utilizes several server clusters that act as a grid and is composed of multiple nodes. That way multiple servers serve to one cause or in this instance one site and different parts of the website can operate independently of each other.
Note: In most cases the Shared Server type would be enough to run your small business website or blog. But it is always good to keep in mind what other existing options, in case your site starts to grow and you start getting 1,000s of visitors per month. In the next section, we will look at how to choose a web hosting company.
Evaluate the web hosting company
Most web hosts that you will find offer different plans/packages to choose from. You also might be asking, “Can I trust a certain hosting company? What will happen to my website if it attracts a lot of visitors? Should I sign up for the biggest package right away? Etc.”. Let’s answer these questions and look at the most common questions you should have in mind when choosing a hosting plan.
Check if the hosting company is trustworthy
The first and most important thing you have to check is can you trust the company. A good reputation – goes without saying. The rule of thumb is to check the website of the service provider for general signs of trust such as physical address, phone number, general company information, and testimonials.
Read terms and conditions
Web host’s terms and conditions can be slightly different from one to another, but they all sum to this: “By reading this, you agree to our terms and conditions, where we listed an enormous number of things that we find illegal and/or unacceptable, and if we find you in any kind of violation of any of those, we will take action and suspend and/or even delete your account without any upfront notice.” The good news is that usually, this won’t happen.
Price and payment options
As in any industry, you can find extremely cheap and extremely expensive offers. The trick here is to make sure you get a web host that lets you upgrade or downgrade your web hosting package without any problems. If your web host requires you to pay an additional fee simply because you need to switch your shared hosting plan, I suggest you look for another host.
Most companies offer certain full money-back periods (30, 45, 90 days) and in that period you will get a full refund. You might see “Anytime money-back guarantee” claims from some companies, which usually means that you will get the prorated amount back after the suggested period passes. Make sure you read their “Terms of Services”.
Does the company’s technical support function 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Incidentally, just because a host advertises that it has 24/7 support does not necessarily mean that it really has that kind of support. Test them out by emailing at midnight and on Saturday nights, Sunday mornings, etc. Check out how long they take to respond.
Reliability and uptime
Uptime is a measure of time that tells us how much a machine, in this case, server, is available and working. The opposite of that is called downtime and it is a measure of time when the machine is not working. Any web host that offers below 99, 9 uptime should not be considered. 0,01% of downtime means that your server in a year will be unavailable for about eight and a half hours. Reality is that servers, as hardware pieces of equipment, are quite reliable but they need maintenance from time to time.
It is important to have a good backup plan, so the best option would be a host that is having a daily backup. The worst option would be to go with a host that has no backup plan. Many web hosts offer backups for some additional fees, so check that out. If it is an acceptable price it is most definitely worth the cost. Remember, if your website goes down and you have no backup, there is no way you can get it back.
SSL (secure server)
You may have seen this on other websites where their web address begins with “https://” instead of “http://”. Setting this up will normally involve additional charges or a higher-priced package. At this point, the main thing is to check if they are available at all before you commit to the host. You will definitely need to have SSL if you plan to collect credit card payments yourself.
What if my website grows?
When your traffic exceeds your current site’s allocation, and you’re certain that this new traffic level is going to be permanent, simply upgrade to a higher package that meets your needs. Don’t rush to upgrade on the first hint of traffic. In other words, as long as your web host allows you to upgrade your packages without issue, you don’t have to worry about your site’s future expansion.
Confusion between “web hosting” and “hosted solutions/platforms”
Hosted website solutions both free and freemium is something different and has nothing to do with getting a hosting account. In this case, the hosting and most of its related functionalities are done by another company. You usually get the tools to create your website but restricted to the functionality offered by that company. Another downside of the hosted solutions is that you can’t move your website anywhere else and it could be difficult to expand.
Most popular hosted website builders
All three tools are popular on the web. You can sign up for free and pay some amount later if you want to get rid of the subdomain addition to your site name (the free version will look like this yourwebsite.wix.com or yourwebsite.weebly.com). Again with these tools, you will be limited to the features offered by each company.
Most popular hosted blogging platforms
On all three of them, you can pay some small amount of money to get rid of the wordpress, blogger or tumblr addition in your hosting name. There are many more, but these three are excellent if you want to have some fun. If you want to make serious business, you should go with self-hosted website options.
What type of website are you planning to make?
In order to pick the perfect tool to build your website, first you need to know what type of website you want. Keep in mind that you can create whatever you want. Maybe you need a portfolio or a blog website, or you just want to primarily sell your goods. To make it easier for you here is what I would recommend using:
Creating a standard website or a blog
- WordPress – recommended!
- Joomla – recommended!
- Web builders (not offered by every host)
Creating an e-commerce website
- PrestaShop – recommended!
What kind of website you need depends on what you are trying to do with it. Possibilities are endless.
What tools/software should you use?
The tool that you will be working with is called CMS (Content Management System). It is a platform that will allow you to publish, edit, modify, organize, delete and maintain your content on your website from one central interface. Although essentially all of them do the same thing and they have features that do the same thing, it is up to you to choose which one suits you the best.
There is no CMS list that exists without having this entry. It started in 2003 as a blogging platform, but in over a decade it became one of the most popular open-source CMSs in the world. It is really easy to use.
Depending on whom you ask, it is the second or third most used CMS in the world. It is open-source, free and one of the most user-friendly solutions out there. It is powerful and a good choice if you are planning on having a heavy article content. It is a CMS that is somewhere in-between WordPress and Drupal.
Free open-source eCommerce solution. Used by over 165,000 online stores it has support in 160 countries and 63 languages. Any graphic tool that you will potentially need is integrated. It presents them clearly, and the rest of the dashboard is easy to use. Although you will need some knowledge of coding, it is nothing too complicated.
Beside these recommended, there are other CMSs that are somewhat less popular, but that does not mean that you shouldn’t consider them.
- Drupal – free and open-source, originally created as a community-based website
- MODx – very versatile, good SEO management tools, but the interface is not the simplest
- Concrete5 – quite unique visual interface, but it takes some time to get used to it
- TextPattern – very flexible and fast, open-source, but has a learning curve
- TYPO3 – for advanced users, very versatile, with great modularity and expandability
- Magento – very powerful with a steep learning curve, but excellent for e-commerce
- OpenCart – for beginners in e-commerce, easy to set up, SEO friendly
Complete list of hosting companies
One of the largest and most trusted web hosting services powering millions of websites. Since they were founded in 2003, Bluehost has continually innovated new ways to empower people to fully harness the web.
InMotion is a a hosting provider that boasts outstanding support and high uptime. The mission of InMotion Hosting is to make their customers successful in their own online endeavors by delivering to them an excellent services and fantastic support.
WP Engine is the industry leader in managed WordPress hosting. Their WordPress hosting platform keeps sites fast, scalable, and secure.
Webhostinghub is a great company that provides web hosting plans, supported with domain names, free web applications, custom hosting solutions and web design services for your business.
SiteGround is a web hosting company founded in 2004. They are servicing more than 800,000 domains worldwide and provide shared hosting, cloud hosting and dedicated servers.
GreenGeeks is the leading Green Energy Web Hosting Provider powering over 350,000 websites.
DreamHost company is a leader in web hosting, virtual private servers, dedicated hosting, shared hosting and cloud storage.
HostGator is a global provider of shared, reseller, VPS and dedicated web hosting, and other related services.
iPage is a web hosting and domain registration company that offers a wide range of web hosting solutions for online businesses and webmasters to create websites.
Arvixe prides itself in providing web hosting with a rare combination of unmatched reliability, quality and affordability.
GoDaddy’s Reliable Web Hosting keeps your website up and running. Featuring 99.9% uptime guarantee and award winning 24/7 tech support.
FatCow has focused their entire company on delivering the best value and customer service experience in Web hosting to the small business user.
Kinsta is a managed WordPress hosting provider where they take care of all your needs regarding your website.
WPWebHost is offering affordable Managed WordPress hosting with excellent speed, uptime, scalability and reliability.
Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform offering the choice of servers from DigitalOcean, Linode, Vultr, AWS and GCE. Cloudways users can choose from over 60+ data centers for optimum performance.
Nestify is another good name in WordPress hosting solutions. They partnered with Google Cloud Platform to provide enterprise-grade infrastructure.
Top 10 providers comparison chart
Here, you will find clear overviews of the best web hosting providers. You’ll have access to a detailed analysis of their services, plus you can read reviews of each company and learn about their customers’ hands-on experience. It’s the kind of feedback you need to make an accurate judgment on whether a particular web host can meet your demands when you are ready to start a blog or website.
Web hosting services explained (Free PDF)
Web Hosting Services Explained
This guide has been written to explain the web hosting in detail using simple language
Web hosting isn’t very difficult to understand, but you have to know basic terms to be able to navigate in the web hosting services field. Here I presented essential things that you should know about web hosting. Now do not be afraid and take on the journey called website hosting because I want to make sure you sign up with a good host.