Why Do You Need a Web Hosting Service?
A high-performing web hosting service is essential for providing users with the best experience possible. Before you select a provider, learn more about the different types of web hosts, features, and companies to consider.
In the modern business world, your website plays a clear and crucial role in your business’s inbound marketing strategy as well as acts as your organization’s virtual lobby. But gone are the days where most organizations manage and maintain their own Information Technology departments, and the business’s data and servers are housed in their own on-site room. Instead, most IT needs, including website hosting, are now outsourced to service providers who have the infrastructure to manage large amounts of data, host files, and ultimately handle the web traffic the typical business website generates.
You shouldn’t just go with any provider that pops up in a Google search about web hosting services, though. The service provider you choose to host the files that make up your website must be known for providing reliable and high-performing hosting services, as up-time and reliability are major factors that can affect the impact your website has on your business’s success.
In this article, you’ll learn about:
- What are the different types of web hosts?
- When should you hire a web hosting service?
- 30 tips for choosing the best web hosting service
- 23 recommended web hosting companies
What Are the Different Types of Web Hosts?
Businesses have different needs when it comes to the performance and complexity of the websites they launch. Additionally, there are regulatory requirements concerning data accessibility and security. These and other factors dictate what types of hosting solutions a business can use, resulting in service providers offering up different hosting services.
A shared hosting service provides clients with the most basic level of hosting services. Rather than providing each website with its own server infrastructure, shared solutions place a number of clients’ websites on a single server, forcing them to share resources. While this reduces costs to the hosting company, it limits performance because the websites on the server are sharing memory, storage, bandwidth, and other digital resources. Shared hosting services like GoDaddy are ideal for small businesses, businesses with websites that require very limited resources in order to operate, or in situations where speed and performance aren’t necessary for the site to operate successfully. This is not a solution that will scale with a business with aspirations of growth, or for businesses with websites that require reliable and sustained high-speed access.
Virtual Private Service (VPS) Hosting
While the foundational hardware at the core of a VPS hosting service is the same as a shared hosting solution, the core servers are subdivided through special software to operate as individual virtual platforms, each with a dedicated share of the overall system’s resources. The cores for these systems are more robust, allowing for multiple virtual platforms to be created and maximizing the value to both service provider and client. This option allows clients to run customized servers with somewhat improved performance, but VPS hosting is still not the speed and security of a dedicated solution. VPS also provides small and medium-sized organizations with a cost-effective web hosting solution that provides more reliable up-time and availability.
This form of hosting is one of the most expensive, as you are basically paying for your own individual offsite server to be maintained and managed by a service provider. As the only site operating on the server, you’re guaranteed faster performance speeds on your site and minimized downtime. You’ll also have control over server settings and the types of configurations and software being used.
Due to the expense and expertise involved, dedicated hosting is generally the go-to for enterprise-level websites with monthly visits of at least 100,000 visits. This model provides busy e-commerce websites, healthcare provider sites, and other platforms that require high levels of security with the most protection. The fact that dedicated hosting provides users with the most control over the server configuration is a two-edged sword in that it also requires you to have someone on staff talented enough to take on updates and ongoing performance monitoring or the ability to outsource these responsibilities to an IT services provider.
An increasingly popular hosting method, cloud hosting is a cost-effective take on a VPS solution. In a cloud hosting environment, the service provider has a host of servers that provide redundancy and increased functionality, ensuring that a client’s website is always available and through load-balancing practices ensures website speeds are maximized. Cloud hosting plans also come with the added benefit of flexibility and being able to scale with growing or diminishing traffic to your site. This is an especially useful model for businesses experiencing growth and finding that their websites need to scale quickly with them.
Some clients hate to increase the number of vendors they deal with unnecessarily and look for every opportunity to consolidate services as often as possible. A solution for this is when design agencies and freelance web developers offer hosting services as resellers. The service providers white label the hosting services they provide under their own branding and pricing tiers and provide varying levels of management and service to set their services apart. This model allows clients to access all of their website-based services through a single point of service. It also allows the web services provider to build a stronger relationship with clients as well as create a revenue stream that persists as long as the client keeps their website hosted through that service even if they change design firms.
With the popularity of WordPress as a CMS solution, there are certain shared and managed WordPress hosting solutions that have popped up across the market. A standard shared WordPress hosting solution has all of the same attributes as a standard shared hosting solution, but with the WordPress site management software pre-installed. A managed WordPress hosting solution offers an increased level of security, with faster load speeds due to server configurations.
When Should You Hire a Web Hosting Service?
The short answer for modern businesses is that when you’re ready to launch a website, you’re ready to hire a hosting service. Unless your business is to offer web services or IT services to clients, there’s a strong possibility that you don’t have the resources for hosting a website already in place. The costs of maintaining a server go beyond just the cost of the more expensive computer and storage devices.
- Keeping and maintaining a generator specifically dedicated to the equipment hosting your website to minimize downtime
- Acquire and maintain the network infrastructure necessary to provide a static IP address
- Staying educated and capable of managing updates, and absorbing the costs of equipment and licensing updates and renewals, hardware upgrades, repairs, and troubleshooting
- Maintain an internet connection and network infrastructure to manage the volume of visitors anticipated to visit the site on an hourly, daily, and monthly basis
The argument can be made that during your build-up phase, you can start generating leads and sales through directory and social media platforms, and that’s a valid point to a certain degree. However, clients still anticipate some form of website that all traffic leads them back to, where they will find services and more information about your brand.
As such, you’ll need a website sooner than later in the start-up process, and with everything else taking up your staff’s time and effort, hiring a hosting service is a given. But how you go about identifying the right service for your business needs is another story and one we’ll turn to the experts to help tell.
Tips for Choosing the Best Hosting Services
Like with any service outsourced by a business, your leadership needs to ask a number of specific questions to ensure that the service meets your needs as an organization. When we brought the community in to weigh in on how best to go about identifying a hosting service, we felt that three categories best summarized the information you need to know before spending money on a service—traits to look for, questions to ask, and mistakes to avoid.
What Traits Should You Look for In a Web Hosting Service?
“Fast Loading Time—this one has to be a top priority. With all the changes Google made in the last year, page loading time is so important, especially on mobile. Bloggers need to do their research—will that hosting company help me improve my page loading speed? If not, they should keep looking elsewhere.” —Boryana Stefanova, Position, Cash Embrace
“One of the traits you should look for in a web hosting provider is bandwidth. Your bandwidth is the total amount of data that you and your site visitors can upload or download at any given time. If you plan to use a lot of multimedia content or allow regular upload and download, you’ll want to keep an eye on your bandwidth, because most web host services will charge you extra for each MB you use over the plan limit.” —Adam Garcia, Founder, The Stock Dork
“The most important thing you should look for in a web hosting provider is security, particularly after the European Union passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Data breaches and identity theft can occur as a result of a lack of protection, which can be costly to your business. As a result, your web host must devote time and resources to caring for and managing their servers in order to ensure website security.” —Lacy Summers (PMP), Chief Marketing Officer, Crush the PM Exam
“For your website, every web host should have good security protocols and backup plans. You never know what could happen to your platform, and you might become a convenient target for hackers looking to steal your data and personal information. A good service provider would have the tools and technologies required to thwart any hacking attempt. They will also have a protected and impenetrable domain that could protect all of your sensitive information.” —Jake Smith, Managing Director, Absolute Reg
“When it comes to choosing a web host, you can look at their security history as well as the protocols they use to protect against cyberattacks of all types. Brands should make sure that the web host they choose provides DDoS support, as well as other security features including a web application firewall and encryption.” —Sasha Quail, Business Development Manager, Claims UK
“Hardware that is unreliable or outdated, as well as poor connections, can cause your website to go down more frequently. Not only would the lack of access result in a reduction in readership and/or revenue, but it will also result in a drop in search engine rankings. Looking at a company’s past uptime ratings is a perfect way to assess the ability to keep the website up and running indefinitely. Companies with annual ratings of 99.5 percent or higher are often worth considering. It’s always a good idea to stay away from companies with a ranking of less than 99 percent.” —Ryan Dalal, CEO & Founder, Word to PDF
“Server security is an often overlooked consideration when selecting a web hosting service. Even though the way you design and grow your website has a lot to do with website protection, having safe web hosting will help keep hackers at bay. Firewall rules and network management processes are used by well-managed modern hosting service providers to ensure that no malicious traffic reaches your web application.” —Tony Kelly, CEO, Camera Groove
“I look for a web hosting provider that is known for customer service. When my site is down or there is a problem, the last thing I want is a non-responsive customer service team that doesn’t help solve the issue immediately. Having my website down for one day can be the loss of an entire day’s worth of revenue, so it’s worth it to pay extra if customer service is top-notch.” —Kristine Thorndyke, Founder, Test Prep Nerds
“What is their customer service actually like? We want a service that offers high-quality customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, many businesses advertise 24-hour service, but their representatives take hours (or even days) to respond to a question. Searching for any consumer feedback or testimonials available online is a good way to root out vendors that are likely to hold their promise.” —Ben Richardson, CEO, Development Academy
“Look for hosting companies that specialize. Some hosting companies are open to all types of enterprises, while others have specialized in working with brands that use a specific technology or operate in specific industries. Brands should think about the host’s market focus and see how it aligns with their own business and technology [stack].” —Todd Perry, Head of Content, Outdoor Gadget Review
“It’s important to determine whether the hosting service’s data centers are available in areas where most of your clients are. If the majority of your clients are accessing the website in New York or Los Angeles, you want to host the website with a hosting service that has data centers close to those cities.” —Goran Duskic, Founder, Webmaster Ninja
What Questions Should You Ask Before Signing A Contract?
“Excellent customer support is my number one thing to look for in a web hosting provider. Does the provider have live chat? Are you going to be able to speak to someone the moment something goes wrong? Having that support there is essential.” —Niamh Jordan, Founder, Which Watch Next
“Determine which type of hosting you need. Take a moment to consider what you want to get out of your next partnership before you start searching for a hosting partner. Your needs will impact your compatibility with some hosting providers and facilities, just as light sleepers shouldn’t date snorers. A personal portfolio website should not need a dedicated server, just like a high-traffic, high-volume online store does not use the cheapest shared hosting plan available.” —Chana Charach, Managing Editor, Income.ca
“The infrastructure that the web host relies upon makes the difference between the best and the rest. A few different infrastructure-related questions that brands can ask potential web hosts include how many uplink carriers they have, what’s the company’s total bandwidth at each hosting location to determine peak results, and what’s their overall network topology to ensure redundancy over multiple carriers for the sake of maintaining uptime.” —Peter Schoeman, Founder & CEO, The Dog Adventure
“Don’t forget to ask the provider about scalability—you will need the ability to expand server capacity at one point. The provider should make it accessible.” —Mladen Maksic, CEO, Play Media
“The best way to avoid any misunderstandings regarding your web hosting is to ask what will be included in your package upfront. Even if you think you fully understand what you’re purchasing, it helps to ask in advance so you’re crystal clear on what you get and what you’d need to pay extra for. That way, you won’t be saddled with unexpected costs that you failed to account for on your original forecast.” —Anthony Martin, CEO & Founder, Choice Mutual
“To qualify a web hosting provider before making a purchase, I’m asking the following three questions: 1) Can I expect my website to be faster than it is on host XYZ right now? Why? 2) How will you handle security and website backups? 3) Do you give me a free migration once I move my site to your company? If they can give clear answers to those questions, they’re qualified.” —Jan Koch, Owner and Author, Virtual Summit Mastery
“When I’m selecting a VPS solution, I focus on five key questions: 1) Do I have root access, and can I SSH into the server? 2) If the website becomes popular, are CPU and RAM burstable, and what are the associated costs? 3) What are service terms related to email servers or blocked ports? 4) How expandable is disk space without having to fully upgrade? 5) What’s the maximum bandwidth, and what are the charges for exceeding bandwidth?” —Jodie Mason, Chief Digital Marketing Strategist, Freelance
“Do they have a powerful server? This is important because it directly impacts the server speed. Most visitors expect websites to load within 2 seconds. If it takes longer, they’re willing to switch, leading to increased bounce rates on the website. Website loading speed is an important ranking factor for Google.” —Martin Orefice, Founder, Rent to Own Labs
“There is nothing more important than security of your website and the data. The most important question that you should ask your web hosting provider is, ‘What data security measures have you taken? And what security features do you offer for our website?’” —Fred Hoffman, Founder & Chief Editor, IBC7 Outdoors
What Mistakes Can You Avoid When Selecting a Hosting Service?
“24/7 support is an absolute necessity. Do not go for a provider that does not offer this. For many businesses, especially eCommerce ones like us, evenings and weekends are your busiest times in terms of traffic. If something happens to your website on a Friday evening, you do not have to wait till Monday for a chance of getting it back up and running.” —Mike Skoropad, CEO, United TIres
“Ask your website provider about upgrade packages. It’s very important as most people shop for their current needs, but their needs might soon change and they find themselves stuck with a provider that offers a less than stellar service for a midsize or high-trafficked website. I think this is also the biggest mistake that people make.” —Corina Oner, Owner, Chef’s Pencil
“Being top-rated doesn’t mean it is a good buy for you. It’s more important to prioritize and address your needed features first then start looking for the web provider that can give you the best price for it.” —Charles McMillan, Founder, Stand With Main Street
“Don’t neglect the hosting requirements when choosing a vendor, because first and foremost, as an online business, you must understand your requirements and be able to match them to the right service. The most important thing to do is to make at least preliminary estimates of how much money would be needed to keep the site up and running. It’s a good idea to start with a daily visitor estimate.” —Daniel Foley, SEO Manager, Litta
“Fully understand the pricing agreement. Even though the costs may be super low, make sure to look out for renewal costs. (sometimes they give you a cheap 1-year package but when you auto renew the price goes up a lot). I’d avoid anything you don’t need, like those extra security features they try to upsell you on. Main thing to get is an SSL certificate to keep your site secure and for SEO.” —Clarinda Cheon, SEO Consultant, Marketing Minimalists
“Free hosting services are no-nos. You may think that they will save you money, but they won’t. Among the downsides of a free hosting service is that the service includes banners and pop-ups on your page, interrupting your content and making for the worst user experiences on earth. On top of that, free hosting also comes with ridiculously low speeds, and uptimes.” —Radu Vrabie, Founder and Marketer, Power Bank Expert
“Between the pricing, the security features and all the extra add ons and upsells it is easy to lose focus of what is important. When selecting a hosting provider, I always prioritize availability and speed, as many providers these days operate on a limited server capacity that results in over-subscriptions of websites. This can massively hinder the site speed and increase the number of 404 errors even if everything on the website is optimized. This is particularly important if your site relies on SEO for income as Google’s, and most SEO algorithms, penalize slower and error-prone sites.” —Ahmed Elnaggar, Founder & Editor, Set the Record Player
“Investing in a web host service with a lack of guides and community forums would be a mistake. Having a support group where I can discuss issues is efficient and saves me trouble from extreme damages.” —Isabella Zhou, Marketing Lead, Trustana
“One big mistake some people make when choosing a web hosting provider is investing in so-called unlimited plans. These claim to give you as much bandwidth and space as you need, but there’s usually a loophole in the terms and conditions. Read your contract carefully before signing on to anything. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” —Daivat Dholakia, Director of Operations, Force by Mojio
Hear From Industry Experts
Read the latest tips, research, best practices, and insights from our community of expert B2B service providers.
Recommended Web Hosting Companies
Our community weighed in on their favorite hosting solutions on the market, and we ended up with 23 unique suggestions that fell into a fairly wide range of pricing tiers. In organizing each service into a cost category, we tried to go by the hosting service’s primary hosting product. In many cases, companies offered service packages on both sides of the affordability spectrum, so when there were instances where a company offered a high-cost, high-quality solution that felt relevant to the community, we focused on those services.
Low-Priced Web Hosting Providers
Identifying truly low-priced web hosting solutions was a bit of a challenge, as the industry standard of offering excessively low entry costs is almost always negated in the renewal rates. However, several hosting solutions stood out as truly low-cost offerings with services that more than meet their client’s needs, providing single-site hosting solutions below the $20 a month mark. Decisions to categorize providers in this bracket remained relative to other services with more expensive and expansive service offerings.
The Ionos by 1&1 service provides a low-cost hosting solution for both individuals and agencies. Even the VPS options start at an introductory low rate but don’t range above $35 a month even at the high end. Compared to some of the other services in the list, Ionos’s dedicated hosting services are at about half the cost. Based out of Europe, the service leverages its size to help small- to medium-sized businesses get their websites up and running affordably.
“Ionos is our chosen hosting service due to their great value and easy to use platform. A simple VPS service gives us as a business the ability to host multiple sites and create an unlimited amount of custom email addresses for ourselves and our clients. ” —Connor Hewson, Managing Director, Assured Marketing
DomainRacer is an international hosting solution with data centers around the globe. The site is very services focused with not a lot of fluff or extra details. Aside from reseller hosting, they also offer hosting on dedicated SSD Linux machines at extremely low prices.
“To avoid inconvenience you need to be conscious and cautious while choosing your web hosting service company. There are few things you need to check out while choosing a web hosting company, such as uptime, SSD storage and bandwidth, and security provisions. I strongly recommend DomainRacer for the cheapest web hosting plan and most advanced features, and top customer service.” —Lucas Travis, Founder, Inboard Skate
A hosting platform with the goal of providing its clients the peace of mind that their posted content won’t be mined for data, DreamHost hosts over 1 million sites from across the globe. The service focuses on WordPress and offers extremely affordable hosting solutions with a focus on service and performance.
“The main DreamHost feature we love is the speed capability. It’s absolutely transformed our website, making it a breeze to scroll and navigate through. The other great thing about the provider is how well it works with WordPress. The fact that we’re able to get DreamHost for such a low price blows us away. [It is] beginner-friendly [and] it really takes our site to the next level in so many ways.” —Mike Nemeroff, CEO & Co-Founder, Rush Order Tees
With eight international data centers and an average 50s response time to customer service requests, there’s a reason Hostinger hosts 29 million users and still maintains a 99.9%+ uptime for sites. The Shared Hosting and Cloud Hosting solutions, but the exceptional value of VPS hosting really make Hostinger stand out and gives some insight into why Hostinger was one of the most suggested solutions from our community.
“My favorite web hosting service provider is Hostinger. I like it because they offer solid and reliable shared web hosting services and have some of the lowest prices on the market without compromising on must-have features, such as performance, speed, and security.” —Frank Hausman, Founder, Home Air Advisor
With a mixed value relative to the types of services on offer, HostWinds exemplifies a hosting company that provides a great value for entry-point website hosting services. Their Managed and Unmanaged VPS hosting on Windows and Linux machines is on the pricier end, but still low enough not to bring the whole service into the mid-cost range. Much of the value they bring to the table is a balance of the advanced technology operating behind the scenes and great customer service.
“Hostwinds provides multiple base options to select, which I can customize according to my references. With full server management in hand and backups are also provided as part of the service. Additional options such as different RAID configurations, standard CentOS, and Windows Server Options make it a more user-friendly web hosting service.” —Eden Cheng, Founder, We Invoice
Despite the various discounts in place and the limitations on certain plans requiring extended contractual agreements, InMotion’s hosting options remain fairly low cost after renewal for their standard business Web hosting projects.
“InMotion Hosting comes with PCI compliance and free SSL certificates that give a dash of security to our online presence. I lay an active emphasis on security because it’s a big ranking factor for Google and InMotion Hosting helps our web presence appear secure with great ease.” —Max Harland, CEO, Dentaly
The hosting service NameCheap lives up to its name through extremely accessible pricing tiers for its web hosting, with all service levels even at full price under $10 a month. Their VPS solutions are under $20 a month and even their most expensive tier of dedicated server hosting is less expensive than the low-end dedicated server services of others on this list.
“Namecheap is the best service provider in the market. I like some of the most common things that are very useful to me. First, we can buy the domain and hosting at a cheap rate. Secondly, we can easily install website themes or upload web programs to make it useful. Third, it has excellent customer service. And finally, this hosting is secure.” —Andrew Steninmann, SEO Expert, Inkable Label
Mid-Priced Web Hosting Providers
For the companies that we placed into the mid-tier, we noticed that these brands tended to offer flexible and configurable service alternatives, keeping the pricing more expensive than low-cost options but still manageable for small- to mid-sized businesses for individual websites or multiple site builds on varying complexities of hosting services. In navigating the mid-range, we ran across hosting pricing ranging from $12 to $40 for individual sites, and under triple digits for other services in most cases.
The A2 platform provides a full range of hosting solutions, from Shared Hosting to VPS and Dedicated hosting services. The flexibility in term agreements does keep some of their service’s pricing in a lower tier, especially with introductory discounts. However, once the grace period is over, the pricing overall for A2 Hosting across all of their service categories solidly lands the company as a mid-priced service. The company is independently owned and grew from a small operation to a worldwide service provider with data centers around the globe.
“A2 Hosting is my absolute favorite for lighting fast speed and dedicated customer service. Plus, the best thing is that they automatically club in features like site migration, SSD, Cloudflare CDN, and an SSL Certificate with any plan you choose. Also, they come with a 99.9% uptime commitment, which reduces any possible chances of your website going down. That’s some great relief and A2 Hosting is surely a complete package.” —Martin Orefice, Founder, Rent to Own Labs
We placed AWS in the midrange services, despite some aspects of the vendor’s services that are considered on the higher end of the spectrum, This is mostly out of the sheer customizability and complete control users have over how to structure their hosting plan. AWS requires an extremely informed team or an outsourced IT service provider to configure and manage the hosting services on an ongoing basis due to the need for the client to configure the services properly on the back-end. This ensures the security and integrity of the site infrastructure. AWS provides a full free year to get the site organized and up and running before costs to the user kick in on a pay-as-you-go model for the platform’s more than 160 cloud-based services.
“Amazon Web Services is one of the best website hosts out there. It’s feature-packed and almost endlessly customizable. I’m particularly impressed with a guaranteed uptime of at least 99.99%, which means customers can always access our site.” —Phil Strazzulla, Founder & CEO, Select Software Reviews
An extremely popular and robust hosting solution, Bluehost’s services are much in line with industry standards for mid-tier service providers. The costing model boasts low initial costs, but renewals and various lengths of service terms still place the annual service model at Bluehost as a mid-priced service. When you expand this out to the dedicated and VPS levels, the pricing categorization holds, and possibly even could shift Bluehost into the high-end tier for these services depending on service terms and how advanced the hosting needs become.
“My favorite web hosting provider is Bluehost all the way! I love Bluehost because it is beginner friendly, an AMAZING 24/7 customer Service with professional help, cheap starting price, and really simple interface that is clear to browse. The top features of Bluehost are their huge add-on selection, free domain-specific email addresses, free SSL certificate and I can’t stress enough the great customer service which made my website migration effortless.” —Omar Abdalla, Founder, JustRestaurantSupplies.com
As a managed cloud hosting platform, Cloudways acts as an intermediary to five cloud hosting services: Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, AWS, and Google Cloud. In this capacity, they have established specific service plan tiers with each, allowing clients to use whichever cloud service they want with Cloudways guaranteed high-quality customer service to back it up. For the first three cloud services, Cloudways keeps pricing in the four tiers between $10 and $100 a month.
“It’s a powerful web hosting service for PHP developers, allowing them to deploy containerized applications and other advanced features. The cost is determined by the server specs you choose as well as the cloud provider. It costs as little as $10 a month and comes with a free 3-day preview. While it appears to be a short trial, it allows you to fully explore the platform and test its features.” —Jonathan Svensson, Founder & CEO, Almvest
We caught FastComet in the middle of a 24-hour Flash Sale but for the most part, the company’s product pricing is solidly competitive with other mid-cost solutions on the market. They operate as a privately-owned, global web hosting solution that continues to grow due to the hard work and top-notch customer service the team provides to clients.
“Fastcomet is a value for money hosting service. The hosting plan I started with, it’s affordable as well as fast, and reliable compared to its competitors. I love it because of the customer care support. 24×7 live chat is available, they reply quickly and they help solve all the issues related to the website.” —Tanay Sankhe, Founder & Editor, Smart Gadget Pick
Touting itself as a greener hosting solution, GreenGeeks purchases renewable energy certificates at 3x the company’s own energy consumption and puts those RECs back into the Portland, Oregon power grid in order to offset their own consumption. While the pricing on the main landing page lands at the higher end of low-cost service providers, it’s discounted and renewal rates of $11 to $26 per month are more of a mid-tier solution. The company also touts its Managed VPS option as a business solution, and the pricing there, ranging between $40 and $110 a month, lands us in the mid-price range. However, if GreenGeeks touted their Dedicated Server services more, the $169 to $439 a month price tag would shift the brand into our high-priced tier.
“GreenGeeks is the ideal choice because it’s powered by renewable energy. Apart from that, it packs a host of good features like cPanel Control Panel, easy site migration, and top-end security. For me, the best thing is that it offers automatic updates, which cuts all the hassle and makes management much easier.” —Jon Buchan, CEO, Charm Offensive
While HostGator was one of the more popularly referred hosting services, it was also one of the most challenging to place in the pricing tier as the front-end of the site touts all of the discounted rates but doesn’t make it clear what terms for those discounts are in place. A deeper search into the site reveals the overall and extremely expansive pricing chart for all services, which relative to some of the other services on the list, placed HostGator at the lower end of our mid-priced tier. Their services themselves are highly competitive with unmetered bandwidth and a free domain included. The added free SSL certificate is a tremendous boon for small businesses looking to adhere to search engine best practices of presenting as secure with HTTPS protocols in place rather than HTTP.
“A top feature of HostGator is the 24/7 support that the service has, which makes constant site maintenance so simple. If any issues arise, there’s always somebody we can contact to fix it fast, and not many other hosting providers can say that about their support teams.” —Nathan Murphy, Co-Founder, QuizBreaker
Another green energy-focused brand, HostPapa delivers a fully-featured high-value, low-cost hosting solution to customers. The attractive introduction rates for hosting are still attractive in the renewal phase, offering balanced affordability that puts the company solidly shoulder-to-shoulder with other mid-cost solutions. Knowing that value and cost are king, the company created special renewal prices for the Enterprise VPS solutions they offer, ensuring ongoing savings and value.
“HostPapa provides everything a small business needs to operate a website. These services include hosting, domain registration, 400+ business applications to connect to, and the option of using a simple drag-and-drop website builder or installing WordPress, depending on your preference. ” —Mike Dragan, COO, Stream.Live
For businesses launching their first website, Nixihost’s shared hosting plans offer a low-cost point of entry that remains robust enough to provide value to a business seeking to rapidly grow. The Semi-dedicated and dedicated service levels, however, place this service provider more firmly in the mid-cost tier. The Texas-based hosting service boasts superior technology and exceptional service.
“I’m giving your readers my diamond in the rough: Nixihost. I’ve used Nixihost to host my online businesses & projects and their service is very good. The team is small but very responsive and helpful. The price tiers are priced reasonably and they scale up nicely depending on where your business is at. Price and reliability is the most important attribute to me.” —Matt Lally, Founder, The Gift Yak
SiteGround is another platform enticingly presented with extremely approachable month rates on the front end pricing as specials, with the actual pricing landing between $14.99 and $39.99 per month with varying visitor volume allowances and unmetered traffic included. They split their service offerings between web hosting and cloud hosting, with WordPress and WooCommerce provided as options as well to support client sites.
“SiteGround offers strong uptime, a good customer support experience, a free SSL certificate, daily backups, and a staging tool with all plans, and they let customers choose server locations. Additionally, SiteGround offers a number of security options, including the SG Site Scanner to let you know if your site is under attack and SiteCheck, an automatic software scanning tool that checks your website to see if there is any malware in the code or on the site.” —Chad Sakonchick, Founder, BetterLegal
The Squarespace content management software (CMS) is an all-in-one service that includes hosting with its website products so while the pricing is in the mid-tier range, the fact that it’s inclusive of many items you’d have to pay for on top of hosting has SquareSpace standing out in a crowd. While this arrangement has users tied to using Squarespace servers and no other options, you do get unlimited storage and bandwidth as part of the package.
“Squarespace has everything you need to run your website in one place. It has a great reputation in regards to its marketing habits and ability to grow your business including unique domain hosting and personalized SEO marketing. Squarespace effectively communicates your website analytics in user-friendly language while assisting you on changes you can make to expand your website’s demand. ” —Joe Parenteau, Co-Founder, Fable
In 2013, the founder of WPXl was tired of hosting solutions that offered free unlimited bandwidth and cheap hosting prices, but in the end, failed to deliver. WPX instead focuses on actually delivering superior speed through their proprietary content delivery network across the company’s own servers.
“WPX Hosting is my favorite managed WP hosting service with impressive support always seconds away in the chat, top rated speeds, CDN included, staging environment, free migration service, and an affordable price. They also offer daily backups which means if anything goes wrong while working on your site there won’t be any worries about losing all of the work done thus far since everything is backed up.” —Sam Rexford, Head of Content, CHILLREPTILE
High-Priced Web Hosting Providers
Out of our 24 suggestions from the community, four offered services that could be considered high-priced. For individual managed hosting solutions, individual sites ran as high as $70 per month, and services for freelancers and agencies or cloud-based hosting solutions ran into hundreds of dollars per month.
Flywheel was recently purchased by WP Engine, but the company maintains its individual branding as a Managed WordPress service provider. In this market, Flywheel’s individual website service offerings place it somewhere in the low- to mid-price ranges at $13 to $25 per month for hosting a single managed WordPress site. However, its website is more targeted to freelancers and agencies acting as site managers for clients, managing anywhere between 10 to 30 websites.
“I love how simple they have made everything: from staging environments, built-in caching, CDN, SSL, creating a customized install setup. Everything really is a flip of a switch. I also have a sales representative that keeps in touch with me about any growth needs. My sites run fast and perform well in Google searches.” —Jessica Rhoades, Owner & Designer, Create IT Web Designs
The Liquid Web brand offers a full suite of website-related services, from hosting solutions to site design and add-ons. The snippet below from their services page shows that they offer a full suite of hosting solutions, from Dedicated and VPS to Cloud Enterprise solutions, all top-tier and scalable to customer needs. Even the CMS and eCommerce solutions provide a ton of value to clients.
“We use them because they are robust, high tech, and easy to use. They also have a stellar customer service team. ” —Michael Branson, CEO, All Reverse Mortgage, Inc.
The Nexcess services platform is owned by Liquid Web but presented as its own standalone content and digital-commerce focused, highly scalable, and fully managed hosting solution. The website hosts a wide range of educational and informational resources for the discerning client, addressing every detail of the technology and services in play. The table below is strictly enumerating Managed WordPress hosting. Other pricing tables breakdown Managed WooCommerce hosting and the cloud hosting services available.
“Nexcess is one of the best service providers for online stores. It allows you to manage traffic spikes with a few clicks and offers high security, making it stand out for me. As we primarily work with online stores, the fact that Nexcess works brilliantly with Magneto makes the platform our go-to hosting service for almost every project.” —Scott Williams, Founder & CEO, Mobile Office Sales
Touting itself as the leading WordPress digital experience, the WP Engine platform has embraced offering its clients the best possible managed WordPress experience on the market. Its services include two tiers of Managed Hosting, Secure Hosting, and eCommerce Hosting. Single site builders services range from $25 to $44 monthly with limited functionality across all four service categories, but from there WordPress’s services really scale up from there, going as high as $291 for Secure Hosting and eCommerce clients for professionals and managed services providers that manage up to 30 websites for clients.
“First, they have excellent hosting capabilities for WordPress. When we switched to WP Engine, our site speed immediately improved. Second, since they specialize in our platform they have built-in features to optimize for it. Third, they have outstanding customer service and support. Since they specialize they can provide really robust support.” —Krista Neher, CEO, Boot Camp Digital
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
In assembling this guide, we came across a few commonly posed questions and thought it would be helpful to close by addressing them in this space and saving our readers some searching.
What is Web Hosting vs. Domain Hosting?
If we look at these services with the metaphor that we’re dealing with digital real estate, then domain hosting handles determining your business’s address online. While hosting services will assign your website an IP address, domain hosting assigns a unique name to your business and holds that name, much as copywriting your brand at the federal and state level does for your business.
Web hosting, on the other hand, is your actual virtual office space, where all of your documents and information are kept. You can acquire domain hosting in advance of a website launch to procure the branded name that you want and keep it reserved, but you can’t host a website without a domain to tie it to.
How Much Does Web Hosting Cost Per Year on Average?
This is a much more complex question behind the scenes than it is on the surface, as annual web hosting costs depend on a number of factors, such as how much storage you need, anticipated bandwidth used by visitors if you need subdomains and how many, required website speed to meet the needs of visitors, and other complex factors.
In a general sense, for the categories of hosting discussed above, you can expect on average for Shared solutions to cost less than $20 a month; VPS solutions to cost less than $100 a month; Dedicated hosting to cost somewhere in a range of $75 to $300+ a month, and Cloud solutions to range the full scale from $5 a month to as much as $300+ depending on the services and scaling. WordPress hosting can become extremely expensive with the licensing and managed hosting solutions involved, and can range from as low as $5 a month to close to $1000 a month.
Can I Buy a Domain Name Without Hosting?
Yes, as the two are somewhat independent services from this direction. Companies who are looking to ramp up towards building a website for services or products they offer can purchase the domains ahead of time and park them at a minimal cost. Once the company is ready to build out a site with that domain, they can unpark them and tie them to their web hosting solution.
Do I Need Web Hosting for Wix?
As a full end-to-end content management software (CMS), Wix gives users the tools they need to make a fully functional website. As part of their solutions package, they also include free web hosting at a shared hosting level. More complex websites or users wanting more features can upgrade to a premium plan with different hosting capabilities.
Find Web Hosting You Can Trust That Meets Your Needs
In this guide, we looked at the web hosting landscape through the eyes of the professionals who use these tools every day. Their insight into what’s working, what their pain points are, and how to navigate choosing a hosting platform for yourself should be invaluable in your own journey as a business owner. If the do-it-yourself route isn’t going to work for you, the UpCity B2B marketplace offers businesses such as yours access to service providers ready to help you navigate your growing business’s website needs.