The importance of using quality web hosts is something that every business, blogger or professional looking to create an online presence must consider.
The provider that you chose has the potential to affect your image, relationships with your customers, and the perceived quality of your product or services.
The reality is that your hosting provider has an enormous impact on your business; enough to make a difference in either your success or failure.
What to Look at When Comparing Web Hosting Providers
Up-time is extremely important. When potential customers visit your website, no matter the time of day or night, they expect it to be there. Studies have shown that Internet users will not return if your site is down or not functioning properly when they visit the first time. Web hosting providers with an established reputation for being reliable will normally have a server up-time history of 99% or higher.
24/7 customer support is essential when you are trying to run a business. However, customer support being available around the clock does not necessarily mean the support is good. Besides being available all the time, customer support should also be quick and helpful. The companies listed below all have high customer service satisfaction ratings.
Ease of Upgrades
As your website becomes more popular, you may need to upgrade your package. Oftentimes this means upgrading from a shared type to Virtual Private Server (“VPS”) or a dedicated server. Before choosing a web host, you may want to look into the other types of hosting they offer. Of course you don’t have to stay with the same company, but it does make the entire process quite a bit easier.
Top 5 Web Hosting Companies
These web hosts have made our top 5 list based on the above criteria, personal experience, and many reviews made by past and present users.
In descending order here are the top 5 best hosting providers:
HostGator has been providing quality web hosting services for 10 years to beginners, professionals, and everyone in between.
Contacting customer support is stress-free. Not only is email and phone support available, you can chat live with a technician, create a support ticket, send a fax, or use U.S. mail. Video tutorials, articles and forums are available to assist with any trouble you may be having as well.
Shared hosting can be as inexpensive as $3.36 a month if purchased for 3 years. Prices for packages decrease depending on how many months you pay for in advance.
Major features that are included with all plans are unlimited bandwidth, disk space, email and ftp accounts, MySQL databases, subdomains, auto-responders, email aliases, and mailing lists. In addition, popular website statistics and weekly backups are built-in into each plan.
The 3 shared hosting plans available are:
- The Hatching Plan. This plan allows for one domain and includes a shared SSL certificate. If paid for on a monthly basis it is $7.16 a month.
- The Baby Plan. This allows you to host an unlimited number of domains and includes a shared SSL certificate. If paid for on a monthly basis it is $7.96 a month, and makes the most sense for most newbies seeking the best deal in cheap hosting.
- The Business Plan. This is a good option for new businesses and e-commerce sites. It includes a private SSL certificate and a dedicated IP. You also get a toll free number, perfect for raising customer service satisfaction ratings. If paid for on a monthly basis it is $11.96 a month.
VPS hosting starts at just $19.95 a month; offering an easy way to upgrade your service as your site demands. There are 9 levels available with the price increasing as the need for Central Processing Unit (“CPU”) speed, Random Access Memory (“RAM”), disk space and bandwidth increases.
All VPS plans come with unlimited domains, subdomains, email accounts, MySQL databases, ftp accounts, SiteBuilder, 4,500 website templates, and one click install scripts.
Re-seller hosting plans begin at just $24.95 a month; perfect for starting your own re-seller company. There are a total of 5 re-seller plans available. The price increases as the amount of disk space and bandwidth needed increase.
All reseller accounts come with unlimited domains, subdomains, MySQL databases, email accounts, CPanels and ftp accounts. Free billing systems, site builder software, 4,500 website templates, a domain reseller account and private nameservers are also included.
Dedicated server hosting is available if you need the ability to use more resources than offered by shared or VPS hosting plans.
Host Gator makes creating a website easy. No matter which plan you chose you will have access to 4,500 website templates, the ability to install 75 popular site scripts with one click or use Weebly’s SiteBuilder.
In February of 2013, DailyHostNews announced HostGator as the winner of the Editor’s Choice Award after reviewing several companies’ hosting packages and customer support.
Several factors set Bluehost apart from their competitors. Their dedication to helping clients learn to use the tools and resources offered to them is made apparent by the vast amount of how to content they have created. Bluehost has a knowledge base packed with over 700 how to articles covering every aspect of creating and maintaining a website.
Their extremely popular You Tube channel offers boundless assistance to clients and other users. How to videos cover using WordPress and the Weebly website builder. Other popular videos discuss open source and how Bluehost uses technology differently to offer “the best web hosting on the planet”.
When it comes to customer service, live chat is available at any time as is phone and email support. Live updates provide the current wait times and the support team’s online status. Customer service representatives are experienced and extremely polite.
Shared hosting is $3.95 a month. Some of the major features included are unlimited domains, disk space, email accounts, and subdomains. Plus all shared accounts receive a free domain, and have access to a drag and drop site builder and one click installs.
Dedicated servers are offered with enhanced CPanel and caching, a dedicated support line and root access. There are 3 plans starting at $149.99 a month.
A money back guarantee is offered on all plans at any time.
Hundreds of reviews written by Bluehost users can be found on WhoIsHostingThis. Some of these web hosting reviews were made within the last year or two, but many are several years old. It’s a good idea to check the date on any reviews you read, keeping in mind that companies learn, customer service improves and technology advances each year
Something that I found to make DreamHost trustworthy was their Unlimited Policy. They explain that unlimited is unlimited, unless your website is using too many resources and causing problems for other users. I have never seen this explained by another company and they all have the same policy.
Customer support is offered by phone or email any time of the day or night. There is also a discussion forum and a very popular wiki available for assistance.
Shared hosting is $8.95 a month. Some of the major features included with this plan are unlimited disk space, bandwith, domains, email accounts, MySQL databases, ftp accounts, autoresponders, discussion lists, announcement lists and subdomains.
All accounts are also afforded one click software installation, DreamHost’s exclusive control panel, and a 97 day money back guarantee.
VPS plans all offer unlimited disk space, bandwidth, domains, MySQL databases, email accounts and ftp accounts. There are 5 options starting at $30.00 a month. Pricing is based on the amount of RAM needed.
Dedicated servers with full use of CPU and RAM resources are available for high traffic sites and businesses. There are 6 plans available beginning at $109 a month.
Read a DreamHost Review here.
1and1.com caught my attention quickly with their Guided Onscreen Support, provided by GoTo Assist. This allows tech support to see your computer screen while you are on the phone with them. There is nothing to download and the connection is secure. Additionally, a help center is available with thousands of articles along with step by step instructions on how to use your hosting account. There is also a community forum Support can be contacted any time of day or night by phone or email.
1&1 also allows customers to choose between Linux and Windows hosting. If you are unsure which choice is right for you, they offer an explanation of each and differences in technology.
Shared hosting can be as inexpensive as $1.99 a month, if purchased for 3 years. Prices for packages decrease depending on how many months you pay for in advance. There are 3 shared plans available:
- Starter includes 50 GB of disk space, unlimited bandwidth, 250 email accounts, 10 MySQL databases, 2 click and build applications (available for Linux hosting), Webspace Recovery, and 5 ftp accounts. If paying monthly, the Starter package is $4.99 a month.
- Unlimited gives you a free domain, unlimited disk space, 500 email accounts, 25 MySQL databases, unlimited click and build applications, Webspace Recovery, and 50 ftp accounts. You also get a $50 Facebook credit and $50 of Bing and Yahoo search credits along with 5 mailing lists. If paying monthly, this package is $6.99 a month.
- Business packages include a free domain, unlimited disk space, email and ftp accounts, MySQL databases, mailing lists, and click and build applications. Webspace Recovery is included and a dedicated SSL certificate as well. Additionally a $50 Facebook credit and $100 of Bing and Yahoo search credits come with this package. If paying monthly, the Business package is $9.99 a month.
Auto-responders, email forwarders, unlimited traffic, and 1&1’s Website Builder are included with every hosting package.
Dedicated servers are available with up to 32 Cores and 64 GB RAM, full root access and Parallels Plesk Panel 11 (which allows for resell and unlimited domains). Countless features are included and pricing begins at $79.99 a month.
Virtual server features include high performance hardware, a free domain, GeoTrust certified SSL certificates, SSH shell access, Parallels Plesk Panel 11, a static IP address, and server monitoring. Prices for virtual servers start at just $29.99 a month.
There are many user reviews of 1&1 posted here on HostingReviews.
5. WP Engine
WP Engine is a very unique web hosting company which hosts only WordPress sites. WP Engine has a tech support staff comprised of WordPress experts; making them a company to really consider if you intend to create a WordPress site. Because WP Engine specializes in WordPress, their tech support can fix issues caused by themes and plugins. Other such companies normally cannot help with errors caused by third party applications.
EverCache, WP Engine’s custom built technology, allows for extremely fast loading websites which are able to handle traffic spikes with ease. Website speed is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a hosting company. Numerous surveys have concluded that people will normally only wait about 3 seconds for a page to load before they leave.
Not only does WP Engine utilizes EverCache to ensure all clients’ websites load fast, they also offer an integrated, full-managed CDN that serves your static content from data centers all around the world, speeding your website significantly.
WP Engine offers 3 premade hosting packages:
- Personal, which includes 1 WordPress install, up to 25,000 visits per month, 10 GB of disk space, and unlimited data transfers for $29.00 a month
- Professional, this is their most popular one and includes 10 WordPress installs, up to 100,000 visits per month, unlimited data transfer, and 20 GB of disk space for $99.00 a month.
- Business, allows for 25 WordPress installs, up to 400,000 visits each month, unlimited data transfer, and 30 GB of disk space at a cost of $249.00 a month.
A Premium plan which is completely customizable is also available. With this one you get an unlimited number of WordPress installs and up to a million visits a month. Because this plan is customizable according to the individual needs of the customers, there is no set price. To learn more about the Premium plan visit WP Engine.
All of WP Engine’s hosting packages include managed upgrades, daily backups and one click restores. Also included at no extra charge is a firewall and malware screening. WP Engine updates their system on a daily basis. These features keep your website very secure and safe from hackers without adding any extra security plugins.
WP Engine offers a 60 day money back guarantee.
WPMU, the WordPress experts, reviewed WP Engine back in July. Read their review here.
So there you have it, hopefully this guide has helped you line up the best web hosting companies for your current needs. Remember, most offer a money back guarantee and you can start off with a cheaper plan, so get your site up soon!