Web Hosting Comparison: Which Is Best For Your Website?
Web hosting is pretty easy to find, but is it reliable and does it have security features? There are some site hosting services that simply out-perform the competition. Whether you want to safely run your business online or you just want a easy website builder to manage your content, there are some hosts that can do it all and then some. The question is, how much can you save by going with the right web host?
Before we jump right in, this is a rather detailed article and I understand that you may not have time to read all this at the moment.
So, here’s what I’m gonna do.
Here is a quick table of contents so you can jump to specific areas:
- What is Web Hosting?
- Types of Web Hosting (Jump to this section)
- FAQs (Jump to this section)
- Top 5 Web Hosting (Jump to this section)
- Top 5 WordPress Hosting (Jump to this section)
- Top 5 Managed WordPress Hosting (Jump to this section)
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Let’s dive in.
What is Web Hosting?
Every site is hosted online typically by a server, and nowadays, it’s typically a cloud server. What does this mean? It means that whenever you visit a website, those files are stored by a server host. These servers can host all types of things, from applications to games to websites. You can connect your customers to your online store, which is hosted by a server.
There are some differences in hosting that you should be aware of when you want to pick a good host.
- Always pick a host with a 99.99% uptime guarantee. There are some flukes out there, but most web hosts today never allow sites to go down because of their own server issues.
- Managed hosting means that your bandwidth and scalability is managed by the web host. Unmanaged means that if your site goes down because you didn’t have enough bandwidth, you’ll have to pay for it and upgrade it yourself.
- WordPress websites are very popular due to themes and WooCommerce. However, is it going to be secure enough? Check out some of the reasons that we like WordPress as well as some disadvantages to this hosting type below.
- 24/7 customer service should be a key phrase you look for as you pick out the right host. In addition, how can you contact them? By phone, live chat, support system, or email? Find out before you get stuck.
- Check customer reviews real quick and look through some of our recommended hosts below for website hosting, WordPress, and managed hosting.
Types of Web Hosting
Website hosting can also be broken down into the different types of space and servers. For instance, you may purchase one of these types as well:
With shared hosting, you are setting up your site on a server with other sites that occupy the same space. This means that your environment may not be completely separate than another site’s resources. This is the best hosting option if you have a small website or a test site that you don’t expect to scale.
VPS or Cloud Hosting
You can set up pretty secure and isolated hosting environments with a cloud plan. These hosting plans are generally similar to shared hosting, but they may allow you to have customized technical options for those who want to play with staging environments and create their own applications.
Dedicated Server Hosting
For those who want to host a variety of different websites or even become a reseller, you can do so with dedicated server hosting. You’ll get your own server with this option, which means you don’t have to worry about any other websites using your resources.
For those who are thinking about building a blog or a site with WooCommerce, WP hosting offers a lot of valuable features. These sites may include one-click WordPress installation, free page builders, free themes, and customization options. You’ll also typically get free automatic backups and SSL certificates with these plans as well.
Still have some questions? These are some of the things you might ask when looking at different website hosting providers.
Do you need technical knowledge to purchase website hosting?
You can typically build a website in a number of ways nowadays, but the good web hosts provide one-click installation tools and guides that make it easy to purchase and start building your website. You will need a little bit of technical guidance, but with most systems, you simply click on the hosting plan you want and get started.
How long does it take to set up a website?
Most website creation is instant. This means that you can expect to your site up within 60 seconds in some cases, depending on how good the host’s interface is. For example, with GoDaddy, you can purchase WP hosting and get through the tutorial in less than a minute.
What comes with hosting plans?
The main reference that many people look at is the web space or storage. This may also be the number of visits per month. Basically, you’re looking for a high amount of GB or unlimited space with over 10,000 visits per month to start with. This would be the very minimum of traffic that you would need to make use of your hosting plan.
In addition, you want some freebies like SSL certificates, cPanel configuration, WordPress plugins, and other tools that make it easy to build your website with just a few clicks. You may also get a free domain with some of the hosting providers on this list.
How are Linux and Windows hosting providers different?
This refers to the operating system on the server. With some operating systems, you can’ run the right scripts or themes. For example, you wouldn’t be able to use WordPress on a Windows website hosting provider. This is because of these sites need to be written in .ASPX or .NET. You won’t be able to use PHP.
In terms of quality, most developers go with Linux because it supports more of the newer programming languages and makes it easier to build staging environments for mobile applications.
Does come with security options to prevent hacking?
Hackers will try to get into any website out there, but the thing that will help you most is managed hosting services that come with security monitoring and tracking. This means that if malware or DDoS attacks are attempted, you’ll have instant protection through firewalls and automatic backups. You won’t have to worry about losing any of your website, but you may want to make sure that your site has security and malware detection built into the price.
How important are SSL certificates with hosting?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This is a protocol that helps communicate information safely online. When you connect to a website with an SSL, you know it will be a secure connection. You can also place a SSL certificate on your website so that visitors know that it’s safe to browse your website as well. You can trust that your website will be seen as more secure, but it’s also about what the SSL does for your security. You basically prevent your website from being hacked by anyone who connects.
Is email provided with hosting?
In most cases, you’ll get some form of email from most of the providers listed below. However, GoDaddy may be the only one to offer a free trial that includes Microsoft 365. You may want to set up your email separately so that it can be managed from a good platform like Gmail. However, you can also look for email hosting or email server hosting in the list of features.
Thinking of getting a site together? There are a few other nuances to learn about hosting and WordPress sites. This guide goes over the different types of popular hosting methods out there. Here are some that are frequently requested by new clients:
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
The major difference between these two hosting types is who is actually hosting the website for you.
WordPress.org means that you can use the free WordPress installation files as long as you host the website yourself by purchasing hosting or setting up your own server.
WordPress.com is the paid hosting plan that WordPress offers. You won’t have to download software, manage a web server, and there are free options.
There are some advantages to each type, but typically site owners build with WordPress installation files and use a separate web host. However, if you just want a free web blog, then WordPress.com is a simple solution. You won’t get all of the bells and whistles, and you can’t exactly set up your own theme without paying, but it’s free and easy to set up with the current platform.
However, your domain on the free WordPress.com will also include in the URL “WordPress.com,” and you cannot customize the theme with different PHP, plugins, or themes.
While WordPress.org offers the files for free, you can purchase a name registration and hosting if you would like. However, this will be costly and you won’t get anything different than if you go with a web host like HostGator or GoDaddy. These web hosts even have a cPanel application to install WordPress and build it for you.
You have more control over your website when you download the installation files and install them yourself or choose a web host that has a WordPress builder like GoDaddy. You can also use your own domain, install themes, and add plugins to your site. You can also edit the PHP to create custom styles and webpages.
Managed vs. Unmanaged Hosting
Hosting seems fairly simple when marketed as a simple site builder under a plan, but some hosts offer additional features that protect your site.
With managed hosting, you get a piece of server hardware to yourself that typically has an operating system and other software that is used to help run your website. There are also managed services with this hosting type that include malware scanning, virus removal, backups, status monitoring, security sweeps, and automatic upgrades.
Managed hosting is typically more expensive because there are more services included with this type.
With unmanaged hosting, you don’t have any additional services besides the server space provisioned to you. While this is cheaper, you get a server with an operating system installed, which means that you’ll have to install software on your own, such as Apache or PHP. The software you install will depend on what type of website you want to run.
Unmanaged hosting is a great idea if you have an IT team who can help you set up a site. If you have to update security preferences or change your site in any way, you may have issues with scaling in the future and changing your server if you’re not familiar with the setup and management of a server.
Top 5 Web Hosting
Finding high-quality hosting really means finding a company that is going to be there when you need them. Hosting and running a website is not easy work. Unless you have a website administrator and a great IT team, you may not be able to manage your site or make changes to it without some help. Thankfully, customer service is one of the key factors that we looked at to develop this list of our top 5 hosting providers.
At the top of the list is HostGator because of it’s well known customer service team and rather inexpensive cost. In addition, HostGator has one of the highest uptimes.
In addition, there are a number of different plans for shared hosting, WordPress, Cloud, VPS, and Dedicated Hosting packages. You can get hosting that is cheap to start out a business then scale it with one of the other options.
HostGator also has superior site-building software. You can customize basically everything about your site without having to know HTML to do it. You can talk to the customer service team anytime online or by phone. Your website is guaranteed to be up and running nearly 100% of the time.
However, there are some drawbacks to HostGator, particularly if you are looking for a Windows-based VPS. HostGator provides Linux-based hosting options mostly.
You’ll pay at the last $2.64 for shared hosting, but those prices go up a little higher for dedicated hosting which is $124.50 per month. While dedicated hosting provides you with your own server, you may have a hard time provisioning the server without a knowledgeable IT professional.
Overall, HostGator is quite a reliable hosting provider with hundreds of testimonials and years of being in business. If you are looking for shared hosting, this would be a great option.
One of the top hosting services is Dreamhost, which has been highly rated by CNET and customers. You can get shared hosting for a rather low monthly cost, but if you want to set up your own server, you’ll pay nearly $150/month. Cloud hosting starts at $4.50 a month however.
Dreamhost offers its own control panel that is easy to use for setting up your website. You can also call phone support 24 hours a day, and the company also offers chat and ticket support. All of their servers are SSDs, which provides fast hosting. You can also get a free SSL certification and SSH access for plans that allow you to configure your own server.
There are also no hidden fees, and you get a 97-day money back guarantee. If anything should happen during that time with the company, you get all of your money back.
Hostwinds is known for its excellent uptime, top performance, decent pricing, and user-friendly services. Founded in 2010, the company has always offered a host of different features with their services, including shared, business, reseller, and white label plans. You can also purchase cloud hosting, VPS, and dedicated hosting.
You get unlimited bandwidth, unlimited disk space, and a free domain with most plans. You can get software automatically installed, or you can choose SSH access. You also get unlimited MySQL databases and unlimited sub-domains with your hosting.
Hosting also comes with a free dedicated IP address. Other hosting providers will charge $50 a year for a unique IPv4 address. This means that you don’t have to worry about sharing your server with other websites because you have a unique address.
Hostwinds also anti-DDoS and anti-abused security systems that protect you against malware and abuse. If there is an issue, you’ll get access to customer service 24/7, so you have to worry about your site going down. There is always someone to help you.
If you are looking for a great hosting provider that also gives you a domain and free IP address, then Hostwinds is likely the option to help you build your next website.
With plans starting from $3.95 for shared and WP hosting, SiteGround understands what their customers are looking for. You get a lot of great features with the standard plans at SiteGround as well. Even with a shared hosting plan, you get access to cPanel and can quickly install applications like WordPress. If you are looking to create different environments, then there are also options to create staging servers and one-click Git repo creation.
There are also a lot of free managed services with their plans, such as free automatic daily backups, access to CloudFlare CDN, SSDs for all plans, unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited email accounts. If you are worried about SSL, you actually get a free LetsEncrypt SSL certificate.
There are a few things that are questionable with SiteGround. For example, you may not be able to restore your website without a fee to access the backup.
You should still consider SiteGround if you want to get free features with a lot of managed services as well. You can read more about their backup and restore policy here: https://www.siteground.com/tutorials/getting-started/backup-and-restore-tool/.
Want an all-in-one, easy hosting experience? For many years, the answer has been GoDaddy. With a variety of different plans, website builders, cPanel, and WordPress, you can instantly build a website and start publishing content.
However, if you want more technical options, better servers, and a guaranteed customer service team, GoDaddy has some ways to go. While it is the easiest and most affordable option, GoDaddy offers very little to help you pick the right plan or start a mega-online franchise. In addition, their technical support options only allow for phone support, which can be spotty according to recent reviews.
However, GoDaddy has a lot of advantages for those who want to save on their site hosting and just want to get started fast. If you plan on scaling up, you may like some of GoDaddy’s newer plans that include Linux and Windows hosting options.
Some of the hosting providers on this list may have changed their prices, but the reviews still stand truthful. The hosts on this list offer the best pricing with easy options for hosting. If you are looking for more storage space, enterprise level support, and AWS support, you may want to consider Rackspace, Amazon Web Services, and SingleHop.
Top 5 WordPress Hosting
With WP hosting options, providers want to help you make a website and choose a theme that matches your website’s needs. This means that you get more page builder tools, plugins, cheaper hosting plans, and WP customer support. Here are the top providers based on current offerings in 2018.
1. WP Engine WordPress Hosting
You can’t do any better than WP when it comes to WP hosting. With 99.99% uptime, TTFB rating below 250 ms, and A+ rating by the Bitcatcha speed test, WP Engine has a lot of features that pertain particularly to those who want to build a beautiful website with WordPress.
Setup of your site is fast and easy, and you’ll get plugins as well, such as a page builder to help you design a custom site. You can build up to three environments with the startup plan, but if you want to scale, you can also go with the actual scale plan that allows for free migrations, free page performance tools, and allocations for up to 15 sites.
WP engine also allows you to get your money back if not satisfied with services after 60 days. You’ll get features like Git Integration, Multisite, and GeoTarget. These make it easy to set up your site faster and personalize it for your business or blog.
WP Engine also lets you look into the analytics of your website, allowing you to see different performance issues as well as content and applications. Plans start from $35 a month, but you can get two months for free with annual pre-pay.
2. GoDaddy WordPress Hosting
Setting up a WordPress site is almost two clicks. You will start by purchasing WP hosting directly, which is offered for under $5 per month. You’ll get unlimited bandwidth with that and your own domain for the website. You can set up the site within seconds using GoDaddy’s express WordPress builder.
This allows you to install a theme with a click of a button as well as install important plugins like page builders. GoDaddy makes it easy to set up your site with the best tools, like WooCommerce. You can build your online store or set up a catering site, whatever your heart desires. There are thousands of themes to choose from.
However, you may find that GoDaddy lacks WordPress tech support when you have a problem. The tech team isn’t always up-to-date on WordPress updates and may take longer to answer questions since they don’t have a live chat option.
For managed WP hosting, Bluehost is one of the best providers, and it’s recommended by WordPress.org. You can find WP hosting plans from $19.99 a month with Bluehost. These plans come with 30GB in storage, 2B RAM, and one free domain and IP address. You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Building a business? You’ll get a free SSL certificate with your WordPress site. It also comes with security tools like SiteLock Security. You can also access the MOJO marketplace with plugins, scripts, and more that will enhance the design of your site in a few clicks.
You can purchase hosting and setup your site fast with Bluehost. Each site has an advanced NGINX architecture and custom PHP-FPM configuration. This means that your site will be more responsive, faster, and secure.
Bluehost has a lot of options for those who are starting up a WordPress site or those who want to have an enterprise website with a ton of support and hosting features. You also get 24-hour technical support with live chat.
These WP hosting plans allow for managed performance, heightened security, and automatic updates. You’ll get everything you want, even with a basic plan for a much cheaper price as well. WP hosting plans start at $2.59 per month. This includes server caching, daily backups, and CDN.
One of the great things about DreamHost is that the customer service teams really do their best to assist their clients. That’s why DreamHost has won awards for its customer support. You can access support from your phone or desktop with live chat or a quick call.
You also get SSL certificates, cPanel, and free WordPress migration tools like DreamPress. These are amazing benefits not included with competitors for the same price. You’ll get extreme value out of a WordPress site with DreamHost that you can scale as your business starts to make more money.
Unlike some of the other web hosting providers on this list, SiteGround doesn’t have a one-click WP hosting package. Instead, you can get hosting with cPanel and install WordPress. Plans are just the same as a basic shared hosting plan with SiteGround as well.
You’ll pay about $3.95 per month for one website with 10GB of web space, which can typically support about 10,000 unique visitors in traffic per month.You’ll get just the basics with this plan. However, you can always upgrade to GrowBig and GoGeek, which offers premium WordPress features free backup resources, free WP transfer, WordPress SuperCacher, and priority technical support.
SiteGround does offer great technical support options. You can chat online or call their WordPress tech support to get help in minutes. This makes it easy to resolve issues with installation or errors that may pop up with WordPress.
However, you may want to get more web space, which you may have to switch to cloud or dedicated hosting plans. Still, if you want to quickly get setup for a rather low cost, SiteGround has great options.
Top 5 Managed WordPress Hosting
What’s the difference between WP hosting options and managed WP hosting? For one, support is much different with a managed plan. Most of these providers below offer premium support, as well as additional premium features like free plugins that make it easier to build a custom website. You’ll also get automated backups, more security options, and scalable resources.
1. WP Engine Hosting
Maybe you want something custom or specialized for your business. WP Engine offers incredible resources to those who choose to go with managed WP hosting plans. This means that WP Engine maintains the website for you, including monitoring and tracking security issues. Your manage also troubleshoots issues and keeps your server uptime in check so there are no issues with your site going down.
You also don’t have to worry about security updates or backups. Your site will automatically be optimized. While these plans are a bit more costly, you have an IT team at your fingertips for a monthly subscription. Site’s with managed WP hosting typically run faster and have less issues than sites that you may build and maintain on your own. This is because you have actual technicians who are looking at the security and well-being of your site on a 24/7 basis.
There are a number of different plans for managed hosting, including hosting for SMBs, enterprises, and digital agencies. These plans are custom for your business, so you may be able to scale or add resources automatically with your managed hosting contract.
2. SiteGround Hosting
If you would rather let someone build and maintain a website for you, then siteGround offers high-quality managed hosting for a lower rate, and you get a lot of all-in-one features. Unlike other competitors on this list, you’ll get a lot of managed services included for a low price of $3.95 per month, but you may want to upgrade to get access to premium features and your own priority technical support.
You’ll get awesome WordPress tools with these plans including automatic updates, SuperCacher, WP-CLI enabled, Git and staging environments, as well as tons of bandwidth. The top plan offers 30GB of web space, essential and premium WP features, geeky WordPress features and plugins, as well as free migration tools.
SiteGround makes it easy to transfer websites to their hosting platform. It’s one of the best features if you currently have a site that you want to move over to save on costs.
3. FlyWheel Hosting
FlyWheel is really made for all-in-one, high-quality managed WordPress hosting that truly maintains itself. You’ll get a beautiful, custom WordPress site with server-side caching, free migrations, Nginx, VPS hosting, and one-click staging environments.
It’s very easy to maintain and have fun with your WordPress site while FlyWheel takes care of all the security issues and updates. You won’t have to worry about losing your site either, as you’ll get backups daily with their managed plans. There’s also easy CDN integration, collaboration tools, dashboard, built-in traffic sites, and choice of different server locations.
Wanting to build a secure website? You’ll get a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, and you can get secure PayPal integration to make it easy for new customers to make payments on the web.
FlyWheel has also been noted for its interface, allowing you to build staging and live environments easily, as well as test sites to see how different landing pages will work with marketing campaigns. Using the stats, you can get a good idea of how well your business is doing. Of course, FlyWheel’s support will help you by maintaining your website and ensuring that your site remains strong against attempted hacks.
Customers note that it’s easy to get started on FlyWheel. In fact, you can set up a site in less than a minute using the dashboard. However, it’s the higher cost that may keep you away. However, you will get more visits per month and higher amounts of web space that you can scale with.
4. Bluehost Managed WordPress Hosting
One of the hosting options recommended by the official WordPress.org, Bluehost has been in business for many years selling managed WP hosting. This allows you to create a website fast and simply without too much knowledge necessary of how it all works to get a website up.
You may want to get help from your support team in order to build the site, but you won’t have to do very much. Managed, optimized hosting for WordPress comes with enhanced cPanel options, free SSL certificates, one domain, one IP address, and 30GB storage.
Bluehost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of their plans. You also get customized 24/7 support with WordPress help. You can set up as many plugins as you like with the free options on Bluehost or through WordPress itself.
Customers note that their WordPress sites remain extremely fast with an NGINX architecture and customer PHP-FPM configuration. You’ll also get WordPress only controls. You can make your website entirely your own with custom themes and designs.
It’s unbelievably simple to create a WordPress blog, store, or simple site with Bluehost. You have access to Woocommerce and social integration plugins as well. Bluehost even provides a full knowledgebase in order to help you create a successful site on the web.
5. Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting
Need premium WP hosting? Kinsta has been a rapidly growing web host because of its all-in-one managed features. Even at the starter level, you’ll get white glove migrations, Google cloud platform integration, automatic backups, PHP 7 support, and free SSL certificates.
Kinsta lets you pick where you want your data center to be, and you can any one of the 17 Google Cloud Platforms in order to keep your site up and running flawlessly. Every hosting server is built with LXD, NGINX, and MariaDB, so you get the fastest loading speeds.
There are also staging area environments to make it easier for development, tweaking, tuning, and testing. You can create an endless amount of websites using the basic features, and you won’t have to worry about the security of the network either. Every managed site is also built on a highly secure network with strong firewalls, daily backups, and malware detection.
However, some of the plans are a bit expensive, and you won’t start off with the lowest prices either. Kinsta provides ironclad support and lots of options for your WordPress, but the minimum monthly rate is $30. While you get access to 24/7 support, you can get similar service with less storage at other hosting providers. This may be easier if you are looking to start small and scale higher. However, if you don’t have an IT team and just want to get a site going, you’ll get a site manager and access to support if anything happens with your site.
Building a site in today’s digital age is much easier than it used to be. There are plenty of hosting providers out there with similar rates and features, but the choices on these lists have the most features and lower prices than other competitors. They have also been vetted personally and compared to other customer reviews.
When you choose a WP hosting service, you should always make sure that the provider has fast installs, custom themes, and lots of free features such as plugins. You want to be able to customize your site and ensure that there are security applications in place as well.
After reviewing all the different web hosting companies, if one resonates with you, go with it. No matter which web hosting company you choose from this bunch, you should be in good hands as long as the features align with what you are looking for in a hosting provider.
The good thing about most of these hosting providers is that they do provide access to 24/7 support. Some are better than others when it comes to providing live chat, but with all of these hosts, you can expect to contact someone right away to get help if something happens to your website.