Are you looking for the best web hosting services for your needs? Whether you need a place to host your small personal blog or a major corporate website, the following list will help you identify the best hosts to use.
Finding the best web hosting service isn’t quite as straightforward as searching Google and choosing the one with the lowest price. There are a lot of issues to consider, including the reasons for why you need hosting and how you intend to use it.
Once you have a handle on that, finding the right host becomes much easier. Choose one that’s undersized and you’ll end up with website outages and slow page loads, but choose one that’s oversized and you’ll be throwing money away.
Defining Your Web Hosting Needs
Before choosing your web host, you’ll need to think about your requirements. Consider the following concerns and decide the importance of each item on a scale of 0 to 10 (with 0 being not at all important and 10 being critically important):
- Speed — How responsive do you need your site to be? It may not matter if your personal site takes a few seconds to load, but if you want to run an e-commerce hub, those few seconds can turn away potential customers.
- Bandwidth — How much data will be transferred every month? This is tied to how many visitors you expect to have on your website at any given time and how many bandwidth-intensive elements you’ll have (e.g. images, videos, file downloads require much more bandwidth than simple text).
- Storage Space — How many pages are on your website? And more importantly, how many images, videos, and documents will reside on your server? You should first consider whether you could use free image hosting services. If you can’t, consider efficiently resizing your images to minimize storage concerns.
- Technical Support — How tech-savvy are you? Is this your first website ever? Do you have trouble figuring out how to make changes to your site? Or do you only need help when the server is down? The more support you need, the more it’ll cost you.
Once you have a clear picture of your needs, you can work your way through the following list and identify which web hosting service is best for you.
Shared Web Hosting
When multiple websites are hosted on a single physical server it is called shared web hosting. These plans are ideal for personal blogs or small websites where storage space and low monthly costs are more important than bandwidth and performance.
Want reliable web hosting at rock-bottom cost? The Basic starter package begins at a mere $3.45 per month, and for that you get 50 GB of storage for your site, 5 email accounts with 100 MB storage each, and up to 25 subdomains.
For a few dollars more, you can get unlimited storage, unlimited domains and subdomains, and unlimited bandwidth. Like most web hosts, Bluehost offers cPanel for management, a simple site deployment feature, and e-commerce support (shared SSL, shopping carts, etc.).
Keep in mind that — like most web hosts — the front-page deals are limited to new customers only. Subsequent renewals start at $7.99 per month for the Basic plan up to $23.99 per month for the Business Pro plan.
Also, keep in mind that “unlimited bandwidth” has limitations. If your site starts bringing in tens of thousands of visitors all at once, it’ll likely freeze up or take down the server and you’ll be forced to upgrade to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or a Dedicated Hosting account. So, keep future expansion in mind when choosing any web hosting service.
Media Temple promises to alleviate those short-term traffic-spike concerns by offering a product called “Media Temple GRID”.
It’s a little more expensive — plans start at $20 per month. But the peace of mind it offers can’t be understated. The service has its own control panel (not cPanel), so this may not be ideal for seasoned users who are used to cPanel. But for anyone who is new to web hosting, it’s easy to understand and simple to use.
For $20 per month, you get 20 GB of SSD storage, 1 TB of bandwidth that conveniently scales for short-term spikes, supports up to 100 websites, and comes pre-installed with the software you need to run highly-functional websites, including PHP, Perl, and Python. It comes with CloudFlare, one-click app installations, and better overall hardware.
Namecheap is one of the best options for first-timers who want to test the waters of web hosting. The Value plan starts at an unbeatable price of $9.88 for the first year and only costs $38.88 per year to renew afterwards — that’s $3.24 per month.
For that price, you get 20 GB of SSD storage, unlimited bandwidth, up to 3 domains and 50 subdomains, cPanel for management, 50 email accounts, support for CloudFlare, and all kinds of other additional software. And the performance is excellent for what you pay — much better than some web hosts that cost twice as much.
When you need to expand, you can upgrade to the Professional plan for $6.57 per month (50 GB of SSD storage) or the Ultimate plan for $10.82 per month (unlimited SSD storage). Not to mention the fact that Namecheap’s support is matchless among budget-level web hosts.
There’s a reason why we consider Namecheap to be one of the best cheap web hosting providers currently available.
Voted as the Best Shared Web Host of 2013 by Review Signal, mostly due to its price, uptime, performance, and stellar customer support. Low-traffic sites can benefit from the Tiny plan ($2.92 per month), which offers 500 MB storage and 5 GB bandwidth.
The popular Medium plan offers 15 GB of storage and 150 GB of bandwidth for $10 per month. The bonus with A Small Orange is that you get raided SSD disks that provide fast performance for your websites — something not usually offered to shared hosting customers!
If you’re looking for the lowest cost solution for web hosting, SiteGround is a good option. Start off as a new customer at $3.95 per month for the StartUp plan and you get 10 GB of storage and enough bandwidth to handle up to 10,000 visitors a month. You get a free domain name, unlimited emails, cPanel and SSH access, and even CloudFlare support.
If you get around 25,000 visits a month, you’ll want to go with the GrowBig plan which starts at $7.95 per month for 20 GB storage. This includes one free year of SSL certificate, better speed with SuperCacher, and “priority” technical support.
Of course, if you have a booming site with roughly 100,000 visits a month, your best bet is the GoGeek plan for $14.95 per month. This includes 30 GB of space, all the essential and premium features of the other plans, plus “geeky advanced features” including fewer shared accounts on the server and more advanced hardware for better performance.
Remember — These prices are first-year prices for new customers only. Your renewal the following year will roughly double in price. Make sure to check out our review of SiteGround if you want to learn more.
If the one thing you’re looking for in a web host is ease of use, then Web Hosting Hub is a good option. This host promises one-click installs of popular applications like WordPress, Joomla, and over 300 other applications.
The plans are given unique names like Spark, Nitro, and Dynamo. The cheapest plan (Spark) offers 2 websites, 25 subdomains, and a free domain. Nitro offers an unlimited number of websites and subdomains, and Dynamo offers the same but with twice as many free website transfers.
Plans start at $4.99 per month for the first year, or $3.99 per month if you sign up for 3 years. All plans come with unlimited space and bandwidth, and includes cPanel and reportedly excellent tech support. Prices will approximately double when you renew.
Sometimes, when you’re just getting started with a website, all you want is simplicity. Forget trying to figure out how much bandwidth you need — Hostmonster offers unlimited bandwidth on all plans, plus a free domain, cPanel for management, and one-click application installers for WordPress and the like.
The $4.95 per month Basic plan includes one website with 50 GB storage, the $6.95 per month Plus plan allows 10 websites with 150 GB storage, and the $14.95 per month Pro plan is unrestricted — you get unlimited websites, storage, bandwidth, plus extra features like backup protection. Prices double after the first year.
Remember — “Unlimited” for cheap web hosts is a misnomer. You may be covered for short-term traffic spikes, but if your website grows and gets a constant level of high traffic, you’ll be asked to upgrade to a bigger plan or switch to a virtual private server or dedicated hosting.
You’ll see InMotion Hosting crop up under just about every hosting category listed in this article, and for good reason — InMotion offers excellent plans all throughout the hosting spectrum.
At InMotion, you’ll find the standard shared web hosting offerings, such as unlimited disk space and monthly bandwidth, and complimentary data backup and website transfers — all starting at an affordable $5.99 per month. You get access to cPanel loaded with tools and apps for websites that will help you maintain your site easily.
If you need a bit more power and performance for your site, then you might consider the Power option for $7.99 per month, which allows for up to 6 websites on one account, unlimited disk space, and up to 100 subdomains. The Pro plan at $13.99 per month offers all that, plus unlimited MySQL databases and unlimited websites on one server.
Virtual Private Server Hosting
When your site starts to get a lot more traffic — we’re talking over 10,000 pageviews per day — it’s time to move beyond shared hosting to the next step up, which is a virtual private server. If you’re not sure whether you need to upgrade, check out our explanation of when you may need a VPS.
With a VPS, you basically have an entire virtual server to yourself. It isn’t shared with other customers so you get full access to all the CPU and RAM allotted to you, and you get full control of the server so you can install all kinds of third-party software and restart the server whenever you want.
It’s the best option for when you start getting serious with your website.
VPS hosting at A Small Orange is called “cloud VPS” because it uses Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) virtualization technology that allows for a web hosting experience that the company says will “behave like a true dedicated server with a near complete isolation of processes and user accounts with predictable, dedicated, performance”.
When you are ready to give VPS hosting a try, just go to the VPS page on the site and slide it to your desired storage, bandwidth, and pricing needs.
Their cloud VPS hosting starts from $20 per month with 20 GB of storage and 500 GB bandwidth. Or, if you need much more power and traffic, you could go with the maximum 8-core virtual server with 150 GB storage and 5 TB bandwidth for $150 per month. As far as hardware, this company uses SSDs in RAID-10 for maximum performance and offers cPanel and free on-demand backups.
Note that these prices are NOT bait-and-switch introductory prices. After the first year, you’ll still pay the same rate for the same hosting, assuming your needs don’t change. Very honest and impressive!
Never to be outdone, InMotion Hosting also offers SSDs as part of their VPS hosting. There aren’t quite as many customized choices here — you can choose between three VPS packages — but what you do get is impressive.
The VPS-1000HA-S package offers an impressive 60 GB of storage space and 2 TB of bandwidth for only $29.99 per month (new customers price). VPS-2000HA-S offers 130 GB disk space and 3 TB of bandwidth at $49.99 per month and the top VPS-3000HA-S plan gives you a whopping 200 GB of disk space and 4 TB of bandwidth for $74.99 per month.
While performance and pricing is comparable to most other plans, what you get at InMotion Hosting is amazing customer service and a cPanel that’s chock full of useful tools and utilities that’ll help you keep your site running optimally.
It won’t take long to see why people prefer InMotion Hosting. Uptime is excellent, and response times with tech support are lightning fast. Just remember that renewal prices are much higher than the introductory prices.
Media Temple is a crowd favorite among website owners, and that’s because of the Dedicated Virtual (DV) plans. On top of the SSDs that most other VPS hosts offer, Media Temple goes a step further by giving expert users the flexibility to either purchase a self-managed Linux-based VPS for only $30 per month or managed VPS solutions ranging from $55 to $249 per month.
Whether you choose managed or self-managed, you can then choose between 6 levels of hosting with a wide array of options.
Level 1 is the base $30 per month plan with 20 GB of storage, 2 GB of RAM, and 2 TB of bandwidth. The most popular option is Level 3 with 80 GB of storage, 8 GB of RAM, and 5 TB of bandwidth for $100 per month.
The price sounds like a lot, but Media Temple is very up-front about their prices — the price you sign up with today will be the same price when you renew the following year. No surprises.
We praised DigitalOcean as the best VPS host for newbies several years ago and we still stand by that statement today. It’s newbie-friendly for three reasons: excellent support, a massive knowledgebase of helpful articles, and a pay-as-you-use structure that’s extremely cheap.
It also comes with a bunch of apps that you can one-click install, including LAMP, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and MediaWiki. The only downside is that you’ll want to learn Linux to make full use of DigitalOcean’s flexibility.
The cheapest plan is only $5 per month — you won’t find many VPS hosts at that price, and the ones you do find won’t be very good — and grants 20 GB of storage, 512 MB of RAM, and 1 TB of bandwidth. You can scale all the way up to 640 GB of storage, 64 GB of RAM, and 9 TB of bandwidth for $640 per month. In other words, lots of room to grow.
You can also turn your server on-and-off at will, which allows you to use hourly pricing instead of monthly pricing. If you turn your server off for two weeks, for example, you’d only pay half the price for that month.
Linode is a cloud-based hosting solution that lets you not only immediately deploy a customized Linux virtual server in under a minute, but it lets you geographically position that server anywhere in the world.
It’s a unique service meant for people who love using Linux — complete with your choice of distributions like Ubuntu, CentOS, openSUSE, and more. You get kernel and root access, a dedicated IP address, easy configuration and disk cloning, two-factor authentication, and other cool features you’re sure to love if you’re a Linux user.
Plans range from $10 per month for the low-end plan, which grants 24 GB of storage, 2 GB of RAM, and 2 TB of bandwidth, all the way up to $960 per month for the top-tier plan, which grants 1,920 GB of storage, 120 GB of RAM, and 20 TB of bandwidth. So much room for growth, it’s insane.
So, you’ve used VPS hosting for a while, but you’re getting so much traffic that your site keeps going down? Fear not. That just means you’ve outgrown the VPS tier of web hosting and it’s time to move into the big leagues with dedicated web hosting.
What is a dedicated web hosting plan? It’s exactly what it sounds like: your website is hosted on a private server that’s fully dedicated to your website. No other website shares your machine, not even as a virtual machine. You get the entire CPU, all the RAM, and all the system’s resources.
Of course this usually comes with a hefty price, so dedicated hosting should only be a concern for serious websites that are pulling in millions of pageviews per month.
A Small Orange leads the way with dedicated server plans that are affordably priced to give you what you need. Even the starter package at $99 per month is a powerful setup: Intel Xeon E3-1220 V2 system with 128 GB of SSD storage, 4 GB of RAM, and 5 TB of bandwidth. That kind of system should suit anyone upgrading from a VPS package.
All the dedicated systems offer the same 5 TB bandwidth and Raid-1 drives. However, for each level of RAM, you can choose between the 128 GB of SSD storage or 1 TB of HDD storage for the same price. Obviously, there’s something for everyone here.
And at all levels, you get an expert support team who manage server security and system issues for you.
As usual, InMotion Hosting offers some of the best quality for what you’ll pay. The Essential dedicated server here is an Intel Xeon X3430 with 1 TB of HDD storage, 4 GB of RAM, and 6 TB of bandwidth, all for a starting price of $119.99 per month for the first year. The Advanced server is even better with 250 GB of SSD or 2 TB of HDD storage, 8 GB of RAM, and 10 TB of bandwidthh for $159.99 per month in the first year.
But if you have a booming website with a strong, steady flow of traffic, you may actually need the top-end dedicated hosting plan known as the Elite. This gives you an even faster system with 500 GB of SSD or 4 TB of HDD storage, 16 GB of RAM, and 10 TB of bandwidth. This affordable plan starts out at $229.99 per month.
Need even more power and performance? Jump up to the commercial-class plans.
If you have the cash to spend for it, Rackspace may be the last web hosting service you ever use. Dedicated servers here are completely customizable to your needs with up to 32 cores, 1.5 TB of RAM, and close to 10 TB of storage. There isn’t much that you won’t be able to do here.
Rackspace is a well-respected web hosting service. Dedicated hosting plans start from $499 per month which includes a 6-core processor, 1.5 TB of storage, 32 GB of RAM, and a dedicated Cisco ASA firewall.
Just like with its shared and VPS hosting solutions, Media Temple offers some of the most powerful dedicated server options at an affordable price. All of them come with an impressive 1 TB of SSD storage, 128 GB of RAM, and 10 TB of bandwidth.
Media Temple’s line of DV Enterprise servers now feature powerful 16-core Intel Xeon processors, 64 GB of RAM, 2.4 TB of storage, 3 TB of bandwidth, Parallel Plesk, CentOS, and more.
Plans start at Start at $2,000 per month for a self-managed DV Developer plan, $2,500 per month for a managed DV Developer plan with Plesk Web Host Edition, and $2,699 per month for a fully managed DV Developer plan with 24/7 priority response technical support.
If flexibility and options are your thing, SingleHop is one of those hosting services you’ll want. Choose a dedicated server from the 16 options on offer. These start with an Intel Core I5 server with 1 TB of storage, 8–16 GB of RAM, and 10 TB of bandwidth. All that for just $129 per month.
Need something a little more high-end? Go with the Intel Dual Xeon with the same overall specs but much faster processors, priced at $269 per month. There are other configurations to choose from that are likely to suit the needs of your website, too.
SingleHop boasts 24-hour technical support, your own dedicated account team, and a 90-minute hardware replacement time. If you go with SingleHop, you won’t be disappointed.
Choosing Your Hosting Service
When a free or very cheap web hosting plan just isn’t cutting it anymore, it’s time to upgrade to a paid hosting service. This list should give you a head start toward purchasing the best hosting service that’ll ensure your website serves up the best service for all of your visitors.
Do you have your own favorite web hosting service? What are your experiences with it, or with any of those listed above? Share your feedback and help other readers make the right choice.
Last Updated: 27th October 2016
Image Credit: Mmaxer via Shutterstock