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 host for your needs.
Finding the best web hosting service isn’t quite as straightforward as just searching for a service in Google and choosing the one with the lowest price. There are a lot of issues to consider, and those all have to do with why you need the service, and how you intend to use it.
Once you have a handle on your actual needs, you can purchase the web hosting plan that is right for you. Choose one that’s undersized, and you’ll end up with lots of website outages and performance issues. Choose one that’s oversized, and you’ll be throwing away money that you could instead use to improve the quality of your website itself.
Defining Your Web Hosting Needs
Before choosing your web host, you’ll need to do a little bit of homework 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 moments to load, but if you have a sales website, those few seconds can lead to lost customers.
- Bandwidth – How much data do you need to transfer from your site to the Internet? This is usually tied to how many visitors you expect to have on your website at any given time. The real-time section of Google Analytics can help you figure this out.
- Storage Space – How many pages are on your website? Are you hosting a lot of large images or videos? Before you say “a lot”, consider whether you could use free image hosting services, or more efficiently resize your images for your site.
- Technical Support – How tech savvy are you? Are you frequently struggling to figure out how to make changes to your site, or do you only need help when the server is down?
Once you have a clear picture of each of these needs, you can work your way through the following list and identify which is the best web hosting service for you.
Shared/Budget Web Hosting
The following web hosting services are ideal if you have a personal blog or a small website where bandwidth and performance are not quite as important as storage and cost. This is because most affordable web hosts offer plenty of storage for small website owners, while also offering low cost plans and great deals for new customers.
Want reliable web hosting at rock-bottom cost? BlueHost offers it at $15 and under. The basic starter package is a mere $3.95 a month, and for that you get 100 GB of storage for your site, email storage and up to 25 sub-domains.
For a few dollars more, you get unlimited storage, unlimited domains and subdomains, and unlimited bandwidth. Like most web hosts, Bluehost offers cPanel for management, a simple site deployment, and e-commerce support (shared SSL, shopping carts, etc.). Keep in mind that — also like most web hosts — the front-page deals are limited to new customers. Subsequent renewals start at $7.49 for a starter plan, up to $22.99 for the Pro account.
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 (VPN) or a Dedicated Hosting account. So keep future expansion in mind when choosing any web hosting service.
Justin reviewed BlueHost in great detail if you want to know more.
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 — but the peace of mind it offers can’t be understated. The service has its own control panel (not cPanel), so 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/mo, you get 100 GB of storage, 1TB of bandwidth that will conveniently scale for those short-term demands, supports 100 websites, and comes pre-installed with the software you need to run a highly-functional website, including PHP, Perl, and Python. It comes with CloudFlare, 1-click app installations and better hardware. Use our exclusive code and receive 20% off new hosting sign-ups: makeuseof20
See the full review of Media Temple James wrote, to learn more.
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 benefit from their Tiny ($35/year) plan: 500 MB storage, 5 GB bandwidth.
The popular Medium plan offers 15 GB of storage and 150 GB of bandwidth for $10/month or $100/year. The bonus with Small Orange is that you get raided SSD disks for a fast, high-performance website — something not usually offered to shared hosting customers! Use promo code ‘makeuseof15‘ to get a 15% discount.
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/mo 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 access to free CloudFlare CDN. If you get around 25,000 visits a month, you’ll want to go with the GrowBig plan at $7.95 a month for 20 GB storage. This includes 1 year free 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/mo. This includes 30 GB of space, all of the essential and premium features of the other plans, plus “geeky advanced features” including fewer shared accounts on the server and advanced hardware for better performance.
Remember: These prices are available to new customers only. Your renewal the following year will roughly double in price.
Make sure to check out Jackson’s review of SiteGround for more info.
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”, but don’t let that fool you. These are three levels of shared hosting where the cheapest plan (Spark) offers 2 websites and 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/mo for the first year, or $3.99/mo if you sign up for 3 years.
All plans come with unlimited space and bandwidth, and includes cPanel and reportedly excellent tech support.
Check out Tim Brookes review of Web Hosting Hub for more information about this web hosting service.
Sometimes, when you’re just getting started with a website, all you want is simplicity. Forget trying to figure out what size storage you need to thinking about limited bandwidth — Hostmonster offers unlimited space, bandwidth, domain hosting and email accounts.
Domain registration is free, and you also get the cPanel and one-click application installers (like WordPress), even at the Plus price of $6.95/mo for a 12 month plan. If you want to save a little bit of cash, you might opt for the $4.95/mo Starter plan, which does limit your space to 100 GB and 100 email accounts, but you still get unlimited bandwidth (within reason).
Remember, “unlimited” for any of these cheap services 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 either the Business Pro plan at the normal rate of $19.99/mo, or you may be forced to move your site to a virtual private server or dedicated hosting (see those sections below).
If you’re running a local business, or you want to serve your local community with your website, then Site5 is the shared hosting service for you. Like other hosting plans, Site5 offers unlimited disk space and bandwidth starting at a decent price of $4.95/mo. However, on top of that, the service lets you choose a server location that is geographically located closest to you or your visitors.
You’ll find servers located all throughout the U.S., India, and even in China, Brazil and Romania. With the Internet being a global entity, you would be very surprised to see just how much better performance your visitors experience when the web server hosting the page is located nearby.
With nightly server backups, and a custom control panel based on cPanel, you won’t be disappointed if you opt for using this service for your hosting needs.
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. Shared hosting is no exception.
At InMotion, you’ll find the standard shared web hosting offerings, such as unlimited disk space and domain transfers, and a complimentary data backup and website transfer — all starting at an affordable $4.89/mo. You get access to cPanel loaded with tools and apps for websites that will help you maintain your site easily, including an embedded web-based file browser.
If you need a bit more “power” for your site, then you might consider the Power option for $6.29/mo, which allows for up to 6 websites on one account, unlimited disk space and up to 100 sub domains. The Pro plan at $10.49/mo offers all that, plus an unlimited number of mySQL databases, and unlimited websites on one server.
Virtual Private Server Web Hosting
When your site starts to get a lot more daily visitors — heading into the upper tens of thousands a day — it’s time to consider upgrading to a virtual private server. If you’re not sure whether you need to upgrade, make sure to check out Kev’s explanation of why you may need a VPS.
A VPS is a virtual machine where the hosting company runs your site. It is essentially like having your very own web server all to yourself, except you’re still sharing the CPU power of the physical machine that the site is running on.
With a VPS you have the OS all to yourself and there are no other websites on “your” virtual server and you enjoy more privacy. It also gives you the ability to customize server applications, and your server can be restarted at any time without affecting other users on the same physical server. You also get a dedicated portion of overall RAM, so no one else on the server can consume those resources — it’s all yours.
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 price) needs.
Their cloud VPS hosting starts from $20/month ($240/year) with 20 GB of storage and 500 GB bandwidth. Or, if you need much more power and throughput, you could go with the maximum 8 core virtual server with 150 GB storage, and 5 TB bandwidth for $150/mo, or $1,800 a year. As far as hardware, this company uses SSDs in RAID-10 for maximum performance. Offers cPanel and free on-demand backups. Use promo code ‘makeuseof15‘ to get a 15% discount.
One thing that should be noted about A Small Orange is that, unlike almost every other hosting company out there, the prices listed on the site are not intro prices. Most other companies play a bait-and-switch game where your hosting prices actually double when you renew the next year. Not at A Small Orange! The price you sign up at is the price you get every year — very honest and impressive!
Never to be outdone, InMotion Hosting also offers free SSDs as part of their VPS hosting offerings. There aren’t quite as many customized choices here — you can choose between three VPS packages — but what you do get is pretty impressive.
The VPS-1000S package offers an impressive 60 GB of storage space and 2 TB of bandwidth. This is available for only $29.99 (for new customers only of course). VPS-2000S offers 130 GB disk space and 3 TB of bandwidth at $49.99/mo. Finally the top VPS-3000S plan gives you a whopping 200 GB of disk space and 4 TB of bandwidth for $74.99.
While performance and pricing is comparable to most other plans, what you get at InMotion Hosting is amazing customer service, and a cPanel that is just chock-full of useful tools and utilities that’ll help you keep your site running at optimal performance.
It doesn’t take very long being an InMotion Hosting customer to see just why people prefer them. Uptime is excellent, and response time when you report issues to 24/7 tech support is lightning fast. However, once you remain a long-term customer, you will typically pay almost double the price you originally signed up for — so keep that in mind when choosing and pricing out your preferred VPS hosting plan.
Media temple is a crowd favorite among website owners, and that is particularly because of the Dedicated Virtual (DV) offerings. Offering SSD hard drives like most other VPS hosting providers these days, Media Temple goes a step further by giving expert users the flexibility of either purchasing a self-managed Linux-based VPS for only $30/mo, or a managed and fully managed VPS solution ranging from $55 to $249/mo.
When you choose one of those plans — say the managed VPS hosting option, you can then choose from 6 levels of hosting with a wide array of options.
Level 1 is the base $55/m0, 30 GB of storage and 2 TB of bandwidth. The most popular option is 50 GB of storage and 3 TB of bandwidth for $100/mo. The price sounds like a lot, but Media Temple is another one of those web hosting companies that have adopted the honest, up-front pricing option — so the price you sign up at today will be the same price you can renew the following year — no bad surprises. However, you can get a pretty good up-front deal if you use our exclusive code and receive 20% off new hosting sign-ups: makeuseof20
Linode may not be a hosting company you’ve heard of before, but it should be a part of your plans now. It’s 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 or disk cloning, two-factor authentication and other cool features you’re sure to love if you’re a Linux user.
Plans range from $10/mo for the low-end plan, Linode 1GB, with 24 GB of SSD storage and 2 TB bandwidth. Or go with 48 GB storage and 3 TB transfers for $20/mo, 96 GB storage and 4 GB transfers for $40/m0.
So you’ve used VPS hosting for a while, and the constant traffic spikes to your site keep taking the server down, getting everyone else on the shared hardware pretty upset. Have no fear, it just means you’ve outgrown the VPS solution, and it’s time to move into the big leagues of web hosting with your own dedicated web server.
What is a dedicated web hosting plan? It is exactly what it sounds like. Your website is hosted on your own, dedicated physical server. No other website is stored on the machine, not even as a virtual machine. You get the entire CPU, all the RAM, and all of the system resources. Of course, this usually comes with a hefty price as well.
Once again, A Small Orange leads the way with dedicated server plans priced to give you what you need at a reasonably affordable price. Even the starter package at $195/mo is a pretty nice machine – an iNtel Xeon E3-1220 V2 3.1Ghz system with 4 Cores, 4 GB RAM, a Raid-11 TB hard drive and 5 TB bandwidth. That kind of system should suit anyone upgrading from a VPS package.
All of the dedicated systems offer the same 5 TB bandwidth and Raid-11 TB hard drive. However, you can upgrade to 8 GB RAM and 3.3 Ghz for $245/mo, 16 GB RAM and 3.5 GHz for $285/mo, or a massive 32 GB RAM, 12 core system (each 2.0 Ghz). Obviously, there’s something for everyone here.
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 starter dedicated server here is an Intel Core I3 with 4 GB RAM, a 500 GB drive and 6 TB of bandwidth, all for a starting price of $119.99/mo the first year (reverting to $189.99 when you renew). The advanced server is a 3.1 GHz system with 8 GB RAM, a 1 TB SATA drive, and 10 TB of bandwidth for $159.99 to start out, then $219.99/mo the next year.
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” plan. This gives you a 3.3 Ghz system with 16 GB of RAM, a RAID-12x 1TB SATA drive, and 10 TB of bandwidth. This affordable plan starts out at $229.99/mo to begin, and then $299.99/mo at renewal time.
What’s cool is you don’t have to stick to these plan configurations. You can actually customize the server to suit your needs using the server configuration tool.
The price will change to suit, but this tool gives you the ability to get exactly the server you want, configured exactly how you need.
If you have the cash to spend for it, Rackspace may be the last web hosting service you ever upgrade to. Dedicated servers here are completely customizable for your needs, with up to 32 processor cores, 1.5 TB of RAM and 2 TB of bandwidth — there’s not much that you won’t be able to do here.
Rackspace is a well-respected web hosting service. Dedicated hosting plans start from $725/month; for that, you’ll receive a six-core processor, 24 GB RAM, 2x 146 GB 15K SAS hard drive, 2 TB bandwidth, and a dedicated Cisco ASA firewall.
Just like with it’s 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 128 GB of RAM, an impressive 1 TB of SSD storage, and 10 TB of monthly bandwidth.
Media Temple’s line of DV Enterprise servers now feature powerful 16-core (HT) Intel Xeon 2.13 GHz processors, 64GB RAM, 8x 300GB 10K SAS hard drives (RAID 10), 3 TB bandwidth, Parallel Plesk, Cent OS. (dpv) Nitro is essentially a single tenant dedicated server, with the scalability of virtualisation.
Plans start at Start at $2000 for a DV Developer plan, or $2500/month for DV Developer with Plesk Web Host Edition. Use our exclusive code and receive 20% off new hosting sign-ups: makeuseof20
SingleHop is one of those hosting services you’ll want to turn to if flexibility and options are your thing. Why? Because there are 16 options of dedicated servers to choose from. These start with an Intel Core I5-760 server with a 2 x 2.8 Ghz processor, 16 GB DDR3 RAM, 2 x 500 GB drives and 10 TB of bandwidth. All that for just $159/mo.
If power is more important than memory, you can opt for the quad-core 3.5 Ghz machine with 8 GB DDR3 RAM and one 500 GB drive for $229/m0.
Need something a little more high-end? Go with the Intel Dual Xeon with 12 x 2.0 GHz cores, and 16 GB DDR3 RAM for $369/m0. There are other configurations to choose from that are likely to suit the needs of your website.
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 for your specific needs. The list above should give you a head start toward purchasing the best hosting service that’ll ensure your website stays online and serves up fast 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.
Image Credits: Servers row Via Shutterstock