Over the past few years, the web hosting industry has changed a lot. Competition within the market has meant that companies have had to innovate along with reducing prices and adding new functionality. Basically it’s got a hell of lot better (which is great news for you).
Over the past 7 months I have analysed and tested quite a few hosting services (23 in total) and then chose the best web hosting providers which I have reviewed below. Through trial and error I have come across some fantastic providers along with some terrible ones. In terms of pricing I have only tested services below the £5/month price point as the main focus is on budget hosting (which is classed as shared hosting).
Below are my current “go to” web hosting services along with detailed hosting reviews…
|iPage has been around for a while now and is still one of the best hosts in my mind. It offers solid performance and uptime statistics and also happens to be the cheapest web host that we've tested which it makes it our #1 choice.||SiteGround has excelled is most of our tests. It's well known for providing great customer service. If your looking for a UK based server then this is the one. A little more expensive than some of the others but you get what you pay for.||BlueHost is an extremely well known hosting provider that provides some great features and server response speeds. It's even recommended by WordPress.|
|Plan in review: Essential Plan||Plan in review: Startup Plan||Plan in review: Beginner Plan|
|Average Uptime: 99% *||Average Uptime: 97%||Average Uptime: 98% *|
|Unlimited Storage | Unlimited Bandwidth||Unlimited Storage | Unlimited Bandwidth||500GB Storage | Unlimited Bandwidth|
|Free Domain Name||Free Domain Name||Free Domain Name|
|From £1.59/Month (SAVE 71%)||From £2.75/Month||From £2.25/Month|
|Visit iPage||Visit SiteGround||Visit Bluehost|
Established in 1998, iPage offers their hosting packages from only £1.50 per month ($1.99). Upon signing up, we were a little overwhelmed by the number of features for this price, it didn’t seem right! Adwords vouchers, search engine credit, Facebook credit, and a free business listing in the Yellowpages, all came as part of the package. To compete with other big names, iPage ensure that their packages offer unlimited storage space, emails, and MySQL databases; all pretty standard features that we’d expect. However, along with this, iPage offer unlimited domains with unlimited bandwidth all under the same account details, so if you’re looking at hosting, or even creating multiple websites, stop right here and get on the bandwagon.
The purchase journey was simple and our account was up and running within minutes with no hiccups which was very pleasing. After signing up, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty and investigate the control panel which contained features for all experience levels.
FTP and FileManager essentially offer the same features, the only difference is, one has a client and the other one doesn’t. So, if you’re experienced with FTP, you have the option to dive straight in and get started on what you know, however if you’re not, you can use the simple FileManager tool and do exactly the same thing.
If you know what you’re after there are many features to explore, such as, the Mojo Marketplace which is the 1-Click installer with a connected marketplace full of themes, graphics and logos, plugins and more. If you’re a small business trying to setup shop, then this could be the place to do that; Shopsite is integrated into iPage and provides you with all of your e-commerce needs. Just be careful not to experiment with this unless you are certain you’re going to roll with it for a while, as once you’ve added this, you’re locked into a contract.
Lastly, and by no means least, if you’d like to experiment with your website or you just want simplicity, you can use the website creator by CM4AII and Weebly drag and drop builder. If you don’t have the technical know how, these tools will get you on your feet and will inevitably open the doors for you to walk through the world of WordPress.
So far, so good, but what about the performance of iPage’s website and offerings; do we really want to rely on them? The short answer is, yes. With a maximum Uptrends response time of 1.7s, we were really astounded by these results. We monitored the uptime of iPage’s website over the space of a few months and were once again left in awe when the results came back with an average uptime of 99.97%; some months were record breaking and came in at 100%. We can safely say that we would be a happy customer if these trends continued.
This is the section that we always get a little nervous about as it’s so easy for companies to fall down in this area, so we were genuinely surprised when iPage’s customer support was pretty damn good! We opted for Live Chat support as this is much less stressful than going through various different telephone options, only to get an automated response at the end of it. There was a slight delay in connecting to the Live Chat support, however, once connected, the advisors on hand were brilliant; they knew the answers to our questions and were very friendly. Aside from the slow connection, we really couldn’t complain about this experience, especially compared to other hosting provider’s customer support.
If you’re looking for a cheap web hosting package or you are just starting out and building your first website, we would certainly recommend iPage. With great uptime and reliable customer service, we can honestly say that iPage is a brilliant budget hosting provider starting at £1.59 per month (making it the cheapest hosting provider in our tests). These combined factors make iPage our #1 choice.
SiteGround started out in 2004 and were, surprisingly enough, started by a group of University friends. They offer the next level of website hosting with tremendous customer support, or so we heard, so we wanted to investigate SiteGround ourselves and give our spin on their pricing, features, uptime, and customer service.
SiteGround offer 3 shared hosting plans which are tailored to the needs of their customers, and their websites. We felt the need to implement a visual comparison here because SiteGround’s plans were vast and we wanted you to see this.
|StartUp Plan||GrowBig Plan||GoGeek Plan|
|SuperCacher||Static||Static + Dynamic||Static + Dynamic|
|Free Website Builder||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free Site Transfer||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free Email Accounts||Yes||Yes||Yes|
The above doesn’t even cover half of it! SiteGround’s features are well above the game compared to other hosting companies, so we had a good look into them and what they really mean.
StartUp Plan is great for beginners at a measly cost of £2.75 per month; if you don’t require all the ‘high tech’ features but are looking for a decent hosting package, then look no further. Included, you will receive: free domain name, 24/7 support, SSD storage, unlimited bandwidth/emails/databases, cPanel access, WordPress & Joomla kits, free daily backup, 99.9 percent uptime guarantee, and if you’re really not happy after this landed on your plate, SiteGround offer a 30-day money back guarantee.
If you’re looking for something with a bit more speed, for only a little over £1 more, the GrowBig Plan introduces premium features which include: priority technical support (we love this, and we’ll tell you why later on), SuperCacher which uses NGINX and Memcached providing dynamic and static caching, 1 years’ worth of free Wildcard SSL, and 30 backup copies. The increase in resources from the StartUp plan almost triples, and allows you to host unlimited websites. For the price and features, we strongly recommend this plan.
For business users and developers, the GoGeek Plan cranks up the volume once again, and the price reflects this. The GoGeek Plan offers a PCI compliant server so if you’re hosting an e-commerce website, you can feel safe in the knowledge that your website will allow the use and protection of credit card details. The developer features give you GIT, WP-CLI, and fewer accounts on the server which means you can use 4 times the number of features compared to the StartUp Plan.
With all of their fancy features, SiteGround guarantee a 99.9% uptime so naturally we had to investigate this and see if their figures matched their promises. Over the last 12 months, SiteGround have had 99.9% uptime; they guarantee that if you ever experience more than 0.1% downtime, they’ll compensate you over a yearly basis. Their confidence in their own statistics shines through and is reflected by the results we’ve found. SiteGround have uniquely implemented custom server monitoring software which means the majority of issues can actually be resolved without any human interaction; another neat offering.
Now, we’ve mentioned in other reviews that customer support can sometimes be a grey area when it comes to website hosting providers. SiteGround are nothing more extraordinary with their super-fast response times and knowledgeable support. Whether you don’t understand something, accidentally deleted part of your website, or are having technical issues, the staff at SiteGround will help you out within a matter of a few minutes – honestly, we tried and tested it and even wondered if the support staff were robots!
We really struggled to find anything bad to say about SiteGround, and here we’re just being picky; you can pay monthly on their website but if you want this option, there will be a small setup fee. Given the features you’ll get with SiteGround, we can’t see any reason to pay monthly – get the package and reap the rewards. Whether you’re new to the game or are an experienced developer, SiteGround will have you covered on all areas and you won’t be disappointed.
A very popular name within the web hosting industry, BlueHost were established in 1996 and now host over 2 million websites worldwide which puts them in one of the top spots based on hosted sites volume. BlueHost offers 3 main plans and a pro plan with a lot of features, starting from only £2.25 per month.
|Website space||50 GB||Unmetered||Unmetered|
|Email storage||100MB per account||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Marketing||$200 included||$200 included|
|Price||£2.25 per month||£4.50 per month||£5.45|
Unquestionably, the basic plan is a perfect choice for beginners; if you’re only looking to host one website it gives you this option and an included domain to do so. This is a great place to start given the price.
The plus plan isn’t that much more expensive than the basic plan but offers so much more. With great value for money, the plus plan offers unlimited hosting across unlimited websites, email accounts, and parked domains. Unless you’re handling a lot more sites, the plus plan would certainly be sufficient. Alternatively, if you are looking for more, the prime plan and pro plan ($13.95 per month) offer a dedicated IP, SSL certificate, and various other features and perks.
BlueHost is recommended by WordPress and has been for many, many years. Every plan and account features the 1-click WordPress install, making the process of building and hosting a website ever so simple. However, if you’re not keen on WordPress, there is also the option to insert Weebly into BlueHost, giving users the classic drag and drop website builder to get beginners started. The only downfall we found with Weebly was that there was often a delay in BlueHost updating their version of Weebly, compared to Weebly Inc. releasing new features.
On the face of things, BlueHost seem like a reputable company offering low cost hosting packages, so we probed into response times and uptimes to take a closer look. Uptrends reports a maximum response time of just over 4 seconds which is a lot higher than we’ve experienced previously. Average uptime trends across the space of a few months brought us results showing around 99.7% uptime; not the best we’ve seen, but certainly not the worst considering the low cost you’re paying each month.
BlueHost fall into the rare category of offering 24/7 support covering live chat, telephone, and email, which is great, especially if you need an answer there and then. We tested BlueHost’s support at different times of the day and found the response times varied a fair bit; generally, between 10 minutes to over an hour. Once we got through the general level of tech knowledge was fairly adequate; luckily for us and everyone else, there is a knowledge database containing video tutorials, support documents, and more if you’re really stuck.
BlueHost offer some great features at low prices; their customer support isn’t the best or most efficient, but it is available 24/7, so we felt that even if we did have to wait up to an hour, at least someone was there on hand. We’d expect a better uptime from a company like BlueHost, but in the grand scheme of things, considering how cheap the plans are, we didn’t feel that this was a deal breaker. If you have a WordPress site, or your own website, BlueHost is easy to use and pretty painless. If you’re not happy with your service or plans, you have a 30-day full refund policy which is guaranteed.
Basing themselves in the hosting market for over a decade, HostGator offer budget web hosting with a lot of features. When we visited HostGator for our review, they were offering around 60% off their marked plan prices, starting from as little as £3.25 per month for the Hatchling Plan, £4.95 per month for the Baby Plan, and £4.95 per month for the Business Plan.
|Hatchling Plan||Baby Plan||Business Plan|
|Free dedicated IP||N/A||N/A||Yes|
|Free Private SSL||N/A||N/A||Yes|
|99.9% Uptime guarantee||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Every plan comes with unmetered disk space and bandwidth, a free website builder with over 4000 templates, cPanel, unlimited email addresses, 24/7 support, and a 45-day money back guarantee. As a starting point, we felt these were some very nice features. So often we’ve seen website hosting companies that limit the lower cost plans which result in them almost not being worthwhile purchases, but HostGator is different in this sense. As with most hosting companies, HostGator offer $100 worth of Google Adwords credits, which is a lovely little bonus if you’re just starting out. The 1-click installs of WordPress, Joomla, and Magento are, of course, included, and easy to use.
The cPanel is refreshingly easy to use; even if you’re a beginner, you’ll be able to get the hang of the panel very quickly as we find it very user friendly. If you’re looking for a little extra, you can increase your plan and dive into the world of e-commerce via the cPanel.
Every plan that HostGator offers comes with free website building tools, including the popular Weebly SiteBuilder, as well as 1-click installs. If you shy away from the shared website hosting and only want to focus on WordPress, we discovered that you will gain access to a customized control panel which has been designed specifically for blogging, making the process even easier, if that’s possible!
HostGator claim a 99.9% uptime guarantee, so naturally, we put this to the test. First, we checked out the websites response time, resulting in a maximum response time of 1.5 seconds which we were very happy with. We had a look at the uptime results across the space of 30 days, 7 days, and 24 hours which all came back with a 99.9% response time or higher. HostGator take their guarantees very seriously, and rightly so, which they can be proud of.
HostGator offer 24/7 support, 365 days a year, which really should be standard across all web hosting companies, but sadly this isn’t always the case. Offering support via live chat, telephone, and email, we contacted HostGator to see what all the fuss was about, and presented them with various issues to test the waters. Our experience with HostGator’s support was phenomenal, they really knew what they were talking about and were very quick to respond. From basic support questions to technical queries, we couldn’t fault HostGator at all on this topic. We had a look around to see if our experiences were a one off, and naturally some users did present poor reviews of their support, however, you will find this with every single hosting company; not everyone will be happy. If this is the case, after testing HostGator’s services and support, they offer a 45-day money back guarantee which should make users feel a little more at ease if they’re concerned about anything.
If you’re a beginner, HostGator offers you all of the tools and features that you’ll need to get started. If you’re more advanced, these tools and features still apply, and allow you access to shared hosting, VPS hosting, WordPress hosting, and e-commerce features, all at your fingertips. HostGator is recognised as a solid hosting provider with a good reputation that has been present for many years, offering a lot of industry experience. Their prices may not be as cheap as other competitors, but their services and reliability are certainly up there with the best.
GoDaddy is certainly a well-known brand name in the website hosting business, as well as domains, web security, and more. At first glance, their packages, plans, and features seem very plentiful, so we compared their different plans against their pricing.
|MySQL databases||10 (1GB each)||25 (1GB each)||Unlimited (1GB each)|
|Domain||1 free with annual||1 free with annual||1 free with annual|
GoDaddy uses cPanel which is very easy to use; we love seeing web hosting companies offering this. There are so many features available on cPanel but these are only available to Linux hosting, whereas Windows uses Plesk. GoDaddy have gone to great lengths to customise the cPanel, keeping the theme consistent across their website which showed us that they take their time on their features and finishing touches.
As well as 1-click installations of our firm favourites, GoDaddy’s free website builder is a great place to start if you’re a beginner, and is all round an excellent tool. It was easy for us to create a website, add links, Google Maps, sliders, and more through a single drag and drop process. We loved the additional apps that could be implemented, too, such as, PayPal. With so many options available, it’s hard to know where to start; we found ourselves spending hours searching through the available themes and plugins, and were pleasantly surprised with the nightly backups and software updates. The site itself for doing so was a pleasant experience and easy on the eyes.
With GoDaddy’s 99.9% uptime guarantee, we firstly consulted Uptrends to check out their response time against the homepage of their website. The results showed the maximum response time returned was 2.8 seconds, which, given the number of servers the website hit, was very impressive. We tracked GoDaddy’s uptime across a 4-week period to ensure that they were true to their word. Sure enough, the results showed that GoDaddy’s uptime was reliably and fantastically stable.
GoDaddy offer telephone, live chat, forum, and social media support, however, it is worth noting that the live chat support is only really available for sales enquiries, rather than existing business or technical queries. We tested the various different channels of support with some basic and technical questions to get a gauge on how well they would cope. The telephone support was pretty straightforward and easy to get through to; the wait time wasn’t too bad and averaged around 4 minutes; we called several times to eliminate any one-off cases. The support staff knew their stuff and were very friendly and uplifting. GoDaddy’s forums had a lot of information and were very helpful across the board, and their Twitter support was very similar for general enquiries.
GoDaddy, we felt, really offers the whole package at a very reasonable cost. If you’re looking to setup your website with speed and are unfamiliar with the process as a whole, or know what you’re doing, the services and features often go beyond the competition. If you’re an e-commerce website builder, there’s some brilliant software at an extra cost, including secure checkout, SEO tools, and store themes to check out. With the vast number of tools available, and a decent level of customer service once you get through, GoDaddy is a reputable and safe choice. If you’re not convinced, there’s a 45-day money back guarantee to reassure you.
|PACKAGE NAME: StartUp|
|Cost per month (12 months): $3.95 (for the first year)|
|Cost per month (36 months): $3.95|
|Bandwidth: 10,000 visits/month|
|Free domains: 1|
|Marketing offers: –|
Disclosure: Please note that the web hosting companies that I recommend are based on my own experience. I receive commission for any products that are purchased via links on this page. You will not pay any more than the prices indicated. In fact we often showcase recent offers and promotions which are not available elsewhere.
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