Over the past few years, the hosting industry has changed a lot. Competition within the market has meant that web hosting companies have had to innovate along with reducing prices.
In order to find the best web hosting company, I decided to test each one on factors such as speed, customer support and uptime…
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If you’re looking for a web host who can provide value for money, outstanding customer support, forward-thinking technology, and a solid performance, SiteGround is hands down your winner (and we’re not the only ones that think so!).
SiteGround has also been officially recommended by WordPress.org, Joomla and Drupal.
• 99.9% uptime guarantee or you’ll be compensated
• 95% of all technical issues are resolved in one live chat session
• 24/7 Customer support (live chat support responses are 2-4 seconds)
• Choice of server locations inc Asia, UK, Netherlands and Singapore
• Forward-thinking technology is included in all shared hosting plans
• SuperCacher included for free (makes your site super fast)
• Free SSL certificate included
• Free Website Transfer (GrowBig & GoGeek Plans only)
• Storage is limited to a maximum of 30GB on their top plan
BlueHost are one of the most experienced web hosts, being in the game since 1996. Powering over 2 million websites, they are one of the most affordable hosts on the market. If you’re keen on hosting a WordPress site, you’ll find a perfect balance between value for money and performance with BlueHost.
If you know that you’re going to need 24/7 customer support access, BlueHost are a go-to option. However, if you’re expecting a super-fast turnaround, you may want to look at another host.
• Solid performance and uptime, my BlueHost website has had a 100% uptime for the past 30 days
• Unlimited bandwidth
• Free domain name included
• No hidden fees
• Easy to use control panel, even for beginners
• Knowledgeable live chat staff
• Unlimited usage does have limits
• Site transfers are not free (£120 in fact!).
You get a whole lot more for your money than you’d think with iPage. This budget web host offers outstanding features for just £1.50 per month, not bad hey?
iPage, for me, not only feels like a reliable and affordable web host, but also a responsive, user-friendly tool that enables its’ customers to put together the full package. For the money, there’s just nothing that even comes close.
• Unlimited storage and bandwidth
• Free domain name included
• Over £100 in extras for just £1.50 per month
• 99.97% average uptime on my test website
• 24/7 support
• 1-click installs with plenty of features
• Not enough performance for an eCommerce site
• Only 1 pricing plan
• iPage use Vdeck instead of cPanel
HostGator are a well known American web host with over a decade’s experience in the industry. In my experience, they provide solid performance results and reliability at an affordable cost. HostGator don’t try and dress things up, they do what they say they’ll do.
If you’re hosting your first website or you’re running a large eCommerce business, you’ll have tools available to suit every demand. HostGator have taken their solid reputation and applied its expertise to a wide customer market.
• Reliable brand name with a 99.9% uptime guarantee. My own tests resulted in a 99.99% uptime across a 30-day period
• 24/7/365 customer support
• Superb technical knowledge
• 45-day money-back guarantee
• Free SSL certificate with all shared plans
• Customer service response time slower than competitors
• Basic plan is not as cheap as other web hosts
GoDaddy are a real middle of the road kind of host. They offer a lot of features with solid performance results for an average price. GoDaddy are extremely well known for being a popular domain name registrar.
GoDaddy makes the entire process super easy and a lot of their services go beyond their competitors.
• Reliable performance with a 99.9% uptime guarantee. My own results showed my GoDaddy hosted website averaged out at 99.97%
• 45-day money-back guarantee
• Unmetered bandwidth
• 100GB storage on their cheapest plan
• DDoS protection and 24/7 security monitoring
• Easy to use cPanel
• Linux and Windows plans available
• Live chat only available for sales questions
• Steep price increase when you renew
If you’re worried about your carbon footprint, GreenGeeks are your go-to eco-friendly web host. Similar to SiteGround, this web host provides a variety of data center locations from you to choose from, as well as modern technologies to host your site through 2018.
GreenGeeks aren’t for everyone but they certainly strike a nice balance between features and affordability. They’re a great choice if you’re just starting to dip your toes into the eCommerce world but don’t necessarily want to pay through the roof.
• Eco-friendly web host fuelled by 300% renewable energy
• 10 years of hosting experience
• No hidden fees
• 99.9% uptime guarantee
• Free SSL certificate with every hosting plan
• Free domain registration
• Lacking in customer service skills
• Not many currency options
Another eco-conscious contender, FatCow boasts more of a playful nature that’s been around for 20 years. For many years FatCow were somewhat stuck in the 90’s but have, of late, updated their payment methods and features to bring themselves up to standards.
From only £3 per month, FatCow (for me) are a great contender in the unlimited hosting world. If you’re looking for simple yet effective, I’d highly recommend this host to increase your online presence.
• Consistent uptime levels of 99.9% to 99.99% over the past 6 months
• Unlimited MySQL databases
• Unlimited storage and bandwidth
• Renewable energy sources
• Free domain transfer
• Marketing credits upon sign up
• Middle of the road pricing
• U.S. focussed customer support
If you’re not worried about a nice-looking website and fancy features, JustHost provide quality hosting and customer service in a simple manner. Although they aren’t my number one choice, I can definitely recommend JustHost if you want affordable hosting without the frills.
For customers who are looking for a host who can provide a free website builder at a fraction of the cost of some of its competitors, JustHost are a solid and reliable option.
• Unlimited storage space
• Free website builder
• Easy to use interface
• eCommerce software including Cube Cart, Agora, and Zen Cart
• Friendly support staff
• No uptime or service guarantees
• Lacklustre performance features
An award-winning U.K. hosting company, Heart Internet boast exceptional performance and value for money. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pleasure of experiencing such promises, but there must be some truth behind their claims.
As web hosts go, Heart Internet provide a very user-friendly interface, offering beginners and experts alike a solid place to manage their accounts.
• U.K. data centre (great for U.K. based customers)
• 24/7/365 support
• Intuitive control panel
• Free Jetpack plugin with every WordPress installation
• Website monitoring
• Setup fee on their basic plan
• Expensive hosting pricing plans
• Lack of features
1&1 are a company who really offer something for everyone. Their tiered hosting plans allow for a lot of variety which doesn’t come as a surprise after almost 30 years in the industry. I would personally recommend 1&1 to those of you who are looking for lost cost, high performance hosting.
On the flip side, if you’ve never hosted a website before, 1&1 may not be your best friend! 1&1 are all about simplicity, but often they can take that notion a little too far, making things more complicated for beginners.
• Extremely affordable pricing from only £0.99 per month
• Unlimited webspace and websites on most of their plans
• Geo-redundancy technology
• Extensive library of FAQs
• Powerful website performance
• Lengthy customer support conversations
• Too complicated for most users
There’s no doubting that web hosting can be a complicated world! I often get asked questions from my readers about hosting, so I thought I’d share these with you here. I’ve compiled a list of your most popular questions with the intention of answering them in the simplest way possible!
If you’re researching the best web host, or simply shopping around for web hosting, you’re likely to see the term ‘shared web hosting’ quite a lot. Unless you have a specific need for any other type of web hosting (of which you’d already know about this), then shared web hosting will be your default go-to hosting option.
Shared web hosting, in simple terms, is where many websites (customers) share the space and resources of one web server. So, you effectively have a giant server with lots of little server slots available which multiple customers purchase and host their website from. Shared web hosting is often cheaper than any other type of web hosting. Here’s an example to give you an idea why these companies can charge so little:
1 large server = £500 (one off), split between 250 people paying £2.50 per month = £625 per month
Because shared web hosting customers share their server space with others, these plans are much more suited to people wanting to host a simple website, blog, or small business. For people who are looking to expand into a medium to large business where more resources are required, cloud, VPS, or even dedicated hosting would be a better solution.
If you’ve never hosted a website before, shared hosting would be my recommendation to you. Your web host has the responsibility to maintain all of it’s servers to ensure that your website performs as well as it can do (within reason). You, on the other hand, have the responsibility to maintain your own website; upload files, set up email accounts, monitor performance. Most web hosts won’t step in and help with these sorts of tasks unless you pay an additional fee.
The main advantages to shared web hosting are:
• Low cost and often a discount is applied if you pay annually
• Lots of features and tools available with easy to use instructions
• Scalable pricing plans so that you can upgrade as your website needs an increase
The main disadvantages to shared web hosting are:
• Restricted resources (unlimited doesn’t necessarily mean unlimited)
• Performance may become an issue when your website receives more traffic
1-click installs are very popular and tend to come as standard with most web hosts. If you sign up to WordPress (outside of your web host) you’ll need to pay for your WordPress site. The reason being is that you’re essentially buying a domain name and hosting for your WordPress site.
When you purchase web hosting, you’ll have either linked a domain to your website or bought one (or got one for free) via your web host. Once you’ve signed up, your web host will provide you with your control panel login, giving you access to 1-click installations like WordPress.
It really is as simple as it sounds. Click a button and WordPress will be installed to your web hosting account – voila! You can then login to WordPress via your web host or via WordPress’s website, giving you the freedom to roam through tonnes of free templates, themes, and plugins to make your website even more awesome!
Another common feature you’ll see when browsing web hosting companies is storage and bandwidth. Often these two items will be capped, e.g. 10GB or you’ll see them labelled as unlimited (more often than not).
I spoke briefly earlier about the capacity each ‘section’ of a server can hold. The term storage refers to how much content you can store on a web host’s server. This covers images, files, HTML, scripts, etc. The best way to think of storage is to think of a filing cabinet; it can only hold so much, but often it’s plenty for your needs.
It is, of course, a safer bet to choose unlimited storage if you’re not sure how much space you’ll actually need. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the average web page is 3MB in size, so if you find a great host without unlimited storage, don’t let it put you off.
Bandwidth may be a little more tricky to get your head around. When someone visits your website, data is transferred between your website and the user itself. Bandwidth is also used when files are downloaded (e.g. images on your website, text, etc.) and when your website is backed up.
The more visitors you have to your website, the more bandwidth you’ll require. The average basic web hosting plan will generally support around 10,000 visitors (10GB), which is often sufficient. However, if you know your website receives a lot of traffic, or you’re planning on opening an online business, you may want to find a web host that offers you unlimited bandwidth.
WordPress hosting is the same as shared hosting in that customers buy a ‘slice’ of a server to host their website on, but it’s more of a concierge service to those with or who want a WordPress website.
WordPress web hosting may also be referred to as WordPress managed hosting; it essentially means that the main focus of your hosting plan is WordPress based, and you’ll have experts on hand who know a lot about WordPress to help you should you require it.
WordPress hosting is generally much better optimised to the application itself, as well as offering enhanced performance and security needs. Some web hosts may also update WordPress automatically for you to ensure that your applications are never out of date! If you’re really lucky, your web host might even keep your plugins and themes updated too.
If you’re thinking about dabbling with WordPress, I’d recommend getting a shared hosting plan that offers 1-click installations so that you can give it a trial run.
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