OVERVIEW

Web hosting is a service that enables users to publish websites and make them accessible over the Internet by using space a web host provider’s server. In addition to space, the web host manages different functions of the website, including access from other users, technical maintenance, and security. Essentially, the space the web host provides can be shared with other websites (cheapest option), or solely dedicated to one user’s website (most expensive option). Many web hosts also offer a number of middle ground options that combine features from both. 

A web hosting service is necessary to post a site on the Internet, so anyone who wants to have a website that others can access needs one. To choose a web host, it’s important to be clear on what you need and expect from your website. Big businesses expecting a high volume of traffic will need much more resources, security, and speed than a small business or blogger.

When choosing a web hosting service, one of the most important factors to consider in comparing companies is the end user’s degree of technical ability. If you’re a beginner, take heart, because the days of needing programming knowledge to build a website are long gone. It is now possible to build your own with little or no coding, and to do it for relatively cheap. Look for web hosting services that manage almost every technical aspect of your site, and provide 24/7 customer service in case you run into any trouble.

One of the most important things to watch out for is the web hosting company’s pricing model.  An often-mentioned complaint about web hosting companies concerns auto-renewal practices. It’s important to note the asterisks by the prices and read the fine print carefully. There are companies that will cite a very low price for an “introductory term” without specifying what the term is, how to cancel auto-renewal payments, or even how many years they will charge up-front. In our reviews, we have documented the pricing fine print for each individual company, and whether we have found customer complaints regarding unethical charging practices.


Top 10 Companies

#1
Our Partner
9.4 / 10
  • Powerful Web Hosting with WordPress optimized solution available
  • 24/7 US-based Customer Support
  • 45-Day No Risk Guarantee
  • 99.9% Uptime Guarantee
  • Unmetered Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Email Accounts, FTP Accounts and Sub Domains Offered
#2
Our Partner
9.1 / 10
  • #1 Choice at WordPress.org for 10+ years
  • 1-click WordPress Installs
  • 30-day Money Back Guarantee
  • 24-hour Technical and Live Chat Support
  • Google Integration
  • Cloud Sites
  • Easy Wordpress Installation
#3
8.8 / 10
  • Free domain registration
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Free marketing tools
  • Thousands of free templates
  • Free email address
  • Plans include over $500 in extras
  • Unlimited disk space
#4
Our Partner
8.8 / 10
  • Free Domain
  • Free Email
  • Thousands of Free Templates
  • Drag and Drop Editor
  • SEO Tools
#5
8.8 / 10
  • Shared and VPS web hosting
  • Hosting for both Linux and Windows
  • SiteLock tools for best web security
  • BBB accredited, A+ rating
  • Easy-to-get, inexpensive domain names and tools
  • Premium domain names
#6
Our Partner
8.5 / 10
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Live chat provided
  • One-click Wordpress install
  • 24/7 technical support
  • Unlimited hosting space
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Unlimited data transfer
  • Free setup
#7
8.4 / 10
  • Online questionnaire to help users find the right plan
  • 90-day guarantee for shared, business, reseller, and VPS hosting
  • SiteLock™ cybersecurity tools keep your website safe
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee and daily backups
  • Optimized WordPress integration
  • Customer support 24/7
#8
8.2 / 10
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Mobile optimized websites
  • Social media integration
  • 24/7 phone, chat and email support
  • Visitor statistics and site traffic reporting
#9
8.1 / 10
  • Over 10,000 template combinations to choose from
  • Hosting is free—Websitebuilder finds the right host for you
  • Quick and simple eCommerce solutions
  • Free SEO tools included
  • Social media integration
#10
8.1 / 10
  • Get a free domain name
  • Easy-to-use site builders
  • Wide selection of templates
  • Online store and selling tools
  • Application installation wizards
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited storage and bandwidth
Don't see the business you are looking for?
Suggest a Business

How We Compare Web Hosting

Range of Services

30%

This is a broad category that describes the basic to advanced features a given web hosting platform can offer. We begin by looking at the uses each host is geared towards, if any. For example, web hosting platforms may be specifically designed to accommodate to beginners with no previous web design or coding experience. Some hosting services are especially good for simple blogging, while others have the graphics and upload capacity to handle designer or artist portfolios. Others are ideal for implementing different sorts of video interface. We continue by identifying the operating system for backend programming, usually Windows, Linux, or Unix. We also delve into a provider's variety of hosting methods: shared, dedicated, VPS, WordPress, cloud, collocated, reseller, etc. Finally, we enumerated all the basic and advanced features a given web host service has on offer.  

Select Features

Web hosting companies must be able to provide a good range of features required for website building and hosting. These features must be reliable, especially when it comes to the company’s uptime service. Make sure to check each feature offered and compare them to see if they match your web hosting needs.

Unmetered Bandwidth – no extra charges or limits for bandwidth usage
Disk Storage – amount of storage available for uploading files and data
Drag and Drop Site Builder – an automated tool that helps customers create websites from existing templates
Unlimited Domain Hosting – unlimited use of domains
Data Transfer – seamless transfer of data
Free Domain Name – network address given to customers
International Domain Name Support – domain names that are shown in the user’s local language
Sub Domains – part of the initial domain
Web File Manager – web software that helps users to organize their files
Site Statistics – a type of marketing strategy to analyse your website’s success level
FTP Access – standard network protocol that is used for transferring files between servers and clients
Uptime – your web host’s reliability
Pre-Installed Apps – a bundle of software installed in the web host
WAP Enabled – application used to enable use in wireless devices
Parked Domains – temporary web page that visitors see when they type in your primary domain
Password Protected Directories – secured directory of information
One Click App Install – simple tool for installation provided for users

Email Features

Web hosting companies features a myriad email options. Some of the most important we took into consideration include:

Webmail interface
Integration with Google Apps
Forwarding
POP3 support
iMAP support
Autoresponder

Archiving

Archiving/backup services are crucial for the reliability and stability of a website. Many of our top providers offer all, or a combination of the following:

Daily/Weekly/Monthly Archiving
One-click restore
Restore databases and tables
Download to desktop

Languages

A reliable web hosting company must be able to support a list of programming languages and databases that are required for building the customer’s website. From basic language to the most complex, the company must provide the service as well as expert technical support for these types of code.

ASP
JSP
ColdFusion
Ruby on Rails
Perl
PHP
Python
C++
Other


Security

20%

Security features are essential if you want to keep your website safe from hackers. Don't think it is just huge, moneymaking websites and government institutions that they are interested in targeting. Given the ubiquity of SEO spam, small businesses and even blogs and other non monetized websites can be useful to hackers. Using automated attacks, they can compromise thousands of websites at a time, building hacked network empires that can make them money by redirecting traffic, emailing spam, link building, etc. Most hosts will have firewalls and other basic security features in place. However, it is crucial to understand the weaknesses in their defenses so you can augment them through your own efforts accordingly. When comparing web hosting platforms, we looked at a variety of security features including DDoS protections and password protected directories, among others. 

Security Features

Some of the common security features we took a look at include:

SSL Certification
Malware scans
Blacklist
Anti-spam email monitoring
SQL
XSS
Website application scans


Customer Experience

20%

To judge customer experience we first looked at customer reviews on the BBB, as well as Trustpilot. The vast majority of customer complaints focus on billing and customer service issues. With regard to billing, customer most often complain they were unaware of the aforementioned auto renewal policies. Customers also call out providers that are difficult, or impossible, to get ahold of over the phone, or unhelpful of evasive on chat. Complaints about the service itself usually center around restrictiveness of template-based platforms that are designed for the beginning web designer. Although there is really no regulatory agency or watchdog for this particular, we tried to take into account any significant trends in customer reviews across other popular web hosting consumer sites. We also documented support hours and methods of communication. 

BBB Rating

The Better Business Bureau is a nonprofit organization offering verified, unbiased information on more than 30 million North American companies and their business practices. Their goal is to set the foundation for marketplace trust by enforcing ethical standards of business behavior and monitoring compliance among their member companies. The BBB is an essential resource for consumers wanting to determine a business' reputability. Although not all companies are registered with the BBB, participating members demonstrate a greater commitment to developing business acumen and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Trust Pilot Rating

Trustpilot is an online review community offering overall customer satisfaction ratings for over 170,000 businesses as well as access to customer-provided feedback on verified orders for their products and services. Just as with the BBB, not all businesses are registered with Trustpilot, yet participating companies—especially those who actively engage with their clients—can be assumed to be more concerned about their customers' experience and satisfaction than those who fail to establish an online presence.


Price and Subscription Model

30%

One of the most important, and confusing, things to consider when choosing a hosting service is its subscription model. While there are some services that will offer month-to-month payments (should you for some reason be needing to operate a website for that long), most providers feature one-year or multi-year plans. The majority of these types of plans will auto-renew unless you specifically cancel within the terms stipulated by the company.

As with VPN and anti-virus software providers, web hosting companies have developed a bad reputation for deceptive pricing in the past. Certain services would advertise a low "introductory rate," say $3.99 per month for the "initial term." Customers would then select their term of 1-3 years, led to believe they would be paying $3.99 in monthly installments. Then, after one month, their bank account or credit card would be charged for hundreds of dollars. Upon scrutinizing the fine print (which was generally buried somewhere on the website), customers would find out that the "initial term" was one month and they were agreeing to be charged for their entire selected term (1-3 years) at once. What's more, they were also agreeing to the "introductory rate" only applying for the first month, and to later be charged the "standard rate," which would be more in the neighborhood of $9.99/month for their ENTIRE term at once. 

This obviously led to an inordinate amount of consumer complaints. 

These days, web hosting subscriptions and pricing are much more transparent and straightforward. Still, we've endeavored to explain each company's policy in the plainest terms possible. Most companies now offer the introductory price for the entire initial term and make it clear that your payment method will be charged for the whole term up front. So an introductory $3.99/month offer for 36 months will cost you around $144. However, most companies also make it clear that, after the selected term expires, the subscription will auto-renew again at the standard rate, which they usually identify on the landing page as a crossed out price next to the introductory rate. To make things easier, we've provided a range of introductory and standard rates in each company's review.  

Money Back Guarantee

Many companies offer a free trial period where customers can test-drive services. Typically this lasts 30-90 days and users are able to cancel for a full refund, minus specific charges.


What's important to know about Web Hosting?


What is web hosting?

Web hosting providers are businesses that offer the services, storage, and technology that allow individuals or businesses to display their website on the Internet. They are responsible for making the website available to anyone who is online, whether they search for it specifically or find it while surfing the web. There are many different types of web hosts, but all of them provide space on a server, which is either owned or leased by clients.

Do I need to be an expert to build a website?

You do not need to be an expert in order to build a professional-looking website. In fact, the most popular types of web hosting for start-ups and small companies—shared hosting and web builders—are beginner-friendly and require little to no experience in dealing with code or other technical elements of the trade. However, other types of hosting such as dedicated and cloud hosting, do require someone versed in the server's technology.

How much does web hosting cost?

On average, web hosting costs between $47.40 and $1,999.88 per year, according to data from the WhichWebDesignCompany, which has a database of over 7000 web design agencies worldwide. This number will naturally vary, as the most affordable form of web hosting—shared hosting—can cost as little as $4 a month, while the most expensive—dedicated hosting—can run up to $100 a month.

What is an operating system?

An operating system is a computer’s most important piece of software. The OS manages a number of operations on a computer, including its memory, processes, applications, and hardware. In terms of web hosting, the operating system refers to the foundational system on which a given provider's servers run. This is generally Linux or Windows. Customers may have many reasons to prefer one over the other, but the choice is mainly based on familiarity with backend access.

Can I choose my own domain name?

You may choose your own domain name but must rent the license to do so first. All domain names must follow proper regulations and fall under certain restrictions, such as being unique and only consisting of letters, numbers, and hyphens. A domain name cannot be bought, but you can keep using it as long as you pay the fees for it.