Awardspace: This fully-featured web host almost made it to our final contender list, but lost points for poor customer service. Awardspace’s free tier offers the same 99.9 percent server uptime as its paid plans, packs in a web-based email client, and even includes one-click installation for WordPress and Joomla blogs. However, 1GB storage and 5GB bandwidth limits for free accounts mean you won’t be able to host large files, like videos, or sustain more than a few thousand visits a month. Awardspace will also relentlessly try to upsell you to its paid packages.
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VPS plans are similar to shared plans in that both feature multiple websites hosted on a single server. However, VPS plans maintain a strict separation between clients and websites when it comes to resource allocations. Your site gets its share, and no one else may use your resources (conversely, you may not cannibalize the resources allocated to others' websites either).
We required all of our web hosts to offer at least three types of hosting: shared, dedicated, and VPS or cloud hosting. Shared is most likely your first step if you’re just starting to build your website. Dedicated and cloud hosting are upper service tiers that can help your website flourish as it grows, and an upgrade option will save you the future trouble of migrating to another company as you expand.
Paul joined the Hosting.Review team right from the start as a content writer and marketer. He was the person responsible for establishing a trademark for in-depth web hosting evaluation and superb review articles. Before joining Hosting.Review, Paul was working on various projects as a freelancer. Paul spends his free time reading fantasy books and graphic novels.
Downsides to HostGator include the lack of a free domain and the cPanel interface looks a little dated. First-time users might find the crowded layout confusing. If you use WordPress, however, you won’t need to access the cPanel. HostGator’s own site administration is not as sleek as Bluehost’s (number two on our list of best small business web hosters).
Unlike VPS hosting, which is limited by the physical server on which your website is hosted, cloud hosting allows you to use resources offered by multiple machines. For example, if you find that your website is lagging because of lack of bandwidth, you can increase the amount available to you. Often, you can make this change yourself via the host's control panel.
That said, not all web hosts offer email. WP Engine, for example, does not. In such instances, you must email accounts from a company other than your web host. GoDaddy, for instance, sells email packages starting at $3.49 per user, per month. That might sound like a hassle, and just one more thing to keep track of, but there are actually some webmasters who feel that separating your email hosting and web hosting services is smart. That way, one provider going offline won't completely bork your business.
HostGator has been around for a loooooong time, in that time, they’ve gone from good to bad, back to decent again. They’re cheap as chips, but you’ll feel it in the quality of their services, support, and security. We’ve had multiple sites hacked on their servers, all having similar themes and plugins to other sites on different hosts, and they didn’t get hacked.
In terms of other fees, we found that domain registration is a common addition. Many companies will provide you with a free domain name for the first year, but then it's usually around $15 per year after that. A lot of web hosting companies will also try to advertise add-ons on their checkout page. These are for "enhanced performance" or additional security features. We couldn't gauge the value of these add-ons, so it may be worth it to talk with a company's sales team to understand exactly what's included in these add-ons.
We looked for hosts that made it easy for shoppers to compare services by clearly listing service tiers, the differences between those tiers, and how much we could expect to pay for each. Companies were dinged for being misleading. For example, the incredibly low prices advertised on the front page were sometimes only an option if you signed up for a company’s longest-term contract, and some companies also tacked on a “setup fee” if you signed up for just a month-long contract. Other companies advertised special features that weren’t revealed to cost extra until we’d already signed up.
While we reviewed paid web hosting services, there are also some free web hosting services out there. These provided businesses and individuals with a web builder and a no-cost hosting service. While some security and integration features may be present, they won't be as robust as the paid services. Some examples of free hosting companies are Wix, WordPress, Weebly and 000webhost. Again, while these services can provide you with a good free hosting option, their capabilities will likely pale in comparison to the paid plans. If you're on a budget, it may be a good idea to start out on one of these services and then eventually transition to a paid plan.
With that in mind, all of our following tips are going to be aimed at shared hosting accounts. However, that doesn’t mean some of these aspects can’t be the frameworks for your more serious hosting search later in life. In other words, stick to our tips for a traditional budget account, but internalize their deeper meaning for a more professional search as your site expands. Now that word of warning is out of the way, let’s get cracking!
With that in mind, all of our following tips are going to be aimed at shared hosting accounts. However, that doesn’t mean some of these aspects can’t be the frameworks for your more serious hosting search later in life. In other words, stick to our tips for a traditional budget account, but internalize their deeper meaning for a more professional search as your site expands. Now that word of warning is out of the way, let’s get cracking!
If you aim to have a web presence, you've got to have email. It's a convenient way for potential customers and clients to send you a message, Word document, or other files. Thankfully, most web hosts include email in the price of their hosting plans. Some web hosts offer unlimited email account creation (which is great for future growth), while others offer a finite amount. You, naturally, should want unlimited email.
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