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.
Though Wix is priced a little higher than others on the list, it's one of the best start-from-scratch systems out there. Some of the features Wix is known for are a blog hosting, e-commerce hosting, iOS and Android apps. Wix websites look great on high-resolution devices. You can also send out newsletters or give your viewers access to membership systems, which is a pretty cool bonus.
cPanel is a control panel designed for managing your website hosting. Within cPanel you’ll be able to upload and manage your files, create email accounts, edit DNS records, and check the stats of your sites. And, with our new Website Builder added to cPanel, you’ll be able to build your website in just minutes. Your cPanel login details are found in your Welcome Email.
For beginners, FastComet offers two website builder tools to help you get up and running. A simple site publisher with nine templates — choose the one you like, fill it out, and you instantly have a one-page website displaying basic information. Plus, a more involved website-building tool includes 300 templates featuring drag-and-drop design. If you don’t know anything about HTML or CSS, this tool makes it easy to build a professional website without hiring a web developer.
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.
Unless otherwise indicated, we focused primarily on shared hosting plans in our reviews. The shared hosting plans are the most common for small and medium-sized businesses looking for quick, cheap hosting services. Some companies specialize only in WordPress hosting, so we reviewed their WordPress hosting plans. We also found that cloud hosting is a viable avenue for medium-sized businesses, so we analyzed a few cloud offerings and offered a best pick under that use case as well.
Honorable mentions this week include Rackspace, which handles both personal and enterprise hosting and platform services (backed by “fanatical support!”) and Nearly Free Speech, a contender in our last look at personal web hosts, who offers exceptional hosting plans for as low as $0.25 and promises to only make you pay for what you use. Finally, we should at least mention InMotion Hosting, which mobilized quite the effort to get their customers to vote for them.
For plans or packages featuring unlimited websites, domains, or email accounts, we do not enforce any official limitations. Customers are able to utilize as many of these features as they wish. That said, these are of course not infinite resources and there are inherent maximums associated with the technology powering them. For example, while email account creation is unlimited, these rely on the file storage available on the account. Therefore customers need to be operating within the Terms of Service to ensure resources are available to fully enable email functionality. Customers operating within the Terms of Service have yet to come up against technical boundaries for email, domains, or websites.
With its easy-to-understand interface, a 30-day money-back guarantee, standard free domain offers, and one-click WordPress installation, it’s easy to recommend Bluehost for both beginners and professionals looking for a good deal. Whether you’re a web hosting novice or a seasoned pro, it won’t be too difficult to navigate Bluehost’s straightforward cPanel backend with all the trimmings.
You can host your web site or photo gallery with Linode, but unlike other traditional hosting companies that offer shared hosting solutions, Linode offers Virtual Private Server hosting (VPS) where you spin up a virtual server with the memory, disk space, and file transfer that you need for whatever application you’re building or web site you’re hosting. Some users even use their Linode servers as remote desktop replacements, others use it as private, cloud-based application servers, and others use them to host their webapps, developed applications, and blogs. You get full SSH and root access on your servers, guaranteed resources, and your choice of linux distro on the servers you purchase. Prices vary depending on the type of server you’re looking for and the resources you want it to have, but start at $19.95/mo. You can check out all Linode’s offerings here.
We took these four companies and took an even deeper look into their services. We interacted with each company's sales team via live chat and email. This gave us a deeper look into their service offering and allowed us to test the company's customer service offering. These four companies withstood each round of our research and stood out as the best companies we reviewed. They all had impeccable customer service, and a web hosting offering that's ideal for small businesses looking for services in the defined use case.
WordPress Hosting: Launched in 2003 as a blogging platform, WordPress has become a powerful content management system that powers around 26% of websites today. Consider a managed WordPress hosting package optimized for WordPress. If you want to spend less of your time managing the security and performance your WordPress website, and more time building your WordPress-powered website, then this might be the type of web hosting for you.
For many customers, possibly the most influential variable in evaluating a hosting service is cost. Cost can drive conversion, but cost can also cause you to make regrettable purchasing decisions. Don’t assume the cheapest option you can find is the best. Low cost can also mean low value, but not with the affordable hosts atop our recommendations list.
The platform features a Turbo Sever option for its top tier packages, providing users with a touted 20x faster speeds to provide your website visitors with a pleasant browsing experience. Regardless of chosen plans, A2 Hosting guarantees a 99% uptime with anytime money-back guarantee. This provider offers free hosting migration. It uses the industry-standard control panel cPanel, with resellers given both the cPanel and WHM.
PHP Hosting: Most hosting providers support PHP hosting, with many now offering PHP7, easy to implement, and boasting a huge development community, PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor is a core feature of many hosting plans. As the programming language that powers popular applications like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, if it’s PHP hosting you’re looking for then you will have no shortage of web hosting options.
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.