Shared hosting, also sometimes referred to as virtual hosting, is a web hosting environment where each individual hosting account is stored on a single web server. Think of a web server as a very powerful computer loaded with resources. Each of the accounts on the server share the same system resources whether it is disk space, data transfer or server processing power.
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The company got bonus points for its policy of performing regular daily backups, even on the lowest-priced shared hosting accounts. It lost points because its promotional price on the low-cost shared hosting does go up after the promotional period. That said, Bluehost also gained points for offering 24-7 phone support and SSH access for certain plans.
One thing we learned in reviewing the services listed here (and many more) is that even though the packages are very similar, they are not identical. Some are more security-focused than others, offering anti-spam and anti-malware tools. Others offer a variety of email marketing tools. While most of the hosts we've reviewed have built-in e-commerce, you may want to consider using a more-robust third-party online shopping cart application like Shopify instead.
Web hosts not only host your website, they give you tools to access, create, update, and maintain it. Most of our finalists use versions of a software called cPanel to do this — it’s one of the most common and universal interfaces for web hosting. If you ever want to change between web hosts, it’s good to have a common interface between your old and new hosts, since this can make the transition easier.
As you can see from the table above, not all cheap web hosts are created equal. Some have data transfer allotment and storage caps. Read the fine print for the unlimited offerings, however, as there are sometimes gotchas that might sneak up on you later. Other services limit what applications you can use. Some require you to upgrade to a higher tier just to get a particular feature. And then there are the bare-bones services offering just space and no built-in tools to make the process of building and maintaining a site easier. If you're a skilled coder, that might be fine. Which web host you select depends entirely on how you plan to use it—and your budget. If you are ready to select a great web hosting service that's also cheap, click the links below to check out our in-depth reviews of the best names in the space.
Unfortunately, this is the industry norm. Many of these companies lose money during the first two or three years they have a customer, so they charge the higher prices later to recoup their losses. A lot of customers don’t realize they are going to pay higher prices and they get sticker shock when they see the auto-charge on their credit card statement.
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).
InMotion was one of our only top picks to not send us an email response to our queries. While we received all of the answers we needed from friendly phone and live chat reps, they didn’t go out of their way to help: If we had a question, they answered. If there was a natural follow-up question, they left it up to us to ask. That’s not a dealbreaker, but if you’re a beginner and attentive customer service is a priority for you, it’s something to keep in mind.
You can also host your website on WordPress.com, but that's different from the kind of hosting mentioned above. WordPress.com uses the same code from WordPress.org, but it hides the server code and handles the hosting for you. In that sense, it resembles entries in our online site builder roundup. It's a simpler but less flexible and customizable way to approach WordPress hosting. It's definitely easier, but if you want to tinker and adjust and optimize every aspect of your site, it might not be for you.