Spec-wise, GlowHost and FastComet are pretty neck-and-neck, but GlowHost does provide a few additional server locations in Australia and the US. Theoretically, this means GlowHost is more flexible in how quickly it can serve websites up to customers across the globe, but this benefit is primarily for its higher service tiers: If you’re signing up for shared hosting, our rep told us that you’ll most likely be assigned a server based in Salt Lake City or Phoenix.
When it comes to server operating systems, Linux is typically the default option. Still, some services offer a choice of Linux or Windows hosting. If you have specific server-side applications that require Windows, such as SQL Server or a custom application written in .NET, then you need to make sure your web host has Windows hosting. But don't let the idea of a Linux host intimidate you. Nowadays, most web hosts offer a graphical interface or a control panel to simplify server administration and website management. Instead of typing at the command line, you'll click easily identifiable icons.
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.
All of our top picks include most add-ons for free, like daily backups and basic SSL encryption. But it’s worth paying the extra $10 a year for private domain registration. This keeps your personal information out of the internet’s required registration database, WHOIS. Instead of listing your phone and address, your server will list a proxy, so you won’t have to contend with spam calls to your real phone number. (One tester from our original review on web hosting, published in 2016, has only just recently stopped receiving daily telemarketing calls — almost two years later.)
Many web hosts offer limited features in their starter packages and then expand the offerings (sometimes tremendously) for higher-tier plans. Read the small print to make sure the plan you are selecting offers what you need. If you need a site builder application to design your website, make sure that the low-cost web host you are picking actually comes with a site builder. Many of them require you to pay for the builder as a separate add-on. Website builders usually don't cost a lot of money, but if you can find a web host that includes one for free, that's money in your pocket. And, if it's integrated with your hosting service, you're more likely to have a smooth, supported experience.