Best Hosting Providers
A web host is essential when getting your business online. Some big sites handle this themselves, but for most of us, a hosting provider is an obvious choice. I’ve compared five of the best to give you a helping hand.
February 26, 2021
What Is Web Hosting?
Before I delve into the different hosts that are available, I will explain what web hosting is in layman terms.
This is the service of providing storage space for an application or website on a server on the Internet.
Once your website has this allotted storage space, other people using the Internet will be able to access it. Without a web host, your site is going to be invisible to everyone else.
How Does Web Hosting Work?
A web host is a business that will rent out its technologies and services to host websites on the Internet.
Once your website is hosted, other users will be able to access it by simply typing your domain name into their browser. This results in their computer connecting to the server whereby your site is hosted.
The server will send all of the files relating to your website to the person’s browser so that they can see everything you want them to see.
What Should You Consider When Choosing a Web Host?
Several different factors will help you to determine the right web host for you. This includes the following:
- Uptime – You should be looking for a host with a minimum of 99% uptime!
- Mobile access – Can you access your account on the go?
- Backup services
- Related products – Some hosting providers offer other services to make it easier for you to manage your entire online presence
- Credibility and experience
With that in mind, I have put together my thoughts on five of the best hosting providers below.
Inside This Article...
SiteGround is one of my favourite hosting providers. It was launched back in 2004 in Bulgaria by a number of university students. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength! Almost two million domains are hosted by SiteGround today.
Who is SiteGround recommended for?
SiteGround offers outstanding performance, and you can easily upgrade to one of their premium hosting plans later down the line if needed. I would recommend SiteGround for…
- Designers and developers seeking excellent support and quality hosting
- Large corporate websites
- Websites that run on WordPress (you can check out my top five WordPress hosting providers)
- Professional bloggers
- Online stores
At present, SiteGround has servers in the following locations:
- Eemshaven, Netherlands
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- London, UK
- Iowa, USA
- Chicago, USA
The Cloudflare Content Delivery Network (CDN) amplifies the network. A CDN like this will make regular up-to-date copies of your site, storing them in cities across the globe. This enables a website visitor to access your website from the data centre location that is closest to them so your site loads as quickly as possible.
Ease of use
SiteGround’s backend is straightforward to use. You won’t get lost in any of the pages or subpages, and you should have no issues using it intuitively.
One thing I like is that you can add different team members, assigning them to various sites and roles. This is ideal for agencies and big teams, enabling them to give their clients access.
Speed and reliability
From my experience, SiteGround is one of the fastest hosting providers out there. I’ve tested different locations, and the speed has always been on point!
In terms of uptime, SiteGround guarantees 99.9%. And when I say guarantee, I mean this in the literal sense. If your availability falls beneath 99.9%, part of your money will be refunded.
When looking for a hosting provider, one of the main things that I check out is the backups. Yes, you can use a third-party service for this, but it is so much easier to have it integrated with your host.
I am pleased to report that there is a lot to like about SiteGround’s backups. You can manage backups for every site individually, and there is also the option of on-demand backup creation.
I would prefer it if SiteGround also gave you the option to download your backup, not just restore it.
Security and hack alerts
There are several different approaches SiteGround have taken to ensure data security. This includes video surveillance, bulletproof lobbies, access control man traps, biometric access points, 24/7 human monitoring of servers, and redundant electrical supply via UPS, as well as power generators and multiple power feeds.
The 24/7 live chat support is great, and I have had no problem connecting with an advisor quickly. The knowledge base is also very helpful.
SiteGround has three different hosting plans: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek. Please note that these are their shared hosting plans! You can then find dedicated hosting and other options available too.
There are often special offers running for your first month, and then the renewal price will typically be the following:
StartUp £8.95 regular renewal price excl. VAT.
GrowBig £14.95 regular renewal price excl. VAT.
GoGeek £24.95 regular renewal price excl. VAT.
Their most basic plan – the StartUp plan – is suitable for 10,000 monthly visits. You can host one website with this plan, with 10GB of space. Data transfer is unmetered.
There are great features with the SiteGround StartUp plan. This includes friendly site tools, unlimited sub and parked domains, unlimited MySQL DB, free email accounts, free CMS install, and free drag-and-drop Weebly site builder. I have reviewed the Weebly site builder in full should you wish to find out more.
You will also get a wide range of performance-boosting features, including HTTP/2 enabled servers and SSD storage. Security features are varied, and you also get some developer, e-commerce, designer, and agency features too.
The main things that you are going to miss out on this plan are white-label hosting and client management, the ability to add collaborators, advanced priority support, advanced on-demand backup, staging, and pre-installed git.
The GrowBig plan
The GrowBig plan is suitable for 25,000 visits per month, and you will get 20GB of storage space. You can also host an unlimited number of websites. While you do get staging, advanced on-demand backups, and you can add collaborators, advanced priority support, white-label hosting and client management, and pre-installed git are only available on the most comprehensive plan.
This is the GoGeek plan. With this, you get 40GB of space, and it is suitable for 100,000 website visits per month.
You may be wondering what it means when it tells you the number of website visitors per month. This does not imply that SiteGround is going to limit your site visitors. However, if you have a lot of visitors over the number stated, shared hosting may fall short, and you may want to look into a different type of hosting plan. SiteGround offers cloud and dedicated hosting services as well.
Another one of my favourite web hosts is Hostinger. It was established in 2004, and now it has more than 29 million users. So, what is it about Hostinger that I like?
Ease Of Use
With Hostinger, the interface is modern and easy-to-use. You can manage everything in one place. This includes monitoring your emails, managing your domains, updating billing information, and tracking logins.
Although the control panel is not a traditional cPanel, the big icons make it easy for you to find what you need when you need it!
Performance and uptime
When carrying out tests on the various web hosts, I have to say that Hostinger is blazing fast, with an average 143ms. This definitely makes it one of the best hosts out there in terms of speed alone.
The uptime is as excellent as you would expect, with 99.9% guaranteed. So, it passed my test here too!
Backups and security
Hostinger can automatically create daily or weekly backups, depending on the plan you choose. You can then download your backup files with ease.
The web host’s servers also have advanced security modules, for example, PHP open_basedir protection, Suhosin PHP hardening, and Apache mod_security.
The customer support impressed me at Hostinger. I was able to get in touch with someone very quickly, and there is even a multilingual customer support team.
One thing to note, though, is that you can only access live chat if you are logged in, which is a bit annoying.
There are some great offers for your first payment with Hostinger. I am going to tell you the typical renewal prices, as this is the most you’re going to be charged. However, you can find savings as much as 88% off at times, so it’s worth keeping an eye out on those deals.
You have three different packages to select from Single Web Hosting, Premium Web hosting, and Business Web Hosting. All plans come with a free domain.
The renewal price for Single Web Hosting is £7.99. This is for one website, one email account, 100GB bandwidth, and 1 x processing power and memory.
The renewal price for Premium Web Hosting is £8.99. This is for an unlimited number of websites, unlimited email accounts, unlimited bandwidth, and 2x processing power and memory.
The renewal price for Business Web Hosting is £13.99. This has all of the benefits mentioned, as well as 4x processing power and memory, free SSL certificate, and daily backups.
Bluehost is a well-known brand name amongst those looking for low-cost website hosting. They also provide steep price discounts for those doing a large volume of business. In my opinion, Bluehost caters to a wide range of clients, from small-time bloggers to established eCommerce stores.
Bluehost provides a range of hosting packages, just like SiteGround. You not only have shared hosting, but they offer managed WordPress hosting, dedicated server, and VPS hosting too.
Ease Of Use
You will manage your account via the Bluehost Control Panel. If you have ever used a cPanel before, it is an enhanced and customised version of this. I found it very easy to use, so I am sure you won’t experience any difficulties here.
The control panel enables you to manage everything relating to your site’s accounts and hosting. This includes payments and billing, inbox and email address configuration, domain name management, and your various hosting accounts.
Uptime and performance
Bluehost has an average uptime of 99.99 per cent. As mentioned, I always look for 99.9 per cent minimum, so I was happy to see Bluehost exceeding this.
If you do experience any downtime problems with Bluehost, you will be able to cancel your hosting agreement without being subject to any cancellation fees. Of course, we would all rather not have to cancel our contract in the first place, but this is always a good backup to have!
In terms of site loading speed, I have no complaints. My only recommendation will be to consider the advanced Pro plan if you have a site that is computationally demanding.
There is a range of extra services that you can make the most of with Bluehost. This includes various apps and website builders. You can upload files using File Manager or FTP, use the goMobi Mobile Web Builder, or the Weebly website builder, which I have reviewed in full.
Backups and recovery
This is what Bluehost has to say about their backups:
“We do offer complimentary backups for our customers. They are created on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. These backups are not guaranteed in any way. We highly recommend all Bluehost customers create and manage their own backups.”
Hmm… not really music to my ears! Even though they provide backups, they’re telling you not to rely on them. If these backups disappear into thin air, there is nothing you can do about them.
You can use the Site Backup tool, which is a third-party software option that can be accessed via the cPanel control panel. If you do decide that Bluehost is the hosting company for you, I recommend using this feature.
The customer support offering is good. Bluehost provides phone support, email ticket support, live chat, and a knowledge base. It never takes long to connect with an advisor, and although the replies may be slightly delayed, you can get an answer quick enough!
There are four different shared hosting plans that you can choose from: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro.
The renewal rate for the Basic plan is £6.45 without VAT. This is based on their 36-month plan. You can shorten the contract length to 24 or 12 months. With this, you get one website, 25 subdomains, 5 parked domains, one included domain, standard performance, free SSL certificate, unmetered bandwidth, and 50 GB storage.
The renewal rate for the Plus plan is £8.87 without VAT. With this, you get unlimited websites, unlimited parked domains, unlimited domains, unlimited subdomains, standard performance, free SSL certificate, unmetered bandwidth, and unlimited storage. You also get one Office 365 mailbox, which is free for 30 days, as well as spam experts.
The renewal rate for the Choice Plus plan is £12.10 without VAT. With this, you get everything that has been mentioned in the Plus plan, but you also get domain privacy and protection and site backups.
The renewal rate for the Pro plan is £19.37 without VAT. With this, you get everything that has been mentioned in the Choice Plus plan, but you get high performance instead of standard performance, as well as a dedicated IP and two spam experts instead of one.
As is the case with most of the hosting providers out there today, there are always special deals and considerable discounts for your first payment.
HostGator is one of the most well-known names in the world of web hosting, with about 10 million domain names hosted via this platform. Here’s my take on this web host…
Ease Of Use
The login area for HostGator is intuitive. Support, management, domain name, plan details, and billing are all just one click away. I think it is one of the easiest customer portals to use, as it is effortless and uncluttered.
The cPanel is used to manage your site. You can find your usage states here too.
Uptime and performance
Uptime is always one of the first things anyone should check for when choosing a web host, and so you’re probably not surprised to learn that HostGator excels in this department as well. The average uptime for HostGator is 99.99 per cent, which is impressive.
If HostGator does not deliver 99.9 per cent uptime, free hosting is offered.
After carrying out some tests, I noticed that the server responded quickly to queries. I also test how long it takes for the website to be fully visible and useful for the end-user, and this was a big tick in the box for HostGator as well.
Backups are carried out, but only once per week. I was able to do a manual backup of my website whenever needed, though.
HostGator also saves a number of ‘restore points’ that enable you to roll your site back to a previous version of the content.
The team is available 24/7 if you have any questions. There is a free phone number, which is ideal for those who prefer to speak over the phone.
There are several different hosting plans for you to choose from, including dedicated WordPress plans, VPS plans, and more. We’re going to talk you through the web hosting plans. You can opt for the Hatchling Plan, Baby Plan, or Business Plan.
The prices are reasonable! The cheapest plan, the Hatchling Plan, has a renewal rate of $6.95 per month. The next plan, the Baby Plan, has a renewal rate of $9.95 per month. The most comprehensive plan, the Business Plan, has a renewal rate of $14.95 per month. All of the plans come with free domain name registration for the year.
The Hatchling Plan is for one domain. It comes with an unlimited email and one-click installs. The difference with the Baby Plan is that unlimited domains can be used. For the Business Plan, you get several other features. This includes a free VoIP phone service, dedicated IP, and private SSL.
If you ask anyone to name a web host provider, you can be sure that most people will say GoDaddy. Not only have they wowed with their Super Bowl commercials, but they have over 16 million customers around the world. Pretty impressive, right?
GoDaddy is known as the biggest domain registrar since 2005. It also offers comprehensive web hosting services, and it has added many other products and services to its repertoire over the years.
They cover all of the hosting plans you could need. This includes shared hosting, specialised WordPress hosting, VPS plans, and dedicated hosting plans.
Ease Of Use
Selecting a hosting plan is easy with GoDaddy, and their interface is simplified too. Once I had chosen my package, I was taken to the central dashboard where I could access everything, including my website’s cPanel control panel, a website builder, and email set-up. The look is very simple and clean, making it ideal for new users.
I do think things are a little bit more confusing once you get into the cPanel, but it shouldn’t cause too much of a struggle. On the left, you will see statistics for your website, including storage and file usage. I found this helpful, as I was able to see the demands my website was putting on the server and whether or not it would be better to update to one of the more comprehensive plans.
Uptime and performance
GoDaddy seems to consistently hit 99.95% and over in terms of uptime, so they’re very reliable.
Their page loading speed is impressive too, with an average page loading time of 554ms.
Lots of extra features and applications
GoDaddy comes with its own website builder, which boasts a simple drag-and-drop interface. It’s not bad, but I would recommend going for one of the five options I have reviewed here.
One thing I must say, though, is that there is a lot of upselling going on, which can be a bit frustrating!
Backups and security
GoDaddy’s security offering is substantial, yet there are a few holes. A lot of hosting providers offer an SSL certificate as standard, but this only comes with the premium plans.
However, this is not to say that there aren’t some impressive security features. The basic plan uses spam detection and a secure shell for your email accounts and control panel.
The more advanced plans provide better security. Not only do you get an SSL but 2048-bit and SHA-2 encryption.
Daily malware scans and backups are performed. You can also create your backup copies of your site whenever you wish.
You can expect 24/7 customer support from GoDaddy. They also have live chat, phone support, and a knowledge base.
The live chat does start with an automated bot, but once you’ve selected what your query concerns, you will then be connected to the right chat agent.
There are four different web hosting plans available: Economy, Deluxe, Ultimate, and Maximum. There are then specialist plans you can look into, including WordPress hosting, Business hosting, and Linux hosting.
There are some great introductory price offers, but as is the case with the other website hosts, the renewal rates will be higher, so we will inform you of those.
The Economy Plan is designed to provide necessary resources for starter sites. The renewal rate is £5.99 per month. With this plan, you get a free domain if you purchase the yearly plan, as well as a free Office 365 email for your first year. You also get hosting for one website, unmetered bandwidth, and 100GB storage capacity. Although the storage capacity is high, this is as basic as it gets in terms of the features you get with your plan.
If you want more flexibility and space, or you’re hosting multiple sites, the Deluxe Plan may be more suitable, with a monthly renewal fee of £7.99. With this plan, you get everything in the Economy Plan, as well as unlimited subdomains, unlimited storage capacity, and unlimited websites.
Next, we have the Ultimate Plan, which has a renewal cost of £12.99 per month. With this plan, you also get unlimited databases, free premium DNS, a free SSL certificate for one year, and 2 x memory and processing power.
The final plan – the Maximum Plan – is the most comprehensive and has a renewal cost of £19.99 per month. It also comes with a free SSL certificate for the full-term, 2 x maximum site traffic, and 2 x more power and memory.
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In my opinion, there is no such thing as the “best” web host. It is all about figuring out what you need and then finding something that matches your requirements. For example, if you want a host that offers exceptional support, I would always recommend going for SiteGround. For a good all-rounder, Bluehost is a wise choice. There is something for everyone, so you need to think about what you really want from a host and then choose a provider that matches your requirements.
The five web hosts that I have reviewed in this post are all suitable for small businesses looking to host their website online.
Yes, if you have a website and you want other people to view it, you are going to need a web host. You won’t be able to get your website live without having a web host. Web hosting providers ensure that everyone can access your website.
Yes, you can, but I would not recommend it unless you have a lot of tech knowledge. Some people do prefer to host their own website because they have infinite customisation possibilities, and response times are rapid. However, you are going to have to invest a significant amount of time and money in going down this route. It is also not possible without the required experience.
You will need to pay a small monthly fee for web hosting services. Some web hosts have different plans available, depending on the sort of services they offer.
Based on the client base, the largest hosting company is GoDaddy.