Best hosting services
Choosing The Best Web Hosting Service
A Buyer’s Guide
By Skye Schooley, Staff | Updated: July 2, 2019
Whether it be a simple website or a robust e-commerce store, it is essential for small businesses to have an online presence. Choosing the right web hosting company is one of the most important decisions a small business owner will make. How you present yourself to the online world – how fast your site loads, if your site goes down – says a lot about your business to consumers.
There are several features to evaluate when choosing a web hosting company – security, storage, site speed and pricing. There are also red flags to consider, such as site downtime and negative reviews. Not every web hosting company is right for your business. Learn what to look for in a hosting provider and how to know which one fits your needs.
We evaluated more than 40 web hosting services. Below are the companies we think are the best for small businesses in 2019. In addition, we explain our methodology process, what web hosting features small business owners should look for, how much you should expect to pay for web hosting (including fees) and a complete list of web hosting vendors.
The Best Cloud and Web Hosting Services
Best Web Hosting Service for Small Business: InMotion Hosting
InMotion Hosting, our choice as the best web hosting company for small business in 2019, is a comprehensive web hosting platform that provides a variety of hosting services. It offers several hosting types, including shared, virtual private servers (VPS), dedicated servers, WordPress, managed and reseller hosting. For each hosting type, it has multiple competitive plans you can choose from. If you are looking for a cost-effective plan for your small- or medium-size business, consider one of its shared business plans.
Pricing: The pricing for InMotion Hosting plans varies depending on the type of hosting service you are looking for. Shared hosting services are ideal for small businesses, and InMotion Hosting offers three shared plans at competitive prices: the Launch, Power and Pro plans. Promotional pricing is available and ranges from $6.39 to $14.71 per month. Upon renewal, the standard rates increase and range from $7.99 to $15.99 per month – InMotion’s rates are cheaper than many of competitors. You can commit to a six-month, one-year or two-year contract; the longer you commit, the more you save per month.
Free domain registration or transfer is included for the first year of your contract and costs $15.99 each year thereafter. InMotion has a 90-day, money-back guarantee for all shared hosting plans; however, a cancellation fee may apply.
Features: InMotion Hosting offers unlimited disk space, bandwidth, monthly transfers and email storage. Keep in mind, though, that unlimited does not mean infinite. Instead, InMotion establishes an average range, based on your plan, for you to operate within. InMotion Hosting provides users with malware protection, free SSL certificates and SSH access, among other security measures. And if you need help creating your website, you can use InMotion’s website builder. More than 400 free applications can be installed with one click.
Support: You can reach InMotion customer support by phone, live chat and Skype chat. There is also a support center on its website which features FAQs, product guides, tutorials and community support.
Most Secure Web Hosting Service: A2 Hosting
Pricing: A2 Hosting has three shared hosting plans: Lite, Swift and Turbo plans. For new customers, A2 Hosting cuts the price of its plans 51%. The Lite plan costs $3.92 per month, the Swift plan costs $4.90 each month, and the Turbo plan costs $9.31 per month. Upon renewal, the rates increase and range from $7.99 to $18.99 per month. You can choose from a one-month, 12-month, 24-month and 36-month term. Some plans are eligible for free domain registration or transfer for the first year. After the first year, domain registration costs $14.95. Unlike its competitors, A2 Hosting has an anytime guarantee policy. If you cancel your subscription within the first 30 days, you are eligible for a full refund. If you cancel after the first 30 days, you may receive a prorated refund rounded up to the next full month you have left on your contract. Refunds are not offered on partial months of service.
Features: A2 Hosting offers exceptional security measures for its shared plans. Regardless of which plan you buy, you get 24/7 network monitoring, a free SSL certificate and free malware protection. A2 Hosting also provides KernelCare rebootless updates, brute force defense, reinforced DDoS protection, a dual firewall and Patchman-enhanced security tools. Each shared plan has unlimited storage and transfer, but as is the case with most hosting services, unlimited typically refers to an average usage range the company expects you to operate within. A2 Hosting patrons have access to cPanel and Softaculous, so they can easily build and manage their website.
Support: You can reach A2 by phone, live chat or submit an email ticket. The company also provides an online knowledgebase where you can find a wealth of information about hosting, developing and maintaining a website.
Best Cloud Hosting Service: 1&1 IONOS
We recommend 1&1 IONOS as the best cloud hosting company. It provides the standard hosting options like shared, VPS, dedicated servers, WordPress and cloud hosting, as well as additional cloud solutions like cloud servers, cloud backup, and cloud apps.
However, 1&1 IONOS’ cloud hosting options are more advanced than competing cloud hosting services and are perfect for users who want to customize their scripting language, web server, and database for their online business.
Pricing: Cloud hosting is typically more expensive, but it comes with an increased level of scalability and customization. The Managed Cloud Hosting M plan costs $15 per month, the Managed Cloud Hosting L plan costs $25 per month, the Managed Cloud Hosting XL plan costs $35 per month, and the Managed Cloud Hosting XXL plan costs $65 per month. 1&1 IONOS includes a free domain for the first year. After that, there is a $15 registration fee for each subsequent year. Since cloud hosting is a pay-per-usage service, you can cancel your service at any time.
Features: 1&1 IONOS is transparent about what each of its cloud hosting plans include. Depending on the plan, you will be allotted between 1GB and 8GB of memory, between 50GB and 160GB of web space, between 4 and 16 databases, 10,000 subdomains and 10,000 email accounts. Each plan is fitted with automatic resource allocation, seamless resource scaling and data center selection. All sites are secured with a Wildcard SSL certificate and high-security SSD storage network (SAN). 1&1 IONOS has its own custom control panel and supports integrations with popular apps like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, TYPO3, PrestaShop and Magento.
Support: Customers have access to numerous online resources, including a support center, a startup guide, a digital guide and an online community. Customer support is available by phone. You can also request a callback rather than wait on hold.
1&1 IONOS is accredited with the Better Business Bureau and received an A+ rating.
Best WordPress Hosting Service: DreamHost
DreamHost is the best WordPress hosting service. It, too, offers shared, VPS, dedicated servers, cloud and WordPress hosting. However, its WordPress hosting features stand head and shoulders above those of its competitors. Its managed plans offer the best value for small business owners seeking affordable web hosting with advanced website-building tools.
Pricing: There are three managed WordPress hosting plans: DreamPress, DreamPress Plus and DreamPress Pro. Costs range from $16.95 to $71.95 per month, billed annually. With the first-time purchase of any DreamPress plan, your domain name is free for one year. After the first year, the domain name registration fee costs $12. DreamHost offers a 97-day money-back guarantee on select plans. (However, you will be charged the domain name registration fee for canceling or downgrading your plan.)
Features: DreamPress provides unmetered bandwidth, SSL certificates, daily backups, one-click restore, built-in caching and automatic WordPress updates. DreamHost is transparent about how many visitors each plan supports. DreamPress supports 100,000 monthly visitors, DreamPress Plus 300,000 monthly visitors and DreamPress Pro can accommodate one million monthly visitors. Each plan is scalable if you need a higher limit. SSD storage for each managed WordPress plan is listed at 30GB, 60GB and 120GB, respectively. DreamHost managed WordPress plans are fitted with a customized control panel to optimize efficiency and control over your website. You also have access to Jetpack and thousands of WordPress plugins with a single click.
Support: DreamHost has a searchable knowledgebase with FAQs, product support and related articles. You can contact customer support and request a callback, live chat or submit a ticket. DreamHost customer support is open 24/7.
DreamHost has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
How Much Do Web Hosting Services Cost?
Most companies offer several hosting plans that vary greatly in price. What you pay depends on the type of hosting (shared, VPS, dedicated, cloud, WordPress, etc.) you want and the plan you choose. Most plans are based on a monthly fee. You can pay month-to-month, annually, biannually or triennially. Most providers offer promotional pricing for the first term, or billing cycle, and then charge a higher rate for renewal.
The best web hosting companies offer a free trial period, typically 30 days. Some, like Dreamhost, offer a longer free trial period, as long as 97 days. If you cancel within the specified time frame, you are granted a refund. However, most providers will still charge you a domain name registration fee, and they may not refund add-on features you may have purchased.
- Shared hosting: This plan is ideal for small- and medium-size businesses with blogs or basic websites. It provides many of the necessary website functions needed at a low cost, typically starting at less than $10 per month. However, because the service hosts your website on the same server along with other customers, it can sometimes go down, especially when there are high traffic spikes.
- Managed hosting: This type of hosting is similar to shared hosting, but it has an added level of support. Providers manage your operating systems, hardware and applications. The most common form is managed WordPress hosting. WordPress hosting is more expensive than shared hosting, but it offers extensive features and website builder options, which can simplify the process of building your website.
- Cloud hosting: With a cloud hosting plan, your website is hosted on multiple servers instead of just one. Some cloud hosting plans can be more technical, which, if you’re more tech savvy, can be good, because you are able to customize your website and scale your server and infrastructure. For basic sites with limited memory and CPU requirements, starting costs for cloud hosting are higher than shared web hosting but are less than VPS hosting. However, starting costs for managed cloud hosting can be extremely expensive.
- Virtual private servers (VPS): With VPS, the provider divides a server into virtual services, which means each website is hosted like a dedicated server while still sharing a server with other websites. VPS hosting conservatively starts at $20 per month.
- Dedicated servers: This is typically the most expensive type of hosting because it hosts your website on an individual server. It is extremely secure since you aren’t at the risk of sharing your server with questionable neighbors. It offers fast load times and is ideal for large businesses with high-traffic websites. Costs start at $100 per month.
- Domain name registration: Many web hosting companies offer free domain registration or site transfer for the first year you subscribe with them. Each consecutive year typically costs between $10 and $15 thereafter to register your domain name.
What Features Should You Look for in a Web Hosting Service?
Storage and bandwidth: The amount of storage and bandwidth you need depends on what you plan to have on your website. If you have (or plan to have) a lot of high-resolution images or list a huge inventory on your site, look for a plan with a lot of storage. Bandwidth determines how fast information travels to and from your site. Therefore, if you have high traffic, post videos or downloads on your website, seek plans with a higher amount of bandwidth. Pad your estimate with room for traffic spikes and growth. Also, be aware of “unlimited” plans. Unlimited never means infinite. You’ll see this term a lot when looking for hosting services. Most of the time, these plans base their claims on the average customer. If your website exceeds the allotted amount, you may have your service suspended, be charged extra or asked to move to another plan. Always check the terms for these limitations and ask the sales representative about the specifics of your plan.
Security: Security should be a top concern for small businesses, especially those that have an e-commerce website. Most reputable website hosts have SSL encryption, spam protection and some form of site backup. If you are running an e-commerce store or need extra security, however, look beyond these basics. For example, many hosting companies provide advanced encryption levels and other features, like DDoS protection and hack protection. These services are usually outlined in the more advanced plans. Even if you don’t have or need an e-commerce site, you should still get an SSL certificate.
Automatic backups and one-click restore: The best services offer regular backups and one-click restore. Daily backups mean that if your website is hacked or compromised because of an error, you can get back nearly all your information. It can be the difference between an hour-long outage and one that lasts days (or months) as you recreate content. Plus, it’s good for peace of mind.
Customer support: Whatever web hosting company you consider, be sure you can trust that it will respond to your needs quickly and that its reps are very knowledgeable. Most web and cloud hosting services can be reached quickly and offer multiple ways to contact them, such as live chat, phone support and email ticketing. Many also have a blog or online knowledgebase that can answer frequent web hosting questions.
Methodology for Choosing the Best Web Host
To determine the best cloud and web hosting services for small business, we compiled a list of more than 40 web hosting companies. We considered companies we’ve reviewed in the past or found in our preliminary research. We added vendors we found on reputable news and review websites, as well as companies that contacted us asking us to consider their service.
We spent hours researching each provider (and its services) and considered the best vendors for different use case scenarios. We also posed as small business owners to test the company’s customer service and to learn information we couldn’t find online.
Here are the features and criteria we evaluated:
- Types of hosting offered
- Rates and contracts
- Domain and transfer fees
- Cancellation policies
- Storage and bandwidth
- Preinstalled apps and integrations
- Reported uptime
- Reputation and customer service
What to Expect in the Web Hosting Industry in 2019
The web hosting industry is constantly evolving. It’s also very competitive, and as web hosting companies vie for new users, advanced features emerge for small business owners. These advancements include better security, increased site speed and personalized support offerings.
Here are some important trends to be aware of in 2019:
- Security: Cybersecurity is an important aspect of any small business website. As more and more small businesses are targeted by cybercriminals, your web hosting company is the first line of defense. Especially with the implementation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws, protection of sensitive information is becoming more important than ever. Most web hosting companies provide a minimum of an SSL certificate, site backups and SPAM protection for their hosting plans. However, look for a plan that offers more advanced security encryptions like DDoS protection and hack protection. Some plans offer extensive security features on all of their plans, while others only include them on their most expensive packages.
- Better hardware: Storage capacity and traffic volume are two features that web hosting companies compete on. As technology advances, expect more hosting companies to implement solid-state disks (SSDs) for better storage and performance.
Full List of Web and Cloud Hosting Services
*1&1 IONOS – While 1&1 offers a variety of excellent web hosting services, it is our pick for the best cloud hosting service. It allows for advanced customization and scalability on cloud hosting plans, and it offers free SSL certificates, site backups, great customer service and plenty of storage space. https://www.ionos.com/
A Small Orange (ASO) – A Small Orange offers a variety of unique hosting options, including shared, dedicated servers, cloud VPS and reseller hosting. It offers secure plans that include daily backups, virus filtering and Hotlink protection. https://asmallorange.com/
*A2 Hosting – This provider is our best pick as the most secure web hosting company. It has many features businesses need to securely host their websites, including unlimited websites and transfers, free SSL certificates, 24/7 network monitoring and HackScan malware protection. https://www.a2hosting.com/
Accu Web Hosting – Accu Web Hosting has a plan for any-sized business and offers shared, cloud, WordPress, VPS, dedicated servers and reseller hosting. It offers RAID 10 architecture and high-speed SSDs. https://www.accuwebhosting.com/
Arvixe Web Hosting – Arvixe Web Hosting has shared hosting, VPS, cloud hosting and dedicated hosting plans. This provider has every feature we looked for in a hosting solution, such as unlimited email accounts and free SSL certificates. While its business plans are more expensive than most of the other solutions we reviewed, it has personal shared plans at a lower price point. https://www.arvixe.com/
Bluehost – Bluehost has solutions for any small business, especially its shared hosting and WordPress hosting plans. These affordable plans allow your website to grow as your business expands, plus they have unmetered storage and bandwidth. https://www.bluehost.com/
Cloudways – Cloudways has a small web hosting selection, including managed cloud and WordPress hosting, for businesses of all sizes. It offers free site migration, free SSL certification, dedicated firewalls and backups. https://www.cloudways.com/en/
*DreamHost – DreamHost is our pick for the best WordPress hosting services because its affordable plans are packed with helpful features like free SSL security, domain privacy, fast SSD storage, custom control panels and automatic WordPress updates. DreamHost has managed and shared hosting plans for WordPress. https://www.dreamhost.com/
FastComet – FastComet is an ideal web hosting solution for small businesses working with a small web hosting budget. It provides transparent, affordable shared plans, a free domain and unmetered bandwidth. https://www.fastcomet.com/
FatCow – FatCow is a basic shared hosting solution brimming with helpful features. Features include unlimited bandwidth, disk space, domains, subdomains, email accounts and MySQL databases. However, some features, such as SSL certificates and backups, are only available for an extra price. https://www.fatcow.com/
Go4Hosting – Based in India, Go4Hosting offers a standard package of web hosting services for shared, WordPress, VPS, dedicated servers and cloud hosting. With a range of hosting options, Go4Hosting provides expert advice on which service might best serve your business. https://www.go4hosting.in/
GoDaddy – GoDaddy provides several web hosting packages to meet your small business needs, including shared, VPS, dedicated servers, WordPress and reseller hosting. In addition to its complete web hosting solution, it also offers domain registration services. GoDaddy web hosting plans feature unmetered bandwidth, cPanel and one-click application installation. https://www.godaddy.com/hosting/web-hosting
GreenGeeks – GreenGeeks is a web hosting company that offers a variety of solutions, including shared hosting, reseller hosting and WordPress hosting. It is also committed to the environment by working toward eliminating its carbon footprint. The service offers unlimited SSD disk space, unlimited mySQL database and free domains and migration. https://www.greengeeks.com/
HostGator – HostGator offers a range of solutions, including three shared hosting plans. However, if you want to create an e-commerce website, you need the most expensive shared plan. Each shared plan offers unmetered disk space and bandwidth. https://www.hostgator.com/
Hosting24 – Hosting24 offers a wide variety of web hosting plans including shared hosting, WordPress hosting, cloud hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated server hosting, reseller hosting, cPanel hosting and free hosting. It also provides access to a domain checker and a website builder. https://www.hosting24.com/
Hostinger International – Hostinger offers three different web hosting plans including shared, cloud and VPS hosting. It also offers a domain checker and website builder to help build your website with ease. https://www.hostinger.com/
HostMetro – HostMetro provides a limited selection of cheap web hosting plans for business owners who don’t want to deal with too many decisions. Both shared web hosting plans offer the basic features needed to host a website. https://www.hostmetro.com/
HostMonster – HostMonster offers a variety of shared hosting plans for small businesses. While the basic plan boasts standard features, the Choice Plus package offers unlimited disk space, bandwidth and emails. It also has a simplistic website builder, which can add blogs, image galleries and bulletin boards to any site you create. While HostMonster has multiple plans, its basic packages are lacking some key features needed for e-commerce stores. https://www.hostmonster.com/
HostNine – HostNine provides a range of web hosting plans, including shared, VPS, dedicated servers, cloud and reseller hosting. Some plans include a free domain, unlimited bandwidth and disk space, cPanel control panel and access to Softaculous application installer. https://hostnine.com/
HostPapa – HostPapa offers a variety of web hosting solutions, including shared hosting, VPS hosting, reseller hosting, cloud hosting and WordPress hosting. Its shared hosting solutions are well suited for small businesses and have features like free domain registration, unmetered bandwidth, a website builder, cPanel and Softaculous. https://www.hostpapa.com/
HostRocket – HostRocket offers basic plans for shared hosting, reseller hosting and dedicated server hosting needs. They offer a free domain name, unlimited mailing lists, cPanel control panel and SSH access. https://www.hostrocket.com/
Hostwinds – Hostwinds offers a variety of web hosting plans, primarily for large enterprises. Its web hosting features include unlimited bandwidth, storage and email accounts, along with free website transfer, dedicated IP address and domain registration. https://www.hostwinds.com/
*InMotion Hosting – With its affordable plans paired with its helpful features, InMotion Hosting is our choice as the best web hosting service for small businesses. Its plans have every feature we looked for, including unlimited emails, unlimited bandwidth, backups and restores, DDoS protection and an SSL certificate. https://www.inmotionhosting.com/
iPage – iPage has shared hosting services that includes a free domain name, free SSL certificates, free security tools and vDeck control panel. This solution offers a good selection of features for small businesses at an affordable price. https://www.ipage.com/
Just Host – Just Host’s plans offer many web hosting tools to sustain a variety of web-based needs, though the basic packages are best suited for small businesses with less web traffic. This web hosting service provides tools that can help you build, manage and promote your website. https://www.justhost.com/
Kinsta – Kinsta is a WordPress hosting solution that offers plans with fast loading times and a secure network. It has standout WordPress security features and a wide mix of plans and services. https://kinsta.com/
Liquid Web – While Liquid Web offers a range of hybrid web hosting solutions, it doesn’t offer standard shared hosting plans. Therefore, its packages are more expensive than other services we reviewed. Its cloud-based plans offer built-in website backups, SSL certifications and 24-hour support. https://www.liquidweb.com/
Lunarpages – Lunarpages provides web hosting services to both Windows and Linux users. It is a great web hosting option with free domain registration, free website transfer, unlimited email accounts and extensive customer support options. https://lunarpages.com/
MDDHosting – MDDHosting offers cloud hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers and reseller hosting options for small businesses. The company is unique in providing a 1000% uptime guarantee. It also offers 24/7 technical support and a 30-day money-back guarantee. https://www.mddhosting.com/
Midphase – Midphase is a small business web hosting provider that boasts cheap hosting. It is one of the cheapest solutions we reviewed, and it has all the features you need to build, launch and maintain a successful website. https://www.midphase.com/
Miles Web – Miles Web offers a large variety of inexpensive web hosting options for international businesses. Many web hosting plans include a lifetime free domain, unlimited SSD disk space and bandwidth, an SSL certificate, cPanel control panel and Softaculous application integrations. https://www.milesweb.in/
Namecheap – Namecheap offers shared hosting, managed and shared WordPress hosting, dedicated server hosting, VPS hosting and reseller hosting. It also provides a series of resources for website building and application integration. https://www.namecheap.com/hosting/
PeoplesHost – PeoplesHost is a web hosting service that offers several hosting features including daily backups, SSH access, cPanel, one-click application installations and 24/7 live support. https://www.peopleshost.com/
Site5 – Site5 offers a variety of shared, VPS and reseller hosting plans. While their basic plans have limited features, some plans include free site migration, unmetered bandwidth and storage, site backups, malware protection and 24/7 support. https://www.site5.com/
SiteGround – SiteGround offers several solutions for businesses of all sizes, including multiple shared plans, cloud hosting, dedicated servers, reseller hosting, WordPress hosting and enterprise hosting. Its shared hosting plans are affordable and offer the features we looked for in a web hosting service, including free email accounts, SPAM prevention, automated daily backups, SSL certificates and WordPress integration. https://www.siteground.com/
Sitejet – Sitejet provides a limited selection of shared hosting services that can be paid for monthly or annually. It has features like unlimited storage and bandwidth, SSL certificates, CDN and DDoS protection and automated backups. https://www.sitejet.io/en
WebHostingBuzz – WebHostingBuzz services shared, VPS, dedicated servers and reseller hosting plans. It lists features such as free website migration and SSL certificates, unlimited bandwidth, a cPanel control panel and Softaculous integrations. https://www.webhostingbuzz.com/
WebHostingHub – WebHostingHub offers easy-to-use shared and WordPress hosting solutions that are great for those with limited technical skills. It has a website builder, a one-click installer for multiple applications and 24/7 customer support. https://www.webhostinghub.com/
WebHostingPad – WebHostingPad offers many common features we looked for in web hosting services. While it typically meets the needs of small business owners, you may quickly outgrow the cheapest package. All shared packages come with free domain registration or transfer, 24/7 support, Weebly’s website builder and a 30-day money-back guarantee. https://www.webhostingpad.com/
WestHost – WestHost, a THG company, offers shared, VPS, dedicated servers, cloud and WordPress hosting. Unlike many competitors, it has a convenient product selector widget to help narrow down your choices and select the right web hosting product for your business. https://www.westhost.com/
WP Engine – WP Engine has multiple packages designed to host WordPress websites. Its plans are loaded with great features that business owners need in a hosting solution. Features include automated SSL certificates, transferrable sites and more than 35 StudioPress themes. https://wpengine.com/
Additional reporting by Matt D’Angelo, Saige Driver and Karina Fabian.
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