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Having a website is a necessity for anyone who wants to communicate with a regional, national, or global audience. Whether it's a website for brand awareness, eCommerce, media, services, writing, or a hobby, every site needs to be hosted somewhere. Since the web began, thousands of hosting companies have arisen, flourished, and disappeared. How do you know which companies available today will be around as long as you plan to have your website online? And, how do you know what features to look for?
For starters, be aware of your budget and what hosting companies charge. Don't be lured in by apparently low-priced plans without first reading the fine print. Many companies attract website owners with seemingly impossibly low fees only to jack up the rate at the time the hosting plan is renewed. Some offer a single rate regardless of the billing period. Others offer discounts based on whether you pay monthly, yearly or multiple years in advance. Yet others offer more advanced capabilities depending on the size and needs of your website and audience.
Thursday, February 9th
ScalaHosting has the best of everything for its customers: good pricing, features, and customer service plus effective security protocols and software to detect and stop malicious behavior before your website is ruined. For advanced users who need more power, there's an intuitive pricing tool to help get just the right amount of bang for the buck. ScalaHosting has very positive reviews and therefore we rank it the highest of all the hosting providers we evaluated.
A2 is a solid hosting choice with a longstanding reputation for caring about its customers and their success. They've been around a while and aren't going away anytime soon. We found their prices for the value to be entirely reasonable. With the exception of one pattern of issues, we can give A2 a very high ranking among web hosting services.
LiquidWeb is a sophisticated hosting service that caters to small, medium, and large businesses that are already acquainted with web hosting and want to start out on the right foot. It's not impossible for entry-level website owners to handle, but they will need some hand holding from the responsive and helpful support team. Given their high user ratings and accredited "A+" rating with the Better Business Bureau, we can recommend LiquidWeb to company owners ready to start doing business on the web.
DreamHost has a ton of features for people who are well-versed in hosting but doesn't leave the novices behind in their quest for a great place to host their websites. If you need professional services, DreamHost also has you covered on pretty much every front. It's a great host, despite some confusing pricing and a little uptime problem over the last 3 years.
HostPapa provides an even split between value and service. They have a mobile-responsive website builder tool for entry-level website owners and, for the more advanced or self-sufficient, they offer managed WordPress, optimized WordPress, and VPS hosting. Reviews among customers are decent, so we recommend that you give them a try. If there's something you don't like, there's always the 30-day money-back guarantee. Just be sure to read the fine print.
GoDaddy has a lot of offerings for both new and veteran website owners. Before signing up, it's important to compare plans, understand the renewal rates and features, and ask the GoDaddy sales team for help configuring what you'll need for your specific website. There are easier hosting options to try first, so don't feel the need to default to GoDaddy just because it's a popular company.
Pantheon is the fastest, most secure, and most powerful WordPress and Drupal hosting service available. But with that power comes a big learning curve and a need for investing time, energy, and money into your organization to learn how to operate it correctly. The benefits can be immense, but Pantheon could also have made it easier to get those benefits.
Hostinger has a number of hosting plans with generous options and lots of help getting started with your website. The pricing is pretty reasonable as well. It's a good hosting option for the money, but just be aware of the slower-than-desirable server load time and an unaccredited Better Business Bureau rating.
One is a just-okay website hosting company with a good enough introductory rate to give them a try. There aren't enough positive reviews to rate it higher than average, though, so you'll want to look at other options - either instead of One altogether or near the one-year mark when your introductory rate will disappear.
HostGator has certainly been around a long time. They have low-cost plans if you're willing to pay for 3 years of service in advance, and helpful features such as free SSL and free domains. But if you're looking for top-notch customer support and reliable hosting, it's not going to be optimal for your needs.
Bluehost has a lot of website customers and, therefore, the name recognition to keep itself afloat as a hosting company. It's been around quite a long time but is lacking in sufficient data centers. Good customer service also seems to be in short supply at Bluehost, which is why we recommend looking into alternatives instead.
iPage's long-lasting status as a hosting provider since 1998 with over a million websites is an example of how those factors are not a guarantee that a service will be fit for your needs. Users of iPage are evenly divided between loving and hating it. With numerous complaints about performance, usability, and customer satisfaction, we cannot recommend iPage's web hosting at this time.
In an unfortunate reversal for InterServer, a company we had previously rated as our highest-ranked choice, we couldn't complete our review of its pricing and ease of use because of pricing details being hidden behind a broken signup paywall. Therefore, we're recommending you stay away from InterServer and look at other options.
With Network Solutions' storied history as the world's oldest hosting company, you would think it would have the best customer experience possible in a crowded hosting market. That assumption would be incorrect, however, as it has the worst customer reviews of all of the hosting companies we've reviewed. It's a good idea to completely avoid Network Solutions in your search for great web hosting.
When considering features, make a list of what you really need, what would be good to have, and what isn't very necessary. For example, do you need a plethora of themes to choose from in a do-it-yourself direction, or would you rather have a web designer create a custom design for you? Do you need a high-availability, supercharged dedicated server or just a bit of space on a shared server? Do you plan to develop your own code or do you need a professional developer for that? If you don't have a domain, will the host sell you one? If you do have a domain, how hard is it for the host to transfer it and also migrate your existing site? If you need email, eCommerce, advertising, and search engine optimization (SEO), be sure to list those as well.
Something people almost never think about is security and performance. Most like to assume that all hosts are secure and provide fast page load speeds. But that isn't always the case! This is especially a problem when a host charges very low prices for marginally capable plans. Those services are not likely to be secure or fast. Beware of shared hosting, which means your site is among hundreds or even thousands of others housed on the same server. In a shared server, when someone else's site is compromised or has a problem, it puts your site at risk.
Finally, look at a hosting company's reputation. This is not just about how many years they have in business. It's a combination of longevity, how they treat customers, how many complaints are logged, and how many of those complaints are directly answered by a representative of the company. Ask other website owners, web designers, and developers if they like or dislike a hosting company you're considering. Most of them will be able to share good and bad stories about any hosting company.
When evaluating your list and narrowing down your choices, consider these factors:
TopConsumerReviews.com has created a list of the most popular or prominent website hosting providers to guide you in your research. We hope this information makes it easier for you to choose the best web host for your business that will make your website engaging, performant, affordable, and secure.
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