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Published Jun 22, 2022 7:00 AM

The “Yellow Pages” are a thing of the past. Today, it’s all about attractive, functional, and speedy websites. The best web hosting services can make it easy to set up your website, interact with customers, and get customer support. The first step in setting up your website? A web host.

Your choice in web hosting services affects how your site looks, how easy it is to set up, site security, and how well the site functions overall. However, you have a lot of decisions to make. Do you need simple shared hosting or WordPress hosting? Someone with a small, personal blog probably doesn’t need the same security features as a growing business. To help you in your search, we put together a list of the best web hosting services, including options designed for professional WordPress publications and those on a budget.

How we chose the best web hosting services

First, we took into consideration personal experience, peer suggestions, and user impressions to compile a list of options. We then considered the features that make a web hosting service not just good but great, including: 

  • Security: One of the first things we considered was security options. If you’re going to sell anything from your site, you need a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate. Some services include an SSL certificate in their packages, while others offer them separately. Other security features we considered were spam protection, PCI compliance (which you will need if you’re selling products), and spam protection.
  • FTP access: If you ever leave your current website host, you’ll need access to your file transfer protocol (FTP). Some hosting services provide FTP access while others don’t. If they don’t, you can only access your website through their website editor.
  • Storage space: Websites vary a great deal in how much storage space they require. We looked at free and basic packages up to the top-tier levels for hosting services that provide enough storage for the package options.
  • Uptime: A server’s uptime is the amount of time it’s actually running. Some subpar hosting services may seem like they’re down more often than not. No website can make it if it’s not visible to the public. We looked for hosting services with few complaints of sites being down.
  • Customer support: We only considered web hosting services that offer some form of 24/7 customer support. That support may come in the form of chats, phone, or email, but you should always have some way of communicating with the web host.

What to consider when buying the best web hosting services

The first thing to do is determine the hosting type you need, which typically means picking from the following:

  • Shared hosting: Shared hosting is the entry-level, least expensive option. With shared hosting, a single server houses multiple sites. The cost stays low because many sites are using the same server. However, if any sites on the shared server have a spike in traffic, it can affect the load times and functionality of the other sites on the server.
  • VPS web hosting: Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is similar to shared hosting, except that you get a dedicated server space on a shared server. It’s like setting up your website in a secured space where you are assured access to the speed and functionality you want. VPS hosting is more secure, but it’s also more difficult to manage and costs more.
  • Dedicated web hosting: Dedicated web hosting gives the site its own server. As you can imagine, it’s pricey but necessary for sites that use a significant amount of resources. This type of hosting assures that you’re getting the servers’ full power 100 percent of the time. However, some West web hosting services require you to handle any technical issues with the site. If that’s not something you can handle, look for a web host that offers managed hosting. That way, you get help with server maintenance.
  • WordPress hosting: WordPress hosting makes the WordPress environment the default on the server. It’s used for sites that build content using the WordPress content management system (CMS). An optimized word plus plan will include automatic updates for plug-ins, CMS, and backups. 
  • Cloud hosting: Cloud hosting involves several servers rather than a single server as with shared hosting. Your site is still contained on a physical server, but parts of it may be on a cloud created on several servers. When someone comes to your site, files needed for your website may come from several different servers. Cloud hosting often comes with a flexible pricing structure because you’re only charged for the amount of resources you use rather than a set amount. Cloud hosting is also easily scalable because information can be shared across more and more servers if needed. Additionally, cloud hosting creates an environment where everything isn’t saved on one server. If one server goes down, you’ll still have the functionality offered by information on the additional servers.

Extra features

A few extra features can make setting up your website fast and simple. For example, some web hosts include a site builder in every package. With others, you have to buy the site builder separately. Consider that a site builder already part of your hosting service will probably go smoother than when you install one later.

While we’re listing 24/7 customer support as an extra future, it should really be a core requirement. You should be able to communicate with your web host at any time, whether that be through chat, email, or a phone call. That doesn’t mean you’ll get an immediate response, but you’ll have an option to get assistance.

Email hosting

Many web hosting services include email hosting with their plans, though some do not. An email address that matches your website gives a professional look to your site and communication. Take a look at the specifics of the email hosting if it’s offered. Some entry-level plans may only include five email accounts per site, while others may include unlimited email accounts. Consider the kind of growth you expect for your business when picking a provider with email hosting.

Marketing and e-commerce

Many hosting plans and packages look similar at first inspection. However, when you take a closer look, there are some significant differences that may impact your website. Web hosts may offer email marketing tools as part of their standard package, while others include anti-malware and anti-spam tools as standard fare. The nature of your business can help you hone in on a host that fits your goals.

Server operating system

The default operating system is usually Linux but some web hosts offer Windows server hosting, too. There are some server applications that may require Windows, so make sure that the provider offers it if you may use applications like an SQL Server or a custom .NET application.

The best web hosting services: Reviews & Recommendations

We like to think we’re consummate hosts to all who visit our website, so here are our top picks for the best web hosting services.

Best overall: BlueHost

BlueHost

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Why it made the cut: BlueHost balances features and price, with plans that fit professionals and beginners and offer impressive customer support.

Specs 

  • VPS Hosting: Yes
  • Cloud Hosting: No
  • Email Hosting: Yes

Pros

  • Excellent WordPress hosting plans and features
  • User-friendly interface
  • Reliable uptime
  • Reliable (and available) customer service
  • Free site migration

Cons 

  • No cloud hosting
  • No Windows-based servers

BlueHost is in the top spot for its overall ease-of-use, customer service, and WordPress hosting plans. I’ve used BlueHost for my professional website for over five years and have no complaints. I can personally attest to the responsiveness of their customer service. They’ve helped me with everything from loading issues to updating an SSL certificate. 

BlueHost also boasts an easy-to-use interface, which can’t be said for all providers. It’s basically point-and-click to explore your options and manage your websites. Where they really shine are their three hosting plans where WordPress comes preinstalled. You can also use their free WordPress migration tool to transfer your files from another host.

They’ve got a long list of security features, including three anti-spam tools, password protect directories, digital certificates, and secure shell (SSH) access. Finally, they have excellent uptime, which I can attest to. My site rarely goes down and, if it does, it always comes back online within a few minutes without me having to do anything. 

BlueHost does have its drawbacks. For example, it does not offer cloud hosting nor does it have any Windows-based servers.

Best for small businesses: HostGator 

HostGator

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Why it made the cut: HostGator’s cloud, WordPress, VPS, and dedicated server plans are feature-heavy for a versatile and powerful way to create and maintain websites. 

Specs

  • VPS Hosting: Yes
  • Cloud Hosting: Yes
  • Email Hosting: Yes

Pros

  • Robust features with each hosting plan
  • Helpful e-commerce tools and site-building software
  • Excellent uptime
  • Works for advanced and novice webmasters
  • Excellent shared hosting plans

Cons 

  • Only some plans include Windows-based servers
  • Pushes three-year signup when many other options are available
  • Interface requires some adjustment time

HostGator appears at or near the top of many best web hosting services lists. The reason for that is the range of packages that allow small and medium-sized businesses to flourish. A few of their more attractive features include unlimited disk space and monthly data transfers at their lowest-tier business plan and a toll-free number and private SSL certificate with the highest-tier business plan. Their shared hosting plans stand out because they all come with unlimited storage, monthly database transfers, and email hosting.

However, they also offer VPS hosting, cloud hosting, and several plans that include Windows-based servers. But keep an eye on your package if you need Windows because it’s not in everyone. Their VPS and dedicated hosting plans are reasonably priced and feature-rich. HostGator also includes easy-to-use site-building software and e-commerce tools in the form of Mojo Marketplace to customize your site and start selling.

You can install WordPress on any of HostGator’s servers. They also have three plans with the WordPress CMS preinstalled. Finally, we have to mention their impressive uptime and fabulous customer service. Sites really go down and if you have questions, there’s someone available to help.

Best VPS: Hostwinds

Hostwinds

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Why it made the cut: Hostwinds offers a wide range of VPS plans and gives you extra flexibility in determining which plan is right for you.

Specs

  • VPS Hosting: Yes
  • Cloud Hosting: Yes
  • Email Hosting: Yes

Pros

  • Easy-to-use Weebly site builder
  • Range and size of VPS hosting plans
  • Impressive uptime

Cons 

  • No window-based servers
  • Short refund window

Hostwinds offers some of the best VPS plans out there thanks to built-in flexibility of the options. The highest tier of these plans can also handle a massive website. Hostwinds has four Windows-based and Linux plans. That’s expanded with several unmanaged plans but also includes both Linux and Windows servers. The largest VPS package offers 96GB of RAM, 9TB monthly data transfers, and 750GB of disk space. Yes, pick up your jaw from the floor. As far as VPS hosting goes, they offer incredible flexibility and options that can take you from small to extra large on the site scale.

However, they also have a range of plans for dedicated hosting, shared hosting, WordPress hosting, cloud hosting, and even reseller hosting if you want to take on hosting services yourself. They even have a Minecraft-hosting option.

Hostwinds plans use the Weebly platform, which is a simple drag-and-drop interface. It’s not quite as adaptive as WordPress, but it’s easy to use with a shallower learning curve. On the downside, they have a short refrain window and not all of their plans have Windows-based servers.

Best for WordPress: WP Engine

WP Engine

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Why it made the cut: WP Engine is designed specifically for WordPress up to large businesses.

Specs

  • VPS Hosting: No
  • Cloud Hosting: Yes
  • Email Hosting: No

Pros

  • Choice of Amazon Web services or Google Cloud Platform
  • Daily backups
  • Offers custom plans
  • Excellent uptime
  • Impressive customer service

Cons 

  • Doesn’t sell domains
  • Hosting plans do not include email

WP Engine might be a little limited on the hosting type variety, but as far as WordPress goes, it’s top-of-the-line. First off, users get the choice of using Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform to house their website—both huge web hosting providers with excellent speeds and security. They can actually be overkill if you are building a small personal site.

For each of their WordPress plans, you get unlimited data transfers and unlimited storage. Plans include a few extras that you don’t typically find such as a content delivery network (CDN) that speeds up load times, the option to test the site in a non-public environment, and software that helps transfer and store data.

WP Engine’s devotion to WordPress includes managed features like plug-in updates and daily site backups. Includes many features that optimize the entire process from setting up your WordPress site to maintaining quick page loading.

However, it caters to large businesses rather than small businesses or personal websites. And it’s missing a couple of perks that are fairly standard with other providers, like email hosting and purchasing a domain.

Best budget: DreamHost

DreamHost

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Why it made the cut: DreamHost provides simple tools to create beautiful websites at a price that’s budget-friendly.

Specs 

  • VPS Hosting: Yes
  • Cloud Hosting: Yes
  • Email Hosting: Yes, except for the entry-level plan

Pros

  • Attractive security features
  • Unlimited data transfers
  • Well-rounded cloud hosting plans

Cons 

  • No window-based servers
  • No phone support

DreamHost offers affordable packages with several of their hosting types. However, it’s the cloud-hosting options that shine. Their packages range from a decent 512MB and unlimited monthly data transfers to 8GB of RAM on four CPU cores, again, with unlimited monthly data transfers. These plans are affordable and have attractive features and functionality.

We like how easy it is to navigate the dream host interface. It’s easy to find your information, change settings, and find the security features. Here, you can do everything from blocking spiders and editing .htaccess file. It also includes free SSL certificates.

On the downside, DreamHost doesn’t include phone support with any of their plans nor do they offer any Windows-based servers.

FAQs

Q: What are the biggest web hosting companies?

The biggest web host company by share of the market is GoDaddy. GoDaddy makes setting up a website fast and simple. However, the web hosts on our list have features that outpace this hosting veteran. Of those on our list, HostGator takes the top spot as far as share of the market.

Q: Which is the best web hosting for beginners?

BlueHost is one of the best web hosting services for beginners. As a newbie when I tried to set up my first website over five years ago, I can attest that BlueHost made the process simple and relatively painless. They’ve got excellent customer service and a fairly intuitive interface.

Q: What is a very popular website hosting service?

Both BlueHost and HostGator are among the most popular website hosting services. BlueHost tends to lean toward beginners, though their premium plans can certainly handle large businesses. HostGator is a feature-rich option for those who are ready to dive in from the start. 

Q: What are the different types of hosting services?

The different types of hosting services include shared hosting, dedicated hosting, VPS hosting, cloud hosting, and WordPress hosting. For more information on each, please see our buying guide above.

Q: Which server is the fastest?

The fastest server can vary by location, internet provider, and hosting service. Depending on the size and type of your website, you get the fastest speeds from dedicated web hosting and cloud hosting.

Q: How do I choose a hosting plan?

You can choose a hosting plan by estimating the amount of traffic you expect. If you’re starting completely from scratch, start with a basic plan. It’s easy to switch to a higher tier one search traffic picks up or if you discover you need more resources or features.

Final thoughts on the best web hosting services

For many individuals and businesses, BlueHost offers the best plans and customer service options. You can always upgrade your plan as your site grows and if you need help at any point, there’s email, chat, and phone communication available. DreamHost’s unlimited data transfers and cloud-hosting plans make them an attractive choice if you’re on a budget. The interface is also easy to navigate so you can quickly get things up and running.

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