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Web and Cloud Hosting Services

by Saige DriverLast Modified: April 10, 2018

Intro
Best Picks
State of the Industry
Pricing
Infographic
Methodology
Reviews
Negotiation Tips
What Is Free Web Hosting?
Hosting Types
What to Look For
Common Web and Cloud Hosting Questions & Answers
Map
Services

The Best Web and Cloud Hosting Services for 2018

For business owners, few decisions are as complex and challenging as selecting a web hosting service. That's because there are hundreds of companies to choose from, each offering multiple service types and plans. Shared web hosting, VPS hosting, domain hosting, cloud hosting … which one should you choose?  

If your business is small or new, a shared web hosting plan is the best place to start. However, if you've outgrown your current host, your website is complex or you want advanced customization options, VPS or cloud hosting may be a better fit. If you have multiple websites, you may prefer a domain host.

We want to help you choose the best web hosting service for your specific business. InMotion Hosting, 1&1, Bluehost and DreamHost are our top picks. You can read more about them below and why we recommend them, along with advice about the features you should look for and tips for getting a good deal.

Best Picks

Best Overall
U.K. Web Host
Cloud Host
WordPress Host
InMotion Hosting

Best Web Hosting Service

InMotion Hosting

With its great features, responsive customer service and affordable pricing, InMotion Hosting is our choice for best web hosting service. All three of its shared business hosting plans – Launch, Power and Pro – come with one free domain registration and unlimited email addresses.

InMotion Hosting is one of the few providers to offer multiple security features with all its plans, such as a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate, a secure shell (SSH), a solid-state drive (SSD), a spam-filtering program and free data backups.

1&1

Best U.K. Web Hosting Service

1&1

1&1 is our choice for best U.K. web hosting service because it provides numerous features, security options and support tools. It has three plans: Basic, Unlimited Plus and Unlimited Pro.

While its Basic plan is limited to 100GB of storage, one website, 25 databases and 500 email accounts, its other two plans are unlimited in these features. All plans come with daily website backups and free restores, SSL certificates, and 24/7 service.

Bluehost

Best Cloud Hosting Service

Bluehost

Bluehost is our choice for best cloud hosting service because of its affordable plans and helpful features that allow your website to grow as your business expands. Its cloud hosting plans – Starter, Performance and Business Pro – are packed with helpful features.

All plans include one free domain registration, automated migration, unmetered bandwidth, advanced security options and unlimited email accounts. To help with protection and safety, Bluehost automatically distributes three mirrored copies of your data across different devices.

DreamHost

Best WordPress Hosting Service

DreamHost

DreamHost is the best WordPress hosting service because of its unlimited features, great security options and customer support. The three managed WordPress Plans – Basic, Plus and Advanced – come with free SSL certificates, domain privacy and site backups.

The cloud hosting plans can grow with your company. If you experience a sudden spike in traffic, DreamHost will allocate more power to the sever to ensure it keeps running. Your website will be safe with DreamHost. The Basic plan comes with basic site backups, while the other two plans come with VaultPress offsite backups, which protect your website from hackers and viruses.

State of the Industry

Consumers expect every business they encounter to have a website. Luckily, it's easier than ever for businesses to create them, as many web hosting services provide drag-and-drop website builders. You no longer need coding skills to quickly and easily create attractive, functional websites.

Many web hosting companies seek to serve as one-stop shops and bundle ancillary services into their plans, providing domain registration, email services, security features, and the ability to install applications such as blogs, shopping carts and CMS platforms with a few clicks. Some companies also provide SEO and social media tools or services; others offer prewritten, industry-specific content and images.  

Server-based web hosting continues to dominate the small business market, and shared hosting remains the most cost-effective option for small businesses. However, like many other business services, web hosting is moving to the cloud, and the best web hosting companies offer cloud hosting alongside their shared, VPS and dedicated hosting services. Some advantages of cloud hosting are enhanced reliability, security and capacity for high traffic. However, cloud hosting is more expensive than shared hosting services.  

"Unlimited" is a buzzword that many shared hosting services use to describe their bandwidth and storage; however, there are limits. Your bandwidth and storage aren't constrained unless you exceed what the company deems regular use, as defined in its terms of service. These limits are usually more clearly defined for higher-end web hosting services, such as cloud, VPS and dedicated hosting.

Pricing

Web hosting services charge a monthly fee for hosting your website and an annual fee to register your domain. Companies typically offer a variety of plans. Pricing varies greatly, depending on the type of web hosting service and plan length you choose. Although some companies offer month-to-month service, most offer better pricing if you sign a contract.

Nearly every company advertises promotional pricing, which can be steeply discounted. Although it can be tricky to find the company's regular rates, take the time to do so, since that's the rate you'll pay after the promotion ends.

  • Shared web hosting: This is the most affordable option, and it's well suited for businesses with small, basic websites or blogs. Costs usually start at less than $10 per month.
  • Cloud hosting: For basic sites with limited memory and CPU requirements, cloud hosting starting costs are higher than those for shared web hosting, but less than VPS hosting. However, starting costs for managed cloud hosting can be higher than dedicated hosting.
  • VPS hosting: Starting at $20 per month, this is a good option for businesses wanting more control and customization options without the expense of a dedicated server.
  • Dedicated hosting: Ideal for large businesses with high-traffic websites, this is one of the most expensive options. Costs start at $100 per month.
  • Domain name registration: Most companies offer free registration for one domain name for the first year. After the first year, it usually costs $10 to $15 per year for a .com name.

Which features cost extra? As you compare services, you want to know what features you need, and whether they're included with the plan or if they cost extra. Features that may cost extra include SSL certificates, security monitoring, email services and backup services.

How much does it cost if you exceed your storage or bandwidth? As you evaluate costs, you will want to find out if your plan will be automatically upgraded or if you'll be charged incrementally for exceeding your limits. You don't want any surprises when your bill comes.

Understanding Web Hosting Services Infographic

Understanding Web Hosting Services
Credit: Grant Reinero

Methodology

To find the best web hosting service for small businesses, we started by creating a list of vendors that appeared on reputable online sources, including review and business websites. We also interviewed small business owners to find new vendors to add to our list. We included vendors that have pitched their web hosting services to us. In total, we created a list of about 25 companies.

We then narrowed down the list based on different use cases and features, which are listed below. We reviewed each web hosting service's website, compared prices and looked at other user reviews. We posed as small business owners and contacted sales representatives to learn about the quality of service and information we couldn't find online.

Our short list for best picks included 1&1, A2 Hosting, Arvixe, Bluehost, DreamHost, FatCow, GreenGeeks, HostGator, HostMonster, InMotion Hosting and SiteGround.

Here are the criteria we used to evaluate each provider:

  • Type of hosting plans available
  • SSL certificates
  • Email services
  • Backup services
  • Storage and bandwidth
  • Customer service options
  • Prices and terms
  • Free trials and money-back guarantees

Reviews

Negotiation Tips

After you narrow down your choices to your top two or three picks, carefully examine each company's pricing and terms to make sure you're getting the best value. Consider the following factors:

  • Is the advertised price a promotional rate? If it is, you need to examine the promotion's terms, finding out the length of the term and the plan's regular rates. You also want to find out what happens if you upgrade or downgrade your account before the end of the promotional term. For instance, will you receive that plan's promotional pricing for the remainder of the term, or will you pay regular rates? Domain registration is frequently included at no cost for your first year with the company, but how much does it cost each year to renew?
  • How long are the terms? Most web hosting companies have terms of 12, 24 or 36 months, though some also offer month-to-month service. You can get better pricing if you sign up for a longer term (especially if you can do so under the promotional rate), but you should make sure you like the service and it meets your needs before committing to a multiyear contract. Most companies offer a free trial period; take advantage of it to ensure that the plan fits your needs and customer support is responsive before signing a contract.
  • What happens at the end of the term? You will want to find out if the contract automatically renews at the regular or discounted rate when your term expires. You should also learn what the cancellation procedure entails. For example, will you be charged any fees for closing your account at the end of the term or for migrating your data to a new hosting company? Are there early cancellation fees if you exit your contract before the term expires?

What Is Free Web Hosting?

When you first start searching for a web hosting service, you'll find a lot of free services, such as Weebly and Wix. Free web hosts are a good option for personal users who envision a simple website and don't need extensive web design tools or bandwidth. The two main trade-offs are that ads are on your sites and the services usually only provide a subdomain.

Small business owners will want to focus on paid web hosting services, because you'll get your own unique domain, which offers more credibility, plus more disk space and bandwidth. Also, paid hosting web services come with security features to protect customers from malware or hackers.

Free Domain Name Registration: Is It Really Free?

The top web hosting plans typically include free domain name registration for one year. A domain often requires an annual payment, usually $10 to $15. If you are only looking to purchase a domain name, each of the services on our list can help you secure and register a name.

When signing up for a web hosting service, keep in mind you're probably only seeing the promotional rate (and this number varies further, because it depends on the storage and bandwidth your site requires). Look past the introductory price to get the real scoop on what you'll realistically pay once the promotional rate ends.

During our years of evaluating web hosting providers, we've noticed that several offer an alluring, affordable plan, only to triple the monthly price and charge nearly $20 for domain registration when renewal comes around.

Hosting Types

Web hosting is a very competitive field. The features, options and pricing plans can be overwhelming. Most web hosting providers offer three pricing tiers, with features that vary between each plan.

Shared Hosting

For our review, we focused on shared hosting (where multiple websites reside on one web server), because it typically provides the least-expensive plan. If you see a low price advertised on a web hosting service's site, it's most likely referring to the lowest-grade shared plan.

But low cost does not equate to low value. If you are a small business owner who only needs a site to boost your business's online status and you plan for moderate traffic, shared plans are probably your best option.

Every client on a shared server shares hosting space. Most companies can initially promise reliability because they're planning on your site generating average traffic. But if you exceed the allotted bandwidth regularly on a shared plan, the provider will require you to upgrade to a higher plan. You can find more specific usage restrictions in each web host's terms of service.

VPS Hosting

VPS, or a virtual private server, is a step above shared web hosting and packs in a bit more power on the CPU side. Companies that generate decent traffic should consider these plans.

Server space is still shared; however, you have more opportunity to customize your space management, and you benefit from more security features than you would with shared hosting. These plans typically offer more features in general.

Dedicated Hosting

Rather than renting server space as you do in shared or VPS hosting, dedicated hosting means that one server is allotted for one purpose or site. The benefit of this type of hosting is that your site won't crash when external websites spike suddenly.

A dedicated server is the most independent way to go, but not for personal bloggers or small business owners. The downside of this enterprise-level web hosting option is its steep price. Also, you'll need expertise or access to an expert in setting up and managing a dedicated server, because any maintenance the server needs is up to you as the owner.

Cloud Hosting

Another option is cloud hosting, which is where your information and bandwidth is spread across multiple servers to improve redundancy. Like a dedicated server, cloud hosting is expensive, and you're responsible for any maintenance and repairs.

What to Look for in a Web Hosting Service

Each company offers promotions to get you to sign on with it, but below are the features that are important to consider in the long run.

What Does 'Unlimited' Really Mean?

Web hosting companies throw around the term "unlimited" as if it's their slogan. However, unlimited does not mean infinite. The term technically means "not exceeding regular use," which every site spells out in the fine print.

While some companies claim that 99.5 percent of their customers will never have a throttling problem, if you store large amounts of media on your site, you still may get a warning from the hosting provider to reduce usage or you will be temporarily shut off. And because it's a shared server, you are at risk of taking other customers' allotted space. If you exceed bandwidth or disk space multiple times, you'll be required to upgrade your plan.

Plan Details

Every host provides different allotments for domains, subdomains and parked domains, despite calling that allotment "unlimited."

Downtime Responsiveness

Technical problems can happen at any time. Each company on our list claims to have 99 percent uptime. In the event of a failure, meaning your site is inaccessible, a service can usually get it back up in no more than 20 minutes.

But that time could mean lost income or traffic, and there's not much you can do on your end, especially when you're running off a server in a remote location. Responsive tech support, therefore, is critical.

Compatibility

Investing in a reliable web host is a big decision, because it impacts how your site runs for the next year or two, or however many years you remain with the web host. If you have a concern with a host, there is no reason to stick with it just because you have a bundle. We looked for services that make it easy not only to migrate information but also to export site content.

Security

Security is always lighter when using a shared server, but that doesn't mean your site should be left vulnerable. The best hosts use shared secure sockets layer (SSL) security protocol and secure shell (SSH). Should your site go down, many of the web hosts on our list back up and restore your site without charging you an additional fee. Some also protect your email accounts from spammers for free, while others offer advanced spam protection at a cost.

In case you plan to sell products or services online, several shared web hosts offer e-commerce solutions, such as shopping cart systems and the ability to accept credit cards. Nearly every web host we tested offers promotional advertising credits to jump-start your marketing efforts.

Common Web and Cloud Hosting Questions & Answers

Have a web and cloud hosting question of your own?

HI Marjan, Lots of third party CMS providers are pretty good at helping you set correct SEO strategies for your website. They are built with that interest in mind because they know their customers are looking at that, so their platform are really straight forward. Choosing between CMSs and providers is a matter of how you find the platform easy to use, to take advantage of and to integrate with your other resources, and actually cost effectiveness play an interesting role in here...

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Ben, I would amen what Ali has said already. $160/month is $1920 a year and almost $6 over 3 years. It might be convenient for the low monthly price but it adds up over time. You don't need to do it yourself but I'd recommend working with a web development professional. Depending on how complex your eCommerce needs are, you can probably get something for $3000-5000. Our company falls right in the middle of that for eCommerce sites. If you are selling something that requires more...

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I took a look at both of those sites and they seem compatible enough to where it wouldn't be out of the ordinary or conflicting in any way. Now as far as the reason why you want to do this...... idk. Believe it or not today it's more about quality than quantity. You could have a million hits a month..... how does that guarantee them they can get sales out of it? I've seen TONS of Businesses celebrate from reaching these types of milestones then a week later panic because they're not...

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For your type of site, the single easiest way is to create a new Joomla site on the new host (same version number as existing site). Create an Akeeba backup on original site, restore Akeeba backup to new site (https://www.akeebabackup.com). Note: not affiliated with Akeeba in any way, just the easiest way to do it if you are not super technical. If technical, do a db dump of existing site, copy files to new site, update new configuration.php with any new host/directory changes, restore you...

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Things to note: - Who owns the domain? I've run into a lot of people who get duped by their website company because they website company actually purchased the domain "on their behalf" - Do you have important emails you need saved? All your emails will more than likely be lost when the domain transfers to the new servers. You will still have the ability to have your same email address, but you will basically be starting new. This goes for your contacts too unless you use Microsoft Outlook...

Read More ▼

Map

GoDaddy - Web and Cloud Hosting Services
14455 N Hayden Rd,
Scottsdale, AZ
GoDaddy - Web and Cloud Hosting Services
Webhostingpad
318 Half Day Rd
Buffalo Grove, IL
Webhostingpad
Bluehost
10 Corporate Drive
Burlington, MA
Bluehost
InMotion Hosting
6100 Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA
InMotion Hosting
FatCow
10 Corporate Drive
Burlington, MA
FatCow
iPage
10 Corporate Drive
Burlington, MA
iPage
Arvixe
2500 Ridgepoint Drive
Austin, TX
Arvixe
Midphase
164 north Spring Creek Parkway
Providence, UT
Midphase
HostGator
5005 Mitchelldale
Houston, TX
HostGator
GreenGeeks
5739 Kanan Road
Agoura Hills, CA
GreenGeeks
DreamHost
417 Associated Road
Brea, CA
DreamHost
1&1
154 Southgate Street
Gloucester,
1&1
A2 Hosting
2000 Hogback Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI
A2 Hosting
Liquid Web
2703 Ena Drive
Lansing, MI
Liquid Web
SiteGround
901 N. Pitt St.
Alexandria, VA
SiteGround
WP Engine
504 Lavaca Street
Austin, TX
WP Engine
HostPapa
1623 Military Road
Niagra Falls, NY
HostPapa
4shared
Graigmuir Chambers
Road Town, Tortola
4shared
SendThisFile
2250 N Rock Road
Wichita, KS
SendThisFile
Onehub
1109 1st Ave
Seattle, WA
Onehub
ShareFile
851 Cypress Creek Road
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
ShareFile

Services

List of 24Web and Cloud Hosting Services

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