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The Best Web and Cloud Hosting Services of 2019

By
Skye Schooley
,
business.com writer
| Updated
Jul 02, 2019
Home
> Technology
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An online presence is essential for small businesses in 2019. With e-commerce purchases on the rise, many businesses are focusing their efforts toward online sales. Even businesses that can't or don't want to sell their products online can benefit from a company website, since consumers frequently use a business's online presence to verify its credibility. Not having a Google listing or a basic business website is the equivalent of not having a sign above your brick-and-mortar store's door. Your customers need to be able to find you, and a workable website grants them that access.

To successfully build your brand's online presence, you must first choose the right web hosting service. It's crucial to pair with a web hosting company that can support the storage, traffic volume and security features your business requires. Finding the right service can be a difficult process, as there are many web hosting companies to choose from and many of them fill their sites with technical jargon and unclear promises like "unlimited bandwidth." To help you find the right service for your small business, we evaluated more than 40 companies to create a list of the top web hosting services, along with advice about the features you should look for and tips for getting a good deal.

Best Picks

Editor's note: Is your business looking for a web hosting service? Fill out the questionnaire below and we will connect you with vendors that can help.

Pricing

Web hosting prices vary by company. Shared hosting plans can range from just a few dollars a month to around $30 per month. Our research showed that the web hosting industry provides "get what you pay for" hosting services. If you need to host a small blog or website, the low-cost hosting plans may be your best option. If you're looking for a host that can support higher volumes, faster load times, more disk space storage and extensive features, expect to pay a higher monthly rate. Virtual private server (VPS) hosting and dedicated servers are typically more expensive than shared, WordPress or (in some cases) cloud hosting. 

Except where otherwise indicated, our reviews focus on shared hosting plans. Shared hosting plans are the most common choices for small and midsize businesses looking for reliable, cheap hosting. We also found that managed WordPress hosting and cloud hosting services are desirable avenues for some midsize businesses, so we reviewed their plans and pricing as separate use cases.

Web hosting services typically charge on a monthly or annual basis, requiring all annual fees upfront. The longest web host contract terms we found were three years. As with any business service, the longer you commit, the lower your monthly price.

The best hosting services provide a 30- to 90-day money-back guarantee period. If you cancel your plan within this timeframe, you'll receive a refund; however, some companies deduct certain fees from it for things like domain registration. If you cancel your account after this allotted time, you likely won't receive a refund. A few companies we looked at may even charge an early cancellation fee. 

In terms of other fees, we found that extra email accounts, multiple websites and domain registration are common additions. Although many companies will provide you with a free domain name for the first year, it usually costs around $15 per year after that. Be wary of web hosting services that advertise features like unlimited bandwidth or storage, as they sometimes have a slower network load time or overage fee if you exceed the typical usage they expect. When comparing bandwidth and storage options, try to find a web hosting service that offers unmetered instead of "unlimited."

Many web hosting providers also advertise add-ons and integrations on their checkout page. These are for "enhanced performance" or additional security. We couldn't gauge the value of these add-ons, so it may be worth it to talk with a company's support team to understand exactly what's included. 

Negotiation Tips

When looking for a web hosting provider, there are some important conditions to evaluate before signing up. Most of the companies we reviewed are transparent about their service offerings, but there may be some fees or other aspects of their services that are hidden or unclear. We found that it's important to ask questions about additional fees, future pricing, and the level of storage and bandwidth provided. 

Unlimited Service Offerings

Every company we reviewed claims to offer unlimited services of some kind, usually storage and bandwidth. The web hosting industry is competitive, so companies use this language to attract new customers. However, unlimited never means infinite. Instead, each company has a predefined range of storage and bandwidth based on your plan. If you use more than your allotted amount, you may be required to upgrade your plan, or the company might suspend your account until usage decreases and the issue is addressed. Each company handles this differently, so it's important to look at the terms of service before signing up.

It's also a good idea to ask each company's sales team about their defined range and their process for handling customers who go over their predefined amount. If they try to convince you it's truly unlimited or wide enough for all businesses to operate comfortably within its range, press them for definite answers. It's important to be clear on what you're paying for and what you're getting as a small business owner.

Promotional Pricing

Another tactic many web hosting providers use is listing promotional pricing on their website. They often depict the current prices as slashed amounts – sometimes up to 50% off. Usually this promotional pricing is conditional. For example, some companies will only give you this rate if you commit to a three-year contract, and others will only provide you with the promotional deal for the first year.

It's important to understand that at some point, your web hosting provider is going to raise your prices. Ask the sales team when this will occur – it could be after the first month or year, or the next time you try to renew your contract. If you're content with your services, it may be worth it to pay the higher rates or attempt to negotiate pricing. If you're not satisfied, however, it's a good idea to have an exit plan in place.

Additional Fees 

As with any service offering, there are always fees. We tried to analyze each company's protocol for domain registration fees. Many companies provide a free domain name for an allotted time – generally one year. After this time, you will be charged an annual fee to keep your domain name registered to your business. If you cancel your services at any point (even during the money-back guarantee period), many companies will keep a fee for domain registration, even if they offered the domain name to you for free. It's a good idea to ask the company's sales team about domain fees, setup fees, early cancellation fees and any other additional fees. A key element to comparing web hosting companies is understanding exactly what you're paying for.

Automatic Renewal 

Many providers will automatically renew your service at the end of your contract term. You may need to provide written notice 30 days in advance to cancel your service at the end of your contract term. The renewal process is usually outlined in your terms of service, but you can also talk to a sales representative to clarify the terms of your contract.

Reviews

Below are all our reviews for web hosting and related categories. Our coverage includes reviews of the best web hosting service, U.K. web hosting service, cloud hosting service and WordPress hosting service.

Types of Web Hosting

There are several different types of web hosting. In our reviews, we analyzed shared hosting, managed WordPress hosting and cloud hosting, as they are the most common types of web hosting services for small businesses. Businesses with greater budgets and higher traffic volume needs may opt for dedicated server hosting or VPS hosting.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is ideal for small and midsize businesses, as it provides all of the necessary functions of a web host at a low cost. With this plan type, you share a server and resources with other websites, which can sometimes result in downtime or a lower-quality user experience if there are extreme traffic spikes.

Managed Hosting

With managed hosting, the host provider manages the operating systems, applications and hardware. Although there are many types of managed hosting plans, a major one is managed WordPress hosting because of its extensive features and usability.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is increasing in popularity, as it includes many of the same functions of shared hosting and spares you from maintaining an in-house server. It houses your information across the web, increasing reliability and uptime. It is one of the most scalable options, which is ideal for small businesses.

Dedicated Server Hosting

Dedicated server hosting is the most private and secure web hosting option. You are provided an individual server exclusively for your network, which gives you full control over how it operates. Although this has many advantages, it comes at a high cost. It is the most expensive web hosting option and is typically only necessary for large companies with extremely high traffic.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

VPS hosting allots you a dedicated server space on a shared server network. This cannot support the same volume as dedicated server hosting, but it is more cost-effective and better for users who need technical assistance.

The primary difference between each hosting type is how the servers are maintained. For example, you can elect to have the company manage and maintain your servers, or you can choose plans with unmanaged servers. The type of hosting solution you require will depend on your business's needs.

Methodology

To find the best web hosting services for small businesses, we started by compiling a master list of the major web hosting companies. We looked on other news and review sites, considered our past vendor lists, investigated companies that requested to be reviewed, and researched other hosting companies. We established a list of more than 40 web hosting providers to review.

We narrowed the list based on different use cases and the criteria listed below. In our research, we considered each company's website experience, whether it's based in the U.S. and whether it's geared toward small businesses. We studied user reviews and compared services and prices. We took a deeper look at the customer service and sales support by posing as small business owners to contact service representatives. Our research included reaching out by both phone and live chat. This gave us insight into how knowledgeable and helpful each company's support is.

After evaluating each web hosting provider, we narrowed down our list to 10 contenders for our best picks: 1&1 IONOS, A2 Hosting, Bluehost, DreamHost, GreenGeeks, HostGator, HostMonster, HostPapa, InMotion Hosting and SiteGround.

We based our final decisions on these factors:

  • Types of hosting offered
  • Rates and contracts
  • Domain and transfer fees
  • Cancellation policies
  • Security
  • Storage and bandwidth
  • Pre-installed apps and integrations
  • Reported uptime
  • Reputation and customer service

Understanding Web Hosting Services Infographic

Understanding Web Hosting Services
Credit: Grant Reinero

Web Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is free web hosting?

A: While we reviewed paid services, there are also some free web hosting services out there. These companies provide businesses and individuals with a web builder and a no-cost hosting service. Some free hosting companies are Wix, WordPress, Weebly and 000Webhost.

Aside from the cost, the main difference between paid and free web hosting is the level of service and features you receive. While some security and integration features may be present in free web hosting platforms, they won't be as robust as the paid services. Free services are primarily suited to individual use, as opposed to business use. However, if you are starting a small business with a tight web hosting budget, it may be a good idea to start out with a free web hosting service and eventually transition to a paid plan.

Q: How do you choose a web host?

A: Choosing the right web host is a complicated process, but you can filter your options based on your individual needs. Start by identifying which type of web hosting your business requires – shared, managed, cloud, dedicated server or VPS. Create a list of top-rated companies that offer that type of web hosting. From here, you can narrow down web hosting providers based on their services. Decide which features are a top priority for you. Is security the most important? Are third-party integrations a necessity? Do you need 24/7 hands-on customer service? Are you working with a very limited web hosting budget?

Each provider offers a unique combination of features, so once you decide which are the most important to you, you can narrow your options down to a select few. Read reviews for each web host, and consider making customer service calls to test their support and ask any additional questions you have. This should help you choose the best web host for your business.

Q: What are the advantages of cloud hosting?

A: Cloud hosting is a newer form of web hosting and rising in popularity. Although it may have lower security measures than dedicated servers, it has a lot of advantages. It gives you the ability to host your website in the cloud, eliminating the need for an in-house server. Instead, your information is stored across multiple servers across the web. Having your information on multiple servers can increase reliability and uptime, since you are not confined to a single server that could occasionally malfunction.

Since cloud hosting doesn't use an in-house server, it is very scalable. This is ideal for growing businesses that need to upgrade or downgrade their storage or bandwidth. It is a reasonably affordable web hosting platform, so it is even a viable option for small businesses with a low web hosting budget.

Common Web and Cloud Hosting Questions & Answers

Have a web and cloud hosting question of your own?
Ask an Expert

I want to change the company who hosts my email and website with minimum input from me, advice please?

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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...

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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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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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If your blog is on WordPress, you could upload the PDF to your media files and then simply link to the PDF in your email (in other words, it doesn't have to be a whole page). If you want to gain some additional SEO for it, creating a post/page for it on your blog does make the most sense.

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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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