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Web and Cloud Hosting Services

by Matt D'AngeloLast Modified: August 14, 2018

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

The Best Web and Cloud Hosting Services for 2018

Every business needs some form of online presence today. Whether you're running a small restaurant or a full-blown e-commerce store, one of the only ways for your customers to find you is through the internet. Conceptualizing, drafting and creating a great business website is oftentimes only half the battle. You also need to pair with a hosting company that can support the storage, volume and security you require.

To help, this page focuses on our Best Picks for the following common business needs:

  • Best Small Business Web Hosting
  • Most Secure Website Hosting
  • Best Wordpress Hosting Service
  • Best Cloud Hosting Service

Best Picks

Small Business
Most Secure
WordPress Host
Cloud Host
InMotion Hosting

Best Web Hosting Service for Small Business

InMotion Hosting

InMotion Hosting not only has a great service offering, it was also one of the most transparent companies we reviewed. It's been providing hosting services for 15 years. It offers shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers, WordPress hosting, reseller hosting and managed hosting. Its wide-range of service offerings and plans mean there's an option for any small business, regardless of the type. It's shared hosting plans also come with a solid security offering. For these reasons, InMotion earned our best pick for best web hosting service for small business in 2018.

1&1

Most Secure Web Hosting Service

1&1

1&1 Web Hosting's security offering is unmatched by competitors. It's one of the few companies we reviewed that provides the same level of security on all its plans. Most companies tier their security plans, so the most expensive plan holder have the highest levels of security. 1&1 brings the same level of heightened security to all its plan holders. It offers SSL wildcard certifications, daily backups, data recovery services, DDoS protection, geo-redundancy and redundant network connectivity. This level of security means your business will always be protected. For these reasons, 1&1 earned our best pick for most secure web hosting company in 2018.

DreamHost

Best WordPress Hosting Service

DreamHost

Dreamhost provides great WordPress hosting services at competitive pricing. We analyzed a few WordPress-only hosting providers, and all of them couldn't match Dreamhost on its pricing. It's also a company that's been providing hosting services for over 20 years. For these reasons, it earns our best pick for best WordPress hosting provider in 2018.

Bluehost

Best Cloud Hosting Service

Bluehost

Bluehost has been providing hosting services to small businesses for 15 years. Its flexible cloud offering means businesses of all types have solid hosting options. It has competitive pricing options and provides a transparent view of all its plans. For these reasons, it earns our best pick as the best cloud hosting provider for small business in 2018.

There are a lot of web hosting companies – we started by analyzing over 40 companies – so it can be difficult to wade through the pages of service details to determine which companies provide the best services. In a space where it can be easy for companies to hide behind terminology and faulty promises, it can be hard to differentiate the service that will keep your business's website humming from the one that could drive customers away because of slow load times.

We researched the web hosting industry and found companies that we think provide the best services for small businesses. We prioritized each company's storage, bandwidth and security features, as well as their pricing and customer service. If you're just starting a business, or running a small operation, a shared hosting plan is the best place to start. Larger businesses and developed e-commerce platforms may need more powerful options, like VPS or cloud hosting.

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.

State of the Industry

Web hosting services are your one-stop shop for everything you need to manage and run your website. They provide services that extend beyond just hosting features. For example, many of the companies we reviewed offer site builders as well. These drag-and-drop platforms mean you don't need any knowledge of coding to build a great site.

The best web hosting companies also offer integrations and plugins with hundreds of applications. Softaculous is an auto-installer with over 400 different applications and plugins. These range from e-commerce applications like Magento to other solutions like Drupal. Many hosting companies provide direct access to Softaculous, so you can install whatever you need for your site. Others will partner directly with companies or offer a comparable number of apps and integrations.

In addition to drag-and-drop platforms and 3rd-party integrations, web hosting companies also provide domain name registration and support. You can purchase and own a domain name through a hosting company without paying for hosting services as well, in some cases. All the companies we reviewed offered a wide variety of domain names. This includes ".com," ".org" and industry-specific domains like ".biz." This added service is another instance where web hosting companies are looking to go beyond standard web hosting services.

The best companies will provide a full suite of features for your business and solid customer support. These features include hosting multiple domains and subdomains, MySQL database integration, open-source coding platforms like Ruby on Rails, Perl or PHP 5, and business email hosting. You should also look out for customer support in the form of live chat, phone and email support. Overall, the web hosting industry provides way more than just a server to host your website on. Treat each web hosting solution as a full-scale service with multiple different features and plans.

Pricing

Unless otherwise indicated, we focused primarily on shared hosting plans in our reviews. The shared hosting plans are the most common for small and medium-sized businesses looking for quick, cheap hosting services. Some companies specialize only in WordPress hosting, so we reviewed their WordPress hosting plans. We also found that cloud hosting is a viable avenue for medium-sized businesses, so we analyzed a few cloud offerings and offered a best pick under that use case as well.

Pricing will range widely based on what company you're looking to partner with. Shared hosting plans can range from just a few dollars a month to around $30 per month. Our research told us that the web hosting industry provides "get what you pay for" services – if you're a small blog or site, the cheap plans may be your best option. If you're looking for a hosting company that can support higher volumes, storage and has more features, you're going to have to pay a higher monthly rate. VPS hosting and dedicated servers will be significantly more expensive than shared, WordPress or (in some cases) cloud hosting.

Web hosting companies usually provide monthly or yearly terms. The longest contract terms we found from hosting companies was three years. As with any business service, the longer you commit, the lower your monthly price. Once you sign a contract, you'll usually have to pay for the service up front if you commit on yearly plans. Month-to-month plans are usually charged monthly, so you won't have to pay in full up front.

The best hosting companies provide a moneyback guarantee period. This ranges from 30 to 90 days, depending on the company. If you cancel your services within this allotted time, you'll receive a refund, but some companies will deduct certain fees from it for things like domain registration. If you cancel your services 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 domain registration is a common addition. Many companies will provide you with a free domain name for the first year, but then it's usually around $15 per year after that. A lot of web hosting companies will also try to advertise add-ons on their checkout page. These are for "enhanced performance" or additional security features. We couldn't gauge the value of these add-ons, so it may be worth it to talk with a company's sales team to understand exactly what's included in these add-ons.

Understanding Web Hosting Services Infographic

Understanding Web Hosting Services
Credit: Grant Reinero

Methodology

We started by compiling a master list of all the major web hosting companies. We looked on other news and review sites, considered our past vendors' lists, investigated companies that requested to be reviewed, and researched other hosting companies.

We established a list of around 35 web hosting companies to review. From here, we looked at the company's website experience, considered whether it was based in the U.S., analyzed the types of plans it offered, and determined whether it was a small business-oriented company. This brought our list down to around 20 companies.

From here we analyzed the companies' service offerings, security features, uptime, pricing plans and storage included. We also considered how transparent the company was, as some web hosting companies try to hide information about services in the unvisited corners of their websites. This brought our list down to 12 companies.

Next, we took a closer look at the security offered, defined pricing information, analyzed domain fees, considered bandwidth provided, took a look at what pre-installed apps each offering provided, reviewed their online reputation and noted their second-year pricing options. This left us with four best picks for our pre-determined use cases: InMotion Hosting, 1&1 Web Hosting, DreamHost and Bluehost.

We took these four companies and took an even deeper look into their services. We interacted with each company's sales team via live chat and email. This gave us a deeper look into their service offering and allowed us to test the company's customer service offering. These four companies withstood each round of our research and stood out as the best companies we reviewed. They all had impeccable customer service, and a web hosting offering that's ideal for small businesses looking for services in the defined use case.

Reviews

Negotiation Tips

When looking for a hosting company, there are some important aspects to consider when signing up. Most of the companies we reviewed are transparent with their service offering, but there may be some fees or other aspects to their services that are hidden around corners. As we researched, we found that it's important to ask questions about fees, future pricing, and the level of storage and bandwidth provided.

Unlimited service offerings: Every company we reviewed claimed to offer unlimited services of some kind, most commonly storage and bandwidth. The web hosting industry is competitive, so companies will use this language to attract new customers. Know that 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 issues is addressed. Each company handles this differently, so it's important to look at the terms of service agreement before signing up.

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

Promotional pricing: Another common tactic web hosting companies use is providing promotional pricing on their website. They often depict the current prices as slashed amounts – sometimes at rates up to 50 percent off. Usually this promotional pricing comes with some conditions. Some companies will only give you the rate if you commit to a long-term contract of three years, for example. Others will provide you with the promotional pricing for the first year only.

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

Additional fees: As with any service offering, there are always fees. We tried to analyze each company's protocol around domain registration fees. Many companies provide a free domain name for an allotted amount of time – generally one year. After this allotted time, you will be charged a yearly fee to keep your domain name registered to your business. If you cancel your services at any point (even during the moneyback guarantee period), many companies will keep a fee for domain registration, even if they offered the domain name to you for free for the first year. It's a good idea to ask the company's sales team about domain fees, set up fees, early cancellation fees and any other additional fees. Again, it's important to have a clear understanding of exactly what you're paying for.

Auto-renewal: Many companies 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. This isn't something we directly analyzed in our reviews or best picks, but it's an important practice to be aware of. The renewal process is usually outlined in the terms of service agreement of each company. If you're worried about getting poked with a refreshed contract, make sure you understand the renewal and cancellation process before you sign up. Talking to a sales representative may be your best bet.

Hosting Types

There are several different hosting types, all of which provide different services to small business owners. We analyzed shared, WordPress and cloud hosting in these reviews. Those are the most common types of web hosting services for small businesses. Larger businesses may opt for dedicated servers or VPS hosting.

The difference between these two types of hosting from the others has to do with how the servers are maintained. In shared and WordPress hosting, your site is hosted on a server with hundreds of other websites. Dedicated servers are just that – servers dedicated only to your business and its website. This explains the high costs. VPS hosting follows a similar model. Both come with varying levels of maintenance. 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 you require will vary based on your business's needs.

What Is Free Web Hosting?

While we reviewed paid web hosting services, there are also some free web hosting services out there. These provided businesses and individuals with a web builder and a no-cost hosting service. While some security and integration features may be present, they won't be as robust as the paid services. Some examples of free hosting companies are Wix, WordPress, Weebly and 000webhost. Again, while these services can provide you with a good free hosting option, their capabilities will likely pale in comparison to the paid plans. If you're on a budget, it may be a good idea to start out on one of these services and then eventually transition to a paid plan.

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...

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Map

Arvixe
2500 Ridgepoint Drive
Austin, TX
Arvixe
FatCow
10 Corporate Drive
Burlington, MA
FatCow
GoDaddy - Web and Cloud Hosting Services
14455 N Hayden Rd,
Scottsdale, AZ
GoDaddy - Web and Cloud Hosting Services
Liquid Web
2703 Ena Drive
Lansing, MI
Liquid Web
Midphase
164 north Spring Creek Parkway
Providence, UT
Midphase
Webhostingpad
318 Half Day Rd
Buffalo Grove, IL
Webhostingpad
iPage
10 Corporate Drive
Burlington, MA
iPage
1&1
154 Southgate Street
Gloucester,
1&1
A2 Hosting
2000 Hogback Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI
A2 Hosting
Bluehost
10 Corporate Drive
Burlington, MA
Bluehost
DreamHost
417 Associated Road
Brea, CA
DreamHost
GreenGeeks
5739 Kanan Road
Agoura Hills, CA
GreenGeeks
HostGator
5005 Mitchelldale
Houston, TX
HostGator
HostPapa
1623 Military Road
Niagra Falls, NY
HostPapa
InMotion Hosting
6100 Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA
InMotion Hosting
Kinsta
10880 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Kinsta
SiteGround
901 N. Pitt St.
Alexandria, VA
SiteGround
WP Engine
504 Lavaca St.
Austin, TX
WP Engine
SendThisFile
2250 N Rock Road
Wichita, KS
SendThisFile
4shared
Graigmuir Chambers
Road Town, Tortola
4shared
Onehub
1109 1st Ave
Seattle, WA
Onehub
ShareFile
851 Cypress Creek Road
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
ShareFile

Services

List of 26Web and Cloud Hosting Services

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