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The Best Web and Cloud Hosting Services of 2021

By Simone Johnson,
business.com Writer
| Updated
Nov 05, 2020

This page includes a guide to web hosting services and reviews of business.com's best picks for web hosting services.
Easiest Web Hosting Program to Customize
Free domain for the first year
Paid ad credits
Expert help from web hosting pros
Best Inexpensive Web Hosting Service
500,000+ WordPress installations
Step-by-step education channels
Community support forums
Best Web Hosting Service for Small Businesses
Social media marketing services
24/7/365 phone and ticket support
PCI compliance tools
Most Secure Web Hosting Service
Unlimited SSD space and transfer
Turbo servers
Drag-and-drop editing
This page includes a guide to web hosting services and reviews of business.com's best picks for web hosting services.

With e-commerce purchases on the rise, many businesses are focusing their efforts on online sales. Web hosting is of critical importance to maintaining a workable website where your customers can find your business. It's crucial to partner with a web hosting company that can support the storage, traffic volume and security features your business requires. To help you find the right service for your small business, we evaluated more than 50 companies to create a list of the top web hosting services. In this guide, we also offer advice on the features you should look for and tips for getting a good deal.

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
52
Considered
25
Researched
5
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  InMotion Hosting A2 Hosting Bluehost DreamHost
Security Free SSL certificate, premium malware and hack protection. Free SSL certificate, free automatic backups, free malware protection Free SSL certificate, two spam experts, domain privacy and protection, site backup, free for hosting term, dedicated IP Free SSL, malware and hack protection, DDoS protection, automatic backups
Customer support options Phone, email, Skype Phone, live chat, ticket submission Phone, email, live chat Discussion forum, live chat, ticket submission
30-day money-back guarantee 90-day money-back guarantee 30-day money-back guarantee 30-day money-back guarantee

97-day money-back guarantee

PCI compliance No No, but you can use a third-party shopping cart API (application programming interface) on your site to ensure PCI compliance Yes; PCI compliance on all accounts for A and B compliance Yes

Our Reviews

Bluehost: Easiest Web Hosting Program to Customize

Bluehost offers a full-service website that professional designers will build for you.
Bluehost provides search engine optimization (SEO) services that help users boost their visibility on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Users who cancel within 30 days receive a full refund only on their hosting service; Bluehost's money-back guarantee does not apply to most add-on products, such as domains.

Bluehost is our pick for the easiest-to-customize web hosting program because it offers flexible services in a variety of plans for shared, VPS, dedicated server and WordPress hosting. The company provides a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is a standard offer from web hosting companies.

Bluehost is very transparent about its offerings. Some hosting companies try to hide their practices behind vague language. Bluehost tells you exactly what it offers and gives some details about contract and plan requirements. The service is extremely customizable and, through its pricing tiers, helps businesses grow. Bluehost offers a range of options for each stage in a company's development, so you can upgrade your website and boost your design, SEO and marketing capabilities as you grow.

Bluehost's terms of service include a lot of details about its plans, fees and features. It offers 24/7 support over live chat, phone and an email ticketing system. The company also provides online resources for you to troubleshoot different aspects of your service and learn more about web hosting.

Bluehost provides shared, VPS, dedicated server and WordPress hosting. It offers several plans for each type, and its pricing is comparable with competitors'.

Dedicated servers and VPS are best suited for large corporations that need more storage and higher bandwidth than shared or WordPress hosting can provide. Also, because VPS and dedicated servers are private, there's even higher uptime. These types of hosting are typically not necessary for standard small business websites. Shared and WordPress hosting are cost-effective options that cover the needs of most small businesses.

Bluehost provides shared hosting plans at slightly lower rates than many of its competitors. It has four shared hosting plans: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus and Pro.

Basic: $3.95/month

  • One website
  • 50GB of SSD storage
  • Unmetered bandwidth
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Standard performance
  • One included domain
  • Five parked domains
  • 25 subdomains

Plus: $5.95/month (includes everything in Basic)

  • Unlimited websites
  • Unlimited SSD storage
  • Unmetered bandwidth
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Standard performance
  • Unlimited domains
  • Unlimited parked domains
  • Unlimited subdomains
  • Spam expert
  • One Microsoft 365 mailbox – free for 30 days

Choice Plus: $6.95/month (includes everything in Plus)

  • Domain privacy and protection
  • Site backup – free for one year

Pro: $13.95/month (includes everything in Choice Plus)

  • High performance
  • Two spam experts
  • Site backup – free for hosting term
  • Dedicated IP

You can read more about Bluehost's additional fees in the terms of service. Some important fees to note involve registering or transferring a domain name. Bluehost offers a free domain name for the first year.

There are also some conditions for the 30-day money-back guarantee. If you cancel your subscription within the first three days of activation, you have the option to keep your domain name for a $15.99 fee. If you cancel after three days, you will be required to pay the $15.99 domain fee.

If you decide to cancel after the first 30 days, you are not entitled to a refund of any kind. Bluehost only refunds credit card payments. 

Bluehost's shared hosting plans have solid features. Its pricing stands out, but the relatively low cost doesn't undermine the services you get. The company's transparency with listing the features in each plan is another benefit. Instead of digging for information, business owners can get a quick view of what the company offers and decide whether the services meet their needs.

Storage and Bandwidth

Bluehost provides unlimited storage on its Plus, Choice Plus and Pro plans. Basic plan holders have access to only 50GB of SSD storage. The bandwidth is unmetered for all plans. Most hosting companies provide unlimited storage or unmetered bandwidth; however, these terms do not mean they're infinite. Bluehost uses statistical analysis to define the average parameters each consumer must stay within each month. It monitors your usage and contacts you if you're using more than the allocated amount. Some web hosting companies even suspend service until your usage declines. If you're concerned about the level of bandwidth and storage you need, it's a good idea to talk to someone from the Bluehost sales team.

Security

 Compared with other web hosting companies we reviewed, Bluehost provides limited security measures. It offers site backups, restoration, resource protection, and an SSL certificate on each of its plans, but some plans require you to pay extra for security features such as SiteLock and CodeGuard. Bluehost doesn't provide a lot of information on DDoS prevention, firewalls or other security measures. This is another good topic to discuss with the Bluehost sales team before you sign up.

Domain Transfer

Bluehost includes a free domain name with the activation of a shared hosting plan. This means when you sign up for the service, you won't get hit with an additional fee to set up your domain name. If you sign up for other plans, you may not have access to a free domain name.

Bluehost is not accredited with the BBB. This is concerning, as most companies have at least some kind of BBB score. Its parent company, EIG, has an A+ rating but a lot of negative reviews and nearly 600 complaints. Compared with its competitors, these are negative marks. Bluehost has mixed positive and negative ratings elsewhere online, so it's not clear how supportive the company's customer service is.

Bluehost offers support via phone and live chat. It also has a unique company blog that provides additional online resources for customers to learn more about web hosting services. Considering Bluehost offers some desirable web hosting plans, it is worth testing out its customer support on your own to see how helpful it is.  

Bluehost no longer offers cloud hosting plans, focusing instead on its WordPress and shared hosting options for small businesses. So if you are seeking cloud hosting, you'll have to find another web hosting provider.

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InMotion Hosting: Best Inexpensive Web Hosting Service

InMotion Hosting offers live chat, phone support and an online support center full of tutorials.
InMotion Hosting provides a free website builder and more than 400 applications that users can install with one click.
InMotion's Lite pricing tier does not offer a free domain name.

InMotion Hosting is a trustworthy web hosting service that's ideal for small and midsize businesses. The company provides nearly every type of web hosting service available for businesses, at a low price.

In addition to its shared hosting plans, InMotion offers VPS, dedicated server, WordPress, reseller and managed hosting options. Dedicated servers and VPS hosting options offer a more secure connection, but they are significantly more expensive than the shared or WordPress options. That is why InMotion Hosting is our pick for the best inexpensive web hosting option.

Whereas VPS and dedicated servers are robust and cater to bigger businesses, shared or WordPress hosting is appropriate for small and midsize businesses that expect lower web traffic.

Because most small businesses benefit from shared web hosting plans, that's where we focused. We evaluated InMotion's three shared hosting plans: Lite, Launch, Power and Pro.

Launch: $5.99/month (includes all features in Lite)

  • Free domain
  • Up to two websites
  • 50GB of SSD storage
  • 10 email addresses
  • Free SSL certificate

Power: $8.99/month (includes all features in Launch)

  • Up to 50 websites
  • 100GB of SSD storage
  • Free SSL certificate
  • 50 email addresses

Pro: $14.99/month (includes all features in Power)

  • Up to 100 websites
  • 200GB of SSD storage
  • Unlimited email addresses
  • 99% uptime

InMotion Hosting provides a free domain name for the first year with your plan, as well as solid security, storage and integration features. If you have or plan to have an e-commerce store, you're limited to InMotion's Power and Pro plans, which support e-commerce. Here's more about InMotion Hosting's features:

Storage and Bandwidth

 InMotion Hosting, like most web hosting companies, advertises unlimited disk space. However, InMotion states in its terms of service that companies that use InMotion Hosting to store or archive electronic files, as well as companies that have sites that affect server and network performance, will be asked to update to a virtual or private server.

Security

InMotion offers spam protection, SSL certificates, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection, hack protection and automatic data backups. Many companies we reviewed have tiered security offerings, so the most expensive plans had the highest level of security. InMotion doesn't do this; instead, it provides the same top-level security across each plan via its Security Suite.

Preinstalled Apps and Integrations

Businesses have access to over 400 applications and other programs. Popular integrations – WordPress, PrestaShop, Drupal and Joomla – are available, too. All applications are one-click installations, plus you have access to the latest version of cPanel to manage and control your website.

Reported Uptime

Almost every company we reviewed claimed to provide 99.9% uptime. Because your account is on a server that's shared with several other customers, there are bound to be instances of downtime. InMotion is one of the few companies that offer a credit (which applies only to the Pro plan) when you experience downtime.

InMotion Hosting has been accredited by the BBB since 2003, earning an A+ rating.

We contacted InMotion through live chat, posing as a small business owner interested in the company's service. Although the chat had a slight lag, the representative provided us with clear, succinct answers. In addition, the rep asked questions about our business and our website and suggested plan options tailored to our needs. Further, they offered us a small discount after our discussion. Overall, the customer support from InMotion was impressive compared with that of other web hosting services we evaluated.

InMotion is one of the few web hosting companies that may charge you a cancellation fee of $50.

Like other web hosting companies, InMotion Hosting advertises unlimited disk space and unlimited bandwidth. We recommend that you speak with an InMotion Hosting rep to learn more about the policy and the restrictions.

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DreamHost: Best Web Hosting Service for Small Businesses

DreamHost has many web hosting options, like shared website hosting, VPS hosting and managed WordPress hosting.
DreamHost offers an online discussion forum where users can write their questions, interact and view the queries of other DreamHost users.
Custom web design starts at $1,499.

DreamHost offers shared hosting, virtual private servers (VPS), dedicated servers, cloud hosting and WordPress hosting. It is the company's WordPress hosting that stands out, with its plan variety and exceptional features. In addition, DreamHost provides a 97-day money-back guarantee, which is much longer than the standard 30-day money-back guarantee that many competitors provide. Based on its extended guarantee, overall services and competitive WordPress hosting prices, DreamHost is our choice for the best web hosting service for small businesses.

DreamHost has a solid online reputation, with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

This web hosting provider has a wide selection of plans and even offers the choice between managed and shared plans for WordPress. The mix of plans and features is beneficial for small businesses that are looking for a range of options.

In addition to standard shared, VPS, dedicated and cloud hosting, DreamHost provides a large selection of WordPress hosting plans that are unmatched by competitors. Each of these plans and services has different pricing options and available features.

Smaller businesses can benefit from the affordability and usability of shared, cloud and WordPress hosting. Managed WordPress hosting is especially useful for small business owners who have minimal coding and technical skills, as there are usually drag-and-drop features and website-builder capabilities. VPS and dedicated servers, which are typically more expensive, cater to larger businesses with high web traffic.

DreamHost is very transparent about its pricing. Most companies offer promotional or slashed pricing to attract new customers but then raise rates after the first billing cycle. DreamHost advertises its standard WordPress hosting rates, which are competitive with those of other companies we reviewed.

Shared Website Hosting

Shared Starter: $2.59/month

  • One website
  • Free domain included
  • Unlimited traffic
  • WordPress preinstalled
  • Free automated WordPress migrations
  • WP website builder
  • Fast SSD storage
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Option to add email for as low as $1.67/month
  • Monthly, one-year and three-year plans

Shared Unlimited: $4.95/month

  • Unlimited websites
  • Free domain included
  • Unlimited traffic
  • WordPress preinstalled
  • Free automated WordPress migrations
  • WP website builder
  • Fast SSD storage
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Unlimited email
  • Monthly, one-year and three-year plans

There may be other plan options, pricing and terms for the various services DreamHost provides. Fees may also differ depending on your plan and contract.

DreamHost provides a solid selection of features for its WordPress hosting customers. Its mix of plans means you'll be able to get the features you need, whether you're looking to get started with a basic hosting plan or to host multiple WordPress sites. The company is transparent about its storage and bandwidth offerings, and the service provides site backups and other important security features.

Storage and Bandwidth

Each managed WordPress plan comes with unmetered bandwidth. This is ideal for business owners who are unsure of how much they will be using, since overage fees do not apply.

The DreamPress plan comes with 30GB of solid-state-drive (SSD) storage, an unmetered number of cached visits per month and a moderate monthly allowance for uncached visits. The DreamPressPlus plan gives you these features and 60GB of SSD storage. The DreamPress Pro plan gives you 120GB of SSD storage, an unmetered number of cached visits per month and a high monthly allowance for uncached visits.

Security

DreamHost provides nearly the same level of security for each DreamPress plan. It offers a one-click SSL certificate to encrypt your website, regardless of the plan you sign up for; daily site backups to help in the event of data loss; and WordPress service updates to keep your system patched and fully up-to-date.

Preinstalled Apps and Integrations

DreamHost has its own control panel tailored specifically to its services. Although many competitors use a standard control panel, like cPanel or Plesk, the customized DreamHost control panel can be beneficial for users who want to access their billing and support features on the same dashboard. WordPress has thousands of plugins you can use for your site, and DreamHost supports these plugins with a single click.

Domain Transfer

In some cases, DreamHost will provide a free domain name transfer for the first year of service. This is for the annual shared hosting plans and annual DreamPress plans. It may also extend to other service plans, depending on your agreement.

Reported Uptime

According to DreamHost's terms of service, the company has a 100% uptime guarantee. Just about every provider we reviewed guarantees 99.9% uptime. What separates DreamHost is that if your service is interrupted, you will receive a credit of one day for each hour your service is down. Some hosting companies don't offer a credit or any type of compensation when the service goes down.

DreamHost has a good online reputation. Although it is not an accredited member of the BBB, it does have an A+ rating on the BBB site.

It was difficult to reach a DreamHost representative because the company doesn't have a toll-free customer service line or email. If you're an existing customer, can sign in to your account to be connected with tech support. However, if you're a new customer, it's not so straightforward: On the Support page, you're presented with five options (Sales, Billing, Tech Support, Other, and I Can't Log In to My DreamHost Account) that best suit your question or need. You can then fill out an online contact form to speak with a representative.  When we did secure a representative, we posed as small business owners and asked important sales questions to find out more about DreamHost's offering and test the company's customer service. The representatives we worked with were both pleasant and helpful and, on one occasion, went as far as to search through company blog posts to find the answer to one of our questions.

At no point did we feel on the hook to buy the company's product. Instead, the sales representative answered our questions quickly and accurately via chat support. DreamHost had one of the best customer service experiences of any web hosting provider we reviewed.

While DreamHost says it provides a free domain name for the first year of service, this is only true in certain cases, like for annual shared hosting plans and annual DreamPress plans. If you downgrade from an annual plan to a monthly plan, you will be required to pay for the domain name.

While DreamHost is the only web hosting company we analyzed to provide such a long refund period of 97 days, you may not be entitled to a full refund during this time, depending on the services you signed up for and the fees associated with your account.

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A2 Hosting: Most Secure Web Hosting Service

A2 Hosting offers popular content management systems, such as WordPress and Joomla, as well as e-commerce platforms.
A2 Hosting's web hosting options include reseller hosting and dedicated server hosting.
Its dedicated-server pricing tier starts at $99.59.

A2 Hosting provides a wide range of hosting services for small businesses. It offers shared, VPS, WordPress, reseller, cloud and dedicated hosting. Each type of hosting comes in multiple plans, so you can find the right plan to meet your business's web hosting needs. The company's services are both robust and comparable with industry standards, especially its security offerings. A2 Hosting offers essential security measures – like network monitoring, SSL certificates and malware protection – as well as advanced measures, like reinforced DDoS protection. A2 Hosting is our choice for the most secure web hosting service.

A2 Hosting is very transparent in its terms of the agreement. If you are interested in testing out a web hosting plan risk-free, A2 is a good option because it provides a 30-day money-back guarantee for a full refund, as well as an anytime money-back guarantee that may warrant you a partial refund, depending on your agreement. The web hosting provider also has a good online reputation and positive online reviews. It is accredited by the BBB and has an A+ rating.

In addition to domain registration, A2 provides shared, VPS, WordPress, cloud, dedicated server and reseller hosting plans. Each type of web hosting varies in pricing, features and usage. The type of plan you choose will depend on your business size, budget and needed features.

VPS and dedicated hosting are great ways to have your own distinct service instead of sharing servers with other A2 customers. They provide faster, more reliable services, but they are typically necessary only for large corporations with high-traffic websites.

Reseller hosting is ideal for providing your own customers with web hosting capabilities if you're running a web hosting reseller business. Managed WordPress hosting, like shared hosting, is a good choice for small businesses. However, it is more expensive and benefits those who need a little more help with managing their site and require less personalization. Shared web hosting plans are the most cost-effective option for small business owners.

A2 Hosting has four shared hosting plans: Startup, Drive, Turbo Boost and Turbo Max.

Startup: $2.99/month

  • One website
  • 100GB of SSD storage
  • Free and easy site migration
  • Money-back guarantee Free SSL certificate

Drive: $4.99/month (includes everything in Startup)

  • Unlimited websites
  • Unlimited SSD storage
  • Free and easy site migration
  • Free automatic backups
  • Free website builder
  • Money-back guarantee

Turbo Boost: $9.99/month (includes everything in Drive)

  • Unlimited websites
  • Unlimited NVMe storage
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Free automatic backups
  • Choice of data center location

Turbo Max: $14.99/month (includes everything in Turbo)

  • Unlimited websites
  • Unlimited NVMe storage
  • Free and easy site migration
  • Free automatic backups
  • Money-back guarantee

A2 Hosting's shared hosting plans include a wide range of services and features that make it ideal for small businesses. It may be helpful to view a full breakdown of the features to compare the shared plans, but the company's offerings match up with those of other web hosting companies. One category where A2 Hosting stands out is security, as the company offers a suite of security services on each of its plans.

Storage and Bandwidth

A2, like many of the companies we reviewed, offers unlimited storage to its users on  three of its plans. However, in this case, "unlimited" means a level of usage "defined by our experience with similarly situated customers," according to A2's terms of service. If you go over your allotted usage, you'll likely receive a warning or could even have your service suspended until your usage goes back down. A2's offering is consistent with those of many other services we looked at and should support most businesses' needs.

Security

A2 Hosting provides its customers with secure hosting options. Its shared hosting plans, along with many other plans, have access to 24/7 network monitoring, SSL certificates and free HackScan malware protection. A2 also provides KernelCare rebootless updates, a dual firewall, brute-force defense and reinforced DDoS protection. These measures, along with A2's security tools, help to keep your website secure at all times. Some plans even have the option for Server Rewind backups and offsite backups. A2 Hosting offers access to a priority support team in case you have any questions about your site security. 

Preinstalled Apps and Integrations

 A2 provides a wide range of preinstalled apps, including WordPress. You can monitor and control your site with the latest version of cPanel. Because cPanel is so common, you should have an easy user experience and won't have to struggle with learning a unique, custom control panel. You'll also have access to Softaculous, which provides you with one-click access to Joomla, Drupal, CubeCart, b2evolution, phpBB and SMF. Other e-commerce site features – like Magento, OpenCart, PrestaShop and AbanteCart – are also available.

Reported Uptime

A2 Hosting, like most hosting companies we reviewed, says its customers enjoy 99.9% uptime. However, the company doesn't provide a lot of detail on credits or deals should it fall short of this promise. A2's terms of service say the company will schedule periodic downtime for maintenance. In these instances, the company will warn you about the impending downtime.

A2 Hosting is an accredited member of the BBB, with an A+ rating.

We contacted A2 Hosting's customer support team via live chat to test the company's customer service capabilities. We were almost immediately paired with support agents who were knowledgeable and courteous. They provided follow-up links as further resources related to our questions. They even sent chat transcripts at the end of the service for future reference. Based on our research, A2 Hosting has very helpful customer service.   

A2's money-back guarantee is a little more complex than other companies'. While you can technically get a refund at any time in your service, you are most likely to get a full refund during the first 30 days. While you may still be entitled to a partial refund after 30 days, other web hosting providers offer longer money-back guarantee periods of 45 or even 90 days.

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Costs of Web Hosting Software

Web hosting prices vary widely by company and type of hosting. Shared hosting plans can range from just a few dollars a month to around $30 per month. Our research showed that, in the web hosting industry, as with most other things, you get what you pay for. 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. 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 that are looking for reliable, cost-effective hosting. We also found that managed WordPress hosting and cloud hosting services are desirable for some midsize businesses, so we reviewed their plans and pricing as separate use cases.

Web hosting services typically charge monthly or annually, requiring all annual fees upfront. The longest web host contract length requirement we found was three years. As with many other business services, the longer you commit, the lower your monthly price.

The best hosting services provide 30- to 90-day money-back guarantees. If you cancel your plan within this time frame, you'll receive a refund. However, some companies deduct certain fees for services such as domain registration. If you cancel your account after this allotted time, you likely won't receive a refund. A few companies we researched even charge an early cancellation fee. 

Other common add-ons with extra fees include additional email accounts, multiple websites and domain registration. Although many companies 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 such as unlimited bandwidth or storage, as they sometimes have slower network load times or overage fees if you exceed the typical usage they expect. When you compare bandwidth and storage options, try to find a web hosting service that offers "unmetered" instead of "unlimited."

Many web hosting providers' checkout pages also advertise add-ons and integrations for enhanced performance or additional security.

Buying Guide

Negotiation Tips

When you're looking for a web hosting provider, you should evaluate some important conditions 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 you decrease your usage. 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 the range, press them for definitive 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 give you this rate only if you commit to a three-year contract, and others provide you with the promotional deal only 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 it might be 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 analyzed 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.

Automatic Renewal 

Many providers 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.

Types of Web Hosting

There are several 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 volumes 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 as shared hosting and spares you from maintaining an in-house server. It houses your information across the web, increasing reliability and uptime. Cloud hosting 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 is the most expensive web hosting option and is typically necessary only for large companies with extremely high traffic.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

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

The primary difference among the hosting types 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.

Web Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about web hosting? We've answered some of the most common queries below.

What is free web hosting?

Although we reviewed paid services, there are also some free web hosting services. 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 there may be some security and integration features in free web hosting platforms, they aren't as robust as those from paid services. Free services are suited primarily to individual use, as opposed to business use. However, if you are launching a small business with a tight web hosting budget, it may be a good idea to start with a free web hosting service and eventually transition to a paid plan.

How do you choose a web host?

Choosing the right web host is a complicated process, but you can filter your options based on your individual needs. Start by identifying the 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 there, you can narrow down web hosting providers based on their services. Decide which features are top priorities for you. Is security the most important? Are third-party integrations essential? 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 to a select few. Read reviews for each web host, and consider making customer service calls to test the support and ask additional questions.

What are the advantages of cloud hosting?

Cloud hosting is a newer form of web hosting that's rising in popularity. Although it may have lower security measures than dedicated servers, it has a lot of advantages. Having your website hosted in the cloud eliminates the need for an in-house server because 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.

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

Community Expert Insight

When searching for the best web hosting system for your company, you need to consider many variables. Gilad Rom, founder and CEO of Huan, said DreamHost is his favorite system. As an e-commerce business owner, he looks for fast and reliable SSD storage and an encrypted SSL certificate to keep consumers' private information secure. "DreamHost has good all-round performance, with strong uptime rates and quick loading times," Rom told business.com. "They have no limits on bandwidth, emails or MySQL databases."

Dan Bailey, president of Wikilawn, said he appreciates Blue Host for its performance. However, he found that it lacked some key features and integrations.

"You have to install some things yourself using FTP rather than cPanel," he said. "But if you're building your business site with WordPress (which I recommend), Bluehost has everything you need already built into it. You can set it up in literal seconds."

Christina Kumar, an entrepreneur, said Shopify is the best web hosting system for her. Although she's used other programs – like Bluehost, WordPress and GoDaddy – she loves Shopify's ease of use. 

"Shopify wins with their impeccable customer service, price consistency and app availability," she said. "Shopify has been reliable and trustworthy as well as user-friendly."

Deb Banerjee, owner of East 2 West Supply, also uses Shopify, for similar reasons. It allows her to open her new store with SEO-enabled features and use analytics tools with live reports and live view. It is also inexpensive while still offering a great range of quality features. She said Shopify provides the marketing tools she needs to run an e-commerce store and its free email marketing is extremely helpful.

Our 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 at other news and review sites, considered our past vendor lists, investigated companies that requested to be reviewed and researched other hosting companies. Based on that research, we established a list of more than 40 web hosting providers to review.

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

After evaluating each web hosting provider, we narrowed down our list to five best picks: InMotion Hosting, A2 Hosting, Bluehost and DreamHost.

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
  • Preinstalled apps and integrations
  • Reported uptime
  • Reputation and customer service
Simone Johnson
Simone Johnson,
business.com Writer
See Simone Johnson's Profile
Simone R. Johnson was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from the University of Rochester in 2017 with a dual degree in English language media and communications and film media production. She has been a reporter for several New York publications prior to joining Business News Daily and business.com as a full-time staff writer. When she isn't writing, she enjoys community enrichment projects that serve disadvantaged groups and rereading her favorite novels.

Understanding Web Hosting Services Infographic

Understanding Web Hosting Services
Credit: Grant Reinero

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Would combining two websites under one umbrella be a good decision?
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Marcus Wieland
Marcus Wieland
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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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Can I still rank high in search results if I'm using a free web hosting platform?
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Sol Gonzalez
Sol Gonzalez
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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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