If you're looking for the best web hosting, you may already know one of the main rules of this business:
Not every host is as strong and powerful as it claims to be.
While looking for the best web hosting I bought and tested nearly 100 providers, out of which only 5 were worthy to be featured in this article.
Here's what I was doing to determine which host is the best:
- Anonymously bought an account of each host.
- Set up HTML, website builder, and WordPress websites, enabling us to track uptime and server response speeds.
- Studied the pricing and Terms of Service, in order to reveal the potential issues companies don't want you to know.
- Tested the control panel software and checked how it helps solve various problems and situations.
- Finally, tested the host's customer support in a very thorough way, seeing how they deal with technical questions, stressful situations, and other common cases.
I was quick to find out - it's difficult to find a host which is perfect for everything. However, I feel like my search was wildly successful - the top 5 companies in this list are as perfect as they come.
Hosting providers were ranked in 5 different categories: performance, pricing, user-friendliness, support, and features. The top 5 hosts have either been very good or absolutely great in all of these categories. By picking one of those, you can't really miss.
But there's still so much I want to say about each and every one of these best web hosting providers:
Last downtime: 3 months ago
Recommended for people who want superior performance and high-quality support without breaking the bank.
Hostinger is an incredibly interesting company. Not only it goes head-to-head with SiteGround, but it also does it in style!
With entry-level plans starting at just $0.80/month and offering SSD (Solid State Disk) storage, 100GB of bandwidth and 10GB of disk space, it's a hard package to beat.
There were two things that impressed me the most about Hostinger: free inclusion of the powerful BitNinja anti-theft security system, as well as the SpamAssassin email anti-spam tool.
For free, you get crucial online safety tools many other providers are likely to charge extra for.
It's also worth mentioning that you get free automated backups and a free domain name if you purchase any plan with hosting period of 12 months or more. Overall, I think it's a very good deal.
Hostinger has unparalleled performance
Not only do Hostinger offer the fastest speeds available (as low as 77 ms response!), they also provide fantastic uptime statistics of around 99.99%. Even when the performance dips, response times still rarely exceed 1 second. It’s a great result that's by far the best web hosting speed between the providers I've tested.
Perfect for starting or scaling a business
Giving developers new skills, tools and assistance appear to be one of Hostinger's biggest values.
At Hostinger our vision is to enable millions of people around the globe to unlock the power of Internet by giving them tools to learn, create and grow online.Arnas Stuopelis: CEO, Hostinger
When it comes to starting a business, Hostinger offers a magnitude of tools to help you - including over 300 text and video tutorials, sophisticated domain checker tool, free domain, and brilliant customer support.
When your business becomes huge, transfer to a very powerful and scalable Cloud business hosting is going to be effortless. Combine all of the things together, and you’ll find Hostinger to be a perfect platform for business owners of various needs.Last downtime: 4 days ago
Recommended for small and medium businesses, using WordPress.
For over 15 years, Bluehost has been the primary option for WordPress hosting. Its reputation glows so bright, it's actually the #1 hosting option as stated by the platform itself!
With a combination of advanced features, great customer support and superior performance, Bluehost has managed to host more than 2 millions websites all around the world.
But it's not only WordPress hosting this company is good in.
Bluehost provides just about anything to get almost any type of website going. It's a one-stop-shop, that also happens to be incredible in WordPress.
Perfect WordPress performance
Bluehost's WordPress servers are well known as being fast and very reliable. It's not only talk - it's fact. Rarely ever going down and clocking response times of under 400 ms, Bluehost WordPress websites are cream of the crop when it comes to performance.
It's needless to say that it's very important for businesses and projects of all sizes. Users will love browsing through a fast website. And with the website always being up, there are no issues with making the sales and acquiring the clients.
Weebly website builder
It's one of the best website builders in the world right now: and it's available free with every Bluehost purchase.
This way, you're getting one extra tool to make your website building experience all the more better.
Last downtime: 2 weeks ago
Recommended for projects looking to benefit from great worldwide servers.
With datacenters in 8 countries all across the world and clients in 83 countries, FastComet is a truly global company.
And in those 83 countries, this web hosting company aims to deliver a truly premium web hosting experience, complete with SSD-only storage, Cloudflare CDN, and daily backups.
For both complete beginners and seasoned professionals - there's plenty to love in this hosting provider.
Great features in all plans
FastComet includes all of the above - even in the cheapest, $2.95 plan.
And the domain registration is free not only for one year: the domain registration is free for as long as you're using the host.
It has to be said - FastComet is not the cheapest host on this list. But it more than makes up for it with what you get for your money.
Feel like a rockstar
Setting up a web hosting account and moving (or creating) a website shouldn't be stressful. With FastComet, it definitely isn't.
One of the highlights of this provider is its amazing customer support. The representatives are all working in-house, and are trained to know the entire platform inside out.
And it really works - in terms of customer support, FastComet is up there with the best. In fact, that while setting up the hosting account, I was greeted by a professional, who offered to install all the required software for me. And if the software wasn't available to download automatically - they would find it, and do it all for me.
Talk about getting treated like a rockstar.
Making customers happy is our top priority and the success of the company has been driven by the passion of our employees.
Elena Tileva, Director of Marketing, FastComet
Last downtime: Down
Recommended for those interested in premium customer experience.
With servers spread across three continents, SiteGround can most definitely be called an ambitious company with huge dreams and goals.
It's a pretty much perfect premium host, offering a lot of great things. For some, SiteGround may seem a little bit expensive.
But considering what you get for your purchase, it's absolutely worth it. Especially with one killer feature:
When you sign up for SiteGround, you get a proactive chat from a live agent offering to call you, inquiring if you need any help setting everything up. Customer support includes tutorials, live chat, tickets, and phone calls. All are available 24/7 - and when you call on a Saturday night and get connected to an agent in 10 seconds, you know you're getting your money's worth.
Three layers of caching
SiteGround offers Supercacher - a caching service, which is supposed to make your website load many times faster and help avoid problems caused by big surges in traffic. It's SiteGround's own sophisticated system, including 3 different layers: static cache, memcached, and dynamic cache. Here's how these 3 SuperCacher layers work and what they do to improve your website:
Static cache takes a copy of your static content and puts it on the hosting server's RAM memory - dramatically reducing the load times. Memcached does something very rare for shared hosting servers - it saves user requests as well, adding a layer of speed to the static cache. Finally, dynamic cache goes a step further and caches the entire website, converting it to HTML and saving even more time. With all of the layers combined, SiteGround Supercacher offers all of the latest web technologies for your website.
Hacking your SiteGround site? Mission Impossible
SiteGround take security very seriously. All plans include a well-known CloudFlare security package and a free SSL certificate. On top of that, third parties won't be able to easily log in to your account, as SiteGround's password reset system required to have access to personal documents, phone number, or email. This is something all of the best web hosting providers should have.
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Last downtime: 4 months ago
Recommended for people, looking for many operating systems and scaling options.
A2 Hosting has pretty much anything I could ever ask from a hosting provider. Many different types of hosting? Check. Both Windows and Linux available in the shared plans? Check. Solutions tailored specifically for many kinds of websites, such as dating, education, chat, and forum platforms? Check, check, check.
A2 Hosting can help you make any kind of an Internet project and they're the ultimate example of a one-stop-shop.
Custom hosting solutions
In addition to regular hosting, A2 is also prepared to help website professionals who want to use the servers for very specific projects. The are loads of plans, optimized for at least 44 custom types of projects.
For example, I was able to choose an A2 plan that's specifically tailored for podcast hosting. It includes all the important software and has customer support, trained to help you should any problems happen.
Overall, this is a brilliant option - as we all know, there are many different kinds of users. And A2 wants to have a plan for all of them.
Turbo servers are brilliant
The variety of A2 hosting plans also includes the ones that are specifically built for speed. Optimized to the bone, A2 Hosting Turbo plans combined with custom software options offer brilliant response and page load times.
It's no secret that speed is incredibly important - and it's great to see A2 offer a plan for that. If your website is a heavyweight clogging servers wherever it goes, A2 Hosting could be a perfect option to go with. Don't believe us? Check out the server times.
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Why do I even need web hosting?
You can't plant a tree with no land and you can't build a website without hosting. Hosting is basically a server, a computer connected to the Internet, where all of your website data is stored in. When you purchase a hosting plan, you rent a piece of that computer and this is where your website goes.
"But wait", some of you may ask. "I already have a computer at home! Why don't I just put the website in it?"
The answer is simple - your computer may break, be turned off or electricity could go down. When your computer is down, so is your website - so it's better to trust a dedicated hosting provider to take care of that for you. Just below, you'll even find a tool, which helps to monitor the availability of every page on the web and see, so you can see how their servers perform.
So in terms of availability, hosting is better than your own computer. Not to mention that turning a computer into a server is a big challenge, more suited for experienced users. Instead, for such people I would personally recommend getting a dedicated server or a virtual private server.
These options tend to be very powerful and highly customizable - while they are more expensive, they're crucial for huge projects that get hundreds of thousands or even millions of users per month. If you're one of them, these are the hosting technologies for you.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are beginner users. They just want to have a simple website up and running. They never planned to make a server out of their computer, nor they want to become professional database managers. For those people, a website builder could be a perfect option.
Website builders are simple to use and there's no need to worry about anything but the design of the page. They do cost extra and may have a limited customizability but some people may love them as their page building option of choice.
For everyone in the middle, there's web hosting.
It allows you to install any kind of a page building software or even code it yourself and make the website just the way you want it to be. You may use WordPress - the most popular page management system in the world. Or you could install PrestaShop or Magento and immediately start selling online.
Web hosting gives you the freedom to make whatever kind of page you want - and if you choose to work with simple-to-use software, your website building experience could be as simple as using a page builder.
And what's even better, is that compared to a private server or a website builder, web hosting is far and away the cheapest option out of the three. This is why web hosting is so popular amongst bloggers, artists, and various small businesses - it combines freedom, customizability and low prices.
So in theory, web hosting is absolutely great. But as you may already imagine, different providers offer different quality services. In my reviews, I thoroughly evaluated dozens of providers - and these are the things I was testing to see which ones are the best.
Secret shopper testing reveals hosts’ true colors
I attempt to replicate an experience a regular user would have. This is why in the reviews, I kept using the "secret shopper" method - that means buying the services without the provider knowing I am doing this for review. Such a procedure helps unveil a lot of interesting things about a host - both great and disappointing.
You know how Michelin operate when they are giving out Michelin Stars? Not to gloat, but think of me like the Michelin of the web hosting world!
And these are the perfect ingredients for a good hosting provider:
1. Speed is crucial for you and your visitors
A speedy website enhances user experience and helps your business. Visitors love browsing through a quick website and if a server of choice is powerful, Google is going to rank the page higher as well.
Speed has been used in ranking for some time, <...> starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.Google Webmasters Blog, January 2018.
And of course, I do understand how important it is for your projects to succeed, so each and every single of the reviews include a test on response times. By comparing the performance of every host, you can tell just how fast your website could possibly be!
2. Your website serves no purpose if it's always down!
But here's a thing you should know - there's one more important metric which can make or break your website.
That metric is called uptime.
To be more exact - just how often your hosting provider's servers are going to be down.
I've had my websites go down before, and it's a harrowing feeling. All of your work is gone somewhere and you can't do anything to fix it. You're helpless.
When your website doesn't work, the users get angry, you get angry - and don't get any visitors or make any sales. In short - if your page is down often, this could mean a disaster.
Hosting providers know that, so nearly every single company I
have looked at has made a certain promise about how long your website will be online. You may have even seen headlines like "99.9% uptime guarantee!" which look very interesting.
But you know what? I can easily prove you that a 99.9% guarantee is actually a very disappointing result. Here goes:
Let's say you have an eCommerce site and Black Friday is approaching. It's a big day for sales, so hosting servers are being worked extra hard to accommodate the load.
With a hosting provider offering 99.9% uptime, its servers can still go down for 0.1% of the time.
Sounds like almost nothing, right?
That kind of a "guarantee" only guarantees you nearly 9 hours of uptime a year. Some providers even have the cheek of offering 99% of uptime, which means that the downtimes you sign up for are 7 hours per month and nearly 4 days per year!
If your website is down for the entire day on Black Friday, you can lose a massive amount of potential clients.
No business needs that, so during my tests, I keep a close eye on all downtimes and let you know whether the hosting servers are reliable or not.
Speed is important - so I test that. Reliability is also important - so I test that, too.
Several factors can affect a website's uptime, including server overloads, power cuts, and disk errors - but the best web hosting companies have preventative measures and fail-safes in place to prevent these issues from hitting your site.
You may see the hosting status page for the performance of the current top web hosting providers.
3. Pricing tricks can catch you out
Like any other service provider, web hosting plans are almost always available only through a subscription-based system.
It's not as simple as "the cheapest monthly price = good score", though. Some providers may try to fool you.
Often, a $2.50/month plan will only be that price if you purchase hosting for 36 months (Actually costing you $90 upfront!), or, it will be $2.50/month for the first couple of months, and then shoot up to something like $15/month ($515 in 3 years!).
Take Web.com as an example. It took a little bit of research for us to find out some dirty secrets of its cheap website building solution.
Their $2.95/month Business Builder plan suddenly turns into $32.95/month as soon as your billing cycle ends.When the price of your plan suddenly increases by 11 times for no apparent reason, you have a right to know. This is why I tend to never trust the headlines and read the fine print - so you don't get fooled.
When you're about to open your wallet, you tend to become a target of various selling tricks. It's important to know what are the actual prices - and it's one of the things I always review.
Of course, there is a way you can avoid pricing tricks altogether. You can do that choosing free web hosting.
Sure, it won't ever be as powerful as the paid version - but if you're interested, check out our post about it in the link above.
4. User-experience can change everything
A very good or a very bad user experience can both make or break anyone's entire hosting adventure. For me, not many things are more frustrating than attempting to perform a seemingly simple task but getting tangled up in the process.
This is why I put a lot of emphasis on testing how things work and how they look. Some hosting providers have beautiful, custom-made panels - but often they tend to be very difficult to use! On the web hosting reviews on this page, I investigate how the panel works and what should you be expecting from it.
But that is not all. User experience isn't defined by the user panel and how frustrating it is. Sometimes, it's the little things which make you love the hosting provider for what it is. Take FastComet for example - after you place a purchase, a live agent calls you, manually charges the account and asks, if any help is needed. Should you, for example, decide that you want some software to be installed – that can be easily done as well!
Overall, hosting has to be functional, and simple to use. And a provider can do a lot of extra things to enhance your user experience even more. This is what I look into.
5. Keeping the customer happySpeaking of user experience, good customer support is a vital part of it. So a big part of the reviews is dedicated to finding the best web hosting customer support there is.
As mentioned previously, when purchasing these packages in order to find the best web hosting, I do it anonymously. The transcripts of the live chats or the experience of the support calls are all genuine and representative of what you would experience when using a certain hosting provider.
There are several things that are actually really interesting. For example, I check which support options the host offers (Usually a combination of live chat, phone, ticket system, and knowledge base).
Most of the time, the providers are tested with simple questions, such as: "How do I install WordPress?" etc, and sometimes I try my best to catch them out with trickier things.
Here's my evil, cunning plan to give Hostinger's customer support a good test. I took the wp-config.php file on a WordPress site, and then purposefully changed the database name. Hence, the website went down. Let's take a look at how this was handled:
Within seconds I was connected to Mantas, and after just 3 minutes everything was resolved.
Efficiency score - amazing.
A good experience like this can turn an unhappy customer into a happy one, and the best web hosting providers know this.
6. Extra features are your best friend
Some hosts have fantastic reliability, some have incredible support, the best web hosts have a combination of both! But there's one thing that makes a host stand out from the crowd. It's the extra features.
The top companies on my list do their best to interest users with the amazing extra features. Some are good for website management, some help the performance, others are useful in a completely different way.
There are SSL certificates, beautiful website building software, website transfer or caching services, just to mention a few. Some providers may be even giving you additional website security or coupons to take part in various marketing programs. Companies are interested in providing their clients with something, that is going to keep them interested.
So keep an eye out - maybe some great hosting provider will offer just the right features for you.
What is the best web hosting for YOUR project?
For some users, one host may be perfect and others may find it completely unsuitable. As it is with many things in life, a choice of web hosting is still a very subjective thing. So it's important to ask yourself - what exactly do you want from your web hosting?
Do you always put performance first? Or do you have no experience and want all kinds of customer support to guide you along the way? Maybe you need a learning platform to become a developer, therefore, you value tutorials and guides over anything else?
Below, you can see a best web hosting quiz I put together with the help of a couple colleagues. It takes loads of variables from every single host that's reviewed on this site. By answering questions about the project you're making, you will see which companies offer the right package for your needs.
On top of the choosing the hosting, by seeing the features it does and doesn't offer, I also give them an overall score based on many performance-related metrics. In the 5 evaluated categories, some of those may be more important to you than others. Each user is different, each hosting provider is different as well.
But there's a solid chance you are still uncertain as to what things are important to you. If that's the case, I have some things you should consider before you buy.
1. How many websites do you plan to have?
Many of the best web hosting providers offer advanced packages, often including "unlimited websites". This means that you can connect as many domains to your host as you like, enabling you to have multiple separate websites running on one plan, at one time.
With that said, if you won't be needing more than one domain, then I would suggest that you save your money and choose a more basic plan, which is often cheaper. It's likely that a basic or entry level plan will be all you need - try not to overpay for things you won't be using. It's quite easy to upgrade anyway!
2. How many visitors are you expecting?
Do you expect 100 visitors per day? Maybe 1,000? No matter what the figure is, you should aim to pick a host that guarantees as much as you need.
There is no point in paying extra for a plan that allows 100,000 visitors per day if your blog or website won't hit even close to those numbers.
Set yourself realistic goals and always remember that as you do grow you can always upgrade your plan to accommodate, or just pick another of the best web hosts!
3. Do you plan to sell online?
If the answer to that question is a "YES!" then you will certainly need a plan that comes with an advanced SSL certificate.
Sometimes hosting providers will offer an SSL certificate as part of the plan, other times they will have it as an added extra that you have to buy separately (and often this costs as much as the plan itself), and occasionally I have found hosts that don't even support SSL encryption.
That's not good. Especially if you want to sell or make money online.
Try them yourselves!
There are plenty of things to consider when searching for the best web hosting - such as price, features, performance, support, and much more. I've already mentioned - in my reviews, I try to do the best possible job and cover as much as I can. So you know, what can you expect as a user of a platform. All things considered though, the most important thing is to try.
|Best Feature||Price From||Overall Rating|
|Hostinger||#1 performance, #1 price||$0.80 /month|
|Bluehost||Great WordPress optimization||$3.53 /month|
|A2 Hosting||Custom hosting solutions||$3.92 /month|
|SiteGround||3 layers of caching||$3.95 /month|
|InMotion||Tutorials & a huge community||$3.99 /month|
In the comments section below, let me know your favorite host! What were your experiences and horror stories with some of the bad ones like? I'd love to find out!