When looking for the best SQL server web hosting packages, you may realize that there isn't a huge amount of choice because the majority of hosting providers still do not support SQL servers.
But there's good news - although there may not be a wide range to choose from, there are still some great options available.
To save you time, I've spent a great amount of time testing out how over 30 SQL compatible providers handled my SQL databases. And I've formed a list of the top 5 plans and highlighted their best and worst features:
- A2 Hosting (Works with many SQL variants)
- BlueHost (Great for open source SQL servers)
- Microsoft Azure (Extreme reliability, cloud-based)
- Hostgator (Cheap and reliable)
- GearHost (Free, MS SQL support is included)
1. A2 Hosting
Prices from: $4.90/month
Combine that history with a knowledgeable and friendly customer support team that can be accessed 24/7 via Skype, live chat, email and tickets and you have an extremely reliable choice to host that all-important mission critical SQL server.
- I verified the helpfulness of the support team in this review -
A2 Hosting is a great option if you like to have multiple SQL architectures on hand. These forms of SQL are traditional (MS SQL), open source (MySQL) or simple and preconfigured (SQLite).
SSD storage also comes standard with all SQL hosting plans, which is awesome as you'll be able to host large databases and access them quickly.
However, the cheapest plan's severe limitation is that you can only use it to host 5 databases, but you can purchase a mere $0.98/month upgrade to remove that. That upgrade is well worth it for any business that uses separate data streams.
However, I don't see the value for most consumers in upgrading to the top-of-the-line 'Turbo' plan. In my own testing, I wasn't able to verify the '20X average page load speed' that supposedly comes with the package. It's faster, but not by much. And besides, for most SQL databases, page load speeds will be less important than for consumer-facing sites.
- 1MS SQL 2016, My SQL, LiteSQL included
- Affordable plans
- SSD based storage included
- Server review backups not available on the cheapest plan
- Turbo plan advantages may be wasted on SQL servers
Prices from: $2.90/month (for the first month, then $7.99/month)
MySQL is a fantastic open source SQL variant and a good option if you want to avoid additional SQL licensing fees. It is the SQL version of choice for Linux users and is regularly refreshed with security and feature updates.
BlueHost's shared hosting plans, therefore, offer a cheap SQL server hosting option. The starter shared hosting plan includes 50GB of SSD storage, which is more than enough for SQL databases of a reasonable size.
While shared SQL servers are great, they run the risk of being throttled by the sites of other users hosted on the same hardware. If you want to use your SQL server for mission-critical functions, I recommend using BlueHost's dedicated server plans to ensure your database will be assigned unique resources.
Dedicated hosting prices begin at a reasonable $79.99/month (which jumps to $119.99/month after the first month).
Beware MS SQL Users, Only MySQL is Supported
Do keep in mind that BlueHost servers run on Linux architecture too, so support for other SQL variants won't be added anytime soon.
- MySQL included
- Dedicated, VPS and shared hosting options
- Price jumps after the first month
- Not compatible with other common SQL formats
Prices from: $0.548/hour (if you already have an MS SQL license, otherwise $2.0175/hour)
If you’re willing to pay for convenience and peace of mind when it comes to your data security, look no further.
After all, MS SQL is developed by Microsoft, so there’s no better host if you’re looking for a reliable and perpetually up-to-date SQL system. Microsoft’s latest offering, Azure SQL, is a cloud-based SQL hosting service.
That is excellent if you want an easy way to host multiple databases or to frequently change database set-up without having to waste time adding new virtual machines.
If you're worried about moving to a cloud architecture, don't be. Azure SQL is functionally nearly identical to MS SQL so moving over your current database is easy.
But before you buy a subscription...
Watch Out for Those Cloud Prices!
With Azure SQL, Microsoft won’t charge you to license MS SQL. Great!
But instead, you’ll be billed for hourly usage costs. That means that unless your database is accessed infrequently, there’s a risk of ballooning prices. If you are operating on a strict budget, I recommend you consider on-premises hosting alternatives instead.
- Cloud convenience
- Latest and greatest security features
- Always includes up-to-date SQL variant
- 30-day free trial
- Potentially pricey
- Encourages limited database access to reduce cost
Prices from: $4.76/month (for the first term), then $5.95Hostgator's ASP.NET packages are budget-friendly routes to getting your hands on hosting for unlimited numbers of MySQL and MS SQL databases.
That's right, even the starter ASP.NET plan includes as many SQL databases as you care to create. That's ideal for the majority of SQL users who want to run functions in multiple databases concurrently.
With both of Hostgator's SQL plans bandwidth and storage are unmetered, letting you store huge databases and access them as quickly as your connection allows.
I can't overemphasize how important reliability is to a hosted SQL database. Hostgator has you covered on that front too, with 24/7 live-chat and phone support along with a 99.9% uptime guarantee which I verified here.
MS SQL Users, Watch Out!
Hostgator is still running an old version of MS SQL - the Server 2008 R2 version. Of course, as Microsoft still supports aging MS SQL variants, this isn't the end of the world. But it's always good to make sure your servers are futureproofed - and in this case, this might be a cause for concern.
- Compatible with MS SQL and MySQL
- Free SSL
- Unlimited storage, bandwidth, and databases
- 45-day money back guarantee
- Old MS SQL version
- Three-year contract needed for cheapest prices
Prices from: FREE!
However, there are some pretty severe usage restrictions on the free package. You're limited to just 10MB of SQL storage, 1GB bandwidth, a single worker instance, and 20-minute timeout sessions.
That's likely to make the free package pretty unusable for the purpose of hosting even medium sized databases you need consistent access to. However, it's still a good free option for testing SQL code in a server environment, or for hosting very basic databases.
For only $5/month. that 10 MB limit can be swapped out for 1GB, but a $25/month plan is needed to remove the timeout restriction.
The $25/month plan can also be paid hourly at only $0.037/hour, which makes it an extremely affordable option if you want to host an important SQL server that you don't need constant access to.
- FREE starter plan
- SSD storage
- Compatible with MS SQL and MySQL
- Free package heavily restricted
- Upgraded package expensive if billed monthly
How to Choose the Best SQL Server Web Hosting?
First, ask yourself...'Does the host support the version of SQL I want to run?'
If you are an MS SQL user, ensure support is provided for your yearly version.
Also, language from rarer SQL frameworks like MySQL or SQL Server Express will not be understood by MS SQL. So, if you’re looking for support using these frameworks, then you should take even greater care to ensure your provider is compatible.
Is it worth using free SQL server hosting?
The answer is both YES and NO.
YES, because there are companies offering legitimate free SQL server hosting. GearHost is one of them, and this is a great way to test SQL code.
NO, because the minuscule storage and bandwidth offered with the free package mean you literally can’t use it to host databases of any reasonably large size.
In all cases, you will be getting a better service if you pay. And while free SQL hosting is a decent option, I also suggest considering all your options and picking something best suited for your needs.
So, with that said, I hope you now have a much better understanding of which SQL server hosting is right for you. If you have any questions or feel that I have missed out an important provider, feel free to hit up the comments below.