Web hosting is pretty classic. Over 70 of the most popular web hosts are controlled by one company that are basically private-labeled and repackaged to make them look different. They're not all bad, but you want to avoid most of them.
We like SiteGround because you're getting premium support for budget cost.
If you're a new blogger, you'll want shared hosting. For your premium users (people who already have traffic), you'll want to opt for a VPS or cloud solution.
Budget host with the best customer service
Budget host has refreshing "startup" feel to it
99.9% uptime and easy setup for beginners
- Digital Ocean
Cloud-based host for software developers
- Liquid Web
Ideal choice for small business owners who want elite support
Another pretty good budget option
Solid budget host is almost a Bluehost clone
- Media Temple
Top-shelf host for elite bloggers and businesses
Most popular budget host in the world
Extremely inexpensive host catering to business owners
Web Hosting 101
Web hosting is pretty classic. Over 70 of the most popular web hosts are controlled by one company that are basically private-labeled and repackaged to make them look different.
They're not all bad, but you want to avoid most of them. Now, I've used 50+ different web hosting companies in my day.
All kinds, too. From the cheapest (for low-level blogs) to the premiums (for blogs and sites that get over 150,000 visitors a month).
If you want a website on the Internet, you need a host.
Depending on your needs and ambitions for the site, the host you choose is incredibly important and can vary wildly. We've gone over 17 different hosts in detail. If you don't have time for all that, we've got our top three picked out just for you.
Our search for the best wasn't done haphazardly, we took our time and looked right at the qualities that matter most when it comes to putting your blog or business site online.
What We Looked For
Everything under the hood of a hosting company boils down to four key categories:
After we took a good look at how well each host fared, we gave them a ranking (1.0-10.0) in terms of their overall value and quality.
So, what's a good host look like?
This area is going to be made up of the equipment that they use to keep your files (a fancy way of saying your website) and the services the host offers to make their company worthwhile.
We made sure to look for updated equipment and server locations to ensure they know what they're doing and are keeping up with the times. Security was also a major item on our checklist.
The Internet is now full of people who want to steal your data and take your site down for no reason. Having security measures in place doesn't guarantee anything, but it's way better than leaving your site unprotected and hoping it doesn't get hacked.
If you don't ever want to talk with a support rep, then don't start a website.
Sounds like a joke, but there are so many things that go into putting something on the web—even experts have problems from time to time.
A good support system includes phone, email, and chat support with at least one of those methods available 24/7/365.
Other things we considered here were response time, knowledge of the staff, and the range of things they help with. Some hosts only provide support for their products and others will help you with things like issues with uploads, updates, etc.
The speed of your site is one of the most important factors in getting people to and keeping them on it. It affects ranking in search engines (like Google) and your bounce rate (how often people start to come to your site and then, bounce).
If it takes longer than 3 seconds for your page to load, over half of the people (that wanted to be there) will leave.
A host that offers good speed has up-to-date equipment at least (even good budget hosts have this). Premium hosts will also offer other things. Primarily a content delivery network (CDN) and configurations that bump up your site's performance.
A CDN is a program that allows for your files to load from the server that is closest to the person who wants to look at them.
For instance, if you have a site based in America with a lot of readers in the U.K.; your host may have hardware in both the states and Europe. Your readers will get the site pulled off the servers closest to them—making it show up on their screen faster.
Speed was a major indicator in our search (especially for the best budget host).
Last on our list was uptime—when your site is fully available it's "UP".
It's why you need a host in the first place. Some companies keep your files up better than others and some offer a "guarantee" without specifically laying out the terms or ways to keep them on their toes. We took all of that into account.
This category is ranked on a few indicators:
- Reported problems with uptime from existing and previous customers.
- Whether or not the host provided uptime stats or made maintenance announcements.
- Whether or not the host has an uptime guarantee (with actual terms attached to it).
Our Top 3 Picks
Best Overall Host: SiteGround
The best service of any budget host. It's even better than a lot of the premium hosts. Always available, knowledgeable, and quick to respond.
Hardware is top-notch. SSD drives and several other types of "gear". Siteground built their company around the concept of making their customers' websites fast.
Plans are priced well in line with other budget hosts and with the level of service and quality of the equipment and hosting, it's the best value of all hosts online.
Propriety security software and fail-safes are constantly crawling to ensure the safety of your files and data. Another premium feature for budget pricing.
The resources allocated for their plans don't allow for many visitors (especially their lower-level options). If you have a site with a decent amount of traffic, look closely.
There are no VPS plans available. There are cloud plans to offset this, but they are a bit more expensive than other budget hosts.
Best Quality Host: DreamHost
DreamHost is a small company with a genuine sense of caring and quality for hosting websites. They have amazing premium-level hosting without the price tag.
Everything this host does, they do it well. Keeping your site online means that it is fast, secure, and always available (100% uptime guarantee).
Support specifically for WordPress users is available. A bonus for those who loved the world's most popular content management system.
The price tag for DreamHost is higher than most other "budget" hosts. While they do offer a premium service for less, it's not as low as others (including Siteground).
This isn't the host for someone who isn't tech-literate or has never hosted a site. This company doesn't specifically cater to the beginner.
Best for Beginners: InMotion
InMotion has developed a platform that draws in and comforts those who have never had a website before. Specifically, they cater to small business owners who want a web presence.
A full-range of features, money-back guarantees, and other benefits set this company apart from others. Many companies are trying to slim down their offerings, but not this host.
The "BoldGrid" site builder is a great way for a business owner to put together a site that actually looks good in their spare time.
If you have a little extra cash, InMotion does offer design services that also cater more to the small business owner.
It's not the cheapest. The quality of hosting can be found for a better price, but not necessarily a place that speaks as well to business owners.
Speed options are not incredible. They aren't as bad as the lower-level hosts, but they definitely don't hold up to SiteGround.