A guide to choose to best web hosting service for your online business
Finding the right web hosting provider is an essential part when launching a business website or blogging project. While this may sound a daunting task, there will be numerous benefits to enjoy if you take the effort to understand the technical aspects hosting comes with. Firstly, you will be able to ignore non-essential features and save money. Secondly, you will gain the knowledge to smoothly launch and optimize your project.
This review will look at the best web hosting services and provides the criteria (jump down) to assist you in making a well-informed decision to take your business or project online.
Best Web Hosting Services – Top 6 Providers
Below is a list of popular hosting services which have their marketing fluff stripped away to present you with their core features. We recommend to consider to spend a minimum of $6.95 a month in order to get the essential features both in good quality and quantity. If you pay upfront for a period of 1/2/3 years you may lower it down to $4.95/month.
- Important decision criteria
- Server space and bandwidth
- Uptime guarantee (min. 99.9%)
- Free domain on set-up
- Domains allowed per account
- One Click installs for CMS
- Support and version of server-side languages, e.g. PHP
- Type of storage (SSD?)
- Free migration service
- Daily Backups, pricing for roll-back service
- 24/7/365 Customer support
1. HostGator Website Hosting
HostGator is well established in the hosting market and has a significant market share in terms of clients serviced. By now, HostGator should have more than 2,000,000 clients using their services.
Although they offer a large number of plans that vary from country to country, their absolute bestseller that small businesses tend to lean towards is the shared hosting plan named ‘Hatchling Plan.’ HostGator offers unmetered bandwidth with the condition that your website does not use greater than 25% system resources for 90 seconds or more.
This hosting plan is an ideal option for small businesses that are trying to enter the online market as it is an economical plan with an excellent 99.9% uptime guarantee. Each plan offers a decent amount of backup options though expect to be charged if you need to restore an older version. HostGator is one of the best web hosting service to start a blog, a small business website or online project that requires testing without financial risks.
Pricing of their plans is deceptively low for the first 3 years if you make payment in full, while the renewal price thereafter is $6.95/month. Otherwise, you can simply hop on a monthly plan and cancel anytime if you just want to test for a while.
Customer service is good and friendly, but calculate waiting time especially during peak hours.
Another well-established hosting provider with a great track record of excellent service and quality. However, a little-known fact is that HostGator and BlueHost have the same parent company, called the Endurance International Group!
Their most popular shared hosting plan is priced at $4.95/month (if you make 3 years’ worth of payment upfront). They allow an unlimited number of websites and unmetered website space and bandwidth, subject to a fair use policy.
Although multiple websites might not come in handy for small businesses, the plan lower than this one will not be a worthy fit for you as it offers only a measly 100 MB email storage and 50 GB web storage which are bound to be insufficient eventually as your business grows.
However, upgrading is always an option if – for now – you simply need a smallish website without eCommerce features to get started. Therefore, BlueHost is similar to HostGator one of the best hosting providers to start blogs and online projects.
3. GreenGeeks – Green Web Hosting
Although GreenGeeks is widely recognized for economical and profitable reseller hosting plans, their shared hosting plans do not disappoint with an array of features aimed at assisting your business. Founded in California, this web hosting provider has more than 35,000 customers that host about 300,000 websites.
Their focus is not only on providing the best of breed server hardware but also making sure their software are up to date. As the name implies, environmental sustainability is important, hence, they replace used energy with wind power credits to reduce each customer’s footprint.
They prefer to keep it simple with a single shared hosting plan for all customers that offers great features such as, daily backups, secure email accounts, marketing and SEO tools, free website migration services and an amazing 99.9% uptime guarantee.
4. SiteGround Web Hosting
Founded in 2004, SiteGround now has more than 500,000 websites registered and running on their servers. They are famous for providing high quality servers with a 99.9% uptime guarantee that ensures your website almost always stays online. Furthermore, SiteGround is known for its excellent and fast customer service which is crucial should you ever run into technical issues. Hence, this provider is all about quality but it will also set you back a bit more than the standard pricing.
Their StartUp plan targeted at small businesses has an introductory price of $3.95/month which seems lower than their competition. However this would be for the first 12 months while the renewal price comes in at $9.95/month. It offers basic server space with an advanced feature set that includes regular backup, free domain name, SSD availability and latest PHP technology.
However, the server space of 10 GB offered on their cheapest hosting plan StartUp might not be sufficient in the long term, particularly for businesses that are growing. Hence, I recommended being prepared to expand your budget to accommodate their other shared hosting plans, priced at $7.95 GrowBig and $12.95/month GoGeek (new customers, first year). Their top plan is pricey, but it comes with premium technical support, free migration, free roll-back, and an excellent in-house caching tool to speed up your site.
SiteGround is, however, one of the best web hosting services for those who set quality over price.
5. InMotion Hosting
One of the oldest established hosts that are still operational, InMotion was set up in 2001. It provides a range of web hosting services, cloud and VPS hosting plans to several clients. Though providing good features, hardware and service, they are rather a small company and currently hold a paltry 0.6% market share.
Businesses seem to opt for their ‘Power’ plan with an introductory price of $7.99/month followed by a renewal price of $9.99/month. They offer 99.9% uptime guarantees with free data backups, free domain, 1-click install for several web applications and free SSD etc.
Although this is one of the higher priced hosts in the market, InMotion hosting provides businesses with the exact features that will supplement their online business and help them reach new heights of success.
6. iPage Shared Hosting
iPage is another hosting provider run by the ‘Endurance International Group,’ although not as famous as the other names (HostGator, BlueHost etc.) functioning under it.
Its most popular plan is offered at an initial cost of $3.25 per month if you pay for 3 years upfront, while renewal costs are $11.95/month. However, they charge extra for services such as backup, which is a drawback considering they have one of the costliest plans on the market.
Small businesses should stay away from this one due to the fact that it is not economical in the long term, even though its introductory price seems attractive, I suggest keeping away from this service.
Choosing the Right Web Hosting Service – Essential Criteria
Numerous website hosts equate numerous technical terms thrown around as part of marketing. Some features are critical, some are not essential but beneficial to have, while some others are just fluff which will not serve any real purpose for your website. Below, I will review a few features that are advertised by hosting companies with respect to their importance for businesses.
Bloggers vs Small Businesses
A huge part of choosing the right service rests upon the purpose of your website. Bloggers, for example, require web hosting services that allow easy setup of their blog. Since blogs are global in nature and are usually meant to attract traffic from around the globe, a shared hosting plan that can handle large amounts of incoming traffic is ideal.
On the other hand, small business websites tend to target the local and the national market or a specific region. The server location might be therefore important in order to be close as possible to target customers. Furthermore, the business may require certain eCommerce features and the chosen plan should provide them of course.
Uptime guarantee is one of the most important criteria to keep in mind while hunting for the best hosting service. The last thing your business needs is your official website showing up offline or having frustratingly long loading times due to server issues. Hosting providers that offer uptime guarantees lower than 99%, should not be considered for hosting.
We recommend to ensure that your host provides an uptime guarantee of at least 99.5% which is industry standard. Hosting plans with guarantees of 99.9% or higher may be pricier than those with lower uptimes. However, the extra cost is worth the stability and quality that your clients will experience, which is bound to benefit your business.
Web Hosting – Pricing
Ensure that you go through the fine print of all shared hosting plans under consideration, as the majority of web hosting services offer special ‘sign up’ plans that have astoundingly low rates for the first year, but charge an arm and a leg thereafter. Although providers make it sound easy, switching hosts after you are up and running on one host is a bit of a headache that most developers and business owners will want to avoid. If you need to switch look out for companies that offer free migration for your existing website.
When shopping for a hosting provider, please assume that the hosting plan you choose is the plan you will likely continue for about 2-3 years.
A lot of hosting providers advertise plans to handle multiple domains and websites, however, paying extra for this feature might be non-essential for businesses who will need only one website per account. If you need to set up multiple websites for your business, this feature is a great add-on to your shared hosting plan.
Number of MySQL Databases
Another rather optional feature is the number of discrete databases available for a specific host plan. Due to the fact that multiple websites can be run on the same database if managed properly, this feature is a marketing gimmick more than anything. However, having discrete databases is preferred by people who want to set up several websites on that host.
SSD vs HDD Storage
Faster reading and loading times are guaranteed if you use a server that houses an SSD (Solid State Drive) instead of an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) which tend to be slower. Although this affects website performance positively, it makes little to no difference if you are not expecting an enormous number of website visitors at the same time. However, SSD storage is the trend and will soon be the standard for most shared plans.
Server Space or Bandwidth?
These features depend on the type of business you are running, if you want to provide real-time services to your clients through your website, you should prefer having a decent amount of bandwidth to work with from your web hosting service provider.
Whereas, if your online business concentrates on building databases and storing large amounts of information – you need as much server space as possible within your budget. Hence, selecting the correct balance between server space and bandwidth is essential.
Most plans offer a minimum of 20-30GB of storage which is fine for multiple smaller to medium sized projects. There is also a trend to offer unlimited server space, though you probably will never use it all. However, it may give some entrepreneurs the peace of mind they need.
Backup Services – Worth the extra buck?
Once you have a business up and running, your website data is an exceedingly important asset that must be protected from harm or loss. This is due to the fact that the loss of important clients or business data will invariably have a negative impact on your business.
Consequently, it is recommended that you choose shared web hosting services that provide reasonably priced, yet dependable backup solutions to all their customers. Most services will backup your data automatically (once per day) but will charge you to restore it.
More expensive hosts and plans will backup your data even more frequently and may also offer free roll-backs on their premium plans. A good backup WordPress plugin with automatic backups should be considered on top of it.
Best Web Hosting Services 2017 – Conclusion
Summary – Selecting the best web hosting service certainly requires time and research but it’s worth. A wrong decision might lead to various issues in the future, either financial or functional. If you are unsure about whether to commit for a year or two rather choose to pay per month so you can always switch hosting providers. Furthermore, have a look out for those services offering free migration which will ease transfer of all your web projects to a new hosting service.
The bottom line is to research various hosts and assess their ability to provide the features that your business requires while ignoring the features that are of little to no use to you.
Pricing – Additionally, try handling ‘special pricing’ offers in businesslike style. It’s a common practice to offer attractive rates for certain web hosting services, however, usually limited to the first year or for annual payments. Most plans will charge you much higher amounts in the future. Before you jump into hectic provider hopping, we recommend to calculate the cost for about two to three years in order to get the a more reasonable price scheme that works for you.
Recommendation – We recommend HostGator and BlueHost for those who start their first projects or bring a small business online. SiteGround would be ideal for bloggers and entrepreneurs who want high quality when it comes to hardware, software and customer service but are willing to pay a bit more. GreenGeeks are great for those who want a combination of latest server hardware, good service and a sustainable approach to using green energy resources.
Best Web Hosting Services 2017
- inMotion Hosting
- Codero Hosting
What is the best provider in your experience? Have your say in the comments below.
Please share this review.