The best website hosting providers ranked and tested
Web hosting is the generic name given to the business of, well, hosting a website for organisations or individuals. But that's just the beginning: selecting a truly reliable, affordable, scalable web hosting provider is a daunting and overwhelming task as there's so many choices around.
Who to trust? What features to look for? What price to pay? How do you transfer an existing website? Do you actually need a website builder? Should you go for a managed web hosting provider?
Whatever the size of your project, our experts will help you find the best web hosting service providers and the best hosting deals for you, out of the dozens of web hosting companies we have reviewed (and revisited) to date (with more than 70 as of October 2018).
The first step is to identify what your exact needs are - with one eye on the future growth of your website - then choose an appropriate plan at the right price.
Many packages include a wealth of features that you may or may not place value upon, including a mailing list, a control panel, the ability to create online stores easily, simple website builder tools and varying levels of support (either on the phone or live chat).
All of which makes this hub your one-stop-shop for all the services you might need when it comes to running your website, and moreover, making sure it’s a success.
Whether you're looking to build a website for yourself, a website for your small business now or for the future, a simple online store or just want to save money, moving to a cheaper web hosting provider, we've got you covered.
What is the best web hosting company?
The best web hosting provider right now is InMotion hosting. It's the best all-rounder in the market and is able to service individuals and businesses of all sizes looking for WordPress or ecommerce hosting.
A close number two is 1&1 which has a global footprint and allows it to service an international, multi-lingual audience at scale with a solid set of features. Read more about these web hosting services and more below!
The best website builder
Wix is a website building service that offers an attractive range of plans and boasts some truly impressive depth when it comes to tailoring your site to best match your needs. The service has a user-friendly editor that bristles with content and functionality, and allows you to fine-tune your site in a huge amount of different ways.
And there’s depth across the board, so for example, when it comes to templates, you don’t just get a scattering of predefined sites, but more than 500 of them. You’ll often find that you’re spoilt for choice with Wix.
Other powerful features include an integrated image editor with tons of Instagram-style filters, and a raft of ecommerce templates to boot (note that Wix doesn’t levy transactions fees on your sales, either, unlike some rivals).
Wix even has a free plan, although that limits bandwidth and storage space (to 500MB) and puts branding on your site. Step up to the Unlimited plan, which is the most popular subscription, and you get 10GB of storage plus a free domain, unlimited bandwidth (as the name suggests) alongside $75 worth of Google Ad vouchers.
WordPress' #1 preferred partner
Bluehost is a hosting company based in Utah which is owned by web giant Endurance International Group (EIG). It offers basic shared hosting from $2.99 monthly (on a three-year contract), with WordPress plans starting at $20 per month (although that’s also a discounted introductory rate).
For the money, you get automated setup for WordPress, not to mention other popular apps via a Mojo Marketplace-powered system. There’s also a cPanel-based area to allow expert users to tweak things.
Furthermore, Bluehost provides a Weebly-based website builder. This is a basic browser-based affair that lets you create a website of up to six pages, and there are no extras like site templates included. But still, it’s better than nothing, and more functionality is in the pipeline – plus you get this builder with the basic account.
There’s also good customer support on offer, and the end result is a mix of user-friendly aspects alongside a good amount of power and potential tweaking for more advanced users.
The best ‘cheap’ option on the market
If you’re hunting for budget web hosting, then look no further than HostGator’s Hatchling plan. The beauty of this provider is that even this basic plan is unrestricted in many respects. There are no limits on bandwidth or disk space, subdomains, MySQL databases, FTP and email accounts.
You also get cPanel-based management of your website, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Other laudable benefits include 24/7 customer support, and $200 worth of Google and Bing Ads credits.
There are some limitations, though, including the fact that this is one provider which doesn’t give you a free domain name for a year, and you can only operate one website on the Hatchling plan (although the latter isn’t an uncommon restriction with the cheapest hosting plans).
Further benefits include a 45-day money-back guarantee, not to mention free transfers for new accounts within the first month after you’ve signed up. There’s lots to like here considering the minimal impact on your wallet, with pricing as low as $2.64 (£1.95) per month on a three-year contract.
A good all-round service which is well-known, respected and trusted
The US-based web hosting company is one of the largest in the game and probably the best known one as well. It is also the biggest domain name registrar in the world with tens of millions of domain names in its portfolio. GoDaddy’s cheapest web hosting package (Economy) is decently kitted out at $2.49 per month when you sign for a year.
This provider offers free backup and restore, free Microsoft Office 365 Business Email for one year, an uptime guarantee (99.9%), unlimited storage (although there’s only 100GB for the Economy package), as well as unlimited bandwidth and a free domain with the annual plan.
A pretty nifty feature provided by GoDaddy on all its packages is the ability to increase hosting capacity on demand (e.g. when you experience a sudden surge in traffic) from within your hosting account.
Runner-up overall shared web hosting
1&1 is a big web hosting player, vying with GoDaddy for world domination, and is the biggest player in Europe. Located in Germany, it offers a bewildering array of services with prices starting from as little as $0.99 per month - although that rises to $8 after the first year.
On top of that, this host provides some smart freebies (a free domain and unlimited storage for example, with SSL certificates included across all plans), free web design software (NetObjects Fusion 2013), 24/7 phone and email support, a graphics archive, a 30-day money-back guarantee, transparent replication (the company calls it geo-redundancy) and a whopping 300Gbps network connectivity.
Versatile provider with some low-cost plans
This UK-based provider plays the value card, with an entry-level plan which starts at £1.61 ($2.15) per month (providing you sign up for two years – it’s £1.79 per month if you commit for just one year). That plan limits you to 500MB storage, admittedly, but you do get unlimited bandwidth, Let’s Encrypt SSL and 10 mailboxes.
There’s flexibility here, as well, because you can opt for cPanel hosting, or ‘cloud web hosting’ via Tsohost’s own cloud architecture and custom web management console, which might appeal more to some.
Tsohost’s technical support may not be the fastest out there in terms of response times, at least in our experience, but that said, it did provide clear and accurate answers to our queries. Performance levels are also solid, and the company offers a 60-day money-back guarantee, which is more than you’ll see with most providers.
Best overall web hosting
This popular web host is a respected and professional operation which has been in business for over 15 years, with an impressive array of plans on offer including shared hosting which starts from just $3.99 per month. What’s also good to see is that InMotion bundles some pretty neat extras into its plans – services that other providers often charge extra for – including the likes of malware and DDoS protection, ‘spam-safe’ email and a system of basic backups.
And now, exclusively for TechRadar visitors, InMotion has agreed to offer their Power Plan (regularly $8.49/month) for the price of the Launch Plan ($3.99/month). This is an exclusive TechRadar bundle, and the lowest price we’ve ever seen for this excellent hosting package. This package has double the resources and comes with a number of bonus features.
InMotion provides both cPanel and Softaculous panels with its hosting, and another strong suit is some top-notch technical support should you get stuck with anything. In our testing, we found that this firm’s overall performance levels were well above average, which is good news for those who want to see fast-loading websites.
In short, there’s a great deal to like here and some tempting pricing, with the icing on the cake being a 90-day money-back guarantee should you fail to be satisfied with the service.
Powerful drag-and-drop website builder
Like Wix, Weebly is another giant in the website building arena, and it also gives you the option of a free plan – albeit one that’s similarly limited to 500MB of storage. You’ll also get adverts on your site, so if you want to be free of Weebly-imposed ads, you’ll need to move up to the entry-level paid plan which costs $6.80 per month.
The Starter package has no ads or storage limits, and you also get a free domain. Furthermore, what’s quite nifty for those thinking of selling stuff online is that there’s also support for a web store (albeit a basic one containing a maximum of 10 products).
The chunkier plans give you a ton of features allowing you to build a high-end web store with support for coupons, customer reviews, inventory management – the top-of-the-range Performance plan also caters for gift cards, abandoned carts and email campaigns (it cost $35 per month).
Weebly’s range of stylish website templates are a real boon, but there are a few niggles here with the editor interface, such as the lack of a general undo function. Still, the slight downsides don’t detract from this well-featured website building service.
What is the difference between shared hosting, VPS and dedicated hosting?
Probably one of the most frequently asked question when it comes to web hosting
Web hosting companies usually offer three main paid-for tiers of hosting packages. Other than the aforementioned tiers, we will also be considering WordPress hosting, as well as more powerful website building services.
What is the difference between free hosting and paid web hosting
Is it worth paying for web hosting or is free hosting just a sham?
Everyone loves a bit of free and it comes as no surprise that free web hosting services are wildly popular but unless you are planning to use them to learn coding or run a personal website, we wouldn't advise using a free web hosting service.
Don't get us wrong, we love them, we've even produced a best free web hosting guide, however, using them for businesses purposes are fraught with potential issues that make it hard to recommend them.
Unlike free software, services (web hosting or VPN for example) cost money to run which is why most web hosting companies use a freemium business model and will try to convince you to move to a cheap, paid service.
Expect a number of limitations on disk space and bandwidth. You won't get any SSL certificate which is a sine qua non condition to run a proper business website. You won't have regular backups and some will even shut down your website for one hour a day!
Instead, we'd recommend checking out our best cheap web hosting sites guide which we regularly update to include the hottest deals around.
How to choose the best web hosting company to host your site?
Choosing the right web hosting company can be tricky
The hosting services your business can choose from will usually mean making a decision whether a shared, dedicated or cloud based server is right for your business. Very small businesses will usually opt for a shared or managed service as these are sometimes called. Costs are low, but your business will be sharing its server with several other enterprises.
A dedicated server as its name suggests is just one server reserved for your business. Dedicated servers are not as expensive as they once were and can make economic sense if you want your business to have its own server platform and not have to worry about other businesses on a shared server impacting your online business if they have problems.
It is important to look closely at the service level (SLA) that will be attached to your dedicated server. Look for any additional costs such as maintenance, or other 'extras' that are not covered in the rental cost. And lastly, try and buy server space that you can expand into. You don't want to find after a few months that you have outgrown your server and need to move to a new one.
Lastly as the cloud has made a major impact right across the business environment, business website hosting has also been touched by the cloud and now offers an alternative to the traditional hosting methods. The power of cloud hosting is the flexibility it offers. In effect your business can buy just the space and hosting services it needs now and expand at anytime with no disruption to business.
Abby Hardoon, founder and MD of web hosting company Daily.co.uk (now owned by TSOhost) says: "Hosting is very much a horses for courses thing - it's a question of getting the best and most appropriate solution that you can afford. There's no need to hamstring yourself financially, though. If you're just starting out or you're a relatively small business and you know your way around a server, you might like to consider a Virtual Private Server (VPS), for example - they provide the flexibility of a dedicated server but at a reduced cost.