5 Expert Tips: How to Choose a Web Host & Top 6 Services

It’s a familiar dilemma: Which hosting provider should I trust with my sites? For developers, bloggers, small business owners, and others, choosing a host is like searching for Mr. Right.

If done right, you can spend a lifetime of happiness with a reliable and high-performing host who is always available through phone, chat, or email to answer your burning late-night questions. However, rushing into a hosting relationship without doing your research could lead to feeling trapped, misled, or extorted. Choosing the wrong host often ends with headaches and a messy, expensive divorce — and you again alone, holding on to all the files you used to share.

I’m currently in a happy hosting relationship, but I’ve been burned before. Between working for HostingAdvice and several years of managing websites for myself and clients, I consider myself a bit of a hosting matchmaker. I’ve put together a step-by-step guide to share how I look for hosts and highlighted some of the hosts with the most attractive features — all in the name of helping you find a host you will love for a lifetime.

1. Know Which Type of Hosting You Need

Before you start looking for a hosting mate, take a moment to think about what you’re looking to get out of your next relationship. Just like light sleepers probably shouldn’t date people who snore, your needs will affect your compatibility with certain hosting providers and services.

Different web hosting configurations will appeal to users based on the size and traffic of their website.

A personal portfolio website doesn’t need a dedicated server, just like a high-traffic, high-volume online store shouldn’t cut corners with the cheapest shared hosting plan.

1a. Shared Hosting is Great for Small to Medium Sites

In shared hosting, several customers and websites share the same server. On one hand, shared hosting is classic first-boyfriend material — simple and uncomplicated. Most first-time hosting customers should turn to a shared package when entering the web hosting world, then decide when it’s time to upgrade to a VPS or dedicated plan to meet your increasing needs.

From a different perspective, however, a shared host is cheating on you with hundreds or thousands of others. Because server resources are split among so many sites, performance sometimes suffers as your website grows. If you’re ready to get serious and really boost your traffic, you probably won’t want to settle down with a shared hosting plan.

Price, support, storage, and performance are all important features to consider when shopping for a shared hosting service. Other differentiators include eCommerce offerings and free domain options, along with perks like advertising credits, a website builder, and upgraded hardware.

SHARED RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • Known for high-performance, low-cost shared hosting
  • FREE website builder with 1,000s of templates
  • Endorsed by the WordPress.org team as a top WP host
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2.95
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Shared Hosting Plans www.bluehost.com/shared
Our Expert's Bluehost Review
If you’re looking for an affordable host, Bluehost is a solid, reputable choice, but their low cost coupled with their supremacy in the shared hosting arena is what makes this provider such a value deal. The Bluehost name is listed toward the top of many of... read more + If you’re looking for an affordable host, Bluehost is a solid, reputable choice, but their low cost coupled with their supremacy in the shared hosting arena is what makes this provider such a value deal. The Bluehost name is listed toward the top of many of our reviews categories, and with good reason. They offer excellent hardware configurations, a generous list of extras, and fantastic support and reliability — all at a price point that’s, generally, lower than the competition.The speed and performance result from very modern hardware and a global content delivery network. They also offer nearly unlimited everything, including storage, emails, and bandwidth, and many other perks. For example, they include a free domain and marketing credits to get your site off the ground — adding to their value.We rank Bluehost at or near the top for their WordPress, VPS, and dedicated options and if those fit your needs, please check them out. You’ll be happy to note their incredibly competitive pricing across the board.We are convinced Bluehost has the goods to meet your hosting needs today and in the future, but more importantly, they are too. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee should you become dissatisfied with any of their plans for any reason; however, we’re willing to bet you won’t be. collapse info -

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1b. VPS Hosting Offers More Flexibility for Fast-Growing Sites

VPS, which stands for virtual private server, is a happy middle ground between the casual dating of shared hosting and the commitment of a dedicated server. The server is divided into virtual machines, which act as independent dedicated servers. VPS customers still share a server, but they each have much larger portions and greater control than those with a shared hosting plan.

Because you can add or remove additional computing resources as needed, VPS hosting plans are akin to dating around — you might have a relatively serious relationship with your main server squeeze, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have someone else on standby for when you have an itch you need scratching.

Our favorite VPS hosts usually include storage with high-speed SSDs, or solid-state drives, along with managed services for software updates and patches. Depending on your comfort level with the technical side of things, you’ll want to look for a free cPanel license or full root access. You will also see top VPS hosts include monitoring, security, and CDN services to keep you around.

VPS RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • 50% off the first month with added discounts the first year
  • Real-time redundancy powered by a cloud infrastructure
  • FREE cPanel/WHM licenses with enterprise-grade CentOS
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $19.99
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space 75 GB - 260 GB SSD
Domain Name New or Transfer
VPS Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/vps
Our Expert's InMotion Review
Boasting market-leading VPS hardware, slick management software, and free SSD drives and backups, InMotion offers the most attractive VPS plans you'll find anywhere. Each VPS plan comes with free SSD storage arranged in RAID 6,... read more +

Boasting market-leading VPS hardware, slick management software, and free SSD drives and backups, InMotion offers the most attractive VPS plans you'll find anywhere.

Each VPS plan comes with free SSD storage arranged in RAID 6, which is incredibly fast and secure. Each of their plans also come with an awesome amount of RAM for the server cost, so the speed-to-dollar ratio is high with this host.

InMotion’s VPS packages run on CentOS 6 Linux operating systems and all feature a license for cPanel. Each plan also comes with Web Hosting Management (WHM) software, making it super-easy to resell some unused server resources.

InMotion's reputation for uptime is second-to-none, with a solid track record as a large-scale VPS host and a large, friendly support team available at any time.

Lastly, InMotion has a 90-day money-back guarantee and offers a choice of datacenters, which are nice customer-centric features. Their support is top-notch and 24 hours. We highly recommend you check them out if you are looking for a VPS with great hardware and reseller options at a low price.

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1c. Dedicated Hosting Offers Maximum Server Resources and Security

Finally, you’ve found The One. High-performing sites need dedicated hosting, which entails using an entire server to power your website or applications. As the name implies, dedicated servers are ready to wait on you hand and foot and meet your every configuration need. Customers have complete control over the doting architecture, meaning they can customize security systems, operating systems, load balancers, and more.

The dedicated kind of love doesn’t come cheaply, however. Dedicated hosting plans are among the most expensive, given the top-notch hardware, managed services, and around-the-clock support. High-end hosting, however, comes with a number of luxury features, including automatic migrations and backups, dedicated IP addresses, and choice of operating system.

DEDICATED RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • FREE incoming bandwidth and choice of operating system
  • Custom configurations with SSDs and instant provisioning
  • Auto-migrations, backups, and 24/7 Sonar Monitoring™
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $79.00
Money Back Guarantee N/A
Disk Space 211 GB - 1,775 GB SSD
Domain Name New or Transfer
Dedicated Hosting Plans www.liquidweb.com/dedicated
Our Expert's Liquid Web Review
Liquid Web's strong suit is their managed dedicated server hosting. They own and operate three state-of-the-art datacenters in the US and have over 50 developers working tirelessly to build and maintain custom solutions for added... read more +

Liquid Web's strong suit is their managed dedicated server hosting. They own and operate three state-of-the-art datacenters in the US and have over 50 developers working tirelessly to build and maintain custom solutions for added performance and security.

Fully, Core-, or Self-Managed — Plus Storm® Servers

Liquid Web offers single, dual, and quad processor servers with fully, core-, or self-managed plans. All dedicated server customers reap the benefits and support of the Heroic Support® team and the 24/7 protection of the Sonar Monitoring™ team.

Redundantly Built, Multi-Tiered Network

Featuring top-of-the-line Cisco equipment, the Liquid Web N+1 network is redundantly built to allow routing devices to quickly self-heal. They're designed to bounce back and correct system failures without interrupting the customer's connection. With the integration of premier providers, Level 3, Verizon, Comcast, Cogent, and Equinix, the Liquid Web network is optimized for rapid and fault-resistant performance.

Highly Available Sites with the Tech of 50+ Developers

Liquid Web boasted an incredible 99.995% uptime rate in 2014, a bragging right that's helped shape their reputation for performance. With the maintenance of 50+ developers, the Liquid Web infrastructure is engineered to evade and survive typical site disasters.

24/7 Proactive Protection from the Sonar Monitoring™ & Heroic Support® Teams

Should disaster strike, the Sonar Monitoring™ team is trained to catch the issue first, performing system-level health checks and patches 24/7, so they can hopefully have it handled before you're even aware of the situation. Meanwhile, the Heroic Support® team of 300+ experts is available anytime to help with any troubleshooting need.

Storm® Servers & Add-Ons

For the dev nerds out there, one of our favorite facets of Liquid Web as a hosting provider is the commitment to in-house-built technology. All of their team members' experience and expertise becomes very evident once you check out their custom Storm® Platform.

All the Power Plus All the Flexibility

If you're in need of dedicated resources, drawn to the customization of the Cloud, and know you need screaming fast performance, the Storm® Dedicated Server may be your solution. These custom server systems allow for cloud-like flexibility that traditional dedicated servers aren't capable of, like instant provisioning and automatic migrations.

Added Extras Make the Dedicated Cost a Done Deal

The Liquid Web development team is constantly coming up with new Storm® Add-Ons, like Load Balancers, Block Storage, Object Storage, and a VPN. Think you can't afford such full-featured and flexible hardware? Think again. With pricing starting around $110/month, the Storm® Platform is great for the cost-conscious dedicated server shopper.

Liquid Web Dedicated Servers in Review

If you want feature-rich dedicated resources and relentlessly reliable technical support, Liquid Web should be on your short list. They're known for strong managed service offerings, but the drawback to managed hosting is usually the cost. Liquid Web doesn't leave you hanging there though — in-house solutions like the Storm® Dedicated Server keep the cloud-level flexibility and performance up and the cost down.

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2. Determine What Type of Site You’re Building

Just as how the amount of expected traffic or server load affects which type of hosting plan you’ll want to find, your type of website will determine which features are most important to have. Some hosting providers, for example, promote eCommerce functionality while others concentrate on blogging and search engine optimization.

2a. Blog: Consider a WordPress Web Host

With WordPress recently crossing the 28% mark and powering more than a quarter of all websites on the internet, the content management system is an easy pick for writers looking to share their thoughts online. Seemingly every host offers streamlined one-click installations of WordPress, but the best providers include upgraded hardware, unlimited storage and bandwidth, pre-installed programs, and dedicated WordPress expertise and support.

WORDPRESS RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • WordPress pre-installed
  • FREE SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth
  • FREE domain, site transfers, and data backups
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2.95
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
WordPress Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/wordpress
Our Expert's InMotion Review
InMotion, long known for their shared hosting options, entered the WordPress space with a solid option built upon their reputation for great support and reliability. Costing a small premium over other budget-minded options, they do... read more +

InMotion, long known for their shared hosting options, entered the WordPress space with a solid option built upon their reputation for great support and reliability. Costing a small premium over other budget-minded options, they do include some nice features to help justify that cost difference.

Build on an all-SSD infrastructure, their speeds are very good. We would have loved to see options like integrated staging and caching included in order to help take full advantage of the nice, modern hardware. The choice of datacenters (East or West) is nice however, as it allows you to target your local audience with better load times.

InMotion offers three different levels to their WordPress hosting offerings, which allows you to tailor the hosting to your needs or budget. For those needing eCommerce support, their middle or top offerings have you covered. Their top offering also allows unlimited installs for WordPress, which is great to see.

Each hosting package they offer comes with a free domain, unlimited disk space, unlimited emails, and free data backups for data security. If you need it, each plan also has support for PHP, Ruby, Perl, and Python, and includes SSH access.

InMotion Hosting has made a name for itself on support and reliability. While not the cheapest of the budget WordPress hosts out there, the packages offered are solid in performance and feature sets.

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2b. Online Store: Consider an eCommerce Hosting Service

For more than just marketing your brand, an online store is a must-have for business owners. In 2016, analytics firm comScore found that consumers buy more things online than in stores. More than half of the US population shops online, so businesses should find a web host with strong eCommerce options.

The top hosts take care of the added security requirements associated with protecting customer and payment information while also providing beautifully designed templates, access to shopping cart software, and integrations with services such as PayPal and email marketing tools.

ECOMMERCE RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • 1-click installs for eCommerce tools like WooCommerce
  • FREE eCommerce plugin for WordPress
  • Daily backups, a CDN, and FREE Weebly site builder
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $3.95
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space 10 GB - 30 GB
Domain Name New or Transfer
eCommerce Hosting Plans www.siteground.com/ecommerce
Our Expert's SiteGround Review
SiteGround’s shared hosting plans tout eCommerce necessities: 1-click installations of Magento, PrestaShop, WooComerce, or WordPress with the WP eCommerce plugin. If you opt for WP eCommerce, your server will be custom configured to fit your site’s... read more + SiteGround’s shared hosting plans tout eCommerce necessities: 1-click installations of Magento, PrestaShop, WooComerce, or WordPress with the WP eCommerce plugin. If you opt for WP eCommerce, your server will be custom configured to fit your site’s needs, and if you have an existing site, the SiteGround team will help you migrate to their services… collapse info -

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2c. Online Portfolio or Résumé: Consider a Website Builder

Job seekers are finding it increasingly important to have an online presence, even if the desired industry has nothing to do with web design or marketing. For those job applicants without any technological know-how — or, let’s be honest, tech-savvy folks who just don’t feel like going through the motions of developing a site — website builders are the fastest way to produce a professional online presence that showcases your work.

Many hosts partner with a website builder program, such as Weebly, to provide customers with drag-and-drop tools to create a website, but we really appreciate hosts who craft their own custom solution. InMotion Hosting even went as far as creating a one-of-a-kind website builder, BoldGrid, which eases the stress of first-time site owners who are struggling to design something on WordPress. Still other website builders, including Wix and Squarespace, offer standalone services and customized themes to help you land an interview.

WEBSITE BUILDER RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • No coding skills needed with drag-and-drop website builder
  • 100s of templates with industry-specific designs
  • Add features via the App Market
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $5.00
Money Back Guarantee 14 days
Disk Space 500 MB - 20 GB
Domain Name Transfer
Website Builder Hosting Plans www.wix.com/site-builder
Our Expert's Wix Review
Website building is where Wix shines. The thousands of templates, the intuitive editor, the industry-leading designs that cater to a variety of specific fields and use cases — all these facets represent a platform that... read more +

Website building is where Wix shines. The thousands of templates, the intuitive editor, the industry-leading designs that cater to a variety of specific fields and use cases — all these facets represent a platform that excels at facilitating easy web design for the non-tech-savvy user. Sign up with your Facebook account or email address and get started for free.

I'll admit, the Wix Editor may appear daunting when you first meet it, but get to know the interface. Once you familiarize yourself with the environment, you'll realize that what first comes across as overwhelming is actually empowering — the customization functionalities to be had are many, and they're awesome. There's no need for coding of any kind. Just drag and drop elements of your new site and BAM: What You See Is What You Get (i.e., Wix is a WYSIWYG website builder!).

You don't have to design your website from scratch with Wix, though blank templates are available. There are thousands of templates, each one categorized by design need and further classified into industry niches, and the site's look can be molded to match your brand or personality very easily. Layout and design options include parallax themes (where the viewer scrolls down the screen and one page rolls seamlessly into the next), custom sliders, multiple columns, mobile-specific and mobile-responsive displays, and tons of button and menu navigation tricks.

While Wix isn't our favorite host in terms of expert support or top-of-the-line hardware, it's an industry-leading platform for website building. It's popular for many reasons: the simple startup process, the ease of use, the array of customization options, and the WYSIWYG results, as examples. Its reputation precedes it, and we can totally see where the rave reviews are coming from.

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2d. Personal Site: Consider a Low-Cost, High-Value Host

Whether you’re sharing snapshots from a recent trip to the beach or giving friends and family information about your upcoming event, personal websites still need to convey information in a visually appealing way. Hosting customers don’t need to break open the piggy bank to create a stunning site — hosts attract beginners and hobbyists by making web hosting extremely affordable and easy to use.

Just because you see bargain-basement prices, however, don’t assume that services will be subpar. Many offer unlimited storage, bandwidth, and email accounts to go with 24/7 support and online marketing credits. To get the best deal, keep an eye out for hosting providers that include high-speed solid-state drives or a content delivery network.

CHEAP RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • Featuring easy setup and superb reliability since 1998
  • FREE domain and FREE Google marketing included
  • Unlimited disk, bandwidth, and emails
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $1.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Cheap Hosting Plans www.ipage.com/shared
Our Expert's iPage Review
Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and fantastic list of extras make them one of the best values in web hosting. Unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and emails... read more +

Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and fantastic list of extras make them one of the best values in web hosting.

Unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and emails are just a part of what makes iPage’s shared hosting plans a great deal. They offer very good "suites" of extras focusing on web hosting necessities like security, marketing, and support.

If you don’t yet have a site, they include a free domain and website builder to get you rolling quickly. We especially love their inclusion of eCommerce templates and online shopping carts for the same low price.

Support is one factor that’s very important to us, as it should be to you. For customer support, iPage has US-based phone, email, and chat available 24/7. For the DIY crowd, they also have an extensive list of tutorials and helpful documents.

One of the very best budget web hosts out there, iPage offers great hosting features and server performance for a low price. If you are searching for a cheap, reliable web host, iPage should definitely be near the top of your list.

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2e. Business Site: Consider a Host With Which You Can Grow

Even if you don’t plan on using your website to sell products, your business is counting on the online presence to increase brand recognition. Entrepreneurs can expect their business website to grow 10 to 20% each month if all goes well, so you’ll want to find a hosting provider that can handle a booming business.

Ideally, a successful hosting relationship is a lifelong commitment. Looking for a new hosting provider is a pain, not to mention all the headaches and hassles associated with transferring files and domains. Instead of constantly looking for the next best thing, find a web host that is in it for the long haul. In addition to a strong shared hosting plan, companies like HostGator offer top-rate features at the VPS and dedicated hosting levels, meaning the host will stand by your side as you become more and more successful.

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★ 4.5/5.0
  • Easy-to-use control panel
  • FREE Weebly site builder
  • Unlimited disk space, emails, and bandwidth on all plans
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $3.48
Money Back Guarantee 45 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name New or Transfer
Best Overall Hosting Plans www.hostgator.com
Our Expert's HostGator Review
HostGator has been around for over a decade and is well-respected for their large number of servers and their consistent reliability. Known mostly as a shared hosting provider, HostGator still supplies decent dedicated and VPS... read more +

HostGator has been around for over a decade and is well-respected for their large number of servers and their consistent reliability. Known mostly as a shared hosting provider, HostGator still supplies decent dedicated and VPS options if you need your site to scale.

HostGator costs a little more than some of the other budget-minded shared hosts, but that contributes to their reliability and well-known support. They offer decent features included in their basic offerings, unlimited disk space, a nice control panel, and free website templates. While the feature list is short compared to other hosts, you do get the flexibility to add them as you see fit.

Aimed primarily at the semi-technical user, HostGator's flexibility is their strong suit. Dedicated, VPS, and Windows hosting is available if that fits your needs. For those than need it, root access, SSH, and support for Ruby, Perl, Python, and other languages is available on all plans.

HostGator has nearly limitless options and control available for their server, however, they require a little more knowledge than beginner-focused web hosts. If you need to host multiple sites, their wide array of offerings make them a great choice.

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3. Understand Which and How Many Resources You Require

New web hosting customers naturally flock to the providers and plans that offer the most features for the fewest dollars. Instead of just seeking out the most attractive partner, however, you can find greater hosting happiness by looking for a service that is compatible with your specific needs. Businesses might prioritize email functionality over storage, for example, while a developer might prefer high bandwidth rates and stringent security.

The technical features of web hosting might be confusing to beginners, and hosts sometimes use confusing lingo to market their services. You don’t need to be wary of mythical plans offering unlimited storage, bandwidth, and email accounts, but you should understand the various hosting components and limitations providers might impose.

3a. Storage and RAM

Storage, or disk space, is probably the easiest hosting feature to understand, as well as the component you probably have to worry about the least. Many shared hosting providers offer unlimited storage; while that might not be technically possible, most personal or small business site owners won’t come close to reaching the limits. As you move to VPS and dedicated plans, storage can be configured as you go.

Finding a hosting plan with high RAM means faster reading and writing of your stored data.

The biggest thing to look for when it comes to web hosting storage is a little acronym: SSD. Solid-state drives are much faster and more reliable, but they come at a higher price. Traditional hard-disk drives, on the other hand, are more common in the unlimited plans because they typically come with higher capacities.

As with your personal computer, RAM in web hosting serves a similar purpose: quickly processing stored data. The hardware interacts with your storage drives to accelerate page load times, and many consider RAM to be among the most important features to consider when choosing a host.

3b. Bandwidth and Data Transfer

Also impacting your site performance, bandwidth accounts for the amount of data downloaded or uploaded from a website. Also called data transfers, bandwidth is all about how quickly visitors can access your site’s information — the higher the bandwidth, the higher number of people who can view your site at the same time. Again, most hosting customers will receive much more bandwidth than they’ll use in a given month, but boosting your data transfer limits is a surefire way to grow your site’s traffic without losing performance.

3c. Domains and Email

Even though they commonly get lumped together, domain registration and web hosting are two different services. Your domain name serves as your website’s address and can be registered and hosted with a different company than the one hosting your site’s files. I prefer to keep all my hosting resources in the same account, and many of the best domain hosts include free transfers and migrations. Some providers even include free domain hosting for the first year of newly registered addresses.

What’s in a name? For site owners, a strong domain name means increased brand recognition.

Email hosting appeals particularly to business owners who want the notoriety and name recognition of including the domain name in email addresses. Hosting providers often include advanced email features, such as forwarding and filtering services, autoresponders, and enhanced security, for clients who need several inboxes or marketing tools.

3d. Uptime Rates and Reliability

As entrepreneurs know, time is money. Every second your site is inaccessible can mean hundreds of missed sales opportunities, damaged brand reputation, and lost productivity. The Amazon Web Services outage in early 2017 cost companies an estimated $150 million during three to four hours of interrupted service.

Most hosts guarantee a certain amount of uptime and will reimburse you for any unplanned outages beyond the service-level agreement. Guarantees typically range from 100% to as low as 99%, although most shared hosting customers will find themselves perfectly happy with the ultra-common 99.9% uptime threshold. Larger businesses, however, might prefer to pay a premium for a few extra nines.

3e. Security and Support

Although a website’s security is largely dependent on an administrator’s behavior and password strength, among other characteristics, the hosting company’s infrastructure can represent one of the largest weaknesses. More than 40% of websites are compromised because of a host’s vulnerability, so be sure to look for the providers that include firewalls, monitoring services, and other security add-ons. Bonus points for automatic backups and hands-free WordPress updates.

Hosting customers would be hard-pressed to find a provider that doesn’t offer 24/7 support through multiple channels, but actual execution varies wildly. Whether you have a billing question or need technical help getting unhacked, customer service should be responsive and ready to assist. Unfortunately, this critical aspect of hosting is hard to discern until you are already signed up for a plan and find yourself needing help. Definitely do your research to tell if a host’s support stacks up.

4. Understand How Web Hosting Pricing Works

We know, price usually reigns supreme when shopping for a new web host. I’ve even been sucked into the low-cost hosting scavenger hunt. While your costs should definitely factor into your decision, don’t sacrifice support and performance.

Also, don’t forget to budget for services such as domain name registration and any themes or plugins you might need to add. Hosting itself can cost as little as a few bucks per month, and most providers will give you a discount for signing up for a year or longer — and that’s in addition to the deals our favorite hosts allow us to pass on to you.

4a. Why Free Hosting Isn’t Always a Great Idea

We’ve covered the free and nearly free hosting options before, and our advice remains the same: proceed with caution. The convenience and savings are attractive, but the added features, support, and security you can gain by signing up with a reputable hosting provider are well worth the slight cost.

Wix, for example, offers one of our favorite site building platforms on top of vibrant themes and secure eCommerce tools. You can design and deploy your site for free, but you’ll be restricted to a Wix.com subdomain. Upgrading to one of the economical plans removes email, domain, and eCommerce restrictions. Best of all, you can start designing for free with Wix!

CHEAP RATING
★★★★ 4.3/5.0
  • Start designing for FREE
  • FREE domain with most plans
  • Drag-and-drop templates, specific to industry or design need
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $5.00
Money Back Guarantee 14 days
Disk Space 500 MB - 20 GB
Domain Name Transfer
Cheap Hosting Plans www.wix.com/site-builder
Our Expert's Wix Review
Wix is known as a web-leading site builder service that's one of the most affordable — because getting started is absolutely free and about as easy as processes get. You can log in via Facebook... read more +

Wix is known as a web-leading site builder service that's one of the most affordable — because getting started is absolutely free and about as easy as processes get. You can log in via Facebook or your Gmail account and be editing your new web property within minutes.

All but the most basic of plans include a free domain name voucher for your first year of service, and with Wix comes the wealth of templates to be customized within the Wix Editor. This interface is extremely intuitive, once you take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with it. Once you're comfortable, you'll find yourself dragging and dropping images, text, menus, sliders, and more — all without any code — and feeling like a full-fledged web designer extraordinaire. All of the template designs are up to the latest industry standards, including parallax layouts, a mobile display editor, and responsive designs, and there are thousands of themes to browse.

If you've browsed our reviews and seen the multitude of features that can be had for a mere few dollars a month, you've probably realized that Wix is not the cheapest on the list. With Wix, you're paying for the user-friendliness of the no-tech-skills-needed platform, as well as the speed at which you can get your new site up and running. You're paying for accessibility, so to speak. That doesn't mean you're not getting a lot for the price. Premium plan holders, in particular, can benefit from $300-worth of ad vouchers, free apps for building forms and boosting your site's SEO status, and even priority support.

Bottom line: There is tremendous value in the offerings of Wix plans. Things like 24/7 expert phone support, stellar uptime rates, and mega-powerful servers are not features they tout, but that's intentional. Wix is an awesome website builder service, and if that's what you're looking for, you've come to the right place.

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4b. Why Cheap Hosting Providers Have More Value to Give

Because hosting companies can pack thousands of hosting customers onto a shared server, providers can afford to include dozens of value-added services with hosting plans. By signing up for an affordable hosting plan, you can experiment with luxury options, such as content delivery networks, automatic backups, website builders, and eCommerce tools, to explore different avenues of online success.

CHEAP RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • Featuring easy setup and superb reliability since 1998
  • FREE domain and FREE Google marketing included
  • Unlimited disk, bandwidth, and emails
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $1.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Cheap Hosting Plans www.ipage.com/shared
Our Expert's iPage Review
Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and fantastic list of extras make them one of the best values in web hosting. Unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and emails... read more +

Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and fantastic list of extras make them one of the best values in web hosting.

Unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and emails are just a part of what makes iPage’s shared hosting plans a great deal. They offer very good "suites" of extras focusing on web hosting necessities like security, marketing, and support.

If you don’t yet have a site, they include a free domain and website builder to get you rolling quickly. We especially love their inclusion of eCommerce templates and online shopping carts for the same low price.

Support is one factor that’s very important to us, as it should be to you. For customer support, iPage has US-based phone, email, and chat available 24/7. For the DIY crowd, they also have an extensive list of tutorials and helpful documents.

One of the very best budget web hosts out there, iPage offers great hosting features and server performance for a low price. If you are searching for a cheap, reliable web host, iPage should definitely be near the top of your list.

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4c. Why Virtual and Dedicated Servers Don’t Have to Cost a Fortune

The hosting price tag understandably grows as you add more computing resources. Because a customer’s VPS architecture will often scale up and down within a month to accommodate traffic spikes, providers bill customers only for the number of resources used.

Expenses don’t have to get out of hand as your site scales into VPS or dedicated hosting plans.

Crafting and sticking to a budget can be tough when your hosting bill fluctuates, but deals abound; our sister website DealCrunch has coupons for VPS and dedicated plans with Bluehost, along with a variety of discounts for HostGator plans.

5. Think Ahead: Choose a Host With Which You Can Grow

Don’t be afraid to daydream about the bright, busy futures of your websites. Some of the more budget-driven web hosts concentrate solely on shared hosting, meaning you’ll have to part ways and take your chances out in the hosting dating pool when you’re ready to move forward with VPS or dedicated services.

We strongly prefer hosts we can stick with for the long haul. HostGator, our top choice with which to scale, makes VPS provisioning and deployment a breeze. Flexible software options, coupled with powerful hardware and award-winning support, make the company a great choice to usher your website from the shared to dedicated hosting ranks. HostGator offers unlimited free cPanel migrations and up to 90 manual migrations based on which VPS plan you choose.

BEST OVERALL RATING
★★★★★ 4.5/5.0
  • Easy-to-use control panel
  • FREE Weebly site builder
  • Unlimited disk space, emails, and bandwidth on all plans
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $3.48
Money Back Guarantee 45 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name New or Transfer
Best Overall Hosting Plans www.hostgator.com
Our Expert's HostGator Review
HostGator has been around for over a decade and is well-respected for their large number of servers and their consistent reliability. Known mostly as a shared hosting provider, HostGator still supplies decent dedicated and VPS... read more +

HostGator has been around for over a decade and is well-respected for their large number of servers and their consistent reliability. Known mostly as a shared hosting provider, HostGator still supplies decent dedicated and VPS options if you need your site to scale.

HostGator costs a little more than some of the other budget-minded shared hosts, but that contributes to their reliability and well-known support. They offer decent features included in their basic offerings, unlimited disk space, a nice control panel, and free website templates. While the feature list is short compared to other hosts, you do get the flexibility to add them as you see fit.

Aimed primarily at the semi-technical user, HostGator's flexibility is their strong suit. Dedicated, VPS, and Windows hosting is available if that fits your needs. For those than need it, root access, SSH, and support for Ruby, Perl, Python, and other languages is available on all plans.

HostGator has nearly limitless options and control available for their server, however, they require a little more knowledge than beginner-focused web hosts. If you need to host multiple sites, their wide array of offerings make them a great choice.

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Best Web Hosting Services – Top 6 Overall

Finally, what we’ve all been waiting for — now that we’ve explained the different types and benefits of hosting services, here are the providers we consider the best of the best.

1. Best Value

Here at HostingAdvice, we prefer to think of plans and providers in terms of value instead of simply following what is printed on the price tag. Between time spent waiting for shoddy support teams, and ultimately transferring your site elsewhere, those free or ultra-affordable plans often end up costing more in the long run. Take the time to find the plan that, for a few extra dollars, unlocks a bevy of useful tools and services that ensure your long-term success.

CHEAP RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • Featuring easy setup and superb reliability since 1998
  • FREE domain and FREE Google marketing included
  • Unlimited disk, bandwidth, and emails
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $1.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Cheap Hosting Plans www.ipage.com/shared
Our Expert's iPage Review
Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and fantastic list of extras make them one of the best values in web hosting. Unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and emails... read more +

Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and fantastic list of extras make them one of the best values in web hosting.

Unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and emails are just a part of what makes iPage’s shared hosting plans a great deal. They offer very good "suites" of extras focusing on web hosting necessities like security, marketing, and support.

If you don’t yet have a site, they include a free domain and website builder to get you rolling quickly. We especially love their inclusion of eCommerce templates and online shopping carts for the same low price.

Support is one factor that’s very important to us, as it should be to you. For customer support, iPage has US-based phone, email, and chat available 24/7. For the DIY crowd, they also have an extensive list of tutorials and helpful documents.

One of the very best budget web hosts out there, iPage offers great hosting features and server performance for a low price. If you are searching for a cheap, reliable web host, iPage should definitely be near the top of your list.

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2. Best VPS Hosting

Once you leave the safety nets of shared hosting behind, the quality of infrastructure, managed services, and software tools become supremely important. VPS hosting offers customers more computing power and control than shared hosting without the expenses of running a dedicated server. Flexible VPS scalability means you should find a top-tier host to help you ride out the traffic waves and prepare for the next hosting step.

VPS RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • 50% off the first month with added discounts the first year
  • Real-time redundancy powered by a cloud infrastructure
  • FREE cPanel/WHM licenses with enterprise-grade CentOS
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $19.99
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space 75 GB - 260 GB SSD
Domain Name New or Transfer
VPS Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/vps
Our Expert's InMotion Review
Boasting market-leading VPS hardware, slick management software, and free SSD drives and backups, InMotion offers the most attractive VPS plans you'll find anywhere. Each VPS plan comes with free SSD storage arranged in RAID 6,... read more +

Boasting market-leading VPS hardware, slick management software, and free SSD drives and backups, InMotion offers the most attractive VPS plans you'll find anywhere.

Each VPS plan comes with free SSD storage arranged in RAID 6, which is incredibly fast and secure. Each of their plans also come with an awesome amount of RAM for the server cost, so the speed-to-dollar ratio is high with this host.

InMotion’s VPS packages run on CentOS 6 Linux operating systems and all feature a license for cPanel. Each plan also comes with Web Hosting Management (WHM) software, making it super-easy to resell some unused server resources.

InMotion's reputation for uptime is second-to-none, with a solid track record as a large-scale VPS host and a large, friendly support team available at any time.

Lastly, InMotion has a 90-day money-back guarantee and offers a choice of datacenters, which are nice customer-centric features. Their support is top-notch and 24 hours. We highly recommend you check them out if you are looking for a VPS with great hardware and reseller options at a low price.

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3. Best Dedicated Server

Once you’ve reached the top of the hosting universe, you don’t want to trust your booming business website with just any hosting provider. The best dedicated servers come with performant architecture and luxurious managed services for a price that won’t cripple your organization. Our top choice prioritizes reliability, security, speed, and support no matter how you choose to configure your server.

DEDICATED RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • FREE incoming bandwidth and choice of operating system
  • Custom configurations with SSDs and instant provisioning
  • Auto-migrations, backups, and 24/7 Sonar Monitoring™
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $79.00
Money Back Guarantee N/A
Disk Space 211 GB - 1,775 GB SSD
Domain Name New or Transfer
Dedicated Hosting Plans www.liquidweb.com/dedicated
Our Expert's Liquid Web Review
Liquid Web's strong suit is their managed dedicated server hosting. They own and operate three state-of-the-art datacenters in the US and have over 50 developers working tirelessly to build and maintain custom solutions for added... read more +

Liquid Web's strong suit is their managed dedicated server hosting. They own and operate three state-of-the-art datacenters in the US and have over 50 developers working tirelessly to build and maintain custom solutions for added performance and security.

Fully, Core-, or Self-Managed — Plus Storm® Servers

Liquid Web offers single, dual, and quad processor servers with fully, core-, or self-managed plans. All dedicated server customers reap the benefits and support of the Heroic Support® team and the 24/7 protection of the Sonar Monitoring™ team.

Redundantly Built, Multi-Tiered Network

Featuring top-of-the-line Cisco equipment, the Liquid Web N+1 network is redundantly built to allow routing devices to quickly self-heal. They're designed to bounce back and correct system failures without interrupting the customer's connection. With the integration of premier providers, Level 3, Verizon, Comcast, Cogent, and Equinix, the Liquid Web network is optimized for rapid and fault-resistant performance.

Highly Available Sites with the Tech of 50+ Developers

Liquid Web boasted an incredible 99.995% uptime rate in 2014, a bragging right that's helped shape their reputation for performance. With the maintenance of 50+ developers, the Liquid Web infrastructure is engineered to evade and survive typical site disasters.

24/7 Proactive Protection from the Sonar Monitoring™ & Heroic Support® Teams

Should disaster strike, the Sonar Monitoring™ team is trained to catch the issue first, performing system-level health checks and patches 24/7, so they can hopefully have it handled before you're even aware of the situation. Meanwhile, the Heroic Support® team of 300+ experts is available anytime to help with any troubleshooting need.

Storm® Servers & Add-Ons

For the dev nerds out there, one of our favorite facets of Liquid Web as a hosting provider is the commitment to in-house-built technology. All of their team members' experience and expertise becomes very evident once you check out their custom Storm® Platform.

All the Power Plus All the Flexibility

If you're in need of dedicated resources, drawn to the customization of the Cloud, and know you need screaming fast performance, the Storm® Dedicated Server may be your solution. These custom server systems allow for cloud-like flexibility that traditional dedicated servers aren't capable of, like instant provisioning and automatic migrations.

Added Extras Make the Dedicated Cost a Done Deal

The Liquid Web development team is constantly coming up with new Storm® Add-Ons, like Load Balancers, Block Storage, Object Storage, and a VPN. Think you can't afford such full-featured and flexible hardware? Think again. With pricing starting around $110/month, the Storm® Platform is great for the cost-conscious dedicated server shopper.

Liquid Web Dedicated Servers in Review

If you want feature-rich dedicated resources and relentlessly reliable technical support, Liquid Web should be on your short list. They're known for strong managed service offerings, but the drawback to managed hosting is usually the cost. Liquid Web doesn't leave you hanging there though — in-house solutions like the Storm® Dedicated Server keep the cloud-level flexibility and performance up and the cost down.

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4. Best for Blogs / WordPress

As we’ve said before, WordPress can be tricky to host. Some of the burden falls on hosting providers’ hardware and software solutions, while customers can derail their website by improperly editing PHP files, using shoddy themes and plugins, and not updating the content management system frequently enough.

Supporting 28% of all websites, WordPress is a powerful and intuitive publishing platform.

The popularity of WordPress, however, has inspired a few hosting companies to rise above the rest; our pick for the best blogging and WordPress host combines technical expertise with user-friendly features and support.

WORDPRESS RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • WordPress pre-installed
  • FREE SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth
  • FREE domain, site transfers, and data backups
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2.95
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
WordPress Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/wordpress
Our Expert's InMotion Review
InMotion, long known for their shared hosting options, entered the WordPress space with a solid option built upon their reputation for great support and reliability. Costing a small premium over other budget-minded options, they do... read more +

InMotion, long known for their shared hosting options, entered the WordPress space with a solid option built upon their reputation for great support and reliability. Costing a small premium over other budget-minded options, they do include some nice features to help justify that cost difference.

Build on an all-SSD infrastructure, their speeds are very good. We would have loved to see options like integrated staging and caching included in order to help take full advantage of the nice, modern hardware. The choice of datacenters (East or West) is nice however, as it allows you to target your local audience with better load times.

InMotion offers three different levels to their WordPress hosting offerings, which allows you to tailor the hosting to your needs or budget. For those needing eCommerce support, their middle or top offerings have you covered. Their top offering also allows unlimited installs for WordPress, which is great to see.

Each hosting package they offer comes with a free domain, unlimited disk space, unlimited emails, and free data backups for data security. If you need it, each plan also has support for PHP, Ruby, Perl, and Python, and includes SSH access.

InMotion Hosting has made a name for itself on support and reliability. While not the cheapest of the budget WordPress hosts out there, the packages offered are solid in performance and feature sets.

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5. Best for eCommerce

A tech-savvy developer can create a lot of custom solutions from scratch, but even they know to look elsewhere for help when it comes to hosting an online storefront. Given the security demands with processing payments and storing credit card information, not to mention the difficulty coordinating inventory management, order processing, and shipment services, there’s no wonder a strong eCommerce host can make a huge impact on your business. The best hosts focus on usability so you can focus on the products and passions behind your business.

ECOMMERCE RATING
★★★★★ 5.0/5.0
  • 1-click installs for eCommerce tools like WooCommerce
  • FREE eCommerce plugin for WordPress
  • Daily backups, a CDN, and FREE Weebly site builder
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $3.95
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space 10 GB - 30 GB
Domain Name New or Transfer
eCommerce Hosting Plans www.siteground.com/ecommerce
Our Expert's SiteGround Review
SiteGround’s shared hosting plans tout eCommerce necessities: 1-click installations of Magento, PrestaShop, WooComerce, or WordPress with the WP eCommerce plugin. If you opt for WP eCommerce, your server will be custom configured to fit your site’s... read more + SiteGround’s shared hosting plans tout eCommerce necessities: 1-click installations of Magento, PrestaShop, WooComerce, or WordPress with the WP eCommerce plugin. If you opt for WP eCommerce, your server will be custom configured to fit your site’s needs, and if you have an existing site, the SiteGround team will help you migrate to their services… collapse info -

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6. Best Website Builder Hosting Service

Following the usability thread, site builders break users out of the cookie-cutter template mold by adding drag-and-drop content blocks that guarantee a website that showcases your personality, brand, and design aesthetic. The WYSIWYG approach, or what you see is what you get, bodes well for inexperienced, first-time site owners. Once your design is built, extend your website by upgrading your integrations with eCommerce, marketing, and events tools.

WEBSITE BUILDER RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • No coding skills needed with drag-and-drop website builder
  • 100s of templates with industry-specific designs
  • Add features via the App Market
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $5.00
Money Back Guarantee 14 days
Disk Space 500 MB - 20 GB
Domain Name Transfer
Website Builder Hosting Plans www.wix.com/site-builder
Our Expert's Wix Review
Website building is where Wix shines. The thousands of templates, the intuitive editor, the industry-leading designs that cater to a variety of specific fields and use cases — all these facets represent a platform that... read more +

Website building is where Wix shines. The thousands of templates, the intuitive editor, the industry-leading designs that cater to a variety of specific fields and use cases — all these facets represent a platform that excels at facilitating easy web design for the non-tech-savvy user. Sign up with your Facebook account or email address and get started for free.

I'll admit, the Wix Editor may appear daunting when you first meet it, but get to know the interface. Once you familiarize yourself with the environment, you'll realize that what first comes across as overwhelming is actually empowering — the customization functionalities to be had are many, and they're awesome. There's no need for coding of any kind. Just drag and drop elements of your new site and BAM: What You See Is What You Get (i.e., Wix is a WYSIWYG website builder!).

You don't have to design your website from scratch with Wix, though blank templates are available. There are thousands of templates, each one categorized by design need and further classified into industry niches, and the site's look can be molded to match your brand or personality very easily. Layout and design options include parallax themes (where the viewer scrolls down the screen and one page rolls seamlessly into the next), custom sliders, multiple columns, mobile-specific and mobile-responsive displays, and tons of button and menu navigation tricks.

While Wix isn't our favorite host in terms of expert support or top-of-the-line hardware, it's an industry-leading platform for website building. It's popular for many reasons: the simple startup process, the ease of use, the array of customization options, and the WYSIWYG results, as examples. Its reputation precedes it, and we can totally see where the rave reviews are coming from.

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Choosing a Web Hosting Service Doesn’t Have to be a Daunting Task

Don’t feel lonely or intimidated on your quest for finding Mr. Right. Skip the blind dates and, instead, choose to start a relationship with a web host your friends at HostingAdvice will vouch for. Your hosting soulmate should stick by your side no matter what’s in store, whether it’s a night of bar hopping or a quiet night in spent sinking into the couch.

If you find yourself stuck between two hosting suitors, our host versus host reviews show how the two services stack up against each other. Here’s to finding your hosting love of a lifetime!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Stamey

Laura Stamey is a multi-talented communicator with a master's degree in web design and online communication and extensive experience creating web, print, and multimedia products. As a Contributing Editor for HostingAdvice.com, she combines her communication skills with web design experience, a passionate love for WordPress, and a strong desire to continue learning. When she's not addressing user questions via helpful how-to guides, you'll find her connecting with the folks behind companies that are powering the Web — covering their innovative technologies and the teams that engineer them.