What is a Web Hosting Account? — Get Started with a Host (2017 Guide)

When describing web hosting accounts to beginners, most people employ the tried-and-true housing analogy: Shared hosting is like renting an apartment, VPS is a condo, and dedicated servers equate to owning your own home. In a never-ending quest to keep things interesting, however, I’ve compared web hosting accounts to pizza and the search for love. Now, it’s time to spice things up and turn to another passion of mine: Mexican food.

Believe it or not, web hosting can be thought of as an indulgent menu of meat, beans, cheese, and seasonings for you to arrange and prepare as you see fit. We’ve mixed together a five-course meal of hosting account descriptions, definitions, features, and prices, culminating in our picks for the best hosting accounts. What are you hungry for?

1. Web Hosting Definition

At the most basic level, web hosting accounts give you access to large computers, called servers, where you can store the files and information required to make a website or application. The servers connect to the internet to share and deliver that content to users. Although it’s possible for you to operate your own server and host your own website, doing so requires a ton of expertise and patience as you work through the numerous headaches that are bound to pop up. If you want more information, we’ve created a helpful guide that explains the basics of web hosting.

Why spend years learning how to make the perfect tortilla from scratch when you could simply go to your favorite Mexican restaurant on a whim? The vast majority of website owners will purchase hosting services from a reputable company, much like opting for a nice dinner out with friends.

2. Types of Hosting

Similar to Mexican food, the different types of web hosting accounts can largely be described as using the same ingredients in different configurations. Chow down on these hosting descriptions that compare shared, virtual, cloud, and dedicated servers, in addition to other specialized formats of web hosting.

Shared Hosting Definition

When it comes to Mexican food, shared web hosting is like the free chips and salsa brought out for your arrival, or maybe a heaping plate of nachos. Perhaps one of those giant margaritas served in a comically large glass with two straws?

The web hosting account you choose is largely dependent on how much computing power you need.

The point is, you’ll be using a server’s computing resources alongside everyone else sitting at the table. Although you have no say on server settings or nacho toppings, the best plans come with everything you could possibly need — and probably even a few extra things you won’t touch. Seriously, who wants black olives on nachos? The same usually goes for niche hosting features, such as Secure Shell (SSH) access or phpMyAdmin, for inexperienced customers.

There are unwritten rules that everyone should have an equal share of both nachos and server resources, but you always run the risk of dining with that friend who grabs chip after chip and scoops out all of the best toppings. Those diners affect the mood at the whole table, just as a resource hog affects server performance for the other hosting customers. Even though many hosts tout unlimited storage and bandwidth, the companies will often penalize customers who go too far.

VPS Hosting Definition

Few things whet the appetite quite like a sizzling, steaming plate of fajitas heading your way. Many places offer fajitas made for two or four, and this is the perfect example of VPS hosting. Standing for virtual private server, VPS hosting plans mean that servers are divided into virtualized partitions or virtual machines, which then act as independent dedicated units.

Customers still share a server, but they each enjoy much larger portions and have greater control over their computing resources. Site owners on a VPS plan can configure their hosting stack by choosing the operating system, web server, database platform, or programming framework. Many rapidly growing sites turn to VPS hosting so they can quickly scale bandwidth and memory.

With VPS-style Mexican food, you can simultaneously share a meal with your dining companions and still eat exactly what you want. Don’t like onions but want extra sour cream? Enjoy!

Cloud Hosting Definition

Naturally, the most complicated form of web hosting is always the most difficult to work into these tasty analogies. In this case, we need to temporarily leave Mexican food to pay homage to Spanish cuisine — specifically, tapas. The fellow cloud hosting customers at the table can order many different dishes that everyone may sample from to create a full meal. No one goes hungry because there are always new dishes arriving and empty plates being bussed off the table.

No, cloud servers do not exist in the sky. The hardware is networked to provide top-notch scalability an reliability.

Eating tapas is akin to the nebulous type of hosting in that cloud hosting environments consist of several servers that are networked together and virtualized to share storage and processing resources. Cloud hosting is extremely performant, scalable, and reliable because servers are optimized to handle particular tasks. If something goes offline or crashes, other servers are ready to fill in to keep your website or application online. Likewise, new resources can be provisioned or turned off as your traffic scales up or down.

Dedicated Hosting Definition

Every Mexican menu has one — the massive, as-big-as-your-face burrito. As with dedicated servers, giant burritos represent the utmost in Mexican food indulgence. There is one plate, an enormous pile of ingredients that you chose, and nothing standing in your way. The restaurant will still provide the plate, silverware, and napkins, but you’re on your own; no one else at your table may nibble on your burrito unless you give them access.

With dedicated hosting, you are the lone customer on a server. The host will typically cook up and deploy your dedicated server within their datacenter, often including management services such as operating system updates and security patches. Customers, however, can enjoy total control over software and security programs, along with the processing power and storage space.

Other Hosting Services

Although nachos, fajitas, and burritos are typically among the most popular items at your favorite Mexican restaurant, you’ll often have much more to choose from. Just like the combo plates many restaurants offer, you can frequently mix and match more specialized hosting services to satisfy a particular craving. Here’s a list of the hosting equivalents of enchiladas, quesadillas, chimichangas, and chile rellenos:

  • Application hosting (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, PrestaShop, etc.)
  • Blog hosting
  • Control panel hosting (cPanel, Plesk, etc.)
  • Domain hosting
  • eCommerce hosting
  • Email hosting
  • Managed hosting
  • Managed WordPress hosting
  • Operating system hosting (Linux, CentOS, Windows, Fedora, Debian, Red Hat, etc.)
  • SSD hosting
  • Website builders
  • And many more!

Specialized hosting services appeal to customers with specific needs and functionality requirements. An online business won’t succeed without a hosting plan that includes eCommerce and marketing tools, while those tools might go unused with someone running a high-powered blog who needs a managed WordPress hosting plan.

3. Web Hosting Account Features

Naturally, most new hosting customers are going to look for plans with the most features for the lowest price. Hosting connoisseurs, on the other hand, will have a better understanding of the ingredients that most strongly delight their taste buds.

By understanding the major components of web hosting accounts, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions with your hard-earned money. You might find that marketing credits and SEO tools are more important to your online business, while professionals might place more value on the strong design a website builder can provide.

Domains and Emails

These two commonly get lumped together in hosting account descriptions, but domain names and email are distinctly different services. Domains are effectively the address web browsers use to find and display a website. Many hosting companies include a free domain name registration for the first year, a value around $10 to $15, when new customers sign up. If you already have a domain name, those same companies will usually apply that credit toward a free transfer or website migration.

Email accounts, which use the domain name as the second half of the address, use server space to store, send, and process your messages. Email addresses with a custom domain name tend to look more professional than the standard Gmail, so this tends to be an important feature for online businesses. The best email hosting plans typically come with spam and virus protection, as well as autoresponders, enhanced security, and support for various protocols, plus tools for forwarding and filtering.

Control Panels

Sure to be a first-time hosting customer’s best friend, a control panel acts as a translator, of sorts, for the most foreign menus. The user-friendly interface enables site owners to quickly and easily manage their hosting account.

Control panels are popular platforms that allow new site owners to easily oversee their web hosting services.

The majority of hosting accounts use the Linux operating system, which is most often paired with the cPanel control panel. Windows hosting plans, best for sites and applications running ASP.NET, typically come with Plesk. Other options, particularly at VPS and dedicated hosting levels, include free and open-source control panels. We’ve prepared the ultimate guide to control panels for those who want more information.

Disk Space, Bandwidth, and Databases

Three of the standard components of a good web hosting account, even first-time shoppers can easily compare storage, data transfers, and the number of allowable databases. Many plans, especially at the shared hosting level, boast unlimited services — even though unlimited hosting isn’t actually possible, most customers won’t overstep the resource boundaries.

Disk space is measured in the gigabytes or terabytes available to store your files. Obviously, the more the merrier, but the big distinction here is looking for a small acronym: SSD, which stands for solid-state drives. This upgrade contributes to faster and more reliable websites but is usually a dollar or two per month more expensive.

Databases are an efficient way to store your information and typically correspond to what type of content management system you choose to install. Most tools will automatically walk you through a simple setup process to connect your information to your website. Bandwidth, which is also called data transfer, speaks to how quickly visitors can access your website. The more bandwidth you have, the faster your content is delivered.

Site-Building Tools

The taco bar of the web hosting world, website builders let you customize your meal without having to roll up your sleeves and cook. The tools enable drag-and-drop web design sans coding by providing hundreds of mobile-friendly templates and a WYSIWYG editor — what you see is what you get. Some of the well-known builders, including Wix and Weebly, come with their own hosting plans. Many hosting providers make builders available to customers, with some even taking the time to craft their own platform.

Marketing and SEO Tools

Finally, you’ve cooked this big meal — what if no one comes to eat? Search engine optimization and marketing tools get people in the door by making your site accessible and primed for success. A strong SEO plan will boost your website or brand’s visibility, traffic, and credibility, and often has a better return on investment than traditional advertising methods. Web hosts, particularly with shared hosting plans, frequently include tools to create site maps, edit metadata, and measure keywords. Beyond email marketing tools, some providers even include a credit of $100 or more to spend on search engine advertisements.

4. Web Hosting Account Pricing

All the hosting features might be nice, but we know the bottom line is usually the deciding factor when choosing a web hosting account. The trick, however, is to balance budgetary restraints with quality. You can save money by going to Taco Bell, but you’ll appreciate the authentic cuisine and fresh ingredients at the slightly more expensive sit-down restaurant.

Web hosting accounts don’t have to break the bank. The most affordable plans are less than $5 per month.

Shared hosting plans start at only a few dollars per month, with providers usually giving customers a discount for committing to a year or more of services. For whatever reason, hosts advertise their monthly rates but typically bill for the entire year. Also, be sure to plan for additional fees: Domain name registration, professionally designed themes, and upgraded services for security, backups, and performance can push your invoice higher.

5. Host Recommendations

With all the various server configurations, specialized tools, and add-on services available to site owners of all levels of experience and expertise, the best hosting provider or plan entirely depends on your needs. What are you craving? How hungry are you?

Whether you’re looking for something light or are ready to chow down, we’ve broken down the hosting smorgasbord into bite-size portions to make the different types of web hosting dishes more digestible. Feel free to read our guide explaining how to choose a web host, or click the links below to go straight to the type of hosting that will serve you best.

Best Shared Hosting

Whether you’re looking for your first web hosting account or simply a new home for your existing website, one-click software installations, 24/7 customer support, and strong uptime guarantees should be go-to ingredients of a strong shared hosting option. As you look over the menu, keep an eye out for your favorite dish: It could mean getting high-performance SSDs, a website builder, or extra SEO help. Our three favorite hosts at this level represent a great cross section of the variety of hosting accounts available:

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 -
SHARED RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • An industry-leading shared host with competitive pricing
  • Attract visitors with a complimentary marketing suite
  • $500 in extras like Google AdWords and SiteLock security
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $1.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Shared 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 are just a part of what makes iPage’s... 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. collapse info -
SHARED RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • A favorite for shared hosting (and dedicated or cloud)
  • FREE SSD storage packs 20x the performance
  • FREE SSL certificate and 24/7 support
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2.95
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Shared Hosting Plans www.inmotion.com/shared
Our Expert's InMotion Review
InMotion offers an excellent business-class shared hosting plan. While carrying a higher price tag than other cheap hosts, it has a very nice list of features to help justify the extra cost. For the IT crowd in the audience, you’ll appreciate SSH access, as... read more + InMotion offers an excellent business-class shared hosting plan. While carrying a higher price tag than other cheap hosts, it has a very nice list of features to help justify the extra cost. For the IT crowd in the audience, you’ll appreciate SSH access, as well as support for PHP, Ruby, Perl, Python, WP-CLI, and other popular languages. You’ll also appreciate the 20-times faster speed, which comes from all-SSD storage and your choice of datacenter locations. You needn’t worry about data security as InMotion plans include data backups.For the rest of us, we can appreciate the convenience of the free website transfers and 24/7 US-based support. A free domain and website builder with eCommerce support are also appealing.The overall package and business-class hardware make InMotion’s shared hosting a great choice for businesses or those looking for a little higher-end hardware. And, as one of the few remaining independently owned hosting providers left on the market, InMotion has taken every effort to remain cost-competitive. collapse info -

See more shared hosts »

Best VPS and Cloud Hosting

As your hosting needs grow and your server requirements become more complex, a strong VPS account will help you scale even further. The best plans typically come with upgraded hardware, free administrative tools, and included managed services to help you configure and maintain the most secure and performant hosting environment. These premium providers offer some of the best services at the most affordable rates:

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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VPS RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Only pay for resources you use with daily billing
  • 5TB of outgoing bandwidth and FREE incoming bandwidth
  • API access and cPanel available
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $29.50
Money Back Guarantee N/A
Disk Space 50 GB - 1.6 TB SSD
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
VPS Hosting Plans www.liquidweb.com/vps
Our Expert's Liquid Web Review
It's no secret by now that Liquid Web is known for best-in-class technology and reliability that exceeds expectations (from uptime to technical support). Their VPSs embody that reputation to its fullest — including a new... read more +

It's no secret by now that Liquid Web is known for best-in-class technology and reliability that exceeds expectations (from uptime to technical support). Their VPSs embody that reputation to its fullest — including a new Managed WordPress product (Hop one tab over to the WordPress Review for more info on this awesome addition.).

Perks of a Managed VPS: Support Meets Reliability

They offer a high-powered VPS solution as well as their in-house-built, cloud-based Storm® Servers, all of which are backed by their popular SLAs (service-level agreements) promising high uptime rates and highly reliable help from the Heroic Support® experts.

Better Performance with Liquid Web Virtual Servers

With high-powered SSDs and, of course, the Heroic Support® team, the VPS platform shines among the managed services offered at Liquid Web. You'll pay a bit of a premium for managed hosting, but there's a reason customers rave about the Heroic Support®, incredible SLAs, and excellent uptime rates.

SSD Power & Fully Managed Support

RAID-protected SSD storage comes standard for Liquid Web VPS users, which decreases latency and keeps your page loads fast and secure. They offer a range of management plans, as well as cPanel control and API access, so you get the perfect level of infrastructural management support for you and your site.

Cloud-Level Flexibility & Supreme Uptime

The Liquid Web VPS infrastructure was engineered with customer priorities in mind. These solutions are ideal for users that want cloud-like flexibility, such as billing by the day and custom configurations, but also seek the affordability of shared hosting. Customers can instantly provision and deploy their virtual server, easily upgrade, downgrade, clone, or resize, and only pay for the resources they use.

Award-Winning Heroic Support® & Sonar Monitoring™

Liquid Web's SLAs promise speedy response times and industry-leading performance. Their blazing fast and fault-resistant servers are backed by the round-the-clock attention of the Sonar Monitoring™ team.

Heroic Support® Team Helps Consistently Earn High Net Promoter Scores

Not only does the Heroic Promise ensure a Heroic Support® technician will get to you quickly, but their policy of Best Effort Support guarantees that they will attempt to help with any problem you encounter. That kind of customer support translates into customer loyalty, and it's a commitment that's rare and wonderful in this industry.

Sonar Monitoring™ Team Helps Yield Virtually No Downtime

In 2014 Liquid Web yielded an incredible uptime rate of 99.995%. With their wholly owned hardware being watched over and maintained by highly trained technicians, there's no reason to doubt their promise of virtually nonexistent downtime in the future.

All server statuses are watched around the clock by the Sonar Monitoring™ team, which is trained to detect system issues quickly, and ideally have problems resolved before a hiccup even shows up on your radar.

Storm® Platform, Private Cloud, & Add-Ons

In addition to a heroic army of support, Liquid Web has 50+ developers dedicated to the build-out and up-keep of custom solutions. A great example would be their Storm® Platform: an in-house innovation based on their top-of-the-line VPS infrastructure.

With automatic migrations and provisioning and easy scaling options, the Storm® Cloud Server offers all the SSD speed and custom functionality you want in an affordable, shared cloud environment. To give users even more options, Liquid Web developers are constantly working on new projects, including the latest Storm® Private Cloud functionality and their Block Storage, Object Storage, and VPN Storm® Add-Ons.

Liquid Web VPS in a Nutshell

If you want easy scaling, screaming fast speed, custom functionalities, and unparalleled support, look no further than Liquid Web for your VPS. They own all the hardware and have a rather large development team in their corner, so the technological possibilities are pretty much limitless. We'd recommend going with their custom Storm® Servers, which offer all the power, flexibility, and scaling options you'd require of a virtual or dedicated server with the affordability and ease of use of a shared hosting solution.

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VPS RATING
★★★★★ 4.8/5.0
  • 2-4 cores and 4-16GB of RAM
  • Endorsed by the WordPress team
  • Redundant storage and optional SiteLock security
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $19.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space 30 GB - 240 GB SSD
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
VPS Hosting Plans www.bluehost.com/vps
Our Expert's Bluehost Review
When comparing the performance versus price of VPS plans, Bluehost brings supreme value to the table. In addition to competitive pricing, they offer premium support and excellent uptime compared to other VPS options in the... read more +

When comparing the performance versus price of VPS plans, Bluehost brings supreme value to the table. In addition to competitive pricing, they offer premium support and excellent uptime compared to other VPS options in the industry. If you’ve outgrown shared hosting, or need the flexibility and security of a VPS, Bluehost is a great choice for you.

Bluehost’s virtual servers boast several benefits compared to standard shared hosting and other VPS offerings. The first is speed; Bluehost offers your choice of two or four cores and 4GB to 16GB of RAM with guaranteed resources, so you have the power you need when you need it. The second perk is security; Bluehost offers redundant storage and optional SiteLock protection to secure your data.

For those new to VPS hosting who may not know exactly what is needed, Bluehost makes it incredibly easy and seamless to switch between their plans to find the perfect package for you. If you have questions or need some advice, their wonderful support staff is standing by to assist 24/7.

Formed in 2003, Bluehost has long since been a hosting innovator and leader. Today, the company powers more than two million websites and carries the official seal of approval given by the WordPress.org team for their managed WordPress services hosted on their VPS platform. With years of experience, competitive pricing, and excellent support, Bluehost is a pick you can take to the bank in the VPS hosting space.

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Best Dedicated Hosting

At the top tier of the hosting world, dedicated servers represent ultimate luxury and responsibility. Customers can often customize their hardware and software configurations, in addition to selecting upgraded services for backups, security, monitoring, load balancing, and more. Although dedicated hosting accounts are among the most expensive, our recommended hosts make the servers an extremely worthwhile investment:

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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DEDICATED RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Rebootless kernel updates
  • 1-click installs and FREE SSDs
  • cPanel/WHM licences with FREE SSL
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $99.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space 500 GB - 1.2 TB SSD
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Dedicated Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/dedicated
Our Expert's InMotion Review
InMotion offers amazingly fast, reliable dedicated hosting on market-leading hardware — making it an easy choice for anyone seeking a premium dedicated host. From free SSDs to a fanatical support team, InMotion has all the... read more +

InMotion offers amazingly fast, reliable dedicated hosting on market-leading hardware — making it an easy choice for anyone seeking a premium dedicated host. From free SSDs to a fanatical support team, InMotion has all the bases covered for both small-scale and large-scale operations, featuring a truly reliable dedicated host.

Unlike some hosts, InMotion gives SSH and Root access to their servers. Each plan is managed and comes with between two and four hours of SysAdmin time at launch, which is an excellent help in getting your site configured to meet your needs. Each server also is set up with cPanel and WHM for easy management.

Plenty of CPU power, RAM, and storage, plus lots of IP addresses, come with each plan. Perhaps our favorite feature of InMotion is their zero-downtime, rebootless kernel updates, which are partially the reason for their superb 99.999% uptime.

InMotion has a 30-day money-back guarantee on their dedicated plans, which is fairly rare and just another reason you can’t go wrong selecting them as your dedicated host.

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DEDICATED RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • RAID 1 mirrored storage
  • Minimum 3 IP addresses per plan
  • Modern hardware, spec'd and maintained in house
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $79.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space 1 TB
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Dedicated Hosting Plans www.bluehost.com/dedicated
Our Expert's Bluehost Review
Built on OpenStack technology, with a minimum of four cores per server, Bluehost offers reliable and flexible dedicated hosting options at an extremely reasonable price. We continually praise their shared hosting options for having fantastic... read more +

Built on OpenStack technology, with a minimum of four cores per server, Bluehost offers reliable and flexible dedicated hosting options at an extremely reasonable price. We continually praise their shared hosting options for having fantastic hardware and a great management console, and their dedicated offerings are no different.

Designed and maintained in house, Bluehost uses only the latest technologies on their dedicated servers. Their most recent upgrade moved all CPUs to four cores, 1TB of RAID storage, and between four and 16 gigs of available RAM. Each server is provisioned instantly and can be upgraded at any time with essentially just a few mouse clicks.

One reason we’ll always consider Bluehost for our hosting needs is their fantastic 24/7 support team. They do have a premium team of engineers for their dedicated servers. The expert technicians are incredibly helpful and available at a moment’s notice.
Already one of our favorite hosting companies, when you combine their fanatical support and the value offered in their dedicated hosting plans, Bluehost is hard to pass up.

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Best Blog & WordPress Hosting

The globally popular content management system might power more than a quarter of all websites on the internet, but most uusers don’t understand the technical nuances of most effectively and efficiently hosting WordPress. The best WordPress hosts offer upgraded hardware, toughened security programs, and WordPress-specific support. If WordPress isn’t to your liking, send the dish back. Our hosting chefs will whip up one-click installations of several blogging programs for you to savor.

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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WORDPRESS RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Formally endorsed by WordPress
  • VPS technology and included CDN
  • ManageWP pre-installed
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $2.95
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
WordPress Hosting Plans www.bluehost.com/wordpress
Our Expert's Bluehost Review
Aimed at personal bloggers and first-time users, Bluehost’s WordPress hosting packages are a great alternative to simple shared hosting. These service come at a premium, compared to Bluehost’s standard shared plans, but the WordPress optimization... read more +

Aimed at personal bloggers and first-time users, Bluehost’s WordPress hosting packages are a great alternative to simple shared hosting. These service come at a premium, compared to Bluehost’s standard shared plans, but the WordPress optimization and platform-specific resources are arguably worth the cost.

Built on top of their VPS platform, Bluehost's WordPress managed hosting, though not as customizable as others, focuses on simplicity and speed. Their interface is easy to navigate and the instant provisioning allows for speedy setup. Integrated features, such as the MOJO Marketplace and ManageWP, are nice touches as well.

Though simple by design, Bluehost isn’t shorting you on some of the more important technical features. Integrated W3 caching, SiteLock security, and a CDN are standard across all WordPress packages. It’s also important to note that data backups are automated and resources are guaranteed.

Formed in 2003, Bluehost has long been one of the foremost shared hosts on the planet, and they now power more than two million websites. What’s more, Bluehost is on a short list of providers with the official WordPress seal of approval, doled out by the WordPress Core team. With an experienced team, competitive pricing, and always-there support, Bluehost is King when it comes to WordPress hosting services.

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WORDPRESS RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • FREE Cloudflare CDN and 1-click installs for WordPress
  • Turbo Server, SSD speed boost, and A2-optimized caching
  • A2-optimized WP plugins for performance and security
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $3.92
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited RAID-10
Domain Name $14.99
WordPress Hosting Plans www.a2hosting.com/wordpress
Our Expert's A2 Hosting Review
If shared web hosting is what you need, A2 Hosting is the perfect host to help launch your site with your choice of CMS, including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and others. As part of A2's promise... read more +

If shared web hosting is what you need, A2 Hosting is the perfect host to help launch your site with your choice of CMS, including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and others. As part of A2's promise to emphasize performance, they've concocted several A2-optimized features specifically for WordPress.

Getting Started: cPanel, 1-Click Installs, and Softaculous

A2's shared web hosting plans come with cPanel 11 control panel, where users can access Softaculous auto-installer. Easily install popular web applications, including your choice of CMS, with one click.

"If you land on our WordPress landing page, and order WordPress hosting, we auto-install WordPress and our optimization plugin," Bryan said. "You don’t have to do anything."

A2-Optimized Software and Caching Tools

"We wanted to make these performance enhancements really accessible to people," Andy said, so A2 has come up with several plugins and tools designed to operate in their online environment. These features are available for all users, including VPS and managed services customers.

A prime example of A2's custom performance enhancers would be their exclusive Site Accelerator, which helps A2 users experience page loading up to 20 times faster than that of the average web host.

Auto-Configurations for WordPress, Joomla, & Drupal

A2 has optimized tools to auto-configure popular software, including WordPress, with auto-optimizations like compression and caching. "We're trying to ease all the friction points for the users and make sure we’re solving their problems," Andy told us.

Auto-Configurations for PrestaShop and eCommerce Options

Once you've installed PrestaShop, an A2-optimized cPanel plugin will automatically detect it and allow you to set up all "normal" optimizations. "We'll go in and configure everything the way that we know it will work best on our servers," Andy said.

Other eCommerce features include access to SSL certificates, PayPal merchant accounts, and a Merchant ID with E-onlinedata (with instant activation). When it comes to marketing your site or online store, A2 users can get $50 towards paid ads. Plus, with Attracta, a free SEO tool available in cPanel, sites are listed in Google within 24 hours.

A2-Optimized Enhanced Security

In addition to enhanced speed and performance, A2 Hosting includes "Perpetual Security," which features several custom technologies.

HackScan & KernelCare

All A2 accounts are offered a free hacking detection scan, featuring their own hacker detection mechanism: HackScan. A2 Hosting users also benefit from KernelCare: A2's product for conducting daily, rebootless auto-updates to kernels.

Proactive Protection & 24/7 Network Monitoring

A2 has built another custom plugin for WordPress users to prevent hacking. The software auto-hardens WordPress sites for proactive protection against hackers. Additionally, A2 offers virus scanning, a dual firewall, and brute-force attack protection — not to mention SPAM filtering for emails, which are also IMAP, POP3, and SMTP supported.

Final Words on A2 Hosting for WordPress

A2 Hosting offers 24/7 customer support and tons of A2-optimized features made with WordPress users in mind. Whether you're an online retailer looking to launch a fresh site with PrestaShop, or a moderately web-savvy WordPress user looking for speed and security excellence, we'd highly recommend A2 Hosting.

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Best eCommerce Hosting

Online shopping overtook in-store purchases in 2016, making eCommerce functionality a critically important feature to add to your business web hosting account. For those looking to do business online, many hosts offer specialized software to create and manage online stores. Optimized servers and plenty of storage space is key for showcasing multiple products and converting site visitors to consumers. In addition to securing your customers’ data, our top eCommerce hosts make designing your storefront a breeze.

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 -
ECOMMERCE RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Build online stores quickly and easily
  • Choose from 100s of industry-specific themes
  • Drag-and-drop builder lets you customize without coding
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $0.00
Money Back Guarantee 14 days
Disk Space 500 MB - 20 GB
Domain Name Transfer
eCommerce Hosting Plans www.wix.com/ecommerce
Our Expert's Wix Review
Wix is one of the foremost names in website building and the company’s industry-specific theme collection sets the brand apart when it comes to building online stores. With the team’s drag-and-drop builder tool, you don’t need any programming... read more + Wix is one of the foremost names in website building and the company’s industry-specific theme collection sets the brand apart when it comes to building online stores. With the team’s drag-and-drop builder tool, you don’t need any programming skills to customize your online brand to your liking… collapse info -
ECOMMERCE RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • $200-worth of ad credits with Google, Bing, and Yahoo!
  • FREE domain, email, and online store with cPanel
  • Blog and photo gallery setup wizards
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $1.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
eCommerce Hosting Plans www.ipage.com/ecommerce
Our Expert's iPage Review
If you’re looking to sell online, iPage is one of the best hosts you can trust to help you do it. They offer all the essentials, plus marketing guides, SEO tools, advertising credits, and more. They mesh top-tier support with affordable features… read more + If you’re looking to sell online, iPage is one of the best hosts you can trust to help you do it. They offer all the essentials, plus marketing guides, SEO tools, advertising credits, and more. They mesh top-tier support with affordable features… collapse info -

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Best Website Builders

Similar to the kitchen crew in your favorite Mexican restaurant, website builders prepare your online presence in a way sure to make your mouth water. Starting with the theme, users can customize colors, fonts, layouts, and more. Our favorite building tools also incorporate apps or plugins that add interactivity and new features to your website, such as a contact form or social media integration. Read on for our three favorites:

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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WEBSITE BUILDER RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Choice of Weebly or WebsiteBuilder by iPage
  • #1 Pick for WYSIWYG site building with FREE domain
  • 100s of professionally designed, customizable themes
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $1.99
Money Back Guarantee 30 days
Disk Space 100 GB - Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Website Builder Hosting Plans www.ipage.com/site-builder
Our Expert's iPage Review
Do you want your website built today? If you answered "yes," you should look no further than iPage. In fact, it's possible for you to be online before you even finish reading this article. Thanks... read more +

Do you want your website built today? If you answered "yes," you should look no further than iPage. In fact, it's possible for you to be online before you even finish reading this article. Thanks to iPage's user-friendly interface, instant provisioning, and free domain name, you can have a live, attractive website in mere minutes.

For those that have been around the Web for a while, you may remember when it took a day to get your server online; thankfully those days are gone. Your site is live the second you complete your order with iPage. A domain name is also included, so the ordeal of purchasing a domain name, setting name servers, and waiting for them to propagate is also extinct. Once that's completed, you are taken to the incredibly user-friendly interface, where you can begin your site creation process.

Powered by their own proprietary builder, iPage's WebsiteBuilder makes it easy to have a professional-looking site created in minutes. It all starts with your choice of template — with hundreds of options available. From there, you can customize color schemes, fonts, and sizes, and add your own pictures and videos. Adding forms for comments, RSVPs, or business contacts is just as simple. Before you know it, you have an attractive, functional website.

From the ease of use to the speed at which you are able to get a site live, iPage leaves us with little doubt as to why we've ranked them #1 on our list of web hosts with site builder functionality. An already incredible value, their 30-day money-back guarantee means that you can feel at ease knowing that iPage stands behind its product, and they're confident that you will be happy with their service.

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WEBSITE BUILDER RATING
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Integration with Fotolia and Flickr image databases
  • Pre-built and customizable content with GridBlocks
  • Responsive themes with tablet and mobile editing views
(read more)
Starting Price/Mo. $3.49
Money Back Guarantee 90 days
Disk Space Unlimited
Domain Name FREE (1 year)
Website Builder Hosting Plans www.inmotionhosting.com/boldgrid
Our Expert's BoldGrid Review
After taking the BoldGrid suite of plugins for a test drive, we experienced how they make WordPress more accessible for beginners and much more efficient for professional developers. Because BoldGrid requires a separate hosting account... read more +

After taking the BoldGrid suite of plugins for a test drive, we experienced how they make WordPress more accessible for beginners and much more efficient for professional developers.

Because BoldGrid requires a separate hosting account and WordPress installation, it is a little more challenging for wide-eyed beginners to get started than it is for other website builders. However, by signing up with a reputable host — we recommend BoldGrid partner InMotion Hosting — you'll be equipped with a helpful support staff to lead you through the setup process.

BoldGrid themes are beautiful, modern, responsive, and come with usable content out of the box. Choose from pre-made page layouts or create your own using GridBlocks, which create clean, modular designs without any coding. Simply drag and drop each element to adjust its position and size. Unlike most other site builders, BoldGrid generates pristine code that is friendly to SEO and developers who want more control.

The two features most appealing to us, however, are the staging environment and editing capabilities for mobile and tablet views. The lack of a staging area has long been one of the few complaints about WordPress, and BoldGrid has solved that issue with aplomb. Use it to test new looks, plugins, or updates before you deploy them to the active site.

Although many other site builder themes boast mobile-optimized responsiveness, BoldGrid is one of the few platforms that give you control over exactly how your site will look in tablet or mobile modes.

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Getting Started With Your First Web Hosting Account is a Milestone

As someone who unabashedly tells friends about my willingness to bathe in my favorite restaurant’s creamy jalapeno sauce, I particularly enjoy thinking about Mexican food as a resource for something other than nutrition.

Once you’ve signed up for a web hosting account and get everything seasoned just the way you like it, your finished website is like the tasty dessert. Whether you prefer flan, sopapillas, churros, or tres leches, a successful hosting partnership will leave a sweet taste in your mouth. After such a delicious feast, however, be sure to leave a tip. Share your insights and advice below!

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.