13 Benefits of Web Hosting Services — And 9 Drawbacks (2019)

13 Benefits of Web Hosting Services — And 9 Drawbacks (2019)

When I was getting started on my first website, hosting services were still a bit of a mystery. Cloud hosting didn’t have the same buzz as it does today, and trying to understand virtual private servers immediately made my eyes glaze over. I felt confident in my need for shared hosting but didn’t know the difference between what I could do with a Windows versus Linux plan.

Getting started with exactly the right hosting plan is like finding the perfect pair of pants — a close tailored fit that’s comfortable but leaves some room for growth. You want to find a great deal without spending a ton of time shopping, trying things on, and possibly having to return them.

A hosting plan that’s too big will tax your budget and sanity, while something too small negatively affects your site’s ability to grow and perform as designed. Let’s walk through the various benefits of web hosting services, along with the downfalls that might affect your decision.

Benefits & Drawbacks of “Shared” Hosting

Most site owners enter the world of web hosting by signing up for a shared hosting plan. At this level, hundreds or even thousands of customers share the storage space and computing resources of one server. The ultra-popular service is particularly welcoming to beginners and small businesses because of its high levels of customer support, easy-to-use tools, and comprehensive options.

Shared hosting providers take care of all the technical aspects of a website’s infrastructure, handling infrastructure security, updates, and other maintenance. Customers just have to focus on building an online presence representative of their brand or business goals, as most basic shared hosting plans include a free domain name registration, unlimited email accounts, eCommerce functionality, a drag-and-drop website builder, and hundreds of one-click installations for popular software programs like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

Because so many websites exist on the same server, there is a shared responsibility for security and stability. Neighboring websites can negatively affect a server’s performance or availability by requiring an unfair share of processing power, sending spam, or falling victim to a security vulnerability.

BENEFITS:

  • Supremely affordable prices
  • Easy for beginners to learn and manage
  • Tons of free add-on services

DRAWBACKS:

  • Limited resources
  • Less control over security and performance

Despite the disadvantages of shared hosting, the service remains a top-notch introduction to website design and management. The full range of customers, from experienced developers to first-time bloggers, can excel in a shared hosting environment. These plans work well for professional portfolios, small business websites, online stores, personal blogs, and much more.

When looking for a shared hosting provider, keep an eye out for unlimited resources like storage, bandwidth, databases, and emails. Perks like free SSL certificates and access to a content delivery network or website builder further secure your site, help it load faster, and look more visually appealing. We’ve reviewed and listed our three favorite shared hosting providers below, showcasing their upgraded infrastructure, personable support, and supreme affordability. Click on a review to learn more about how a particular host can meet your website’s needs.

1.
Bluehost.com

Bluehost review

Monthly Starting Price $2.95

  • Known for high-performance, low-cost hosting
  • FREE website builder with 1,000s of templates
  • Endorsed by the WordPress.org team as a top WP host
  • FREE SSL certificate and CDN acceleration
  • Usually $7.99/month, but our visitors pay $2.95/month
  • Get started on Bluehost now.

SHARED
RATING

5.0
★★★★★

Bluehost: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 4 minutes
Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): If you’re looking for an affordable host, Bluehost is a solid, reputable choice; The company's low costs, coupled with its supremacy in the shared hosting arena, is what makes this provider such a valuable deal. The Bluehost name is listed toward the top of... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Shared Hosting Plans
30 days 50 GB - Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.bluehost.com/shared

2.
iPage.com

iPage review

Monthly Starting Price $1.99

  • An industry-leading shared host with competitive pricing
  • Attract visitors with a complimentary marketing suite
  • Lots of extras like Google AdWords & SiteLock security
  • Start selling in minutes with FREE ecommerce tools
  • Get more than 75% off today! (usually $7.99/month)
  • Get started on iPage now.

SHARED
RATING

4.8
★★★★★

iPage: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 5 minutes
PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): Whether you're a first-time website owner or a web veteran, iPage’s excellent hosting services and a fantastic list of extras make the brand one of the best values in web hosting.Unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and emails are just a part of what makes... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Shared Hosting Plans
30 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.ipage.com/shared

3.
InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $3.99

  • A favorite for shared hosting (and dedicated or cloud)
  • FREE SSD storage packs 20x the performance
  • FREE SSL certificate and 24/7 support
  • 1-click installs for WordPress and popular CMSes
  • Get started with FREE website transfer service
  • Get started on InMotion Hosting now.

SHARED
RATING

4.8
★★★★★

InMotion: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 5 minutes
PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): InMotion Hosting offers an excellent business-class shared hosting plan. While carrying a higher price tag than some 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... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Shared Hosting Plans
90 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.inmotion.com/shared

See other top shared hosts »

Benefits & Drawbacks of “Cloud” Hosting

As your site gains traction and builds a following, be ready to upgrade to a new service — don’t be the shared hosting consumer whose successful website overwhelms the server and affects fellow customers. Fortunately, most providers will happily transfer your website and files to higher-tier plans that add more storage space, bandwidth, and fine-tuned control. Graduates of shared web hosting typically have two options — cloud or virtual private server hosting — both of which introduce a concept called virtualization.

With cloud hosting, your website files will be spread across a network of multiple servers. With so many servers sharing the workload, your site will load quickly no matter the traffic. Computing resources quickly scale up and down to adapt to the ebb and flow of visitors, and the redundant hardware means your site won’t go down if one server crashes.

Image of server room with cloud graphic

Cloud hosting, where many servers share the workload, boasts high levels of redundancy and scalability.

However, as you scale the web hosting ranks, more and more is expected of the website owner. While customers can frequently purchase managed services where the provider takes care of basic hardware and security maintenance, they have more control in how their site functions and responds to various scenarios.

BENEFITS:

  • Automatic and scalable resource allocation
  • Improved performance and reliability
  • Pay-as-you-go price structure

DRAWBACKS:

  • More complicated management
  • Costs can be harder to predict

Cloud hosting can take a variety of forms, from the fairly simple and pain-free services, like the ones we’ve laid out below, to the more complicated platforms available through Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Whichever route you take depends on your traffic, goals, technical experience, and budget.

Larger businesses with experienced developers or system administrators will do well with AWS, but we tend to recommend most organizations ease the transition from shared hosting by finding a cloud hosting provider that retains some of the user-friendly features of the shared hosting ranks. The companies listed below give site owners the scalability and flexibility of the cloud while streamlining the tedious and technical processes of configuration, deployment, and management.

4.
InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $19.99

  • Ranked #1 for cloud VPS hosting
  • Fault-tolerant SSD storage and up to 8GB of RAM
  • FREE control panel with choice of Linux OS
  • Full root access or managed servers available
  • FREE live-state or scheduled snapshots
  • Get started on InMotion now.

CLOUD
RATING

4.9
★★★★★

InMotion: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 6 minutes
PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): With leading-edge cloud technology, InMotion offers free site transfer, setup, and SSD drives for the ultimate cloud solution offerings. They include free data backups and offer unmanaged or fully managed servers to help you scale your site with... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cloud Hosting Plans
90 days 75 GB SSD - 260 GB SSD FREE (1 year) www.inmotion.com/cloud

5.
HostGator.com

HostGator review

Monthly Starting Price $4.95

  • Twice as fast and four times the computing resources
  • Tons of storage with the scalability of the cloud
  • Low-density servers and multiple caching layers
  • Unlimited domains and MySQL databases
  • Upgrades available for security, backups, productivity, and domain privacy
  • Get started on HostGator now.

CLOUD
RATING

4.8
★★★★★

HostGator: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 7 minutes
Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): For those ready to expand beyond shared hosting, HostGator offers a fully featured step into the cloud. With scalable, high-powered resources, customers can easily monitor resources and caching from an intuitive dashboard. Rest easy knowing your site is... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cloud Hosting Plans
45 days 120 GB - 240 GB New or Transfer www.hostgator.com/cloud

6.
Hostwinds.com

Hostwinds review

Monthly Starting Price $4.99

  • Choose your OS or optimized application configuration
  • Hourly or monthly billing for convenience
  • Optional upgrades for cPanel, backups, and monitoring
  • Managed services, SSDs, and HDDs available
  • Block and object storage, plus enterprise-grade firewall
  • Get started on Hostwinds now.

CLOUD
RATING

4.7
★★★★★

Hostwinds: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 6 minutes
Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): Hostwinds provides supremely scalable and customizable options for the savvy developer or site owner. Customers can customize their cloud environment or choose pre-built configurations optimized to run apps like WordPress, Drupal, and others. With an emphasis... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cloud Hosting Plans
N/A 30 GB - 750 GB SSD New or Transfer www.hostwinds.com/cloud

See other top cloud hosts »

Benefits & Drawbacks of “VPS” Hosting

While cloud hosting represents a smaller step up from shared web hosting, virtual private servers are commonly viewed as the most effective bridge between shared hosting and dedicated servers. Instead of splitting a server with thousands of other site owners (or footing the massive bill to own the whole server), virtual private server resources are distributed to just a few dozen customers.

Although VPS customers share the same underlying hardware, a layer of virtualization effectively creates separate machines capable of running their own operating system. That means users have the ultimate control, otherwise known as root access, over the software programs and security configurations powering their site. Computing resources are dedicated to each virtual machine, meaning you’ll be able to count on a specific amount of storage space and bandwidth to deliver your site.

Image of hands working on a server

Managed services, where a host helps maintain and update the environment, are a key asset to many VPS plans.

What’s more, you can add or remove processing power to scale to your site’s audience. With great power, however, comes great responsibility. Given the infrastructure, VPS configurations aren’t as instantly scalable as cloud hosting. Although root access enables experienced users to craft the environment to exactly match their performance, security, and reliability goals, those who don’t have the technical chops can quickly find themselves in a world of hurt.

BENEFITS:

  • Complete control over your environment
  • Dedicated resources at a decent price
  • Fine-tuned performance and security
  • Managed services cover the technical stuff

DRAWBACKS:

  • More upkeep and maintenance required
  • Can get costly with managed services
  • Still at the mercy of a shared server

Fortunately, many VPS providers give customers the option of employing their own server technicians to manage the tedious aspects of virtual servers, such as operating system updates and security patches. Usually for an added fee, managed services enable you to focus on building the website or online store of your dreams without getting bogged down in software installations or the command line interface.

When looking for top-notch VPS hosting, be sure to find a host that provides strong hardware to power those dedicated resources. Solid-state drives, or SSDs, for instance, read and write data up to 20 times faster than traditional hard disk drives. The providers below are our favorites for VPS hosting and perfectly pair high-performance computing with a wide range of software options and helpful support to make the transition to VPS hosting a breeze.

7.
InterServer.net

InterServer review

Monthly Starting Price $0.01

  • $0.01 for the first month using code HOSTINGADV
  • Then $6 monthly with no contracts, no price changes
  • Latest versions of PHP, MySQL, Perl, Python, and Ruby
  • 7 operating system options for Linux or Windows users
  • Full root access and choice of datacenter included
  • Get started on InterServer now.

VPS
RATING

4.9
★★★★★

InterServer: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 6 minutes
Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): InterServer's on-site datacenter and hands-on involvement with configuring and provisioning virtual private servers give customers a level of flexibility not seen with many other hosting providers. InterServer rations VPS and cloud resources through slices.... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name VPS Hosting Plans
N/A 30 GB SSD - 480 GB SSD New or Transfer www.interserver.net/vps

8.
Hostwinds.com

Hostwinds review

Monthly Starting Price $5.17

  • Managed or unmanaged virtual servers available in Windows or Linux
  • Cloud hosting instances with hourly or monthly billing
  • Instant upgrades without downtime
  • FREE around-the-clock monitoring
  • Automatic nightly backups available
  • Get started on Hostwinds now.

VPS
RATING

4.9
★★★★★

Hostwinds: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 6 minutes
Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): Does any hosting provider have more virtual private server packages than Hostwinds? The company offers 10 configurations — and that's just for managed Linux server partitions. Hostwinds provides 10 additional plans each for managed Windows VPS and unmanaged... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name VPS Hosting Plans
N/A 30 GB - 750 GB SSD New or Transfer www.hostwinds.com/vps

9.
LiquidWeb.com

Liquid Web review

Monthly Starting Price $19.99

  • High-speed hosting that's faster than AWS, Rackspace, and Digital Ocean
  • FREE backups, CDN, root access, and DDoS protection
  • Up to 16 processors with all-SSD storage
  • Choice between cPanel or Plesk Onyx control panel
  • Real-time monitoring and 100% uptime guarantee
  • Get started on Liquid Web now.

VPS
RATING

4.8
★★★★★

Liquid Web: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 7 minutes
Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): It's no secret by now that Liquid Web is known for best-in-class technology and reliability that exceeds expectations. The company's cloud VPS environments embody that reputation to its fullest — including managed WordPress and WooCommerce products.Liquid... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name VPS Hosting Plans
N/A 30 GB SSD - 150 GB SSD New or Transfer www.liquidweb.com/vps

See other top VPS hosts »

Benefits & Drawbacks of “Dedicated Server” Hosting

Even though VPS customers enjoy dedicated resources, they can still be affected by noisy neighbors that impact the physical server via spam, exposed security vulnerabilities, or an overarch of allocated resources. For those who don’t like to share, dedicated servers reside at the top of the web hosting heap.

A dedicated server is exactly what it sounds like — a single server completely devoted to one website or application. That means 100% control over the bandwidth, storage space, and IP address, plus all the components related to security, performance, reliability, and software. As a result, dedicated servers represent the crème de la crème of hosting services. Site owners or application developers can perfectly configure the machine specifically to their exact requirements and specifications.

Image of servers in a datacenter

Dedicated servers give site owners the freedom to configure and secure their environment to their exact requirements.

Naturally, having an entire machine to yourself comes with a hefty price tag (although cheap dedicated servers do exist). And all the responsibility of configuring and maintaining the associated server components requires a good deal of experience. Similar to VPS hosting, you can likely pay for managed services to help manage the workload, but that added expense may be enough to finally break the budget.

BENEFITS:

  • Exclusive access to server resources
  • Better security, performance, and reliability
  • Unlimited customizations and control

DRAWBACKS:

  • The most expensive hosting option
  • Technical experience required

Despite the cost and potential headaches of server management, dedicated hosting still beats hosting your own website. You get to leverage your hosting provider’s redundant power supplies and global networks, along with around-the-clock customer support. What’s more, many hosts will help you with basic server setup and maintenance, and easily add other support services.

While you examine dedicated server hosts, pay attention to both the hardware configurations and added services like migrations, backups, monitoring, and support. Since you’ll have an entire machine to yourself, you’ll want the entire infrastructure to modernize your organization’s online presence and deliver cutting-edge performance, security, and reliability. Check out our three favorite providers below and click on the reviews to learn more.

10.
LiquidWeb.com

Liquid Web review

Monthly Starting Price $67.58

  • 100% network and power uptime guarantees
  • Custom configurations, SSDs, and instant provisioning
  • Auto-migrations, backups, and real-time monitoring
  • Block/object storage and load balancer add-ons
  • Our visitors pay $67.58/month! (usually $109/month)
  • Get started on Liquid Web now.

DEDICATED
RATING

4.9
★★★★★

Liquid Web: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 8 minutes
Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): Liquid Web's strong suit is managed dedicated server hosting. The company owns and operates five state-of-the-art datacenters in the US and Europe works tirelessly to build and maintain custom solutions for added performance and security.Liquid Web offers... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Dedicated Hosting Plans
N/A 500 GB SSD - 5 TB New or Transfer www.liquidweb.com/dedicated

11.
InterServer.net

InterServer review

Monthly Starting Price $50.00

  • 24/7 uptime monitoring and privately owned datacenter
  • Up to 24 cores, 256GB RAM, and 100TB bandwidth
  • Choose from 12 operating systems and 3 control panels
  • Custom configurations built and maintained in-house
  • Price-lock guarantee without contracts
  • Get started on InterServer now.

DEDICATED
RATING

4.8
★★★★★

InterServer: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 8 minutes
Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): You know a hosting company means business when it owns and operates its own datacenters. Because InterServer employees build and manage servers in the same building as company headquarters, dedicated hosting customers get the utmost in flexibility, support,... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Dedicated Hosting Plans
N/A 250 GB - 12 TB New or Transfer www.interserver.com/dedicated

12.
A2Hosting.com

A2 Hosting review

Monthly Starting Price $99.59

  • Root access available with 3 levels of server management
  • Expertly-tuned servers deployed in 30 minutes or less
  • Choose from 4 datacenters spread across 3 continents
  • FREE redundant SSD storage in RAID-1 arrays
  • Choice of 13 Linux operating systems
  • Get started on A2 Hosting now.

DEDICATED
RATING

4.8
★★★★★

A2 Hosting: Our Expert's Review

Setup time: 7 minutes
Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): Whether you're looking for managed or self-managed hosting, A2 Hosting offers three extremely reliable dedicated server plans to meet your needs, depending on your levels of comfort and experience.With A2 Hosting's Unmanaged Flex Dedicated Server plan, users... Go to full review »
Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Dedicated Hosting Plans
30 days 256 GB SSD - 8 TB HDD New or Transfer www.a2hosting.com/dedicated

See other top dedicated server hosts »

Take Advantage of Professional Web Hosting to Grow Your Business

Hopefully, by now you have a sense of the type of web hosting service that will work best for your website or online business. Understanding the type of server configuration (shared, cloud, virtual, or dedicated) is a huge first step, akin to knowing your pants size. Finding exactly the right provider and plan is more representative of finding the store, brand, or belt that makes the look just right.

Web hosting providers exist in a variety of fabrics, colors, and styles, so be sure to find a well-known and respected brand to deliver a mission-critical service like web hosting. By choosing a professional-grade host, you’re more likely to find the extra features and tools to make your experiences more enjoyable; who doesn’t like extra pockets?

Do you know how football is commonly described as a game of inches? Well, growing your business online in a crowded market of web hosting companies, is a game of milliseconds. According to Google, a half-second delay in loading search results in a 20% decrease in traffic, and page load times just 400 milliseconds slower can result in millions of abandoned sessions each month.

Hidden gems exist at every level of hosting configuration. Shared servers, for instance, should be well-rounded plans that provide everything you need to get started and grow. Cloud and VPS options need to have the scalability and access needed to hone performance and security, while dedicated server hosting plans rely on impressive network speeds. Each level of hosting comes with a variety of perks and disadvantages — which is most relevant to you?

Laura Bernheim

Questions or Comments? Ask Laura!

Ask a question and Laura will respond to you. We strive to provide the best advice on the net and we are here to help you in any way we can.