As a fresh-faced student learning how to code table-based designs and using this new-fangled contraption called WordPress, web hosting was just another nuisance. I barely understood what the service did, just that I needed to have it to get my projects online. I signed up with the cheapest, most well-known provider, and called it a day.
As I learned more and better understood the criteria of what makes a decent website great, I became an increasingly discerning hosting consumer. Now, as part of the HostingAdvice team, it’s my job to match others with the hosting plan that best serves their specific needs. Understandably, developers have much different hosting needs than first-time site owners who prioritize usability and affordability over attributes such as root access or solid-state drives.
No matter your programming language or server configuration of choice, we’ve compiled a list of the providers most worthy of hosting your portfolio, side project, or growing application. Click the links below to skip ahead to the section that is most relevant to you.
Best “Overall” Hosting for Developers
Although taking a gamble on a little-known, newly launched hosting company can end up being a jackpot, most developers should stick with a tried-and-true provider that provides plenty of stability. Sleep well knowing the company won’t suddenly go out of business or be acquired by a conglomerate that moves your files to lower-quality hardware and support services. Those reputable hosts are also more likely to provide prompt around-the-clock support, top-notch performance, reliable uptime, increased security, and added perks such as a free domain registration, automated backups, or solid-state drives.
Although many developers are perfectly served by high-end, upgraded shared hosting plans, we recommend the scalability and dedicated resources that come with a virtual private server, or VPS. You’ll get more control over a larger slice of a better server — that means getting exactly the coding environment you want with guaranteed resources and improved page load speeds.
Our favorite VPS host below makes server management exceedingly easy with the ability to add and allocate computing resources and featuring high rates of availability-boosting redundancy. Be sure to read our full review to get the full picture of the managed services, security systems, and developer-friendly tools included to help your project succeed.
- 63% off the first month with added discounts
- Real-time redundancy powered by a cloud infrastructure
- FREE cPanel licenses with enterprise-grade CentOS
- FREE server management for patches and updates
- FREE SSDs and SSL certificate for fast, secure hosting
- Get started on InMotion now.
Best “WordPress” Hosting for Developers
Even though WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system, developers have a strongly polarized love/hate relationship with the open-source publishing platform. According to StackOverflow’s 2017 developer survey, only 35.5% of developers said they loved WordPress, compared to 64.5% who dreaded using the system.
Despite the perceived security concerns and bloated code, the WordPress platform offers a no-brain-required installation and setup process and is among the best at providing a fast and efficient way to launch complex websites. What’s more, countless developers can make money by crafting and selling themes and plugins.
The powerful system is available for free and comes with one of the internet’s most vibrant online user communities for support and inspiration. The key to a successful WordPress experience is finding hosting providers that are best equipped to handle the platform’s quirks. For example, SSDs mitigate any performance concerns while free SSL certificates and automatic backups reduce most worries about security. The hosts below cover these features and more, occasionally even being endorsed by the team behind the core WordPress code.
- WordPress pre-installed with NGINX and PHP 7
- FREE SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth
- Optional automatic plugin, theme, and core updates
- Features a FREE drag-and-drop WP page editor
- Premium themes and plugin subscriptions
- Get started on InMotion now.
- Recommended by WordPress Core since 2005
- FREE SSD storage and SSL certificate
- FREE domain registration and email
- Automatic installation and updates
- 63% discount exclusively for HostingAdvice shoppers
- Get started on Bluehost now.
- FREE Cloudflare CDN and 1-click installs for WordPress
- Turbo Server, SSD speed boost, and optimized caching
- A2-optimized WP plugins for performance and security
- SSL certificates, PayPal integration, and 24/7 support
- FREE HackScan and KernelCare
- Get started on A2 Hosting now.
Best “Cloud” Hosting for Developers
A close cousin to VPS hosting, cloud hosting involves virtualized server space and computing resources that come from a wide network of machines, as opposed to one physical server. As such, availability and rapid scalability are vastly improved in cloud hosting. Users pay only for the resources consumed, as opposed to the flat rates in VPS plans.
Business research firm Gartner expects the worldwide cloud industry to grow 18% in 2017, with cloud adoption strategies and decisions predicted to influence more than half of organizations’ IT outsourcing decisions. The flexibility, scalability, and cost benefits of cloud hosting make the service particularly appealing to developers and startups looking to maximize innovation and business growth.
Perhaps surprisingly to some, developers don’t need to turn to the massive and often difficult-to-understand Amazon, Google, or Microsoft cloud platforms to capitalize on the same advantages. Many traditional hosting providers actually build their VPS services using cloud-powered infrastructure. By choosing one of the companies below, you’ll be able to enjoy the personal support and included perks not typically found with the massive cloud platforms.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Best “ASP.NET” Hosting for Developers
Much of the hosting realm consists of server-friendly, Linux-based operating systems, as only about a third of all sites use Windows. However, Microsoft’s open-source, server-side programming language ASP.NET is second only to PHP in terms of usage.
Although Windows hosting plans might be harder to find, their presence is usually a sign of a knowledgeable hosting provider willing to go the extra mile to provide the services its customers are seeking. Keep an eye out for which frameworks and versions the host supports, in addition to the standard uptime, storage, bandwidth, and memory metrics. The best providers, especially the one we are featuring below, will give developers’ dynamic sites plenty of storage and database resources to grow and thrive.
- ASP.NET Windows hosting with FREE migration
- 1-click installs for popular ASP.NET-friendly scripts
- Most recent ASP.NET versions supported
- Code dynamic sites using Python, PHP, and MVC, too
- 99.9% uptime guarantee (industry standard)
- Get started on HostGator now.
Best “Java” Hosting for Developers
Although rumors constantly swirl about the decline of Java, the object-oriented programming language still remains at the forefront of Android mobile development and enterprise applications. Java has topped the TIOBE Index, which measures the popularity of programming languages, for more than 15 years.
Although most hosting platforms support Java, developers will appreciate hosts that offer special features and compatibilities that demonstrate experience in providing the best environment to run dynamic Java websites and applications. For example, look for companies that support Java Servlet Pages (JSP) and/or Apache Tomcat, as well as access to server resources, ample RAM, and several application and service frameworks. Our favorite host for Java, listed below, meets the criteria and adds on high-powered servers and responsive, reliable support.
- Highly available Java hosting powered by the cloud
- Install Tomcat or Java Servlet Pages (JSP) on VPS 1024+
- FREE SSDs for 20x faster Java hosting
- Manage your web application server via cPanel/WHM
- Redundant hardware clusters for virtually zero downtime
- Get started on InMotion Hosting now.
Best “PHP” Hosting for Developers
Far and away the most popular server-side scripting language, PHP helps developers create everything from dynamic web content to client-side graphical user interfaces, often by interfacing with relational database management systems. As long as LAMP stacks continue to enjoy a stranglehold on the web hosting industry, PHP — alongside Linux, Apache, and MySQL — will be well represented and supported with optimized servers and solutions.
When looking for the prime PHP host to house your website or application, keep an eye out for which versions of the language are supported, and how seamlessly you can switch between the various options.
We appreciate hosts that regularly update their services to provide the latest technologies, while still giving customers the option to choose the configuration that works best for their specific needs. The hosting company below excels at this, while also including ample MySQL databases and a wide range of PHP-powered content management systems and other applications.
- Multiple versions of PHP 5 and PHP 7 available
- Code in PHP, with support for MySQL and Ruby
- Customize your PHP version with PHP handlers
- Easily configure the PHP environment with php.ini
- Responses generated faster with FastCGI for PHP apps
- Get started on Bluehost now.
Best “Free” Hosting for Developers
It’s OK. We know that no matter the programming languages or features you need in a hosting plan, affordability is ultimately king — especially for individual developers starting projects with razor-thin margins. Finding a bargain on a high-performing host enables developers to more readily reinvest in their project, whether the money goes toward more computing resources or another pizza to fuel the late-night coding sessions.
Although plenty of free hosting options exist for risk-free experimentation with new ideas, we tend to be a little leery. Here, we’ve balanced our favorite free hosts with might-as-well-be-free companies that offer upgraded services, support, and a surprising number of features for less than $5 per month.
Top “Almost Free” Hosts for Developers
If your new idea for a website or application has any traction, you’ll want to sign up for a hosting plan that can grow along with you. Doing so eliminates the hassles of searching for another host and migrating from substandard free hosting infrastructure.
For just a few dollars per month, developers can enjoy added support for languages, higher uptime guarantees, 24/7 technical assistance, extra computing resources, and plenty of add-on or included services, including free domain registrations, unlimited email accounts, and access to upgraded security protections or a content delivery network. Here are our three favorite hosts based on affordability; all the companies listed below offer a prime cost-benefit ratio.
- $0.01 for the first month, then $5 monthly after
- NO annual contracts and NO sudden price increases
- Unlimited storage space, data transfers, and email
- New domain is $11 with 1-month plan ($1.99 otherwise)
- 99.9% uptime and price-lock guarantee
- Get started on InterServer now.
- Known for performance at a low price
- Endorsed by WordPress.org team
- FREE Weebly site builder
- FREE Cloudflare CDN
- Get 63% off today (was $7.99/month)
- Get started on Bluehost now.
- Unlimited everything, from bandwidth to databases
- FREE site builder & WordPress performance upgrades
- FREE daily or weekly backups
- 90+ auto-installation scripts and custom control panel
- SSH access & SSL certificates
- Get started on Hostinger now.
Top “Actually Free” Hosts for Development
Finally — after all the scrolling, you’ve reached the payoff of pay-free hosting options. Although the providers and plans listed above offer the best promise for long-term success, we absolutely understand the value of using a hosting environment free of pressure and cost to test out your concept. Be sure to read the fine print to fully understand each plan’s benefits and limitations, then go forth on your free hosting expedition! Our preferred providers below boast millions of users and ad-free services, as well as modern versions of cPanel, PHP, and MySQL.
In the tumultuous world of free hosting, 000webhost’s decade-plus of service is quite admirable. Our other recommended free hosting provider, x10hosting, powers customers’ sites with SSD servers in a private cloud. Both services offer ad-free hosting with an included free site builder.
Managed Services: Skip Server Maintenance and Get Back to Coding
Interestingly, the more I learn about web hosting, the less I actually want to do. That’s not to say I’m signing off from the hosting world — rather, I’m much more inclined to work with hosts that offer top-tier managed services and hands-on attention. The extra support gives me more time to develop and less time updating the software and applications powering my hosting environment.
As your project grows, consider upgrading to managed services to capitalize on your host’s technical expertise, which often leads to improved reliability and increased security. Many of the top managed service providers will optimize your infrastructure and software configurations to eke out precious page load time savings. Managed hosting is particularly useful — and almost necessary — at the dedicated server level, though virtual and cloud server options are available if you look hard enough.
Across the industry, we’ve also noticed a particularly strong uptick in the number of hosting providers offering managed WordPress hosting services. We’re huge managed WordPress fans when the host makes a genuine effort to optimize a user’s WordPress experience with high-performing SSDs and added security measures, along with multiple caching layers and plugins. However, be sure to watch for hosts looking to capitalize on the WordPress buzz and popularity by offering so-called managed services that essentially repackage the same features as the standard shared plans.
Regardless of whether you choose a managed or unmanaged service, kick your feet up and settle in behind your computer for the long haul of developing your next big website or application. The right provider and plan will take care of the rest.