What is a Web Hosting Account? — Get Started with a Host (2020 Guide)

What Is A Web Hosting Account

What is a web hosting account, you may ask? Well, when most people describe hosting to beginners, they 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?

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.

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?

Illustration of the different types of web hosting accounts

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.

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:

Bluehost.com

Bluehost review

Monthly Starting Price $2.95

  • Known for high performance at a low price
  • Endorsed by WordPress.org team
  • FREE Weebly site builder and CloudFlare CDN
  • FREE domain and unlimited storage
  • Get 63% off today (was $7.99/month)
  • Get started on Bluehost now.

CHEAP
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

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 many of our reviews categories, and with good reason. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cheap Hosting Plans
30 days 50 GB - Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.bluehost.com/shared

Hostinger.com

Hostinger review

Monthly Starting Price $0.99

  • Unlimited everything, from storage to databases
  • FREE site builder & WP performance upgrades
  • FREE daily or weekly backups
  • Custom control panel and auto-installation scripts
  • SSH access & SSL certificates
  • Get started on Hostinger now.

CHEAP
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

Hostinger: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 3 minutes

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): As the shared hosting market becomes increasingly saturated, unlimited storage, bandwidth, and email accounts have become surprisingly average. Hostinger, however, extends the routine, expected metrics to greater lengths — the number of websites, databases, FTP users, subdomains, and parked domains are all unrestricted for most customers. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cheap Hosting Plans
30 days 10 GB SSD - 30 GB SSD FREE (1 year) www.hostinger.com/shared

HostGator.com

HostGator review

Monthly Starting Price $2.64

  • Get 62% off by buying 36 months up front
  • Unmetered disk space & bandwidth
  • Unlimited email addresses & free SSL certificate
  • One-click WordPress install & free blog tools
  • Free 1-year domain registration on select plans
  • Get started on HostGator now.

CHEAP
RATING
4.7 ★★★★★ Our Review

HostGator: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): HostGator is a great compromise between performance and price. The company offers unlimited emails, MySQL databases, disk space, and bandwidth, plus one-click installs of popular open-source projects, in addition to a 99. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Cheap Hosting Plans
45 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.hostgator.com/shared

See more shared hosts »

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!

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:

Hostwinds.com

Hostwinds review

Monthly Starting Price $5.17

  • Managed or unmanaged, in Windows or Linux
  • Cloud hosting 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 ★★★★★ Our Review

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. 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

InterServer.net

InterServer review

Monthly Starting Price $6.00

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

VPS
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

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 $7.99 New or Transfer www.interserver.net/vps

LiquidWeb.com

Liquid Web review

Monthly Starting Price $39.00

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

VPS
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

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. 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 more VPS hosts »

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.

Image of servers in a datacenter

No, cloud servers do not exist in the sky. The hardware is networked to provide top-notch scalability and 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. Check out some of the most exciting cloud hosting plans on the market today:

InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $5.00

  • 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 ★★★★★ Our Review

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 cloud-based hosting…. 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

HostGator.com

HostGator review

Monthly Starting Price $4.95

  • 2x as fast and 4x 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 ★★★★★ Our Review

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. 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

Hostwinds.com

Hostwinds review

Monthly Starting Price $4.99

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

CLOUD
RATING
4.7 ★★★★★ Our Review

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. 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 more cloud hosts »

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.

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:

LiquidWeb.com

Liquid Web review

Monthly Starting Price $149.00

  • 100% network and power uptime guarantees
  • Custom configurations and instant provisioning
  • Auto-migrations, backups, and real-time monitoring
  • Block/object storage and load balancer add-ons
  • Windows or Linux with 100% uptime guarantee
  • Get started on Liquid Web now.

DEDICATED
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

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. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Dedicated Hosting Plans
N/A 480 GB - 2 TB SSD New or Transfer www.liquidweb.com/dedicated

InterServer.net

InterServer review

Monthly Starting Price $70.00

  • 24/7 uptime monitoring and private datacenter
  • Up to 24 cores and 100TB bandwidth
  • 12 operating systems and 3 control panels
  • Custom configs built and maintained in-house
  • Price-lock guarantee without contracts
  • Get started on InterServer now.

DEDICATED
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

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, and around-the-clock monitoring. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Dedicated Hosting Plans
N/A 250 GB - 12 TB SSD $7.99 New or Transfer www.interserver.com/dedicated

A2Hosting.com

A2 Hosting review

Monthly Starting Price $99.59

  • Root access and 3 levels of server management
  • Expertly managed servers deployed instantly
  • Choose from 4 datacenters 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 ★★★★★ Our Review

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 get administrator-level control with root access and their choice of Linux operating system. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Dedicated Hosting Plans
30 days 256 GB SSD - 14 TB HDD New or Transfer www.a2hosting.com/dedicated

See more dedicated server hosts »

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.

Specialized 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 Blog & WordPress Hosting

The globally popular content management system might power more than a quarter of all websites on the internet, but most users 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.

InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $4.99

  • WordPress pre-installed with NGINX and PHP 7
  • FREE SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth
  • 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.

WORDPRESS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

InMotion: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 5 minutes

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): InMotion Hosting, long known for affordable and high-performance shared hosting options, entered the WordPress space with a solid option built upon the company's reputation for great support and reliability. Costing a small premium over other budget-minded options, InMotion does include some nice features to help justify that cost difference. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name WordPress Hosting Plans
90 days 40 GB SSD - 120 GB SSD FREE (1 year) www.inmotionhosting.com/wordpress

Bluehost.com

Bluehost review

Monthly Starting Price $2.95

  • Recommended by WordPress Core since 2005
  • FREE SSD storage and SSL certificate
  • FREE domain registration and email
  • Automatic installation and updates
  • 63% discount for HostingAdvice readers
  • Get started on Bluehost now.

WORDPRESS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Bluehost: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 5 minutes

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): 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. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name WordPress Hosting Plans
30 days 50 GB SSD - Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.bluehost.com/wordpress

A2Hosting.com

A2 Hosting review

Monthly Starting Price $2.99

  • FREE Cloudflare CDN and 1-click WP installs
  • Turbo Server, SSD speed, and optimized caching
  • A2-optimized plugins for performance and security
  • FREE SSL certificates and 24/7 support
  • FREE HackScan and KernelCare
  • Get started on A2 Hosting now.

WORDPRESS
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

A2 Hosting: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): As experts in performance optimization, A2 Hosting is a top choice for powering resource-heavy WordPress websites. The company offers shared or managed plans for the ultra-popular content management system, with the benefits extending to Joomla, Drupal, and other platforms. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name WordPress Hosting Plans
30 days Unlimited SSD New or Transfer www.a2hosting.com/wordpress

See more WordPress hosts »

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.

SiteGround.com

SiteGround review

Monthly Starting Price $6.99

  • 1-click installs for eCommerce tools
  • FREE eCommerce plugin for WordPress
  • Daily backups, a CDN, and FREE site builder
  • Test changes to your online store in a staging area
  • 24/7 support delivered by ecommerce gurus
  • Get started on SiteGround now.

ECOMMERCE
RATING
5.0 ★★★★★ Our Review

SiteGround: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 6 minutes

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): 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. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Ecommerce Hosting Plans
30 days 10 GB SSD - 30 GB SSD New or Transfer www.siteground.com/ecommerce

Wix.com

Wix review

Monthly Starting Price $23.00

  • Build online stores quickly and easily
  • Choose from 100s of industry-specific themes
  • Drag-and-drop builder means easy customizations
  • Add features via the App Market
  • Quickly get your store noticed by search engines
  • Get started on Wix now.

ECOMMERCE
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Wix: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): 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. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Ecommerce Hosting Plans
14 days 500 MB - 20 GB Transfer www.wix.com/ecommerce

iPage.com

iPage review

Monthly Starting Price $1.99

  • $200 of advertising credits with Google and Bing
  • Blog and photo gallery setup wizards
  • FREE domain, email, and online store
  • FREE unlimited storage and bandwidth
  • PayPal, shopping carts, and site metrics
  • Get started on iPage now.

ECOMMERCE
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

iPage: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 5 minutes

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): If you’re looking to sell online, iPage is one of the best hosts you can trust to help you do it. The company offers all the essentials, plus marketing guides, SEO tools, advertising credits, and more. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Ecommerce Hosting Plans
30 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.ipage.com/ecommerce

See more eCommerce hosts »

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:

Wix.com

Wix review

Monthly Starting Price $0.00

  • No coding skills needed with drag-and-drop builder
  • 100s of templates with niche-specific designs
  • Add features via the App Market and Wix Events
  • Easily create ecommerce functionality easily
  • Great way to build small sites on a budget
  • Get started on Wix now.

WEBSITE BUILDER
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

Wix: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): 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. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Website Builder Hosting Plans
14 days 500 MB - 20 GB Transfer www.wix.com/site-builder

iPage.com

iPage review

Monthly Starting Price $1.99

  • Choice of Weebly or WebsiteBuilder by iPage
  • Mobile-optimized and easy-to-use setup wizards
  • 100s of professionally designed themes
  • FREE online store, shopping cart, and blogging
  • Get +75% off your first month
  • Get started on iPage now.

WEBSITE BUILDER
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

iPage: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): Do you want your website built today. If you answered "yes," you should look no further than iPage. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Website Builder Hosting Plans
30 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.ipage.com/site-builder

HostGator.com

HostGator review

Monthly Starting Price $3.46

  • Drag-and-drop design with the Gator™ site builder
  • Hundreds of mobile-friendly templates
  • FREE hosting, domain name, and SSL certificate
  • Easily add a blog, store, and social media
  • Analytics portal helps gauge site performance
  • Get started on HostGator now.

WEBSITE BUILDER
RATING
4.9 ★★★★★ Our Review

HostGator: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): Setting itself apart from the scores of competitors that rely on white-labeled website builder solutions, HostGator spent the time to painstakingly craft its own platform. Gator provides a frustration-free experience that pairs the simplicity of drag-and-drop design with the company’s powerful and respected web hosting services. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Website Builder Hosting Plans
45 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.hostgator.com/site-builder

See more site builder hosts »

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.

Screenshots of cPanel and Plesk control panels

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 (also known as low-code development) 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.

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.

Image of someone making an online payment

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.

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!

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