What’s the best Web Hosting service now?
No one can tell you “the best” web hosting service. Just as no one can tell you the best car to buy or place to live, I can’t tell you “the best” web hosting service because the best web hosting service for you depends upon your needs and resources.
So I will tell you who I use and who I can recommend based on my experience and the experiences of my clients and students. I can also tell you who not to use: GoDaddy, Network Solutions, and anyone else with sleazy ads and unbelievably-cheap offers. There are defiintely good sales, especially with smaller start-up hosting services looking to build their bases (and if you sign-up for my newsletter, I’ll let you know when they run), but to ask “WHY are they offering me such a cheap deal?”
Of course, before you can find the best hosting service for you, you need to know your true needs and resources. You may want to check out How to Choose the Best Website Hosting Service.
Also, I have an affilaite relationship with several of the web hosting services I recommend labeled (*Affiliate). I am currently using, or have recently used, or have surveyed clients and students using these ervices. I never recommend a service I have no experience with, nor do I base my recommendations strictly on the affiliate commision I receive on sales.
Best Web Hosting for Tech-Avoidance
If you truly dislike learning and working with tech and are planning to DIY your site development, here are my top recommendations:
- Squarespace — For non-storefront sites like service businesses or non-profits (or even personal sites). I’ve watched them grow from the beginning and have a student who has been with them since 2009. I check in periodically to see if she’s still as satisfied as she was in the beginning. She loves the hosting even more. They’ve proven very responsive to their client needs for integration of other services and features, plus they provide extremely professional templates and support.
- Shopify — For sites that are primarily online stores. Shopify has, by far, the best customer satisfaction ratings for e-commerce solutions.
- Volusion is a distant second, but has been around longer than Shopify and has a loyal client base. I have a student who has been with them since 2012 who still gives them rave reviews.
Best Managed WordPress Hosting
This one is a littel trickier. A great deal depends upon your needs and your budget. I’m going to give you 4 options with Pros and Cons for each.
Managed WordPress Hosting takes some of the back-end administration tasks off your hands and usually offers increases in security and page download optimization. Some web hosting services offer even more optimization, management, and custom support. But keep in mind, you usually get what you pay for and the reduced administration needs often come with limitations on what you can add-on or customize.
That said, I am working on moving most of my sites to managed WordPress hosting.
Siteground: Relatively new which has some advantages. I am currently using Siteground for two sites with complete satisfaction. Siteground participates actively in the WordPress open source community and seems very responsive to customer interests and needs.
- Pros: Incredibly fast page download speeds (beats most competitors), even faster with built-in page caching; excellent security with isolated hosting and extremely fast vulnerability patching; responsive support (even when it’s your fault because you’re so tired…); includes SSL; very competitive starter pricing because they’re “the new kids”
- Cons: doesn’t support automatic plugin and theme upgrades for WP; customized administration panel takes some getting used to
- Recommend For: Small businesses and start-ups, sites without excessive storage or bandwidth demands
Blue Host moved early into Managed WordPress Hosting. The only reason I don’t currently have an account with them is because I wanted to consolidate most of my hosting services in 2016 and WestHost met my teaching needs better. Blue Host did a major upgrade on their servers to move to Cloud services and also offer an anual affiliate and customer seminar in Utah. Checking with some clients, Blue Host continues to give satisfaction and the technology upgrades have paid off in faster download speeds and responsiveness.
- Pros: Offer both experience and power; includes SSL, Sitelock security, and advanced CDN service; customized PHP-FPM configuration to increase WP optimization and delivery
- Cons: some limitations on customization to support their optimization; custom control panel lacks certain geek-specific features; can be a bit pricey for start-ups and very small businesses (but new account sales occur periodically and are mentioned in my emails)
- Recommended For: Sites needing power and capacity, or expecting to grow quickly, as well as site owners wanting more security and optimization management without having to learn the tech themselves.
WordPress.com — and Matt Mullenweg of Automattic — started it all! Yes, you can still get a free blog account at WordPress.com but for some time they have offered WordPress hosting to Very Large corporations. They now offer more cost-effective WordPress hosting to smaller businesses starting at US$4/month, though it’s US$24.92/month for the ability to monetize your site, add and use third-party plugins and themes, and other commercial features.
- Pros: You get the updates, WordPress security patches, and latest features first; you don’t have to sweat any of the small things like theme or plugin compatibility; best optimization
- Cons: Lots of limitations on non-enterprise accounts; a little pricey for many small businesses and start-ups
- Recommended For: Blog-site Bootstrappers needed US$0 outlay, small businesses wanting the latest and most up-to-date WordPress version and very tight security, or enterprise folks wanting the ear of Automattic
Westhost offers over a decade of experience with WordPress as well as some excellent customer support at an affordable price. I’ve used Westhost since 2008 for my WordPress classes and blog-based sites.
- Pros: Very reasonable prices; excellent live chat support; standard CPanel control panel; full service options; free SSL
- Cons: Managed WP hosting options don’t support unlimited WP installations; Managed WP hosting does include limits on certain geek-level coding and access
- Recommended For: Small businesses and entrepreneurs looking for solid support and WordPress experience at an affordable prices.
WPEngine.com has worked to become an extremely powerful managed WordPress hosting service, winning numerous awards and many major clients like Warby Parker, National Geographic, and PBS International. If you have the money and want to be ready for enterprise-level traffic and delivery, these folks are built to handle it. They’re like the Range Rover of hosting services.
Best Standard Web Hosting Services for Small Businesses and Start-Ups on a Budget
Westhost is my hosting service for my training installations of WordPress and personal blog sites, even after nearly 10-years.
- Pros: Offers unlimited WordPress installations; unlimited sites & domain names; excellent 24/7/365 Live Chat Support; complete services; standard CPanel administration; excellent email services; full range of open source solutions with Softaculous “one-click” installation and management; offer WP site transfer and optimization services; very reasonable and affordable pricing, even for dedicated hosting packages
- Cons: can’t simply move installations to a Managed WordPress Hosting account; older shared systems can impose transfer limits at times (not usually an issue for small businesses unless doing web developerment re-sell)
- Recommended For: Businesses on a tight budget, the technically-savvy, or those needing other features like robust email management options or additional open source software
FatCow not only offers great prices for start-ups and small businesses but is an environmentally better choice. FatCow uses carbon credits and windpower to offset the environmental hit of running a large web server farm. In additon, I recently checked with a client and student who has been using them for nearly six years and found she is still singing their praises for quality service and support.
Note, FatCow is not for folks wanting to be bandwidth or storage hogs at a cheap price. Most complaints I’ve read are about are greedy customers are angry at being forced to upgrade to a dedicated server or face throttling when they abuse their service agreements.
- Pros: Excellent support; excellent price; environmentally-friendlier; solid experience
- Cons: Growth limitations; older systems; strict service agreement enforcement
- Recommended For: Small businesses or start-ups environmentally-conscious, a good sense of humor, or with a very tight budget.
No matter which web hosting service you select, remember that your needs and your hosting service will change with time, especially if both of you are successful. Be prepared to upgrade or modify your service plan as your needs, and the available services, change.
Also, don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish so you cripple your site’s ability to grow and adapt — and your business’s ability to grow — for the sake of the price of a latte a month. Ask yourself, “Would I pay someone to do this task for me or make this part of my business easier and better?” If the answer is yes, then save yourself some time, frustrations, and headaches, and consider managed web hosting.
Feel free to ask questions below or let me know how things are going with your hosting service in the comments below!