Hosting a website involves carefully weighing a great number of disparate factors, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and security, in addition to the amount of expected visitors per month, the type of content hosted on the website, etc.
More importantly, a website is more than just a collection of data. It’s an amalgamation of many different but essential components that help you provide a cohesive and professional experience to all visitors. There’s the database, which is home to all your data. An email service to help you communicate with your clients. A properly configured web server that ensures visitors to your website have a seamless and smooth experience when accessing the different parts of your website. Even apart from that, there’s a whole other piece of analytical information that can help you get a better understanding of your visitors.
A control panel, such as cPanel provides an intuitive user interface that helps you manage all these different yet intricate components of your website, without overwhelming you. Whether it’s creating or managing email accounts, installing software, managing backups, checking visitor stats, or otherwise performing administrative tasks, cPanel can be used to easily manage all these different operations from the comfort of a web browser.
You can gauge the popularity of cPanel from the fact that just about all hosting providers offer it as the default control panel to manage their services. Not only that, many times, hosting providers receive poor reviews for featuring non-standard control panels, by which we mean a control panel that’s quite different from cPanel.
What are the best cPanel hosting providers?
There are two fundamental methodologies for deploying a website. The first is to host it by yourself. This is a far more complicated and involved process, and involves not just hunting after the right hardware to deploy your server, but also ensuring its maintenance and upkeep. You’ll also have to bear the responsibility of applying security patches, updating and securing essential components such as PHP, etc. Even after all that, you are also responsible for the operating system as well as all the other software that’s installed on the server, and have to ensure the safety and security of your data.
The alternative is to opt for a web hosting solution, so that the task of setting up and maintaining the server is handled by professionals.
Apart from various configurations of storage space, RAM, choice of shared hosting, dedicated hosting or VPS hosting, many hosting providers also let you choose the underlying operating system, be it Linux or Windows.
As cPanel is only available for managing Linux powered servers, Linux hosting is often referred to as cPanel hosting.(opens in new tab)
Bluehost (opens in new tab) offers the choice of shared, VPS and dedicated hosting. It also has special plans if you wish to host a WordPress website or a WooCommerce powered online store.
Unlike many other hosting providers, Bluehost’s cheapest offerings are still rather impressive, and include 50GB storage space, free SSL certificate, free domain name (for the first year) and even free CDN, which most of its peers reserve for their premium plans. Bluehost provides very limited information about each of the shared hosting plans on the main page, but you can view the complete list of its offerings by clicking the ‘Auto renews at regular rates’ link. This will reveal that at $2.95/month, the Basic plan limits you to five email accounts, and caps the storage size for each to only 100 MB.
Also, while the shared hosting plans are cheapest when you purchase a three year subscription, future renewals are far more expensive.
The Choice Plus plan supports unlimited email accounts and can be used with as many domains as you need. It also includes site backup, domain privacy and protection but will cost you $5.45 a month over 36 months. While this might sound tempting, keep in mind that renewals, after 36 months, will set you back by $14.99.
Bluehost’s Standard VPS plans starts at $18.99, if you purchase a 36 month subscription, and includes 2 CPU cores and 2GB RAM, along with 30 GB SSD storage and 1 TB bandwidth. but come with rather decent specs.
If the RAM seems insufficient, you could opt for the far more expensive Enhanced and Ultimate VPS plans, which will cost you $29.99/month and $59.99/month.
- Read the full Bluehost review
You can opt for shared, VPS, dedicated, cloud or even reseller hosting with HostGator (opens in new tab), depending on your requirements and budget.
The shared hosting plans start at $2.95/month for a three year subscription and might seem tempting because of the unmetered disk space and bandwidth. Keep in mind however that the hosting provider will ask you to scale down usage of the resources if your needs exceed 25% of the total available resources. Even so, the hosting provider claims that despite the restriction, it’s shared hosting plans should suffice for small and medium business websites.
All the shared hosting plans include free domain name for the first year, as well as free SSL certificate, free email, free site migration and more. Unfortunately, unlike Bluehost, HostGator doesn’t provide any information about size restriction on the email account, or if there are any limits to how many emails you can send in an hour.
Although the provider offers three shared hosting plans, with the Hatchling plan starting at $2.95/month and the Baby and Business plans priced respectively at $3.95/month and $5.95/month, there’s no indication of any difference in offerings between the Hatchling and the Baby plans. Even the business plan only offers a dedicated IP address and free positive SSL upgrade, which seems too little to justify the price tag.
The three dedicated hosting plans are among the costliest we’ve seen, ranging from $89.99/month to $139.99/month, but offer considerably more CPU power and RAM than the other hosting providers.
The different hosting plans don’t include the option to backup your data to protect against any mishaps. This is because HostGator separately markets CodeGuardBasic service, at $2/month, which provides daily automatic backups, 1GB storage space, and three restorations per month. You’ll also receive email notifications in case of any unauthorized changes to a file, and you can also restore the entire site, or any file, to a previous state with a single click.
- Read the full HostGator review
While most of its peers offer a number of shared hosting plans, iPage (opens in new tab) stands apart because of its choice of a single shared hosting plan. At $1.95/month, the Go Plan is certainly the cheapest shared hosting plan we’ve come across, but it surprised us with the vast range of offerings despite that rather lucrative price.
Unlike most other hosting providers which restrict the bandwidth or disk space, and also limit the number of websites you can host, the solitary shared hosting plan allows unlimited websites, email accounts along with unmetered bandwidth and disk space. These are features that the peers only offer in their costliest premium plans. Also, the shared hosting plan doesn’t provide cPanel control panel, which is only available in the VPS and dedicated hosting plans.
The provider claims that the shared hosting plan can handle the needs of 99.95% of its clients, but if you’re the rare exception that outgrows the shared hosting plan, iPage will help you migrate to a VPS or dedicated hosting plan.
In further departure from the industry standard, iPage also publicises the use of CentOS 7 to power its VPS servers. Most other hosting services are silent on the choice of distribution for their Linux servers. The Basic VPS plan will cost you $19.99/month with 1TB bandwidth and 40GB disk space. Unfortunately, it only includes 1GB RAM, so you must opt for Business or Optimum plan if you need more RAM, disk space or processing power.
Also, none of the hosting plans include any security measures or backups. This is because iPage sells these as separate add-ons. The Website Backup & Restore add-on, which provides automatic daily backups and single-click restoration must be purchased at $1/month. Similarly, the Sitelock add-on, at $1.99/month provides daily malware scan, blocks automated bot attacks, automatically removes malware (opens in new tab), etc.
- Read the full iPage review
A2 Hosting (opens in new tab) offers the choice of shared hosting, VPS, dedicated servers, cloud hosting and even reseller hosting.
A2 Hosting’s USP is its focus on performance and security. Each of the shared hosting plans include a variety of A2 offerings such as free HackScan Protection to block hacks before they can harm your website and data, along with protections against brute force attacks and DDoS protection.
Even better, A2 Hosting offers plans geared for WordPress hosting, and even allows installing hundreds of other software with a single click, thanks to Softaculous integration, which takes away the installation pains that might deter novice website owners.
With 24/7 support over email, chat and phone, A2 Hosting has a sharp focus on providing the best user experience to its customers. As the focus is on speed and performance, A2Hosting also lets you choose the server location. You can choose the server closest to you on the order form itself, and the options are Michigan and Arizona in the USA, Amsterdam in Europe and Singapore in Asia.
The shared hosting plans start at $1.99/month, if you purchase a three year subscription and goes up to $12.99/month for the costliest plan, which is geared towards large website owners that expect thousands of unique monthly visitors.
The ability to handle traffic spikes is a key factor in deciding the hosting provider. You can get peace of mind with the Turbo plans, which also include Litespeed Web Server. The result is a site far faster than those powered by Apache or Nginx. Coupled with free automatic backups and easy restoration of data, it’s easy to see why these top tier plans make sense for businesses and professionals alike.
But if you’re not limited by your budget, the VPS plans, ranging from $29.99/month to $59.99/month might make more sense for established businesses and websites that expect heavy traffic, such as online stores with a catalogue of hundreds of products catering to thousands of unique visitors a month.
- Read the full A2 Hosting review
With InMotion Hosting (opens in new tab), it’s a case of saving the best for last. InMotion offers a number of hosting plans, be it shared, dedicated or VPS. With the exception of the cheapest shared hosting plan, all other plans include cPanel control panel.
For each of it’s four shared hosting plans, InMotion provides the ideal target user. For instance, the Lite plan, at $2.49/month is stated to be meant for beginners and offers 10GB storage space, one free email address, a host of security tools such as DDoS protection, SSL certificate, malware protection and automatic backups, as well as marketing tools to help you promote your online venture. The Power shared hosting plan targets websites that expect heavy traffic, while the Pro plan, at $12.99/month is meant for online stores.
Also, the Lite, Launch and Power shared hosting plans only allow for a one, two or three year commitment, and it’s not possible to buy a monthly subscription for these plans. If you want to purchase a monthly plan, your only recourse is to opt for the Pro plan at $19.99/month.
InMotion also provides a choice of four managed VPS servers ranging from $31.99/month to $81.99/month. The prices are significantly higher if you opt for less than a three year subscription. For more advanced users who are skilled in the arts of system administration and confident with their command-line skills, or already have a trained administrator at hand, InMotion also offers a choice of eight unmanaged Cloud VPS plans.
Apart from all that, also on offer are five dedicated hosting plans with resources enough to host your own gaming server, or media streaming platform.
- Read the full InMotion Hosting review
- Also check out our roundup of the best cPanel alternatives (opens in new tab)