You’ve made a conscious decision to build an online presence after a period of planning and maybe even a hint of procrastination, but where do you begin? Choosing the best web hosting provider is a great place to start, which doesn’t have to be an overly time consuming task.
What is a web hosting service? Well, it’s one that allows individuals or organizations to host a website that is usually accessible via a web browser. It’s a specialist provider that securely stores your files (HTML, pictures etc) and runs your site live on the internet.
A whole bunch of questions might be buzzing around your head: Do you need shared hosting, or some other type? Might you best be served by a simple website builder? How much storage do you really require? What about an SSL certificate?
The answers to all your questions can be found below - tailored to your individual web hosting needs.
As of July 2021, we have reviewed (and are continuously re-reviewing) more than 160 web hosting providers, a number that includes best website builders (as well as static site generators and landing page creators).
So, in short, we know what stuff the absolute top website hosting companies are made of. No one has reviewed more web hosting providers than us online.
We’ve provided detailed summaries for each web hosting provider and highlighted their respective strengths and features, things that may be important for your choice, plus information on pricing and why each particular web host may be ideal for you.
How we test?
Our reviewers test each web hosting service by signing up and checking out what the provider does to help new users, as well as how easy it is to navigate around the hosting provider’s dashboard.
We weigh up the details of what you get, and what you don't get, and rank each web hosting provider based on the quality of its features that many customers will use, and how clear the web hosting company is on what the customer is getting in every product.
Bluehost's Birthday Blowout -
A fantastic bargain for TechRadar visitors, Bluehost has cut the price of its Shared Plan (regularly $8.99 p/m) down to just $2.75 per month for the first term only. You get $175 in offers 24/7 support plus free domain and site builder and 30-day money-back guarantee. Get up to 65% off shared hosting plans too. Offer ends August 2nd 2021.
Best web hosting services in 2021
1. Bluehost is the best overall web hosting service
While the competition is cut-throat, Bluehost continues to impress in almost every aspect, delivering the complete package of speed, security, versatility, and most importantly, superb reliability for just $2.75 per month.View Deal
2. Hostgator surprises with the best shared hosting service
Hostgator has surprised us with an exclusive offer that delivers some of the best shared hosting features we've seen for a very long time, with a slew of freebies like domain names, an SSL certificate and marketing money from only $2.43 per month.View Deal
3. Hostinger has the best cloud hosting service
Cloud hosting is a new buzzing category and Hostinger is top of the list with its advanced solution. The cheapest plan provides unlimited bandwidth, hosting for up to 300 websites, and up to 100 email accounts per domain, plus a plethora of other features. It's keenly priced as well at $9.99 per month.View Deal
Taking the top spot in our web hosting provider leaderboard is Bluehost . This Utah-based company is almost two-decades old and is owned by web giant Newfold Digital, powering over two million websites globally.
It offers basic shared hosting from $2.75 monthly (on a three-year contract), with WordPress plans starting at $20 per month (although that’s also a discounted introductory rate).
For the money, you get automated setup for WordPress, not to mention other popular apps via a Mojo Marketplace-powered system. There’s also a cPanel-based area to allow expert users to tweak things.
Furthermore, Bluehost provides a Weebly-based website builder. This is a basic browser-based affair that lets you create a website of up to six pages, and there are no extras like site templates included. But still, it’s better than nothing, and more functionality is in the pipeline – plus you get this builder with the basic account.
There’s also good customer support on offer, a free site migration tool, and the end result is a mix of user-friendly aspects alongside a good amount of power, and potential tweaking for more advanced users.
Bluehost also offers a professional service to get your website started and ranked in second place in our best website design services buyers guide.
Cheapest Bluehost Shared Plan |
$7.99 $2.75 p/m | 65% off
A fantastic bargain for TechRadar readers, Bluehost has cut the price of its Shared Plan (regularly $7.99 p/m) down to a mere $2.75 per month for the first term only (up to four years). You get $175 in offers, 24/7 expert support, plus a free domain and site builder and 30-day money-back guarantee.View Deal
Also part of Newfold Digital, Hostgator delivers an impressive range of hosting services, ranging from domains to dedicated servers at very competitive prices and backed by a 99.9% uptime guarantee. This applies as much to their specialist hosting as any of their other hosting options.
Hostgator offers three specific shared hosting plans, starting with the Hatchling subscription, which comes with unmetered bandwidth, free WordPress/cPanel website transfer and a free SSL certificate. The allocations are generous and should easily accommodate the requirements of a single domain.
An upgrade from that, if required, is the Baby plan, which delivers the same list of features but for unlimited domains (that is, you can host as many websites as you want) for $2.98 per month.
For more demanding sites that don't yet require their own server, you can opt for the Business plan which comes with its own dedicated IP, a free upgrade to Positive SSL and a set of free SEO tools.
Additional benefits include a 45-day money-back guarantee, not to mention free transfers for new accounts within the first month after you’ve signed up. There’s lots to like here considering the minimal impact on your wallet, if you're happy to commit.
- Hostgator Business Plan - $4.48/month
- Hostgator Baby Plan - $2.98/month
- Hostgator Hatchling Plan - $2.43/month
Hostinger is one of the biggest providers of free web hosting via its 000webhosting brand. Thanks to the latter, it has amassed over 30 million users, and offers some of the lowest prices thanks to low running costs and overheads.
Hostinger prefers to use its own technology (for example, it has its own customized control panel instead of the ubiquitous - and sometimes controversial - cPanel), so that it can better deliver performance and features at a much lower cost.
There are three cloud hosting plans available, Cloud Startup, Cloud Professional, and Cloud Global, all of which offer unlimited bandwidth and up to 300 websites for your account.
The Cloud Startup plan comes with 200GB of of SSD storage, 3GB of RAM, and 2 CPU cores. The Cloud Professional plan increases these to 250GB storage, 6GB RAM, and 4 CPU cores, the Cloud Global plan extends these further to 300GB storage, 16GB RAM, and 8CPU cores. All plans come with a free SSL certificate, free domain, daily backups, host up to 300 websites, as well as a Google Ads credit
Pricing depends on how long you commit to the service. For the Cloud Startup plan, it costs $29 on a month to month basis. However, if you commit for a year the monthly cost falls to $12.99 a month. For a two-year contract, it drops to $10.99 a month, and for a four-year contract it falls to only $9.99 a month.
Hostinger business web hosting | 4 years | $2.19 per month
Exclusive to TechRadar readers. This is an incredibly cheap deal. For less than the price of a coffee every month, you can get a free domain, 100GB storage, unlimited traffic and a free SSL certificate. This package is perfect if you plan to host just one website and grow it rapidly, with plenty of features not normally found at this price.
InMotion Hosting is a popular web host that's been in business for over 15 years, with an impressive array of plans on offer including reseller hosting.
All plans include assisted setup and migration, especially useful for those coming from other web hosts. Additionally, you won't need to worry about the server side of things as InMotion takes care of all that for you.
For those looking to try being a web host themselves, InMotion's reseller plans come with a free WHMCS license, which allows for the automated setup and billing of clients.
InMotion provides both cPanel and Softaculous panels, and another strong suit is some excellent technical support should you get stuck with anything. In our testing, we found that this firm’s overall performance levels were well above average, which is good news for those who want to see fast-loading websites.
The Beginner reseller plan comes with 80GB of storage, 800GB of bandwidth, and can host up to 25 accounts. Pricing for this is $26.59 on a per monthly basis, but this is discounted the longer you commit, with the cheapest option being $15.39 a month if you go for a 2-year contract.
Other plans increase limits and pricing accordingly, and there's a 90-day money-back guarantee should you not be satisfied with the service.
InMotion Lite Plan
For TechRadar readers, this top-rated web hosting service is offering its Lite plan at $2.49 per month rather than the full asking price of $7.49. That's quite the bargain.View Deal
Hostwinds offers a range of dedicated server hosting with powerful configuration options for anything from general to heavy-duty use, which makes them ideal for hosting everything from company websites to gaming servers.
There are multiple base options to select, which you can then customize according to your preferences. The cheapest models have a quad-core single processor and start with at least 8GB of RAM, which would make them ideal for most typical users.
There are a good set of additional options available for customization, with different RAID configurations and a number of operating systems available, including standard CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, or Fedora options, as well as a Windows Server option.
A 1Gbps network link means that whichever bandwidth option you choose (all of which are generous) you shouldn't need to worry about traffic being throttled at your end.
Full server management is provided, which will be handy for those not wanting to get overwhelmed by sys admin duties, with server monitoring and nightly backups also provided as part of the service.
If there's one criticism we have, it's that a control panel such as CPanel, Plesk, or Exim isn't provided as standard, which can simplify a lot of server operations for users; however, if you contact Hostwinds they'll be happy to advise on the best option as an addon, if you don't feel comfortable with setting up one yourself.
Dreamhost offers standalone email hosting among the range of different packages that this established web hosting services provider offers.
Dreamhost's email hosting offers 25GB of storage by default, with the ability to sync emails between desktop and mobile devices. Additionally, there's an ad-free webmail software platform included.
Another key feature is a smart anti-spam filter, which ensures the filtering of spam messages, but also viruses, malware, and phishing attacks. The filter is adaptive to emerging threats, ensuring that you remain protected.
There are a couple of key advantages in having your own hosted email account. The first is that it remains connected to your company domain name, which looks far more professional than a free email account.
Additionally, it also means you have complete control over your own data, and that your emails won't be automatically scanned to provide advertising at you, something free email providers do all too commonly.
Pricing is relatively inexpensive, and depends on whether you wish to pay on a monthly basis or commit to annual payments. Monthly plans cost just $1.99 a month, while a yearly commitment reduces this to the equivalent of $1.67 a month.
Founded in California back in 2008, GreenGeeks proudly claims to be the ‘world's #1 green energy web hosting provider’, not surprising given that it is dedicated entirely to green causes.
That's a big statement, but there is some substance behind it. The company doesn't just say that its platform has been designed for maximum energy efficiency, it also promises that "for every amperage we pull from the grid, we invest three times that in the form of renewable energy via Bonneville Environmental Foundation." So in theory at least, your hosting isn't just carbon-neutral, it's carbon-reducing.
GreenGeeks' hosting range isn't quite as impressive. There are the usual set of plans – shared products, application hosting, VPS, dedicated – but there isn't much choice, and what you do get is mostly very average.
There is one exception in GreenGeeks powerful shared hosting plan. This offers unlimited websites, emails, databases, web space and bandwidth, and throws in a free domain, shared SSL, Cloudflare CDN integration, nightly backups, the Softaculous one-click app installer, a simple website builder and support via email, chat and telephone.
Pay for three years upfront and you can get everything for an equivalent $2.49 per month on its Lite plan – $10.95 on renewal – and a 30-day money-back guarantee represents a risk-free way to test the service for yourself. It's a good deal, and shows that green hosting isn't just about making eco-friendly gestures: you can find some capable products, too.
Domain.com is better known as a good domain provider but their hosting plans are worth a look too, offering powerful and reliable hosting on a stable and secure platform.
Hosting plans are generous, with even the most basic plan offering unlimited storage and scalable bandwidth. 10 databases are available as well as five FTP accounts, and there's also a free SSL certificate by Let's Encrypt provided.
The Deluxe plan offers 25 databases and 25 FTP accounts, while the Ultra account drops all restrictions entirely.
The Basic plan costs just $3.75 a month when billed yearly, the Deluxe costs $6.75, while the Ultra plan costs $13.75.
The one point to note is that Domain.com does not offer monthly plans, but instead only contracts for one, two, or three years and doesn't charge extra depending on the length of the contract.
Liquid Web is an expert provider of high-end managed hosting solutions for everything from email to WordPress, WooCommerce, VPS, dedicated and assorted other cloud products.
Most plans deliver far more than you might expect. Liquid Web doesn't just automatically update WordPress, for instance: it also updates your plugins in a separate, isolated environment to check for any issues before sending them live on your production site.
Liquid Web's VPS and dedicated server plans add even more managed hosting features covering many areas. The company has its own data centers with fully managed hardware and network infrastructure. Key software is installed, updated and supported, there are free external migrations, virus and spam protection keep threats at bay, and system monitoring enables speedy notification of problems.
Liquid Web won't appeal to bargain hunters, and its baseline prices can be much higher than some of the competition. However, what you are paying for is the highest quality support and high end hardware, so you're getting what you pay for.
If you want to do web hosting on a budget, then as this provider’s name suggests, it aims to be inexpensive. You get some impressive value-for-money with Namecheap, particularly with an initial discount for the first year, and there are some heavyweight plans here.
However, note the starter ‘value’ plan only gives you 20GB of hard drive space and 30 email accounts, but you get that at the price of just $2.88 per month.
Namecheap offers a 99.9% connectivity guarantee, and is a very easy service to set up, with an initial welcome email that points you in the right direction for everything you might need (backed up by some impressive FAQs). It also plays host to an excellent searchable knowledge base.
To round things off, testing proved that this company generally offers above average speeds compared to rivals, making this a great hosting provider for those who aren’t keen on doing too much damage to their wallet.
WP Engine offers a comprehensive managed WordPress service that can help you with setup, updates, security, performance optimization, troubleshooting and a whole lot more.
Much of this is invisible to the end user, as a good managed service should be. No need to worry about WordPress updates, for instance – WP Engine handles these for you. Not blindly, simply when they're released, like many other hosts: the company tests them carefully, first, to make sure they don't cause problems.
The powerful WP Engine platform adds many useful extras. A Staging area allows you to work on a copy of your site, which is perfect for testing new themes, plugins or anything else, without affecting the production site. In another highlight, integrated performance tests can benchmark your website and offer useful speedup tips.
This level of power isn't cheap. Even the most basic WP Engine plan costs $30 a month ($22.50 a month initially), more than three times the price of the budget competition. But if you're looking for an optimized environment, with quality tools and excellent support, this could be a price worth paying.
Wix is a website building service that offers an attractive range of plans, and boasts some truly impressive depth when it comes to tailoring your site to best match your needs. The service has a user-friendly editor that bristles with content and functionality, allowing you to fine-tune your site in a wide variety of ways.
And there’s depth across the board; so for example, when it comes to templates, you don’t just get a scattering of predefined sites, but more than 500 of them. You’ll often find that you’re spoilt for choice with Wix.
Other powerful features include an integrated image editor with tons of Instagram-style filters, and a raft of ecommerce templates to boot (note that Wix doesn’t levy transactions fees on your sales, either, unlike some rivals).
Wix even has a free plan, although that limits bandwidth and storage space (to 500MB) and puts branding on your site. Step up to the Unlimited plan, which is the most popular subscription, and you get 10GB of storage plus a free domain, unlimited bandwidth (as the name suggests), plus $75 worth of Google Ad vouchers.
- Most popular Wix Unlimited plan (unlimited bandwidth, 10GB storage)
- Wix VIP plan (Professional site review, Email campaigns)
- Wix eCommerce plan (online store, 20GB storage)
Like Wix, Weebly is another giant in the website building arena, and it also gives you the option of a free plan – albeit one that’s similarly limited to 500MB of storage. You’ll also get adverts on your site, so if you want to be free of Weebly-imposed ads you’ll need to move up to the entry-level paid plan, which costs $6.80 per month.
The Starter package has no ads or storage limits, and you also get a free domain. Furthermore, what’s quite nifty for those thinking of selling stuff online is that there’s also support for a web store (albeit a basic one containing a maximum of 10 products).
The chunkier plans give you a ton of features, allowing you to build a high-end web store with support for coupons, customer reviews, and inventory management – and the top-of-the-range Performance plan also caters for gift cards, abandoned carts and email campaigns (this costs $35 per month).
Weebly’s range of stylish website templates are a real boon, but there are a few niggles here with the editor interface, such as the lack of a general undo function. Still, the slight downsides don’t detract from this well-featured website-building service.
5 must know tips about buying a web hosting service
From our experience, we believe these are the five key things to consider when selecting yours:
1. You almost always get what you paid for If your website is primarily a hobby on the side then this shouldn't matter as much. However, as an essential business tool, it's often a false economy to go for the cheapest hosting deal (or a free one) on offer but that doesn't mean that all cheap deals are bad.
2. Beware of pricing tricks. The overwhelming majority of web hosting vendors offer low prices at the beginning of their contracts, but jack up the pricing after the introductory period ends, which can be 24, 36 or even 60 months after signing up. Always look for the total cost of ownership. As for the above, it doesn't mean that paying five years in advance is a bad thing.
3. Just how trustworthy is the hosting provider? Just about anyone can pretend to be a real web host and just be reselling someone else’s products. So, look to see how long they’ve been around, if they have a contact address, who owns them, are they making realistic promises on the website and so on. Google is your friend here.
4. Know your limits. How comfortable are you with creating your own website? Do you need external help to understand the numerous ramifications (including legal and commercial ones) that publishing one entails?
5. Consider web builders You don't need web hosting to get online, and site builders offer an interesting and compelling alternative. However, you can't migrate your content easily if you want to leave because of their proprietary nature.
What is the best web hosting service in 2021?
The best web hosting provider right now is Bluehost. The reasons are many but succinctly, it provides with an excellent value for money, hosts more than two million websites worldwide, is recommended by WordPress and offers free SSL certificate and free domain with a long money back guarantee and unlimited bandwidth on all its plans.
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is the generic name given to the business of, well, hosting a website for organizations or individuals. Truth is that it can be done by individuals (e.g. I host a website from home) or by businesses. But that's just the beginning: selecting a truly reliable, affordable, scalable web hosting provider is a daunting and overwhelming task, as there are so many options out there.
Many packages include a wealth of features that you may or may not place value upon, including a mailing list, a control panel, the ability to create online stores easily, simple web building tools, and varying levels of support (either over the phone or live chat).
Whether you're looking to build a website for yourself, a website for your small business now or for the future, or a simple online store, or you just want to save money by moving to a cheaper web hosting provider, we've got you covered.
Choosing a host is very much a case of 'horses for courses' – it's a question of getting the best and most appropriate solution that you can afford. There's no need to hamstring yourself financially, though. If you're just starting out, or you're a relatively small business and you know your way around a server, you might like to consider a Virtual Private Server (VPS), for example – these provide the flexibility of a dedicated server, but at a reduced cost.
How to explain web hosting in very simple terms
Think of web hosting providers as landlords and servers as properties.
Shared hosting is like renting each room in a property. Put too many websites on one server and the quality of service can drop if some become too popular or hog too many resources (think noisy neighbors and bathroom huggers).
VPS is a step above shared hosting. You get your own private virtual server (the equivalent of flats) but you still share some amenities with others tenants that live in the same block like the garden or the doorway.
Dedicated hosting is the equivalent of a house; an entire server just for one customer. Expensive but worth it if you are ambitious. There are still limitations though but dedicated hosting allows for more flexibility.
The “building” analogy applies to the other variations/categories: eco-house, retail stores, art displays, houses in India, land developers etc.
What are the different types of hosting services?
In a shared hosting service, one user shares a server with other sites and web hosting accounts. While these are cheaper, shared hosting is best suited to smaller websites that don't use a lot of bandwidth resources.
Virtual Private Servers (VPS) or Cloud hosting enable you to scale resources as and when you need them, rather than being restricted by the limitations of a physical server. They draw from a pool of processing power, memory and storage depending on your requirements. VPS usually take one physical server and allocated dedicated resources whereas cloud hosting take a bunch of servers and allocate resources across them.
With a dedicated web server, you have the entire web server for your own use, with significantly faster performance at the core of the offering. You will have to pay extra though, and you'll be responsible for maintenance.
Web hosting companies usually offer three main paid-for tiers of hosting packages. Other than the aforementioned tiers, we will also be considering WordPress hosting, as well as more powerful website builder software.
PS: We've used the word resources a lot in this description. The word itself is an umbrella term for compute (like the processor), storage (the SSD or HDD), system memory (RAM) and networking (usually the bandwidth and throughput).
How to choose the best web hosting service
The hosting services your business can choose from will usually mean making a decision about whether a shared, dedicated, or cloud-based server is right for your business.
Very small businesses will usually opt for a shared or managed service, as these are sometimes called. Costs are low, but your business will be sharing its server with several other enterprises. You can always move up to a virtual private network (or VPS) if needed.
A dedicated server, as its name suggests, is just one server reserved for your business. Dedicated servers are not as expensive as they once were, and can make economic sense if you want your business to have its own server platform, and don't want to have to worry about other businesses on a shared server impacting your online business if they have problems.
It's important to look closely at the service level (SLA) that will be attached to your dedicated server. Look for any additional costs, such as maintenance, or other 'extras' that aren't covered in the rental cost.
And lastly, try and buy server space that you can expand into. You don't want to find after a few months that you've outgrown your server and need to move to a new one.
Lastly, as the cloud has made a major impact right across the business environment, business web hosting has also embraced the cloud, and now offers an alternative to the traditional hosting methods. The power of cloud hosting is the flexibility it offers: in effect, your business can buy just the space and hosting services it needs now, and expand at anytime with no disruption to business.
Which web hosting is better? Paid or free?
Everyone loves free stuff, and it comes as no surprise that free web hosting services are wildly popular – but unless you're planning to use them to learn coding or run a personal website, we wouldn't advise using a free web hosting service.
Don't get us wrong: we love them, we've even produced a best free web hosting guide; however, using them for businesses purposes is fraught with potential issues that make it hard to recommend them.
Unlike free software, services (web hosting or VPN for example) cost money to run, which is why most web hosting companies use a freemium business model, and will try to convince you to move to a cheap, paid service.
Expect a number of limitations on disk space and bandwidth. You won't get an SSL certificate, which is a sine qua non condition for running a proper business website. You won't have regular backups, and some will even shut down your website for one hour a day!
Instead, we'd recommend checking out our best cheap web hosting sites guide, which we regularly update to include the hottest deals around.
What are the biggest web hosting companies in the world
The largest web hosting companies in the world right now can be assessed either by market capitalization, by number of customers, by how many websites they host, by revenue or by the estimated number of monthly visitors they get to their own website.
As of March 2021, the biggest web hosting company is Godaddy when it comes to market capitalization, followed by United Internet and Newfold Digital (which is private but involved a transaction valued at around $3 billion).
Some might argue that Wix - with a $17 billion market capitalization - and Square, the owner of Weebly, are even better web hosting companies. By that logic though, one should include the likes of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Alibaba and Microsoft Azure, all of which are far, far bigger.