Founded back in 2004 as 'Hosting Media’, Lithuania-based Hostinger has expanded to become a popular web hosting provider with more than 29 million customers, and offices around the world.
The company website sells the service largely on performance. Scroll down the front page and you're immediately confronted with phrases like 'fast and secure', 'spirit of performance', 'optimized for speed', and 'we are here for you, when milliseconds matter.'
That's good to know, but is this reality, or just marketing spin? We'll find out later.
The range starts with a 'Single Shared Hosting' plan aimed at home users. This is priced at an introductory $2.34 a month on the annual plan, falling to $0.99 if you pay for four years upfront (it renews at $3.25 for one year plans, $2.15 over four years).
While that seems cheap, the plan limits you to a single website and subdomain, 10GB of drive space, 100GB bandwidth a month and a single email address.
SSL certificates aren't included, either. You can add one to your order and it's 'only' a one-off $11.95 (no further payments for as long as you keep your plan), but that still bumps up the initial annual plan payment to an effective $3.34 a month.
Other features include an Easy Website Builder, and there are one-click installers for WordPress and other popular apps. So overall, the plan is limited, but it could be a low-cost way to learn WordPress or just explore website creation in general, and there's just about enough functionality here to run a simple personal or family site.
If you've bigger hosting ambitions, the 'Premium Shared Hosting' plan might be a better deal. There's a 20GB storage limit, but that's not going to affect many, and you get unlimited bandwidth, databases, FTP users and email accounts, double the processing power and a free domain name. Oh, and it enables hosting as many websites as you need (subject to the storage limit of course).
There's still no SSL, but otherwise it's a capable package, and competitively priced at $4.49 a month on the annual plan (renews at $5.84), $2.59 over four years (renews at $3.49). HostGator's similar Baby plan adds unlimited storage and SSL, but costs $8.95 a month paid annually ($11.95 on renewal), $5.95 over three years ($9.95 on renewal) – a significant price hike.
All the plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee. This has the usual restrictions you'll find with hosting – you won't get a refund for domain name registrations, for instance – but we didn't notice any other sneaky clauses which might catch you out.
Hostinger business web hosting | 4-years | $4.09 per month
Exclusive to TechRadar readers. This is an incredibly cheap deal. 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 usually found at this price level.
Hostinger claims to have WordPress hosting, but browse its product page and you'll find this is essentially the regular shared hosting range, with the WordPress features emphasized.
The company talks about its 1-click installation, for instance, but you'll get much the same with any shared hosting product that offers an auto-installer (and most do).
Hostinger claims to optimize WordPress performance 'through the use of HTTP/2, PHP7.1, NGINX, and custom built, pre-installed caching WordPress plugins'. Sounds good, but that comes with the more capable shared hosting plans, too.
There's nothing wrong with this. Spending just $47.72 gets you four years of Hostinger's starter plan, everything you need to quickly install and run a simple WordPress site.
Managed WordPress plans from other providers go much further, however. Ionos WordPress Pro includes SSL, enables creating and managing multiple WordPress sites from one dashboard, and the service automatically updates WordPress and plugins for you. Advanced features include staging support (make major changes to your WordPress project without affecting the live site), and there's daily cloud backup thrown in.
All this power comes at a price, though. Ionos has very low prices, but even its most basic single-site plan costs $15 billed monthly, around four times the cost of Hostinger's Premium shared hosting plan. If you're new to WordPress or working on a small site, start with a simple product, like Hostinger's shared plans. Upgrade to full managed WordPress later, if you feel you need it.
More demanding users could try one of Hostinger's semi-managed VPS plans. These start with a basic 1 vCPU, 1GB RAM, 20GB storage and 1TB bandwidth setup for an initial $4.95 a month on the annual plan, rising to $9.05 on renewal. Or a very capable 4 vCore, 4GB RAM, 80GB storage and 4TB bandwidth plan is $23.95 for the first year, $49.95 on renewal.
This is decent value, and within the range we would expect for most providers. Hostwinds' equivalent 4 vCore 4TB VPS starts at $44.99, for instance, because the company 'only' has a 10% introductory discount, but it also renews at around $50.
If pricing is top of your VPS priority list, though, take a look at Ionos. Prices start at $2 a month for a tiny 1 vCore, 512MB RAM system, and its own 4 vCore 8GB RAM plan is just $30 a month. (No long-term contracts required, both products are billed monthly.)
If even the most powerful VPS isn't enough for you, we would normally recommend you turn to the dedicated hosting plans. But in this case, bad news: Hostinger doesn't have any.
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While many hosts are annoyingly vague about the low-level details of their packages, Hostinger spells out almost everything in a lengthy comparison table. If you care that the baseline Single Shared Hosting plan only allows one cron job and doesn't support SSH access, for instance, you'll discover that here.
Choose a plan, click Buy and you're presented with various subscription options (usually that's monthly billing along with one, two and four year plans).
Mostly these work as you'd expect: the headline price quoted on the site is for the longest term, and you'll pay a little more for shorter subscriptions.
The only significant issue is the monthly plan, which is so expensive that it's really not worth considering. The annual Single Shared Hosting plan costs $28.08 – the monthly plan is $9.59 plus an initial $4.99 setup fee, $14.58 in total, or a total of $33.76 after just three months.
Optional extras start with automatic daily backups for $0.95, half the price we often see elsewhere.
Cloudflare integration is available at a one-off $9.95 for the lifetime of your account. That's a little odd – Cloudflare-supporting hosts generally offer it for free – but it doesn't add a lot to the total, especially if you're signing up for two or four years.
We chose a plan and were prompted to create an account. Hostinger has options to sign up with Facebook and Google, unusually, which is convenient but not so secure (anyone with access to your credentials or a device logged in to Facebook or Google could access your hosting account, too). It's easy to create an account manually, though, and Hostinger only needs a few details: name, email address and password.
There are plenty of payment options available, including PayPal, credit card and Bitcoin. We chose PayPal and handed over our virtual cash in the usual way. A website link took us to a simple startup wizard and a welcome email quickly arrived with more details.
Creating a site
Hostinger's setup wizard opened by asking us whether we wanted to register a new domain, transfer a domain from another company, or use an existing domain but leave it with the current registrar.
You're also able to choose where to host your site, conveniently: North America, the UK or Europe.
We chose the 'existing domain' option and were given Hostinger's four name servers, and told to update our domain DNS settings.
The final 'Start website' step offered five options to help us create our website.
Install WordPress took us to a straightforward WordPress installer. All the default settings were sensibly assigned, and after choosing an admin password we could set the system up with a click.
Auto Installer uses the same automated approach to install more than 100 popular apps, including Joomla, PrestaShop, OpenCart, phpBB and Drupal. We prefer Softaculous, the installer often provided by other hosts, but this one is perfectly adequate and will get your chosen apps installed at speed.
Zyro Builder is Hostinger's website builder. This covers all the basics, with 196 responsive templates, easy drag-and-drop customizations, and options to embed videos, maps, social media widgets and simple e-commerce features.
It's not for advanced users – there's no blogging platform, for instance – and design is more about mild tweaking of a template than building something new from scratch. But it's capable of creating some quality sites, and there are no annoying restrictions on page numbers or site size to get in your way. (That's very unusual for a free website builder in budget shared hosting.)
File Manager opens a browser-based file manager where you can upload your site. This is most useful for small static sites, but you could also use it to manually install more sophisticated apps, perhaps setting up custom databases and editing configuration files.
Access Manager is an unusual extra tool which allows you to give others access to your Hostinger account, enabling them to work on creating or managing the site with you. You could do something similar by sharing your credentials with others, but this is much safer. Everyone gets their own login, and the people you invite don't get full access to your account. They're able to create or edit a website page, for instance, but by default they can't buy a new product with your stored payment details, or change account details such as your registered email address.
If you don't want to commit to this right now, you can skip it all and head straight for Hostinger's well-designed cPanel-like site manager, where you'll find tools for organizing domains, subdomains, databases, SSH access, emails, FTP accounts and more. There's a lot of power here, and hosting first-timers might be a little intimidated, but start to explore and it quickly begins to make sense. Even novice users will be finding their way around the key features within a few minutes.
Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, even experts, so it's important for web hosts to have a good support system.
Clicking 'Help' on Hostinger's Control Panel opens the service knowledgebase. This groups content by well-chosen topics (Getting Started, Website, hPanel, Email, Domains, Billing), lists popular articles and has a search box to help you find whatever you need.
We were impressed by the number of articles on offer (82 under Website, 83 for hPanel, 40 for Domains), but this wasn't quite as good as it seemed at first glance. Many articles were just a line or two, more like the content you'd get in a simple FAQ page than an in-depth support site. ('What's the maximum email attachment size?' – 25MB; 'Can I connect to my control panel from a mobile device?' – Yes, use these two links; 'Are there any limits in Zyro Builder?' – No.)
Look past the more basic content, though, and you'll find detailed advice on a range of small but specific issues. Typing 'permissions' gave us advice on setting file and folder permissions, as well as referring to specific error messages ('403 forbidden'). Entering 'change PHP version' immediately highlighted the correct cPanel module. The content of these articles is basic, but enough to point users in the right direction.
Hostinger has a big tutorials section with far more detailed articles: 'How to Make a Website – the all-in-one Guide', 'How to Launch a WordPress website', 'How to back up your emails', and more. These seem well-written and genuinely helpful, but, bizarrely, they can't be located from the knowledgebase search box. Hostinger has a lengthy tutorial titled '30 WordPress SEO Tips', for example, but if you type '30 WordPress SEO Tips' in the Search box on the Help page, it won't appear.
If you can't find what you need, support is available 24/7/365 via live chat and a ticket-based system. We submitted a query via live chat, and a helpful agent began providing a useful reply within a couple of minutes.
We rounded off the review by using Uptime.com to monitor our test website from multiple locations around the world, making sure the site was always available and recording any downtime.
Our test site was hosted on Hostinger's most basic shared hosting plan, but still managed a solid 100% uptime record over 10 weeks of monitoring.
Uptime.com recorded a response time range of 166ms to 1.14s, with an average of 200ms, over the last seven days of testing. (Don't be put off by that '1.14 seconds' – Hostinger had just two response times of more than a second in over 2,000 checks.)
A few providers may be just a touch faster – the best approach an average response time of 150ms – but Hostinger outperforms most of the competition, which is very impressive for a simple shared hosting product.
Hostinger's starter accounts have some significant limits, but they'll still work for some, and otherwise its products offer plenty of features and powerful cPanel-like site management for a very fair price.