In many cases, you might not care. If your hosting needs are simple, you'll probably choose an account based on the allocated web space, bandwidth and similar features – the operating system is so far down most people's priority list that often it's not even mentioned in comparison tables.
But if you're an experienced user, know more about Linux, or you perhaps need to build a technically complex website where you have full control over everything, it's a different story.
You might want to choose your preferred distro or control panel. You could need more control over the server and its components. Hosts may throw in all kinds of goodies to get you started – a firewall, mail server, private DNS – and offer quality support to keep your site up and running.
Every web host has its own idea of what makes a great Linux package, but we've listed five of our favorite providers to point you in the right direction. Keep reading to find out more.
What is Linux web hosting?
Linux hosting is an open source operating system where web hosting services occur with the use of a Linux-based server.
Linux web hosting can be accessed by an organization or individual, and it’s generally one of the cheapest types of hosting services for small businesses.
It's user friendly and generally offers a high level of security, with many hosting companies sharing their hosting tools according to each customer’s requirements.
Linux web hosting allows its users to share between multiple servers, and the source code can be used, modified, and redistributed freely in both commercial and non-commercial capacities.
Users of Linux often rely on cPanel to manage web development tasks and some web hosting providers include cPanel in its packages despite it being a third party application.
These are the best Linux web hosting services in 2022(opens in new tab)
InMotion Hosting is a professional Linux web host which delivers high levels of power and control right across its range.
InMotion's shared hosting includes many beginner-friendly features, for example – free website migration, a bundled website builder, regular backups – but that's just the start. More experienced users will be happy to see support for MySQL and PostreSQL databases, PHP 7, Ruby, Perl and Python, SSH access and more.
There are interesting touches wherever you look. You don't just get the option to have WordPress, PrestaShop or Joomla preinstalled, for instance – InMotion throws in WP-CLI (opens in new tab) to enable managing multiple WordPress installations from the command line. It's a far more capable product than you might expect, considering prices start at $4.99 a month for the three-year plan.
It's a similar story as you upgrade. Optional self-managed cloud VPS hosting – from $5 a month for the initial term – gives you a choice of OS and a firewall, but after that, you're able to install, optimize and configure the server however you like. Even InMotion's managed VPS hosting still gives you root access for considerable low-level control.
For the operating system, you get to choose from CentOS, Ubuntu or Debian. If you encounter any setup issues, the Launch Assist feature gives you a minimum of two hours with an InMotion tech support staff member to help you solve any problems, which could prove invaluable in getting you off the ground.(opens in new tab)
Every Linux host claims to offer the best possible technical support, but separating the experts from the pretenders isn't always easy. One way to identify the most knowledgeable providers is to check their high-end products. You won't get the same level of support if you're buying a basic shared hosting package, but just knowing that level of expertise is available somewhere in the company can be a comfort.
SiteGround is a sterling example. If the company's standard hosting products aren't enough, it can build enterprise-level solutions from scratch, and SiteGround's website lists (opens in new tab) some of the technologies it supports.
That includes custom private clouds, smart use of Linux containers, replication between databases, and in-depth expertise in WordPress, Drupal, Nginx, Apache, PHP, MySQL, MongoDB, ElasticSearch, Redis, Solr, Memcached and more. In short, this is clearly a provider that knows what it's doing.
Home users won't get the same level of support, of course, but even SiteGround's shared hosting plan delivers more than you might expect: a free Let's Encrypt SSL certificate, cPanel and SSH access, Cloudflare integration, unlimited emails and databases, HTTP/2-enabled servers, free daily backups, and 24/7 technical support by phone, chat and a ticket system. Not bad at $3.99 (£2.99 in the UK) a month plus tax for the initial term, $14.99 (£9.99 in the UK) afterwards.
Ramping up to a VPS-like Cloud Hosting plan gets you a very well-specified CentOS system. MySQL 5, PostgreSQL, 5 PHP versions, HHVM, Apache, Nginx, Exim mail server, a private DNS server setup and Iptables firewall are all preinstalled and managed by SiteGround. Prices start at $100 (£60 in the UK) a month plus tax.
Opt for a dedicated server and you'll get high-end extras like Git integration and performance-boosting Nginx-based cache options for WordPress, Memcached and HHVM.
Now, the truth is that you probably won't want all these features – maybe you only need a small number of them – but they do provide a strong indicator of the company's technical expertise, as we already mentioned.
If you're looking for a provider that can support your site and help it grow, SiteGround could be a wise choice, for sure. On top of all the above, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you're not happy with the service initially, plus there's a 100% renewable energy match scheme on the green front (meaning this is a carbon neutral host).(opens in new tab)
Linux hosting is available from just about everyone, but anything less than a dedicated server is often fully managed by the provider (they set up, manage and maintain the OS and all its components for you). That's great for beginners, but more experienced users might be frustrated by the lack of features and control therein.
Hostwinds' unmanaged VPS packages allow you to take complete charge of your workspace. You can choose from a range of distros, including CentOS, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Debian and Fedora. You can tweak and set up the operating system however you like, as well as configure your own backup scheme, and more.
That said, remember that unmanaged packages bring responsibilities, too. If there's a missing update or some mystery software issue, you'll be the person tasked with fixing the problem. But that shouldn't be too intimidating for Linux users, and many elements of Hostwinds' packages remain simple and easy-to-use (you get site management via cPanel, automated WordPress and other installs via Softaculous, one-click Nextcloud install, and so on).
Even better, as you're not paying for management, Hostwinds gives you a 25% discount on every package. Normal managed Linux VPS packages range from $8.24 monthly (with initial discount at the time of writing – the normal cost is $10.99) for 1 CPU core, 1GB RAM, 30GB disk space, 1TB traffic, stepping up to $395.24 (with discount) for 16 cores, 96GB RAM, 750GB disk space, and 9TB traffic.
The unmanaged range runs from $4.99 monthly to $328.99. There's no long-term contract required, so you can try the service for as little as a month to see if it works for you, which is obviously very handy.(opens in new tab)
Part of the appeal of Linux hosting should be the level of control you get over your working environment, but this doesn't happen with every provider. Often you're presented with a standard base environment – typically CentOS and cPanel – with no ability to choose anything else.
Liquid Web has been providing quality VPS and dedicated hosting packages for years, and one reason for this success could be the level of flexibility on offer. Whatever you're after, the company gives you in-depth low-level control over your server specifications.
You're not stuck with a single version of CentOS, for instance. Liquid Web offers CentOS 6 (optionally with CloudLinux) and 7, as well as Debian 8, 9 and 10, Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.04, and Fedora 30. The CentOS 7 images can include cPanel or Plesk, and plans are available in a mix of self-managed, core-managed and fully-managed variations.
There's even more power over some supplementary features. While other hosts might throw in a standard backup plan, Liquid Web enables choosing how many daily backups you'd like to retain, or it can squeeze as many backups as will fit into a defined amount of disk space. Both options are charged at a very reasonable $0.08 per GB per month, so you only pay for whatever you use.
However your server is configured, Liquid Web's excellent support is on hand 24/7, every day of the year, to resolve problems as quickly as possible. And we do mean quickly: if, say, there's a hardware failure, the company promises it will be rectified within 30 minutes of the problem being identified.
What's more, Liquid Web backs up these promises with an impressive service level agreement. If the company doesn't respond to an initial helpdesk ticket within 30 minutes, you'll be credited with 10 times the amount they missed it by, and there are similar clauses to cover you for power outages, network failure and more. All of this has to boost your confidence in the level of service which will be delivered if you choose Liquid Web for Linux hosting.(opens in new tab)
It’s not easy to pick the right Linux web host, particularly given the bewildering number of features which are on offer with some providers – and this can prove to be a real struggle for hosting newbies who really aren’t sure which of these various features they might need.
So rather than make a big commitment, those in this predicament might want to sign up with a budget host such as OVH, to get a feel for the kind of Linux options which are out there. While we wouldn’t recommend this company for business-critical websites – in all honesty, it doesn’t have the best customer support out there – OVH represents superb value for money in terms of what you get, and as mentioned, it’s a cheap way of testing out the world of Linux hosting.
OVH offers plenty in the way of Linux options, and, for example, there's a diverse selection of distros you can pick from. The firm's VPS plans support Arch Linux, CentOS 6, CentOS 7, Debian 7, Debian 8, Debian 9, Fedora 26, Ubuntu 14.04 Server and Ubuntu 16.04 Server, along with Kubuntu 14.04 Desktop if you need a user interface.
You're not restricted to cPanel as a website manager, either: OVH also supports CozyCloud, Plesk Onyx, Vesta CP and Virtualmin.
OVH says you can have WordPress, Drupal, Joomla! and PrestaShop pre-installed, conveniently, although there's no mention of a general Softaculous-type one-click application installer. Still, with full root access you should be able to manually set up whatever you need.
What's really impressive here is the price, which starts at just $2.20 per month, excluding sales tax. OVH isn't the best Linux host by any means, but it does provide a very cheap way to experiment with different distros and control panels to find out what works for you. It's well worth a look for Linux newbies or anyone who feels they need more hosting experience before handing over substantial chunks of cash.
You might also want to check out our other website hosting buying guides:
- Best WordPress hosting providers
- Best cloud hosting providers
- Best Linux web hosting services
- Best e-commerce hosting
- Best dedicated server hosting
- Best small business web hosting
- Best Windows hosting services
- Best managed web hosting
- Best business web hosting
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