Web hosting is one of those things that websites need in order to exist online. Its very definition according to the dictionary is “the activity or business of providing storage space and access for websites”. You’ve landed on this guide because you’re presumably about to launch a site and want help choosing a web hosting service that best suits your needs, or, you’ve already got a web hosting provider but you’re searching for a new one.
Not all web hosting providers are equal in regards to the quality of the service, therefore, we test and analyze each product range, compare control panels, explore their tools, build a site or two, try out each customer support option, and run some in-depth uptime and speed tests. The type of web host you choose only matters if you’re after a specific type of hosting. That’s why we’ve handpicked the best web hosting for almost every use case. You’ll find quality providers for shared hosting (opens in new tab) (a way to host your website on a single physical server that also hosts additional sites), WordPress hosting (opens in new tab) (hosting that has been optimized to better meet WordPress' performance and security needs), cloud hosting (opens in new tab) (hosting that makes applications and websites accessible using cloud resources), VPS (opens in new tab) (a virtual platform that stores data), and more.
The ten major players on this guide include Hostinger, HostGator, Bluehost, Scala Hosting, to name a few. Each of these hosts have pros and cons but will, overall, get the hosting job done.
Quick list: The best 3 web hosting services in brief
1. Hostinger - Best for overall hosting performance (opens in new tab)
Hostinger (opens in new tab) is our number one pick for several reasons. When testing its service compared to others, our site performed the best while being hosted on Hostinger. It has one of the most extensive lists of features that mostly come at no additional cost and it’s one of the cheapest.
Read more below
2. HostGator - Best for beginners using shared hosting (opens in new tab)
HostGator (opens in new tab) missed first place by a small fraction as its service is extremely easy to use and its shared hosting plans all come with unmetered bandwidth and a free domain. HostGator is fast and has one of the most responsive customer support services on the market.
Read more below
3. Bluehost - Best for WordPress enthusiasts (opens in new tab)
Bluehost (opens in new tab) is so accommodating to WordPress sites that it's the obvious choice for anyone in need of WordPress hosting. Bluehost’s custom control panel organizes account and hosting features, and reliably installs WordPress in barely a minute. If you’re a small business site that’s already well-versed in using the WordPress, Bluehost will be a breeze.
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The best web hosting services 2023
Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
The ten web hosting services we've selected are the best in their respective categories, and while each web hosting provider offer several different types of hosting, we’ve highlighted each one based the specific service it exhales in the most.
Top three web hosting services in depth
Best for overall web hosting performance(opens in new tab)
Founded in 2004, Hostinger (opens in new tab) is an established Lithuanian web hosting provider with more than a million subscribers around the world. Hostinger sells itself on value, and two or three seconds into checking it out, the service specifications reveal why. It offers shared hosting, WordPress hosting, cloud hosting, VPS hosting, Minecraft server hosting, email hosting, plus has a website builder.
In general, Hostinger is easy to use. The hosting service is designed in such a way that makes the process of signing up and getting started, straightforward and simplistic. You pick a plan, choose the period you want to sign up for, (one month is significantly more expensive than if you commit to 24 or 48 months) create an account using email, Facebook or Google, then select a payment type via via credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, Alipay and Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies via CoinGate - then you’re in. We were able to get started in a matter of minutes.
Hostinger plans are packed with essential and extra features that’s needed for a speedy site, website migration, security and customer support. For example, its starter All-In-One package comes with 100GB storage, unmetered traffic, free SSL, a free domain for year one, support for 100 websites, a choice of six data centers, automatic backups, managed WordPress, 1GB email storage, a virus scanner, spam filter and more.
We found that Hostinger doesn’t bury a host of hidden catches in the small print, either. SSL (a protocol for establishing secure links between networked computers) won't cost you extra after year one, for instance: it's free for the lifetime of your account.
We set up a test WordPress site on a Hostinger shared hosting package, then used Uptime.com to access it every five minutes for 14 days and report the results. Hostinger achieved 99.98% uptime, which was a little disappointing (because we expected a perfect performance over such a short test) though still very acceptable overall (because it's in line with its 99.9% uptime guarantee promise).
A downside that may or may not apply to your needs is that Hostinger doesn't offer dedicated hosting plans, which is perhaps an issue for business users who need the fastest possible speeds. However, its cloud hosting plans give you dedicated system resources, which we did experience great speed in our test. Also, SSH access, CDN and daily backups are only available as an add-on in pricier packages.
What else you need to know
We experienced expert support from Hostinger’s team using its 24/7 live chat service. We opened a ticket asking how we could install WordPress on a subdomain, and got a response in under two minutes. Keep note that there’s no telephone support.
Also, we always prefer automatic daily site backups but Hostinger offers weekly ones instead, which for the price, we think is completely reasonable. Our test proved Hostinger to be a top quality web hosting provider.
Read our full Hostinger web hosting review (opens in new tab)
|Value for money||Hostinger has some of the most competitive prices on the market||★★★★★|
|Ease of use||From signing up to navigating through, Hostinger is straightforward to use||★★★★★|
|Features||It has plenty of features in all departments, from security to technical details and more||★★★★★|
|Speed test||It's not sot significantly ahead of the competition when it comes to speed but it's pretty fast||★★★★☆|
Best for shared hosting services(opens in new tab)
HostGator (opens in new tab) is a hugely popular Texas-based web hosting provider that has been helping its customers get online since 2002. The company has hosting products for every level of user including shared hosting, WordPress hosting, dedicated server hosting, VPS hosting, reseller hosting as well as a website builder.
Signing up, like most web hosting services, is generally easy if you know exactly what you want. We tested HostGator’s Hatching plan by signing up through the website and found it straightforward. HostGator gave us the option to add additional services and we noticed that SSL isn’t included in the Hatchling and Baby shared hosting plan (the two cheapest packages).
Whatever type of hosting you're after, the industry-standard cPanel combined with HostGator's own feature-packed web dashboard did a good job of helping manage our web space and account once we signed up.
All of HostGator’s shared plans come with unlimited bandwidth and disk space, a free domain for a year, one-click WordPress installation and a bundled website builder. HostGator's WordPress plans are a little more expensive than its shared hosting, but comes with added features such as backups and malware protection, which are often paid extras elsewhere and are essential in our opinion.
Other benefits are less visible, though also important. We found that HostGator’s managed WordPress servers are optimized for WordPress, and delivered more speed and higher security to our site. And the support team has more WordPress expertise, which helped us solve tricky WordPress-specific issues.
More demanding users can choose from three VPS and three dedicated hosting plans, and if you’re the ambitious type, you could even start your own hosting business via HostGator's reseller plans. HostGator’s high-end products aren't as configurable as we've seen elsewhere, and starting prices are relatively high, but specifications are good, and you'll likely have more than enough power for most sites (we did).
What else you need to know
HostGator also only guarantees 99.9% uptime on cloud hosting plans. Finally, there's a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, and HostGator will even move a simple website from your existing site to your new space, for free. And if you do run into trouble, no problem: HostGator's phone and live chat support has solved most of our problems within minutes.
In terms of speed, HostGator performed the best in this department when compared to the other hosts on our list. We assess web host performance by signing up for a shared hosting package, using a standard WordPress template to create a basic site, then watching how it performs in different situations. Our HostGator site handles a very acceptable average of 15 requests per second.
Read our full HostGator review (opens in new tab)
|Value for money||HostGator is affordable but the add-ons could get pricey if you pick a cheaper plan||★★★★☆|
|Ease of use||We found it easy to get started and navigate through the dashboard||★★★★☆|
|Features||HostGator has just about ever feature you'll need from a web host||★★★★★|
|Speed test||HostGator performed the best in our speed test compared to the other hosts||★★★★★|
Best for WordPress hosting(opens in new tab)
Bluehost (opens in new tab) is one of the world's largest web hosting providers, and has almost two decades of experience in helping users build a quality home on the web. Bluehost is owned by Newfold Digital (previously Endurance International Group), the company also behind major hosting names like HostGator, iPage, Domain.com and Web.com.
Bluehost is a quality choice when it comes to WordPress hosting because of its vast range of feature-packed plans, easy setup, reliable network and great live chat support to help keep your site running smoothly.
Aside from WordPress web hosting, Bluehost also offers managed WordPress hosting, WooCommerce (a hosting service that helps you to set up your online store), shared hosting, dedicated hosting, and VPS hosting.
We tested its 10GB single-site shared hosting plan, which we recommend for hosting newbies. It offers a website builder, WordPress integration, free CDN, and a free domain and SSL for the first year. Upgrading gets you unlimited sites and storage, automated backups and assorted other extras (depending on the plan).
WordPress comes preinstalled, for instance, so there was no need for us to do it ourselves. There’s also useful shortcuts to 'Customize your design' or 'Write your first blog post', which we used to immediately begin working on our site. It’s easy enough to use (even if you've never used WordPress before).
Bluehost's starter WordPress plans are priced the same. WordPress comes preinstalled, so you can start right away. We used the Bluehost Marketplace to find quality themes, feature-packed plugins and more. We were able to manage multiple WordPress sites from Bluehost’s easy-to-use web dashboard, although the expert live chat support agents were not the fastest to respond, we got the help we needed once they were active. Another downside to note is that Bluehost has no monthly billing options and you can only commit to a minimum of one year for its hosting plans.
There's plenty to like here for experts, too, from value VPS and configurable dedicated hosting, to hosted WooCommerce plans, business-friendly Google Workspace hosting, domain registration, and even migration support to easily move an existing site to your Bluehost account.
What else you need to know
In regards to how our site performed while being hosted on Bluehost, the results were positive, and put Bluehost towards the top of our shared hosting performance rankings. But keep in mind that we only ran tests on a single shared hosting plan; if you're looking at a VPS plan, dedicated hosting or anything else, you may see very different results.
Read our full Bluehost review (opens in new tab)
|Value for money||Bluehost is affordable enough and has enough features to justify the price||★★★★☆|
|Ease of use||Its dashboard is intuitive and the signing up process is straightforward||★★★★☆|
|Features||Bluehost has it all which is testament to its reputation||★★★★★|
|Speed test||Bluehost performed really well in our speed and uptime tests||★★★★☆|
Best of the rest: Next 7 web hosting services(opens in new tab)
ScalaHosting (opens in new tab) is an experienced Dallas-based provider with 15 years of experience in the web hosting business.
ScalaHosting made our best web hosting list because its product range includes everything from shared hosting for simple sites, and VPS for more demanding business projects, to custom-built managed clusters (a group of servers handling the same site) with the power to manage even the largest websites.
We found ScalaHosting's web dashboard to be clear and intuitive. Signing up with Scala Hosting is straightforward too. We particularly like that Scala Hosting gives us the option to pick where we’d like our server location to be. If you have no preference, you can select ‘First available’ and the web host will choose for you. We were looking to build a small personal site, and found that ScalaHosting's range more than covers the basics for a very low price.
ScalaHosting has four website hosting packages. Its Mini plan (which is the cheapest) lets you host one website, comes with unmetered bandwidth, free 1-click Installer, unlimited emails, free SSL, and daily offsite backups. The other three plans are ScalaHosting's Start, Advanced, Entry Cloud packages which all include the features mentioned above, plus important extras such as scalable storage and real-time malware protection.
Its Advanced and Entry Cloud plans also come with spam protection, priority support and SEO analysis worth $49. Scala Hosting will send the SEO analysis of your website to you via email, but you’ll need to request it. ScalaHosting's shared plans aren't the fastest we've seen, but they give you plenty of power for your cash, and could work for bargain hunters with personal or small business sites.
Being transparent, Scala Hosting’s long list of technical features could overwhelm a web hosting newbie, and although the company does do a good job of explaining what each feature means, there’s no information whether you actually need it for your site and why.
What else you need to know
The web knowledgebase is smaller than average. For example, the Hosting section has only 304 articles to cover shared, VPS, and reseller hosting, domains, DNS, security, email and more. Plus, the web host offers 24/7 support via its website, live chat and ticket/email.
In terms of speed, our site hosted on Scala Hosting performed fractionally slower than average, but still within reach of big hosting names on our list. The real highlight here is the company's professional and highly configurable VPS hosting, which has the power to handle serious business-critical sites.
Read our full Scala Hosting review (opens in new tab)
|Value for money||It's affordable and has full featured shared hosting plans||★★★★☆|
|Ease of use||Its dashboard is intuitive and the signing up process is straightforward||★★★★☆|
|Features||You'll find features that cover all aspects of what you need to run a functioning site||★★★★★|
|Speed test||Scala Hosting wasn't the fastest but our site performed well enough||★★★☆☆|
US-based GoDaddy (opens in new tab) is a web hosting giant with an absolutely huge range of products. There's shared, VPS and dedicated hosting; WordPress support covering everything from simple personal blogs to full-featured WooCommerce-powered web stores; an easy-to-use website builder, email and Microsoft 365 hosting, digital marketing tools, domain registration, payment processing, point-of-sale systems, and the list goes on.
GoDaddy makes a real effort to point you in the right direction from the get go. Our shared hosting control panel opened with a startup wizard to help us through our next steps.
We chose to also build a website from scratch using GoDaddy, and the wizard prompted us for our domain name and preferred data center location (North America, India, Singapore or Europe). We then created a WordPress account, installed WordPress, and even displayed the DNS records we should add to domains managed elsewhere (that last step can be ignored if you’re buying your domain from GoDaddy).
GoDaddy has an excellent startup tool that covers a lot of tasks, and made the setup process far easier than some of the other hosts we tested. Once our site went live, GoDaddy’s custom control panel makes it generally easy to manage.
GoDaddy has a decent range of four shared hosting plans. All include a choice of data centers in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific; daily backups, and unusual extras such as free Microsoft 365 mailboxes for the first year. But they look a little underpowered in other areas: the lower two plans have no free SSL, which is common practice with web hosting providers generally.
We found the shared hosting has below-par server response times, which was not the best experience during our tests because it took longer to solve the hosting issue we encountered.
GoDaddy delivers a high quality service for your money, too. We found the well-designed web dashboard easy to use; and were particularly impressed by the automated installer that sets up WordPress and 150+ other top web apps in a click or two. Also, its industry-standard cPanel has every tool you'll need to manage your web space.
This all worked well for us, but if you do need help, GoDaddy more than delivers with its detailed knowledge base, and multilingual live chat and phone support available in a very impressive 15+ languages.
What else you need to know
GoDaddy offers 24/7 support via live chat, telephone, a support website and online community (a simple web forum). There's no ticket support, unfortunately. Live chat and telephone support isn't always as speedy as we'd like. We tried a live chat session, and although an agent appeared very quickly, there were lengthy gaps between his replies.
Read our full GoDaddy review (opens in new tab)
|Value for money||Generally, GoDaddy's web hosting plans are value for money because of the quality of features it comes with||★★★★☆|
|Ease of use||We had no issues using the web host and enjoyed all the help that was given to us||★★★★★|
|Features||Lots of important and vital features including in even the cheapest plan||★★★★★|
|Speed test||GoDaddy performed well enough and our site was sufficiently fast||★★★★☆|
InMotion Hosting (opens in new tab) is a popular provider with over 20 years of hosting experience, and an impressive array of plans covering all kinds of applications.
This starts with capable shared, website builder and WordPress hosting products. There's free SSL, but InMotion offers plenty more, from configurable VPS plans, to powerful dedicated servers, and enterprise-level hosted private cloud solutions. However demanding your website might be, InMotion Hosting has the power to help.
InMotion Hosting's customer account panel looks more appealing than most, with the usual text links replaced by 30+ colorful cPanel-like icons. We didn’t need to use all of them, but there are some useful shortcuts, for example to launch cPanel, or Softaculous (an auto-script installer that allows its users to install and configure a wide variety of commercial and open-source apps via scripts and PHP classes) to install WordPress or hundreds of other apps.
Fortunately, we didn’t have to spend long in the account panel. One click launches Softaculous, you can have WordPress ready to go within a minute or two, and the excellent cPanel has all the email, file, database and other management tools you need to get your site running smoothly.
InMotion’s reseller hosting should appeal to anyone who wants to take a stab at becoming a web hosting provider. It offers 80GB of SSD storage and 800GB of bandwidth. With this, we were able to divide this between up to 25 customers. Everyone gets cPanel to help manage their web space, and the bundled WHMCS manages all the accounts and billing for you.
If you're feeling ambitious, upgrading gets you more storage, bandwidth and cPanel accounts. You can resell more powerful VPS plans, and WordPress VPS hosting gets you a 4GB RAM, 2 CPU VPS with five cPanel licenses. Whatever your preference, InMotion works harder than most to help keep your site running smoothly.
InMotion Hosting has low-cost and easy-to-use shared hosting plans, ideal for low-traffic personal and small business sites.
What else you need to know
There's 24/7 phone, email and live chat support, tickets, a support website, even a community forum to chat with others. And if it still doesn't work out, most plans are protected by a market-leading 90 day money-back guarantee period. InMotion Hosting has a '100% satisfaction guarantee' which promises your money back if you ask for it within a very generous 90 days.
There are some exceptions. There's 90 days of protection for all shared hosting, six month and longer VPS and reseller hosting packages. But dedicated servers and monthly-billed VPS and reseller plans get 30 days.
Read our full InMotion Hosting review (opens in new tab)
|Value for money||Most of InMotion Hosting's plans are good value for money||★★★☆☆|
|Ease of use||It was easy to use but the layout of the dashboard could be more simplistic||★★★★☆|
|Features||Lots of important and vital features including in each plan||★★★★★|
|Speed test||InMotion Hosting was the fourth fastest in our recent speed tests||★★★★☆|
Founded in 1997, Liquid Web (opens in new tab) is a quality web hosting provider of high-end managed hosting solutions for everything from email to WordPress, WooCommerce, VPS, dedicated and assorted other cloud products.
Unlike the more consumer-oriented competition, Liquid Web doesn't focus on cutting corners to hit some spectacular headline price. Instead, it builds fast and top-quality products first, and then just charges you whatever they happen to be worth.
Once we signed up and picked the plan we wanted to test out, we found Liquid Web’s dashboard design to be clean, simple, and everything we needed for monitoring and managing all aspects of our website was laid out in the main menu on the left tab.
If you already have a site elsewhere, Liquid Web's technical team will transfer it for you at no additional cost (you just need to ask), and this is true even if you’ve purchased their cheapest hosting package.
Liquid Web's VPS plans are crammed with high-end features (Linux or Windows hosting, Plesk and cPanel management, root access, DDoS protection, Cloudflare CDN, and more), and the website claims they're also faster than AWS, Rackspace or Digital Ocean. Would you expect them to be cheaper than everyone else? Of course not.
The service quality is obvious, everywhere you look. Your host has three or four data centers? Liquid Web has ten. Most providers claim 99.9% uptime; Liquid Web quotes 99.999%. The company doesn't just make vague promises about speedy support; its Service Level Agreement guarantees a live chat or telephone response time of under 59 seconds, with hosting credits if this doesn't happen.
All this power comes at a cost, and Liquid Web's baseline prices are higher than most competitors. But they're also fair value for the quality of the service, and still very affordable.
What else you need to know
In our speed test, Liquid Web performed exceptionally well, much to our surprise and our site experienced 100% uptime. Keep in mind that we monitored the uptime for two weeks, which is not the longest time frame but enough time to paint a sufficient picture of the provider’s performance.
Liquid Web’s customer support staff can be reached 24/7 via telephone, live chat, and email. We received help from Liquid Web in less than a minute via its live chat offering, which was impressive.
For extra support, Liquid Web has a bunch of YouTube explainer videos should you need video explainers but we found their written guides to be just as helpful.
Read our full Liquid Web review (opens in new tab)
|Value for money||Liquid Web is a bit more on the pricey side and offers most of the features as the other web hosts on the list||★★★☆☆|
|Ease of use||Liquid Web's dashboard is straightforward and easy to use||★★★★★|
|Features||Liquid Web has sufficient features but doesn't offer shared hosting||★★★☆☆|
|Speed test||Our site was fast while hosted on Liquid Web||★★★★☆|
WP Engine (opens in new tab) provides fast and reliable WordPress hosting for over 1.5 million websites worldwide. Founded in 2010, WP Engine currently offers WordPress hosting, WooCommerce and headless WordPress solutions.
We were a little overwhelmed with the signing up process and could see how the wide selection of add-ons being thrown at us could startle a web hosting beginner. However, we did appreciate the option we were given to change plans with ease. Once we were able to weed through the additional services we wanted and didn’t want (e.g. site monitoring and global edge security), we found the process of managing our site on the dashboard to be simple.
Just about every web host claims to offer a WordPress plan, but these are often little more than their shared hosting plan with some minor tweaks (they'll preinstall it for you, rather than leave you to install it in a couple of clicks).
WP Engine's plans are built for WordPress from the bottom up, with easier setup and migration, reliable and automatic WordPress updates, extra security features, specialist performance optimizations, valuable troubleshooting features and more.
The difference is obvious. Lesser providers may give you free themes, but they're often basic offerings you'll never want to use. WP Engine throws in 10 gorgeous StudioPress themes, premium products with real value.
Staging is another WP Engine benefit. We found that when we were changing themes, adding site features or just making a few updates, the Staging area allows safely testing these on a copy of our site, before we put them live. Other advantages include safer WordPress updates, while integrated performance tests run checks on your website and offer useful speedup tips.
If you don't need all this functionality, it could be a little overwhelming. The WP Engine interface is well laid out, but it's stuffed with tools and options, and this is likely to mean a steep learning curve for inexperienced users.
Prices are above average, too, with even the most basic WP Engine plan costing around 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.
What else you need to know
In our testing, the default WordPress home page loaded in just over two seconds. This is one of the fastest responses we’ve tested, with competitor Liquid Web only slightly behind.
There’s 24/7 live chat support and a ticket system, too. In our testing, the response was quick and the agent knowledgeable. For all plans except for single-site plans, there’s telephone support, too.
Read our full WP Engine review (opens in new tab)
|Value for money||WP Engine is expensive and although it comes with lots of features, some could be included as part of the overall price||★★★☆☆|
|Ease of use||Not the easiest to use for beginners but still straightforward enough||★★★★☆|
|Features||Lots of great features but a lot comes at an extra cost||★★★★☆|
|Speed test||WP Engine performed exceptionally well in our speed test||★★★★★|
Namecheap (opens in new tab) was founded way back in 2000 as a domain registrar, but over the years it's grown to offer a vast range of products and services. We're not just talking 'domains with some basic shared hosting on the side': Namecheap also has WordPress, VPS, dedicated and reseller accounts, business email hosting, spam filtering, premium DNS, cloud storage, a CDN, and even a VPN. There's a good chance you could find all the web-related products you need on Namecheap's site.
Namecheap's account control panel looks a little cluttered at first glance, with lists, and sidebars, and menus and icons everywhere you look. But spend just a moment exploring, and it begins to make a lot more sense.
There's a list of your domains over here, for instance, hosting panels over there, and some of these pages are hugely useful. We ended up spending more time managing our site than the hosting which is testament to Namecheap’s ease of use and well thought out dashboard layout.
Plans are generally good value, with low starting prices and some unexpected features. SSL comes free, but only for the first year. But positives include free site migration, a CDN, a domain for a year with website privacy, twice weekly backups, and support for hosting up to three websites (many budget plans limit you to one).
It's a similar story of value products with unexpected features in Namecheap's WordPress hosting. The company's most expensive plan (EasyWP Supersonic) gets you a site capable of 500K visitors a month, with a 99.9% uptime guarantee, and a free CDN for the best possible performance.
We found that Namecheap's VPS and dedicated products aren't quite as competitive. Prices are reasonable and there are plenty of configuration options, but they don't cover every need (there's no Windows hosting, for instance). But even here, Namecheap generally does a good job, and overall it's a great hosting provider for those on a tight budget.
What else you need to know
Our speed test suggests Namecheap delivers at best lower mid-range shared hosting performance. But although it's trailing the speed leaders, Namecheap's times would be perfectly acceptable for many sites, and there's more than enough power here for many personal and small business sites.
Namecheap has 24/7 support via its website, live chat and ticket (there's no telephone support). The web knowledgebase is a vast collection of articles organized into common hosting categories such as email, SSL certificates, domains, and EasyWP (Namecheap's WordPress range).
Read the full Namecheap review (opens in new tab)
|Value for money||Plans are good value with low starting prices||★★★★☆|
|Ease of use||Namecheap's account control panel is a little cluttered||★★★☆☆|
|Features||Its features are sufficient but doesn't cover every need||★★★☆☆|
|Speed test||Our site speed was average in our speed test||★★★☆☆|
Founded in 2010, Hostwinds (opens in new tab) is a Tulsa-founded, Seattle-based web hosting company with some very configurable products which work for home and more demanding business users.
Hostwinds uses industry-standard hosting tools and platforms across its service. Its web account dashboard, where you'll manage, add and cancel products, is powered by WHMCS. It's a very popular system, and if you've signed up with hosting providers in the past, there's a good chance you'll immediately know your way around.
We wouldn’t say that Hostwinds is the easiest web host to navigate on our list but it certainly isn’t challenging.
Hostwinds offers cheap and easy-to-use shared hosting plans, ideal for first-time users and smaller home and business websites. A huge range of VPS (Virtual Private Server) plans give your site more resources for extra speed, making them a cost-effective choice for demanding small to medium business sites.
Configurable dedicated hosting plans provide an entire web server just for your site, the ultimate in power and performance. Developers and other experts can build a custom setup with multiple cloud servers, load balancers, block and object storage, whatever suits their precise needs.
Hostwinds has a decent set of features including free SSL, a free dedicated IP, a website builder, and easy WordPress installation. And optional extras include Hostwinds Monitoring, where the company monitors your site, and automatically opens a ticket if the site is down.
Hostwinds plans become even more configurable as you head up the range. VPS hosting is available in both Linux and Windows flavors, for example, and in managed (Hostwinds maintains the server for you) and cheaper unmanaged (you handle the technical stuff yourself) forms. One downside that we think you should be aware of is the fact that Hostwinds offers a very short two-day refund period for subscriptions under 12 months.
Hostwinds also excels with its dedicated server range. We were given the option to choose from 13 base servers, then add up to ten SSD or HDD storage devices, use from 8 to 32GB RAM, opt for our favorite Linux distro (or Windows server), and set our bandwidth allowance to anything from 10TB to unmetered.
What else you need to know
Hostwinds has a less-than-generous three day money-back period covering its hosting products. The industry standard is usually 30 days.
In regards to customer support, tickets or emails can be a better choice for complicated issues. Hostwinds responded quickly to these, too - often in under 30 minutes - and again, recognized our issues immediately and quickly pointed us in the right direction.
Read our full Hostwinds review (opens in new tab)
|Value for money||Hostwinds is generally good value for money but it's not the cheapest option||★★★☆☆|
|Ease of use||Easy enough to use for web hosting beginners||★★★★☆|
|Features||Enough features to make it a good host but doesn't include everything||★★★★☆|
|Speed test||Hostwinds speed was a little below par during our test||★★★☆☆|
Honourable web hosting mentions
DreamHost - Best for email hosting (opens in new tab)
Some web hosts target the consumer market, others go for businesses, but DreamHost (opens in new tab) is a little more ambitious: its range of plans are designed to appeal to just about everybody. DreamHost's email package goes beyond the basics with a spacious 25GB Inbox.
Domain.com - Best for value shared plans (opens in new tab)
Domain.com (opens in new tab)'s shared hosting is fair value and comes with free SSL and unlimited storage. Your web space is managed via a very limited dashboard, not even close to matching cPanel, but it covers the basics and you should have your site up and running fairly quickly.
How we test the best web hosting services
Our reviewers test each web hosting service (opens in new tab) by signing up and purchasing a plan to check out what each web hosting provider offers new users, as well as how easy it is to navigate around each brand’s dashboard. We pay a great deal of attention to the support that is offered to you.
We weigh up the details of what you get, (as well as what you don't) 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.
Because we know it’s important to pick a web hosting company you can trust, we focus on whether each web hosting provider presents its products in an honest, clear and transparent way. In our tests, this is easy to pick up on as we compare the list of features each company claims it offers, to what we actually have access to once we begin using their service.
Lastly, our web host speed tests are generally based on the cheapest shared hosting plan available from a provider.
We then upload a basic static site to our web space, including HTML and CSS files and some images, and configure Uptime.com to check the availability and server response time of our site at five-minute intervals. This gives us a general indication of the speed and uptime you are likely going to experience when you finally make a decision on the best web hosting provider for you.
Each web hosting provider below has been selected based on it being at the top of its game for one aspect of web hosting service or another. From shared hosting to reseller hosting, we have put together the best of the best for you to find a web hosting company that suits your individual needs.
Should you need more tips on buying a web hosting service, what the different types of hosting services are, or how to choose the best web hosting service for you, scroll down to the bottom of this page for all this and more.
How to choose the best web hosting services for you
Everyone has their own individual hosting priorities, and we can't tell you exactly what you'll need and what you won't. But we can give you some general rules that will point you in the right direction.
Unlimited (or unmetered) disk space and bandwidth sounds great, and all that really matters is you've enough for your site, and that may be much less than you think. Web host Kinsta reported (opens in new tab) that its clients' WordPress sites averaged only around 1GB in size, for instance. If that's you, paying for 'unlimited' space won't bring any benefits at all.
Your website almost certainly needs an SSL certificate to enable secure encrypted connections with visitors, and avoid the worrying 'insecure' warnings they'll get if you're SSL-free. Most plans offer free SSL, but check the small print: occasionally SSL comes free for the first year only, and you'll have to pay after that.
Many web hosting plans include a free domain name, a tempting sweetener if you don't have one already. But beware, it's typically only free for a year, and then you'll pay the provider's standard renewal fees. Dot com domain renewals don't vary much (an average $10-$20 a year), but it's a different story with others. If you need a domain, check renewal prices to find out the real long-term cost.
Websites can break for all kinds of reasons, and if you want to keep downtime to a minimum, backups are an absolute must. Look for a plan that includes a backup service, and pay attention to frequency: weekly backups might be just about acceptable for sites that never change, but daily backups are much better.
No matter how experienced you are in the web hosting world, you're sure to need support occasionally. Check out your prospective hosts' support site: does it have content on the topics you'd expect, and is this helpful and easy to read? A host should at least have 24/7 live chat support, but telephone, ticket, and email helps, too: there can't be too many ways to get in touch.
Web hosting service FAQs
What are web hosting services?
If you've found yourself asking "What is a web hosting service and how does it work? (opens in new tab)" we've written a detailed explanation with all the information you need to help you understand the service before picking the right one for your website needs.
In a nutshell, web hosting is a service that makes your site or web application accessible on the internet - and is generally considered as one of the most important elements needed when building a website of any sort.
Web hosts maintain and run physical servers that house websites, and there's lots to choose from depending on your website's needs and your budget.
From shared hosting, to VPS and WordPress hosting (opens in new tab) - the type of server space that you rent to store your website's data can be specifically tailored depending on the web hosting service you choose and what package you select from the provider.
What is shared hosting?
Shared hosting (opens in new tab) is a simple scheme where multiple websites are stored on the same web server (a type of computer).
One benefit of shared hosting is its simplicity. You don't have to spend any time maintaining the server, because your provider does that. All you need to do is work on your own site.
Sharing a web server means sharing the costs, too, and with sometimes hundreds of websites on the same server, that usually means rock-bottom prices.
The big problem with shared hosting is you’re also sharing your server's system resources: CPU time, RAM, storage and network connection. There's only so much to go around, and the more sites on your server, the slower and less dependable your own website is likely to be.
Shared hosting is still the best choice in many situations. If you're creating a simple blog, a site for family, a local club, anything with very light traffic where no-one will care much if the site is a little slow occasionally, the shared option is ideal. It's very easy to use, and you can get decent plans from many providers for around $2 to $4 a month.
But if this is something more important, a web store, maybe a business site, then a slow or unreliable website will drive visitors away. It’s well worth upgrading to something more powerful.
What is VPS hosting?
VPS (opens in new tab) (Virtual Private Server) hosting is a clever technology which divides a single physical server into multiple server environments.
Log onto a VPS and you'll have access to what looks like the full server. This is far more complex than shared hosting, but it also gives you much more control. You can install any apps, tweak any server settings, even replace the entire operating system if you like.
There will be other VPS environments on the same physical server (though not as many other accounts as with shared hosting), reducing your performance a little. But you'll have your own allocation of network bandwidth, RAM, storage and CPU time. These won't be shared with other customers, which means your site should see higher and more consistent speeds than you'll get with shared hosting.
Upgrading is often very easy, too. If website traffic grows and you need additional resources - more CPU time, extra RAM, a higher bandwidth allowance - then you can typically add them to your plan in a click or two, and they'll be available almost immediately.
This extra power comes at a price, but it might be much less than you think. Hostinger's cheapest shared hosting plan is $1.99 a month on the four-year plan; its cheapest VPS plan is just $2.99, again over four years. It's a very basic plan, but at $8.99 for a one-off month, it's not expensive to see if a VPS could work for you.
What is dedicated hosting?
As the name suggests, dedicated hosting (opens in new tab) is a plan where a physical server is dedicated to a single client. That means no more speed issues because you're sharing bandwidth, RAM or CPU time with other accounts: the entire system is yours alone.
As you're renting the entire physical server, most providers allow you to build it with whatever hardware you need. You can typically choose your CPU, storage drives and type (cheap and high capacity HDDs, smaller but faster SSDs), operating system, bandwidth allowance and more.
This can be expensive. Even budget providers like Namecheap charge a monthly $50-$60 for their most basic dedicated servers, and Liquid Web's top-of-the-range enterprise models might cost $500 or more (although they're aimed at huge sites which might have a million page views a month).
There's more work involved in managing a dedicated server, too. With shared hosting, if your server crashes, the provider support team should notice and fix or reboot it. But if you're running the server, all that is up to you, unless you pay even more to the provider to handle it for you.
If you absolutely need top performance and complete control of your server, though, a dedicated plan is probably the way to go.
What is WordPress hosting?
WordPress is a popular free platform which makes it easy to build all kinds of websites, from a simple one-page offering, to a blog, a professional business site, even a full web store.
Many web hosting providers offer WordPress plans which simplify the process of setting up your site, and often include tools to boost speeds and keep the site running more smoothly.
Buy a plan and WordPress usually comes pre-installed, for example, so you won't have to set it up yourself. WP Engine throws in some stylish WordPress themes, allowing you to create a gorgeous-looking site even if you've zero design skills. And most plans make at least some effort to automatically update WordPress with new patches as they arrive, reducing your site maintenance hassles.
If your WordPress needs are very simple, you may not need a specialist WordPress hosting plan. Most shared hosting plans have easy WordPress installation and a handful of other relevant features, and Hostinger's all-in-one shared hosting product gives you all kinds of valuable extras - automated updates, a WordPress site-building wizards, performance accelerators, more - from as little as $2.99 a month.
What is managed hosting?
Shared hosting accounts are generally very simple to operate, but higher end products - WordPress, VPS hosting, dedicated servers - often require running all kinds of maintenance tasks. You might need to test and update WordPress plugins, install operating system patches, spot and troubleshoot server errors, maybe reboot a server if it locks up or crashes.
Buy a managed web hosting (opens in new tab) plan and some or all of these tasks will be carried out by your hosting provider's regular support team. You'll potentially save real time and hassle, and if problems do crop up, they'll be speedily addressed by the people best qualified to fix them.
Sounds great-- so why would anyone do anything else? Cost, mostly. Hostwinds' 4-core 8GB RAM VPS costs $59.99 fully managed, for instance, but only $38.99 for the unmanaged DIY version, a big drop in price.
One key message here is to keep this in mind when comparing WordPress, VPS or dedicated plans between hosting providers. Host A may look seriously cheap, but are you comparing a managed with an unmanaged plan? Be sure to check the small print.
There's no precise definition of 'managed', either, so don't simply assume a managed plan means you'll have absolutely no maintenance to do. Every provider has its own definition of what's covered and what isn't, so check it out, make sure you understand exactly what's covered before you buy.
What is email hosting?
One of the big advantages of registering a domain is you can have your own custom email address (Steve@thebestbuilder.com is far more impressive and business-like than firstname.lastname@example.org.) But it's not always as easy as you might expect.
You probably won't get email when you register a domain, for instance. Most hosting plans include some email support, but it may not be as powerful as you need, especially for business use. You'll often see strict limits on Inbox size, the number of accounts you can create, even the number of emails you can send a day.
Email hosting (opens in new tab)is a service which allows you to send and receive emails via a custom domain. You don't have to buy email hosting from the same provider as your web hosting, and in fact you don't need web hosting at all: just register a domain, buy an email hosting plan and you're ready to start creating and using all those email@example.com email accounts.
Signing up for email hosting may get you a better service. The top providers give you plenty of Inbox space, support large attachments, don't hold you back with annoying usage limits and provide built-in spam, phishing and malware filters to keep you safe.
This could be a feature well worth adding to your hosting line-up, and it's generally inexpensive; many email hosting plans cost around $1-$2.50 a month. But if you currently have a budget shared hosting plan, keep in mind that upgrading might get you better email features and a bunch of other goodies, too. Check your provider's hosting feature lists to find out exactly what you get.
What else should I consider when picking a web host?
Three or four-year hosting plans can have appealingly low prices, but they don't always work out. If you're unhappy with a host, or your site grows and the old plan can't handle the increased traffic, you may have to buy something else early. It's safer to sign up for a year (or even less), at least initially, and perhaps choose a VPS or similar plan where it's easy to add more resources as required.
Uptime (the percentage of the day that your website is available) is a key stat for any serious website. If a potential customer can't find or use your website, at best they'll think you're unprofessional, at worst they'll give up on you entirely and go elsewhere.
Web hosting providers often quote uptime figures such as '99.9%', but these don't always cover the issues you might expect. Check the small print carefully for any hidden catches.
Look for a Service Level Agreement (SLA), too, especially for dedicated and other high-end hosting plans. These go beyond vague website promises to guarantee uptime, support response times and other elements of the service, and describe the compensation you'll get if the target is missed.
And if you're looking for more specific advice on one type of hosting in particular, chances are we've an article that can help. Get started with our guides to the best free web hosting (opens in new tab), best WordPress hosting (opens in new tab), best VPS hosting (opens in new tab), best managed hosting (opens in new tab) and best Minecraft server hosting (opens in new tab). Each article has links to other guides and reviews where you'll find out more.
Web hosting features explained
If you’re new to web hosting, some of the terms and features may sound confusing. To help you understand them, we’ve come up with a quick explainer for the most common elements in web hosting services:
Domain name (opens in new tab). It’s the address people type in their browsers to visit your website, like techradar.com. Many hosting plans include one domain name for free for the first year of registration. Choose a .com domain to establish your credibility or .online for an affordable alternative.
SSL certificate (opens in new tab). This feature encrypts the connection between your website and your visitors’ browsers, preventing hackers from accessing it. Hosting providers usually provide one for free from Let’s Encrypt (opens in new tab). Some also offer a premium version as an add-on, which can provide a better warranty and level of verification.
Unmetered bandwidth (opens in new tab). This means the hosting provider won’t monitor or cap the amount of data transferred, so there’s no need to worry about extra bandwidth usage fees once the website’s traffic grows. Each company has a different policy on unmetered resources, so make sure to read their terms and conditions beforehand.
SSD disk space. Compared to HDDs, SSDs are a much more reliable storage solution. They’re less prone to disk failures and can serve data twenty times faster, speeding up your website’s performance.
cPanel (opens in new tab). With this control panel, new users can manage their hosting via an intuitive interface – no technical skills required. You can access different features, check out your resource usage, and configure the domain’s settings within a few clicks.
WordPress auto-installer (opens in new tab). This feature lets you set up WordPress in a few clicks from the hosting’s control panel. That way, there’s no need to download and upload the CMS files yourself.
Website migration. Most hosting providers allow transferring an existing site from another host to their servers. Typically, you have to insert some information about the website, submit a ticket to their customer support team, and wait a few hours for the migration to initiate.
Custom HTML (opens in new tab) and CSS (opens in new tab). The control panel should provide access to your website’s files, including HTML and CSS, via the file manager or an FTP client. Feel free to edit them to customize the site’s front end to your liking.