Disk space and bandwidth: Hosting companies often advertise that they offer unlimited resources like disk space and bandwidth with their shared hosting plans. However, you’ll have usage restrictions on how you use the resources for your site. When you’re signing up for a service, you’re obliged to adhere to the terms of services of your hosting company. And based on the terms, you’ll only be allowed to use server resources for the normal operation of a small website.
The company packs in the freebies right from the start, giving users a drag-and-drop site builder with hundreds of design templates, along with free domain registration, SSL certificate, and hassle-free site migration. Even better, InMotion has among the best customer service teams in the business, with 24/7 support available via chat, phone, and email.
Whether I’m geeking out with Ryan, Laura, and the team, or sketching out server diagrams to explain the basics to my grandmother, talking about a career in web hosting is always a creative endeavor, and I love it. Hopefully, this guide has cleared up some of the common confusions of hosting services, and you’re ready to sign up with the web host that best fits your upcoming site needs.
Along with figuring out the overall category of your site, you should think about what (if any) exceptions there are to that. A lot of people set up a simple blog, and then realize they also want to sell just a few products. If you’re going to sell something on the website (even just a few things), you’ll need some kind of e-commerce software that will make that happen.
This is unfortunate because, these days, owning a website is becoming a crucial part of running a successful business, and more and more folks are establishing a web presence for their personal brand as well. You can use hosting to sell online, store and share your portfolio, or even publish your freelance writing samples and resumé. Yet, even the basics — What is web hosting? — can be lost on the average web user.
Once you decide you price range, you need to consider how long you'll need web hosting. If it's a short-term project—say, less than a month or two—you can typically receive a refund should you cancel your hosting within 60 days. Some companies offer 30-day money-back guarantees, others offer 90-day money-back guarantees. Once again, it's beneficial to do your homework.
There are many ways to build and manage a website – eCommerce platforms, such as Magento or PrestaShop; content management systems, such as Joomla or Drupal; and blogging software, like WordPress, being just a few examples. The web hosting market can accommodate a wide variety of platforms and methods for creating, publishing, and administering web content. Applications can be integrated directly into the web hosting environment, making it simpler to use the site management tool with a given web host.
Website builder: While most hosting providers offer website builder as a standard feature, not every builder is created equal. For example, some web hosts only allow you to build a basic websites with their builder, whereas others even let you launch an online store with it. The key is to figure out whether their builder comes with the right set of features you’ll need.
Not all software is specifically supported by name by web hosts, but you can still use it if the requirements are met. You can use the Scripting and Languages filter to find hosts that support the technology that your desired app runs on. Any other questions you may have on how to narrow down your search as you compare web hosting providers, be sure to let us know!
Whatever the case, this won’t reflect well on your website or business. If you’re a professional or hobbyist, consider this scenario: your business/blog is mentioned on the radio, TV, or in an article on a highly trafficked site. Suddenly you have 60,000 web visitors . . . and it’s gone. Your site crashes under the stampede. Poof! There goes all that free publicity.
Beyond that, DreamHost is a top website hosting company for many reasons. It operate its own control panel, which is convenient and easy to understand. While phone customer support isn't available 24/7, it is responsive to live chat and tickets. The company uses super-fast SSDs for all its storage, has a free SSL certificate (for more secured web browsing) and provides SSH access for those plans that are intended for more technical users.
Virtual private server (VPS) or cloud hosting can be a good middle-of-the-road option between the lowest pricing (shared servers) and highest reliability (dedicated servers). A VPS is a physical server that usually has multiple sites hosted on it. However, it’s much more sophisticated than shared servers in its ability to distribute server resources – and it carries a lighter price tag than for dedicated hosting.
In particular, Web Hosting Hub uses BoldGrid as a site builder. BoldGrid is actually an add-on to WordPress, so there's no lock-in. This overcomes the major problem of most site builders: you're locked into that host and that tool, often requiring you to completely rebuild your site if you want to expand. By using a WordPress-based solution, all of the rather considerable power of WordPress is available for future expansion.
HostGator gained points for uptime monitoring and regular backups, along with free cPanel or Plesk. We liked that SSH is available for the more technically inclined site operators and that dedicated IP addresses could be purchased. We did take points off because it's sometimes difficult to tell what the price is once promotional plans run their course. That said, with a generous 45-day money back guarantee, there's a hosting solution for almost everyone at HostGator.
GlowHost earned our kudos for its 91-day money-back guarantee. It's six days short of DreamHost's 97-day guarantee, but with these numbers, who's quibbling over a few days? The company also offers 24/7/365 phone support option and free cPanel offering for most plans. The company operates 18 data centers worldwide. Finally, the company garnered extra kudos by driving all its hosting services with wind power.
For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as Senior Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out web hosting, music, utilities, and video game copy, Jeffrey makes comic books, mentors, practices bass and Jeet Kune Do, and appears on the odd podcasts or convention panel. He also collects vinyl and greatly enjoys a craft brew. You can a find Jeffrey online at jeffreylwilson.net, or send him a tweet at @jeffreylwilson
If you've ever been worried about the tremendous amount of power large data centers consume, you might want to sign up with Green Geeks. The "green" in the company's name reflects the Green Geeks' commitment to the environment. It purchases three times the energy it actually uses in wind energy credits, essentially putting energy back into the economy. The company does this through a form of renewable energy certificates, which, while a bit complicated, means that it's not just energy neutral, i's actually helping fuel the green energy economy.
Just because a web hosting company looks good in their feature list doesn’t mean they are. Read the reviews in our review section and see which companies are difficult to deal with and which ones are helpful. You will almost certainly run into problems at some point, so pay attention to reviews that recount experiences people have had with customer service.
To host a website on the internet, an individual or company would need their own computer or server. As not all companies had the budget or expertise to do this, web hosting services began to offer to host users' websites on their own servers, without the client needing to own the necessary infrastructure required to operate the website. The owners of the websites, also called webmasters, would be able to create a website that would be hosted on the web hosting service's server and published to the web by the web hosting service.
And while the free hosts we recommend guarantee you can keep your free hosting as long as you’d like, you will want to take advantage of additional (paid) features as your site grows. Those same providers offer paid plans to upgrade your service, however, serious site owners should strongly consider opting for a reputable, affordable, full-featured hosting provider.
Yes, you can type “free website hosting” into a search engine of your choice, and you will get results. Don’t do it. At best, you will be stuck with shoddy service, semi-reliable uptime, and ridiculously short-lived storage and bandwidth capacities. The free options out there will frustrate you, and putting yourself through that makes zero sense when you can have quality hosting for as little as $2 a month.
As longtime website owners and hosting nerds, we've been asked often: "Which web host is your personal favorite?" We recently decided to take this question seriously — exhaustively testing accounts with all the best web hosting services to analyze their uptime, features, pricing, support, and more. So who do we believe offers the best web hosting? See below for our top reviews of 2020, conveniently broken out by category:
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As with backups, SSL certificates are not a necessary feature your web host must offer, this is especially so since companies like Let’s Encrypt offer them for free. However, if you’re looking to streamline the process of getting your site fully equipped and online in no time, the extra convenience of getting this certificate from your web hosting provider is a nice add-on.