While website design takes care of site visuals, the unsung powerhouse of all web activity is web hosting. Hosting gives your website space online so anyone across the world can see it. The benefits of hosting are real: Reliable site performance, strong security, and trustworthy tech support to keep your site online all the time. With this guide on hosting, you’ll get an in-depth look on how it all works and what to look for when choosing a web host. Want professional-grade service? We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 web hosts to help you get the most powerful online presence.
What are Website Hosting Services and Which is Right for You?
Website hosting services are basically the plot of internet land that your website storefront sits on. If you have a website, it needs to be on the web, and these hosting services are the landlords that put your site and keep it running so your customers can access and see it when they type in your URL.
There are many types of hosting services for businesses of all sorts. Some web hosting companies can do everything from building your website to marketing and selling it; while other providers only provide the space, infrastructure, technical support staff and equipment so you can build a website on your own. Depending on your business model and size, you’ll choose a hosting company based on the factors explained below. Once you understand the terminology, you can weigh features and select the service that works best for your company’s needs.
#1 Hostinger: Best Performance & Low Cost
Hostinger is known for its aggressive marketing, so I was particularly curious to see if it was all just talk. My expectations were not very high, but what can I say? I was truly surprised. With such low prices, I never thought I’d see such excellent performance test results.
What do I mean by excellent? Well, our testing shows that even on Hostinger’s basic plan, which costs only $1.99 per month if you sign up for a year, loading speeds almost equaled what we saw from much more expensive services, such as Nexcess and Kinsta.
If you want to host anything from a personal blog to a business page and you’d like to get your website online as quickly and as cheaply as possible, you really can’t go wrong with Hostinger.
#2 Nexcess: Best Managed Hosting
While Hostinger is a great cost-effective solution, you’ll have to make your own optimizations and reconfigurations to get the most out of it. The alternative is managed hosting, and Nexcess (part of the Liquid Web family) provides just that. It’s more expensive to have a true professional do the hard work for you, but it’s the easiest, safest, and most worry-free way to host a website.
Nexcess’ cloud-based service supports multiple platforms, with specific server stacks and configurations that will enable your site to reach peak performance. If you’re not sure what that means, don’t worry – Nexcess takes care of everything for you. With guaranteed high speeds and peak server stability, the only thing left for you to do is build your website.
Why is it #2 then? As it is a managed service, it is much more expensive than Hostinger. Still, it’s among the cheaper managed options available, and you should definitely consider it.
#3 InterServer: Best Monthly Hosting Plan
InterServer is one of the best options if you’re targeting a North American audience. When we tested its US data centers, the loading speeds all over the US and Canada were great. Even in many Western European countries, speeds were still acceptable – but keep in mind that visitors in other parts of the world may have to wait longer for your site to load.
There are other things to like about InterServer, though. I personally like how there’s only one shared plan, and it comes with unlimited resources. You get a generous allocation of server space and bandwidth, and InterServer doesn’t even limit the number of domains you can connect on a single account. This makes it ideal if you’re looking to build multiple small websites.
The fact that InterServer’s monthly rates are among the lowest on the market doesn’t hurt either. The basic plan costs only $2.50 for the first month right now.
#4 Kinsta: Fastest Managed WordPress Hosting
Let me say this right away: if price wasn’t an issue, Kinsta would absolutely be #1 on this list. There’s so much to love about the service, from the stylish and ultra-easy-to-use panel to the phenomenal page loading speeds we recorded every time we tested it.
It’s a fully-managed service, much like Nexcess’, but with a few key differences. It only supports WordPress, its professional support team is more readily available (responses in under one minute, 24/7), and performance is even better.
I’ll let you in on a little insider secret. Kinsta doesn’t really care about affiliate deals, advertising, or any of the things that providers like Hostinger spend so much time and money on. It’s clear that they focus on one thing, and one thing only – delivering the best product possible.
So, what’s not to like? First, there’s no email hosting. Second, the price. It’s even more expensive than Nexcess (which in itself isn’t cheap), but if your budget allows it, Kinsta should definitely be your choice.
#5 InMotion Hosting: Best US-Based Support
InMotion Hosting is very similar to InterServer in the sense that both companies maintain data centers on both US coasts, aimed mostly at American audiences. We’ve tested InMotion’s D.C. data centers and found that while speeds were not as fast as InterServer, they were still well within an acceptable range.
So, why not just go with InterServer? Because while InterServer’s hosting does not lack strengths, the company has a huge problem delivering quality support. InMotion Hosting does a decidedly better job at recruiting actual English speakers and training them properly, making it that much easier to get help.
The support experience doesn’t end there. InMotion has amassed what is maybe the most detailed knowledge base around, filled with countless tutorials on how to perform each and every hosting-related task. Simply speaking, even if you’re a huge technophobe, you’ll be alright.
#6 A2 Hosting: Great Speed & Uptime Scores
While InMotion Hosting combines excellent support, great features, and respectable speeds, A2 Hosting delivers a slightly different mix: features are generally similar, but loading speeds are even better. The support? Nothing to write home about.
A2’s long history in the web hosting business makes it even easier to recommend. With a proven record of consistent loading speeds and high uptime over many years, it’s the kind of host you can simply trust.
If you feel generally confident about your ability to follow guides and tutorials, the lack of available (and/or knowledgeable) support agents shouldn’t be that much of an issue. Given the fact that you can always quit the service and get a pro-rata refund, I’d say it’s worth trying.
#7 FastComet: Best Servers Outside of US & EU
FastComet’s use case is simple. If you want to reach audiences in locations such as Japan and India, you have three options: Go with Kinsta, which is expensive. Risk it with a local host, where bureaucracy and the language barrier are bound to be an issue. Or choose FastComet, which offers a streamlined and easy-to-use service, and operates data centers in each one of these locations.
FastComet’s deployment and performance in the US and Europe are nothing to scoff at either, but it’s the extra locations that make it a true gem. Don’t even try serving South-Asian visitors from a data center located in Europe – they’ll jump ship long before your website loads.
Another great part of the service is FastComet’s highly-trained support agents, which I’ve had mostly fantastic experiences with. The only issue is that occasionally you might get matched up with a less enthusiastic agent who will waste your time and say, “I’m sorry, that issue isn’t covered by our support service.” But mysteriously, I’ve found that the next agent I speak with is almost always more eager to help.
#8 SiteGround: Easiest-to-Use Control Panel
SiteGround has quite an interesting story. Up until lately, it was simply a very good and very dependable cPanel-based provider, meaning it did pretty much what every other shared host does, although usually better. After the hosting industry shakeup caused by cPanel raising its license fees, SiteGround became a different beast altogether.
After months of intense testing and development, SiteGround launched Site Tools, a ridiculously easy-to-use control panel. It lets you set up all important aspects of your hosting quickly, much like what Nexcess and Kinsta offer.
But… the service is still based on shared servers, meaning that performance is not nearly as fast as those premium hosts. Actually, in our testing we discovered that out of the ten hosts on this list, SiteGround was usually the slowest. Still, if you’re looking to pay shared hosting prices and get a lot of the perks managed hosting has to offer, SiteGround is a great option.
#9 GreenGeeks: Best Customer Support
Folks, you’ve reached #9 on our list. While all hosts on this list are great and deserve your consideration, from this point on, there are compromises involved. Still, they each have their strong suits, and GreenGeeks is no different.
We love GreenGeeks for many reasons, from its multiple data centers that deliver surprisingly fast speeds, to the powerful cPanel features it includes with every plan. And yet, the best part of GreenGeeks is – hands-down – the support experience.
Even great hosts like InterServer and Nexcess struggle with maintaining a professional live support service 24/7. GreenGeeks’ team outperforms them all, and it’s a real pleasure to work with them. They really know what they’re doing, go way beyond what’s expected when lending a hand, and are always a live chat away.
#10 Hostwinds: Cheapest Self-Managed Hosting
There’s a reason why Hostwinds is last on our list, and it’s not because it’s a bad provider. On the contrary – Hostwinds’ shared hosting plans are great, packed with almost every important feature, and all come with no resource limitations.
But you can get better features with InterServer. And SiteGround’s interface is easier to use. And while support is generally great, I’ve also had some miserable experiences, with agents proposing some rather preposterous fixes to rather simple issues.
What’s the saving grace? During my performance tests, I discovered that at its peak, Hostwinds delivered some of the fastest loading speeds of all the hosts on this list. Better than Nexcess’ best. If you have web hosting experience, and are able to perform optimizations and configure things yourself, there’s a good chance you can make Hostwinds into a performance champion.
The Global Web Host Comparison Project: How We Did It
Now, I try to be trusting. When people tell me they can do something, I want to believe them. But when each and every host in existence claims to be the very best, how can anybody take their word for it?
“Blazing speeds,” for example, is a term that’s commonly thrown around. Some hosts apparently think it applies to a sluggish three seconds loading time for a basic landing page. “24/7 expert support service” that’s only occasionally staffed, and never by experts, isn’t any better.
The only way to really size these companies up is to test them. And so, I set out on a journey to find the answer to the most important question:
Which web hosting services are actually the best ones today?
The process wasn’t easy, as the competition was fierce. I broke my analysis down into three smaller questions:
- Which are the most popular and most appreciated web hosts today?
- What am I looking for in a quality hosting service?
- After signing up to and thoroughly testing the contenders, how do they compare in terms of features, performance, ease of use, prices, and support?
I’m happy to report that the project went well, and that I was quite surprised by the results myself.