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Best web hosting services 2023: Expert picks and advice

web hosting services primary artImage: Marshall Gunnell / Foundry

Every website needs a reliable host, but a hosting service designed for simple blogging might not meet your expanding business demands. Limited storage, slow load times, and subpar customer support are common pitfalls of basic hosting services. Luckily, there are several great web hosting providers available at various price points—and the top-tier ones offer advanced features and technologies that you won’t find in any basic package.

Navigating the sea of web hosting options can be daunting. With a range of plans, features, and price points to consider, finding the perfect fit requires careful consideration. And that’s where our guide to the best web hosting services of 2023 comes in. We’ve done the heavy lifting, rigorously testing and comparing offerings from a variety of providers to help you make the most informed decision for your needs.

Updated 09/08/23: See our recent review of One.com. This web hosting service is particularly suited for novices, with good customer support and offering good value, but it’s not quite enough to make our list of best web hosting services here.

Digital Ocean – Best for developer-friendly features

Pros

Transparent pricing and pay-as-you-go model Comprehensive suite of features, including seamless Kubernetes cluster management Strong security measures and multiple backup options 99.99% uptime guarantee and multiple global data centers for reduced latency

Cons

Not geared toward beginners Some important features, like automated backups, require a technical background to set up Price When Reviewed:$4/monthBest Prices Today:$4 at Digital Ocean

DigitalOcean is renowned in the web hosting space for its developer-friendly approach, providing advanced features and technologies that cater to tech-savvy users. Unlike traditional web hosting providers, DigitalOcean offers cloud-based infrastructure services, allowing users to deploy and manage applications and websites on virtual servers, known as “droplets.” This cloud-based model provides high flexibility and scalability, making it an excellent choice for developers and businesses with growing needs.

One of DigitalOcean’s key selling points is its customization options. Users have the flexibility to choose the exact amount of memory, CPU, and SSD storage that their projects require, allowing them to tailor their hosting environment to their specific needs. DigitalOcean also provides the option of choosing from pre-configured droplets with popular apps and development stacks already installed, which can save considerable time and effort.

DigitalOcean’s robust API is another major draw for developers. It allows for programmatic control of resources, enabling users to automate tasks, integrate with other services, and generally manage their hosting environment more efficiently. This level of control and automation is a significant advantage for developers who want to optimize their workflows.

Alongside these developer-friendly features, DigitalOcean provides a wealth of educational resources aimed at developers. Its community tutorials are known for their depth and quality, covering a wide range of topics from basic server setup to advanced topics like Kubernetes deployment.

From a performance standpoint, DigitalOcean doesn’t disappoint. It uses SSD storage across all its plans, which can significantly enhance the speed and responsiveness of your apps or websites. Its data centers are spread across multiple locations worldwide, allowing you to deploy your applications closer to your users for improved performance.

DigitalOcean’s pricing model is another major advantage, particularly for developers working on multiple projects. Its transparent, pay-as-you-go pricing ensures that you only pay for the resources you use, with no hidden charges or long-term contracts.

Read our full DigitalOcean review

Bluehost – Best for novices

Pros

Competitive introductory pricing Generous features Beginner friendly, with customer support services such as website migration and a dedicated team of WordPress experts 30-day refund policy

Cons

Lags behind competitors in support and reliability Steep price increase after initial purchase period Documentation isn’t easily found on the website Storage is limited, particularly in the Basic plan, which has been reduced from previous offerings Price When Reviewed:Plans range from $2.95/mo to $13.95/moBest Prices Today:$2.95 at Bluehost

Bluehost has solidified its position as a top choice for beginners with its commitment to providing a straightforward and intuitive web hosting experience. It offers an easy-to-navigate control panel that even complete beginners will find manageable. For those creating their first website, the built-in website builder provides a variety of templates and customization options, eliminating the need for any prior coding knowledge.

Its seamless integration with WordPress is another major advantage that makes Bluehost an ideal choice for beginners. Bluehost is even officially recommended by WordPress.org, and it streamlines the installation process to a simple one-click affair. This means users can have their WordPress site up and running very quickly and with little to no technical know-how. Bluehost also provides automatic updates for WordPress, so your site always benefits from the latest features and security updates.

Even with its beginner-friendly features, Bluehost doesn’t skimp on performance. It offers impressive loading speeds and uptime reliability, key factors in maintaining a positive user experience and high search engine rankings. Furthermore, with its range of plans, users can start with a basic package and easily upgrade as their site grows, making Bluehost a hosting provider that novices can stick with throughout their online journey.

Read our full Bluehost review

HostGator – Best for scalability

Pros

User-friendly control panel and a free website builder Great uptime Many feature plans, providing flexibility for various needs Quick and thorough support

Cons

Lack of transparency in pricing, hiding renewal fees until checkout Confusing features page Video tutorials haven’t been active for over a year Price When Reviewed:$2.75 / mo to $5.25 / moBest Prices Today:$2.75 at HostGator

HostGator has made a name for itself in the web hosting market with its commitment to scalable solutions that grow with your needs. One of its key selling points is its extensive range of hosting plans, encompassing shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers, and even specialized WordPress and reseller hosting. This means that whatever the size or growth rate of your website or online business, HostGator has a plan that can cater to your specific needs.

What makes HostGator particularly appealing for scalability is how easily users can switch between plans. As your website grows and attracts more traffic, you can effortlessly upgrade to a higher-tier plan with more resources. Or, if you find that you’re not utilizing all the resources in your current plan, you can downgrade to a more cost-effective package. This flexibility is a key advantage for businesses expecting fluctuations in their website’s growth and traffic.

HostGator also stands out with its ‘unmetered’ offerings. Most of its plans come with unmetered bandwidth and disk space, which means there aren’t strict limits on the amount of traffic or data your website can handle. This can be a major benefit for websites experiencing rapid growth or unpredictable traffic spikes.

Read our full HostGator review

InMotion Hosting – Best for customer support

Pros

Competitive pricing with discounts for longer subscriptions User-friendly setup with helpful resources and 24/7 support Comprehensive feature set Comprehensive knowledge base, video tutorials, and 24/7 support team

Cons

Dedicated server packages may be expensive for smaller businesses Only one parked domain for the Core plan Price When Reviewed:Plans from $2.99 to $13.99 / moBest Prices Today:$2.99 at InMotion

InMotion Hosting is known for its reliable and high-performance hosting services, but it best stands out with its commitment to customer service and support. It offers 24/7 live support, extensive online resources, and even free website migration. It’s also one of the few hosts to provide a 90-day money-back guarantee, demonstrating confidence in their service quality. The service is also noteworthy for its commitment to open source, offering over 400 applications that can be installed with a single click.

Beyond its 24/7 support availability, InMotion Hosting also excels in the quality of its customer service. Its support team is staffed with skilled professionals who know their products and can offer advice on a wide range of issues, from basic site setup to advanced server configurations. They’re also known for their friendly, patient approach, making them a great resource for novices and experienced users alike.

In addition to personalized support, InMotion Hosting provides an extensive online knowledge base. This includes a wide range of tutorials, how-to guides, and educational articles that can help you troubleshoot issues on your own and make the most of your hosting plan. They also offer a community support forum where you can ask questions and share advice with other InMotion Hosting users.

It’s not all just about support though. InMotion Hosting also delivers reliable performance. It offers a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee to ensure your site is always available, and it uses solid-state drives for faster load times. With its blend of top-notch customer support and reliable hosting services, InMotion Hosting stands out as a premier choice for those who prioritize service and support.

Read our full InMotion Hosting review

What to look for in a web hosting service

Webmasters have specific requirements that surpass the needs of an average user. Here’s what individuals and businesses should look for in a web hosting service.

Storage and bandwidth

Most web hosting services offer a variety of plans with different levels of storage and bandwidth. Storage refers to the amount of space available for your website files, while bandwidth determines how much data your website can transfer to its visitors. A higher storage and bandwidth allowance can accommodate more complex, media-rich websites and larger volumes of traffic. However, not every site needs vast amounts of storage and bandwidth. Those with simpler websites or less traffic may opt for lower-tier plans to save costs.

Uptime and speed

Uptime refers to the percentage of time your website is accessible to visitors. Most hosts aim for an uptime of 99.9 percent or higher, ensuring your site is nearly always available. Speed, on the other hand, determines how quickly your website loads for visitors. Both are crucial for providing a good user experience and can impact your site’s search engine rankings. While many factors can influence your site’s speed, a good host will have optimized infrastructure to ensure quick load times.

Customer support

Good customer support is essential in a web hosting service. Even with the best plans, you might encounter issues or have questions that need addressing. A host with round-the-clock support via multiple channels (such as phone, live chat, and email) can provide peace of mind. Also, a host that offers a comprehensive knowledge base can be invaluable, allowing you to troubleshoot issues or learn more about managing your site.

Security features

Security is a crucial aspect of any web hosting service. Look for hosts that offer features such as SSL certificates (for secure data transfer), regular backups (to safeguard your data), and malware scanning and removal. These features can protect your website from various security threats and help keep your visitors’ data safe.

Scalability

As your website grows, your hosting needs may change. A good web hosting service will offer plans that can scale with your website. This might include the option to upgrade to a higher-tier plan with more resources, or even to a different type of hosting (like VPS or dedicated hosting) if your site outgrows shared hosting.

FAQ


1.

Do I really need a host for my website?

Yes, you do need a host for your website. Hosting is a crucial part of having an online presence. When you create a website, you’re essentially creating a collection of files. These files need to be stored somewhere where they can be accessed by anyone using the internet. That’s where web hosting comes in.

Web hosts are companies that have servers, which are special computers designed to serve up websites. When you pay for hosting services, you’re essentially renting some space on one of these servers where you can store your website files. When someone types in your website address, their computer connects to your web host’s server and your website files are delivered to their browser.

Without a web host, there wouldn’t be a server for your site’s files to be stored on, and there would be no way for people to access your website. Whether you’re running a small personal blog or a large e-commerce site, you need a web host to keep your site online and accessible.

2.

What is the difference between a web host and a domain?

A web host and a domain serve two different but crucial roles in the functioning of a website.

A domain, or domain name, is the address where internet users can access your website. It’s the string of characters you type into a web browser to visit a specific website, such as www.example.com. Domains need to be registered with a domain registrar, and they function somewhat like a phone book for the internet, translating memorable names into IP addresses that computers can understand.

A web host is a service provider that stores your website files and makes them accessible to anyone on the internet. When someone types your domain name into their browser, their computer sends a request to your web host’s servers to access the files of your website.

So, while a domain name serves as your website’s address, the web host provides the actual “physical” space (in the form of server storage) where your website lives. You need both a domain and web hosting to have a functioning website, but they are two distinct components that work together to bring your site to the internet.

3.

How much is it to host a website?

The cost of hosting a website can vary widely, depending on the type of hosting you choose and the specific features and resources you need.

Shared hosting, where multiple websites share resources on a single server, is typically the most affordable option. Prices for shared hosting can range from as low as $2 to $10 per month or more, making it a good choice for smaller websites or those just starting out.

VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting and dedicated hosting, where you get more or all of a server’s resources to yourself, are more expensive but offer higher performance and greater control. VPS hosting can range from around $20 to $100 per month, while dedicated hosting can start from $100 and go up to several hundred dollars per month.

There are specialized hosting services, like managed WordPress hosting or ecommerce hosting, which can also vary in price depending on the level of service and resources provided. Remember, the cost of hosting also depends on other factors, like the amount of storage and bandwidth you need, the level of customer support, and any additional features like email hosting or SSL certificates. Always consider your specific needs and budget when choosing a hosting plan.

4.

Does GoDaddy host websites?

Yes, GoDaddy does host websites. GoDaddy is one of the largest and most well-known companies in the web hosting industry. They offer a wide range of hosting services designed to cater to different types of websites, from small personal blogs to large e-commerce stores.

Their hosting options include shared hosting, which is generally a good fit for smaller websites and beginners, as well as more advanced options like VPS (Virtual Private Server) and dedicated server hosting, which are suitable for larger websites with more significant traffic levels. GoDaddy also offers WordPress hosting, which provides features specifically optimized for sites built on the popular WordPress platform.

In addition to hosting services, GoDaddy offers a full suite of website services, including domain registration, website builders, and more. This makes it a one-stop shop for many website owners, as they can manage many aspects of their website in one place.

However, like all hosting providers, GoDaddy’s offerings may not be the best fit for everyone. When choosing a hosting provider, consider your own specific needs, budget, and the particular features that each host provides.

Recent stories by Marshall Gunnell:

How many websites are on the Internet?DigitalOcean review: Scalable, customizable web hosting for businessesSpeed up Google Chrome: 9 tips and tweaks

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