Web Hosting Reviews

Best Web Hosting

We reviewed dozens of web hosts and came up with the top 10 web hosting platforms. We compared them on 38 different aspects that are important to consumers looking to host their website.

Selecting the right web hosting company can be difficult but we have reviewed dozens of companies and listed the top providers for you. The top three choices stood out among the pack as they offer better services and support.

1st Place – FatCow

Fatcow Highlights

  • Unlimited Hosted Domains
  • Unlimited Space
  • Easy WordPress Install
  • Unlimited Mailboxes
  • BBB A+ Rating
  • Fast Support

2nd Place – BlueHost

BlueHost Highlights

  • Unlimited Hosted Domains
  • Unlimited Space
  • Fast Support
  • BBB A+ Rating
  • Easy WordPress Install
  • Unlimited Mailboxes

3rd Place – iPage

iPage Highlights

  • Unlimited Hosted Domains
  • Easy WordPress Install
  • Unlimited Mailboxes

4th Place – GreenGeeks – Visit Website
5th Place – Host Gator – Visit Website


Web Hosting Comparison

HOSTING
fatcow-logo
FatCow
Visit
bluehost-logo
BlueHost
Visit
ipage-logo
iPage
Visit
greengeeks-logo
GreenGeeks
Visit
hostgator-logo
HostGator
Visit
justhost-logo
Just Host
Review
godaddy-logo
GoDaddy
Review
westhost-logo
WestHost
Review
arvixe-logo
Arvixe
Review
networksolution-logo
Network Solutions
Review
Bandwidth (GB)2500
Disk Space (GB)200300
Unlimited MySQL Databases
Unlimited Hosted Domains
International Domains
HOSTING PLATFORM
fatcow-logo
FatCow
Visit
bluehost-logo
BlueHost
Visit
ipage-logo
iPage
Visit
greengeeks-logo
GreenGeeks
Visit
hostgator-logo
HostGator
Visit
justhost-logo
Just Host
Review
godaddy-logo
GoDaddy
Review
westhost-logo
WestHost
Review
arvixe-logo
Arvixe
Review
networksolution-logo
Network Solutions
Review
Linux Hosting
Windows Hosting
ADMIN & HOSTING FEATURES
fatcow-logo
FatCow
Visit
bluehost-logo
BlueHost
Visit
ipage-logo
iPage
Visit
greengeeks-logo
GreenGeeks
Visit
hostgator-logo
HostGator
Visit
justhost-logo
Just Host
Review
godaddy-logo
GoDaddy
Review
westhost-logo
WestHost
Review
arvixe-logo
Arvixe
Review
networksolution-logo
Network Solutions
Review
Control Panel
Website Builder
Site Statistics
Shared SSL
Shopping Carts
Advertising Credits
fatcow-logo
FatCow
Visit
bluehost-logo
BlueHost
Visit
ipage-logo
iPage
Visit
greengeeks-logo
GreenGeeks
Visit
hostgator-logo
HostGator
Visit
justhost-logo
Just Host
Review
godaddy-logo
GoDaddy
Review
westhost-logo
WestHost
Review
arvixe-logo
Arvixe
Review
networksolution-logo
Network Solutions
Review
1-Click App Installs
File Manager
Custom Cron Jobs
Raw Access Logs
Script Library
Customizable Error Pages
fatcow-logo
FatCow
Visit
bluehost-logo
BlueHost
Visit
ipage-logo
iPage
Visit
greengeeks-logo
GreenGeeks
Visit
hostgator-logo
HostGator
Visit
justhost-logo
Just Host
Review
godaddy-logo
GoDaddy
Review
westhost-logo
WestHost
Review
arvixe-logo
Arvixe
Review
networksolution-logo
Network Solutions
Review
Unlimited Mailboxes
Autoresponders
Spam Filters
htaccess
FTP Manager
Unlimited FTP Accounts
SSH
CUSTOMER SUPPORT
fatcow-logo
FatCow
Visit
bluehost-logo
BlueHost
Visit
ipage-logo
iPage
Visit
greengeeks-logo
GreenGeeks
Visit
hostgator-logo
HostGator
Visit
justhost-logo
Just Host
Review
godaddy-logo
GoDaddy
Review
westhost-logo
WestHost
Review
arvixe-logo
Arvixe
Review
networksolution-logo
Network Solutions
Review
24/7 Phone Support
Getting-Started Wizard
Email Support
Video Tutorials
Knowledgebase
Live Chat Support
User Forums
Social Media
BILLING
fatcow-logo
FatCow
Visit
bluehost-logo
BlueHost
Visit
ipage-logo
iPage
Visit
greengeeks-logo
GreenGeeks
Visit
hostgator-logo
HostGator
Visit
justhost-logo
Just Host
Review
godaddy-logo
GoDaddy
Review
westhost-logo
WestHost
Review
arvixe-logo
Arvixe
Review
networksolution-logo
Network Solutions
Review
Money Back Guarantee30AnytimeAnytime3045Anytime453030
Cancel Anytime
BUSINESS RATINGS
fatcow-logo
FatCow
Visit
bluehost-logo
BlueHost
Visit
ipage-logo
iPage
Visit
greengeeks-logo
GreenGeeks
Review
hostgator-logo
HostGator
Visit
justhost-logo
Just Host
Review
godaddy-logo
GoDaddy
Review
westhost-logo
WestHost
Review
arvixe-logo
Arvixe
Review
networksolution-logo
Network Solutions
Review
BBB RatingA+A+A-AA+A+A+A+A+A+
BBB Accreditation

 

Web Hosting Buyers Guide

web-hosting-reviewsWhen it comes to choosing a web hosting company, it can be a bit overwhelming to sort through all the companies as well as figure out what all that technical terminology means and what to do with ALL those features that most companies offer to customers that sign up.  When you know what to look for and even more importantly, what the different terminology actually means for you and your website, it makes choosing the right web hosting company much easier.

Most hosting companies offer great sign up specials that you can take advantage of and you can get that special offer for up to three years as long as you purchase the three year term at the time of sign up.  The first step in sorting through the different companies to find out which one is going to fit your needs, is to know what your needs are.

If you’re a small business owner, your needs will be very different than an individual who is setting up a personal website for their friends and family. One type’s needs are not more important than the other, they’re just different and that will determine what company would be the best suited to you as well as what package to choose if they offer you a selection.  For those who offer choices in hosting packages, they usually offer different tiers that have different levels of features. The lower featured plan would more than likely be more practical for the individual who was setting up a personal website and would save them money as well.

Before you start searching for a hosting site, you should ask yourself the following questions which will help you match the hosting company to your needs. There will more than likely be several companies that will work for you, so then it may come down to price or simply the one that you like the sound of the most.

  • Are you looking to start a business site or a personal one?
  • Do you already have a site that is with another hosting company?
  • Do you run your own business?
  • Are you a novice or more experienced website owner?
  • Do you need a hosting company with a site builder?
  • Do you already own a domain or are you looking for a new one?
  • What kind of features are you looking for?
  • Do you need a hosting company that allows for unlimited domains and email addresses?
  • Do you prefer cPanel?
  • Are you looking to have WordPress along with your website?
  • Do you have a specific budget you’re looking to stay at?

Once you ask yourself these questions, you’ll have a better idea of what you need in a hosting company and what features to look for.   Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the different websites. Just take your list of answers to the questions above and start your search one by one.

How Web Hosting Companies Work

how-web-hosting-worksWeb hosting companies provide space to businesses and individuals on their servers to host the files that make up your website. They also provide internet connections to those customers as well. This is so other computers can see your website as well.   Many people don’t realize the behind the scenes of a website or know that every website you go to on the internet is made of a collection of files, images, videos and other things that all linked together create your website.  To get your website live and online, a server is needed with a high speed connection. Hosting companies provide these servers.

There is a difference between web hosting and data center.  Web hosting is the servers that host your website or it can be the company that you pay to “rent” the server space you need. A data center is the facility that houses all of the servers for a particular company or companies.  These are usually quite large and can handle the tens of thousands of customers that some hosting companies have.  Of course data centers are not always huge; they can be anything from a single room to a huge building with thousands of square feet.

Typically the more well know hosting companies have at least one gigantic data center, but many have more than one to handle the growth of customers that are commonplace for a good company that keeps a great reputation.  The large buildings may have back up power supplies, back up data communications connections, air conditioning for climate control, fire suppression for protection and also strict security devices to keep their servers and their customers’ personal information safe.

There are four different types of hosting:

  • Shared
  • VPS (virtual private server)
  • Dedicated
  • Cloud Hosting

All four types will act as a storage center for your site, but each one has a different amount of storage capacity, server speed, technical knowledge requirement, reliability and control. Outlined below are the four types so you can see which one is a better fit for you.

Shared – Shared hosting means that your website in on the same server as a lot of other sites. The number of sites on a shared server can be in the hundreds of thousands depending on the company.  All the domains may also share RAM and the CPU as well.  The cost of shared hosting is very low and this type of hosting can handle websites with moderate traffic levels and that are running standard software.  It doesn’t require a large amount of technical knowledge so it is a great entry level hosting option.  This would be a good choice for individuals wanting personal sites.  The disadvantages to shared hosting can include the limited ability the servers have to handle high level traffic or traffic spikes and your site’s performance can be affected by other sites on the same server.

VPS (Virtual Private Server) – With a VPS, the server is divided into “virtual” servers and each website is virtually hosted on their own dedicated server. In actuality, they’re sharing a server with a few other users.  The users who choose VPS may have root access to their own piece of virtual server real estate and have better secured hosting.  If your website needs greater control at the server level but cost is a factor, VPS may be the right choice for you. The disadvantages to using a VPS are that your site may still have issues handling traffic spikes and can still be affected by other sites on the same server.

Dedicated Server – The most expensive of the hosting options, a dedicated server is just that…a server that is dedicated to your site only and yours is the only site hosted on that server. This option gives you the most control over the server your site is stored on.  Disadvantages to using a dedicated server are the expense mainly.  Dedicated servers are really only needed or recommended when you need the maximum control and the better server performance they provide.  A business that has a high traffic count on a daily basis may like the protection that a dedicated server will give them.

Cloud Hosting – This type of hosting takes all the worry out of high traffic or traffic spikes. A group of servers work together to host a group of websites; this means that several computers work together to handle your high traffic or the traffic spikes your site may experience.  Disadvantages include higher cost and you may not have root access to your server because many cloud hosting set ups don’t offer it.

Common Web Hosting Terminology

web-host-terminology

  • Add On Domain – a website that is included in your account but that is still separate. It shares the resources of whatever plan you have.
  • Auto Responder – automatically sends emails in response to a request from the person emailing.  These are often used for emails lists that businesses offer their customers for things such as newsletters, etc. The autoresponders will send the newsletters out automatically to whoever is on the email list.
  • Bandwidth – This is the amount of data transfer that your specific website uses. Each time you have a visitor to your site, if an email is sent or received, or you download or upload files, this is data transfer.
  • Blog – Blogs are hugely popular, “journal” type websites where people of all kinds, including businesses and celebrities talk about their personal lives, post links, talk about news, add pictures, videos and more.  Blog posts are often used to drive traffic to a website because they are easier to get indexed in the search engines due to the fact that blog posts are given greater weight than other types of posts.
  • Catch All – The term used for an email address that will receive all the mail that is sent to your account that doesn’t have an assigned email address.
  • CMS – also known as Content Management System, this is how to organize and manage the content of a website so it’s displayed in a professional manner but remains easy to modify.
  • Control Panel – This is the “engine” of your website. The control panel is where you can modify and control all aspects of the web hosting including adding subdomains and adding new domains, installing server applications and uploading the web pages to the internet.
  • Dedicated hosting – a private server that is dedicated to one website. This is an expensive form of hosting, but the benefit is that all resources are directed to one website.
  • Dedicated IP – This is an IP address that is only used by your website.  Dedicated IPs will be used if you’re using SSL to accept payments on your website.
  • Disk Space – The amount of space that you have for your files, pages, emails and other website related things.  Each hosting customer will have their own allocated amount of disk space and it will vary from company to company.
  • Error Pages – Every time a person tries to access a web page on your site (or any site) that is not available due to a server issue or some other reason, this is the page they will get that will alert them to the fact that the page is not available.
  • Fantastico– a large script library that can automate web app installations. Includes things like WordPress, and a host of other applications
  • Forum – A message board where users can post questions or problems and get help from other users who may have dealt with the same problem. The host or moderators of the board may step in to help answer questions as well.
  • FTP – also known as File Transfer Protocol. This is a way to upload or download files.  Most hosting companies offer this and some even have an added feature called an anonymous FTP and also allows the user to assign accounts so the files can be transferred by others.
  • Guestbook – a way for site visitors to leave their comments about the website, request more information or just give their contact information.  The main reason web page designers add guestbooks to their sites is to get feedback from the visitors.
  • .htaccess – This allows parameters to be set on certain files. It’s used for permissions to determine the level of access that a particular file is allowed.
  • IMAP – also known as Internet Message Access Protocol.  This is a way to receive your mail.  It will leave a copy of the email on your server until it is deleted for good. For users who have multiple emails (work and home, for example) and who use multiple computers.
  • Language Support – The most common programming language that you should make sure you have is Perl and PHP. Language support is the types of programming languages that will work along with your hosting account.
  • Linux Server – Linux is a free open source operating system that is used by shared and free web hosting companies. A Linux server is a server that uses Linux.
  • Mailing List – a list of people who have chosen to receive emails from you. Mailing lists are used often by businesses to send newsletters or updates to clients or customers.
  • MySQL – MySQL is a data system included in most hosting packages.  It’s used with a lot of different applications.
  • Parked Domain – This is a separate domain that can point to the same account.
  • Pop 3 – this is an email protocol that allows emails to be retrieved from the server.
  • Server – a super computer that delivers information to other computers.
  • Shared hosting –  When a website is on a server that is shared with many other websites.  The system resources are shared between all of the sites on the server.  Great for personal websites.
  • SMTP – This is an email term that enables you to send emails. Some ISPs will require you to use your servers using the ISP’s service instead of your own webhost.
  • Spam – Mail that is sent unsolicited that is usually trying to sell something to the recipient.  Most hosting companies offer spam filters as part of their package.
  • SSH – Stands for Secure Shell.  Many hosting companies don’t allow this type of file transfer but if it’s something you need, there are a few that offer it.
  • SSL–  Stands for Secure Socket Layer which is a means of website encryption for those sites that take credit cards.  This protects your customer’s credit card information.
  • Uptime – The time that the server is up and working properly. The higher the percentage of uptime the less worry you will have about your site going down.
  • VPS Hosting – a server that is separated into sections and each section acts as a separate server.  It’s less expensive to go this route than to use dedicated servers and has more functionality than shared servers.
  • Webmail – a way to check and send emails on the internet. Your email can be checked and sent from anywhere using webmail.
  • Windows Server – servers that use Windows OS are called Windows Servers. It’s more expensive to use this type of server but sometimes it is necessary to use certain types of applications. Not every hosting company offers Windows Servers.

 

Hosting and Features Options for Web Hosting Companies

best-web-hostingMost hosting companies offer a few different plans for their customers and also offer a large array of features that can be used to enhance their websites and really make a presence on the internet. Depending on what your needs are, you can opt for a less expensive plan without ALL the bells and whistles, or if you have a small business and want all the bells and whistles you have that option as well.

When you are a new customer of a hosting company, you will usually be offered a special introductory price. You are given the option of getting this introductory price for up to three years, so if you can afford to pay for it all at once (the1, 2, and 3 year terms are typically billed in one lump sum for the entire amount) you will save a lot of money.  In most cases, the longer the term you choose, the lower your monthly amount comes out to be.

You will also be given the choice of picking a new domain name or registering one you already have. The domain name is included in the hosting plan and you get it free for a minimum of the first year. Some hosting companies allow you to have the free domain for the life of your account, but if you ever decide to leave, you’ll be charged a domain fee of $15. This will vary from company to company, so if there’s any question, be sure to ask.

The list of features that come with your hosting plan can range from just the necessities to a long list of features that are truly impressive and give you tons of options to make your site really stand out.  Most offer site builders of some kind and with quite a few companies, the site builders are free for hosting customers.   Most of the site builders also come with user guides to help you navigate the set up steps for those who are very new to website building and all of its terminology.

In addition, there are video tutorials, knowledge bases and a lot of website scripts that you can take advantage of.  If you don’t know how to do certain things, you’ll find the tutorials really helpful and you can learn a lot from them.  There are a few companies that offer tutorials on every aspect of their hosting site and the features list, so be prepared to have a huge library of information at your fingertips.

Every hosting site has the plans they offer and the list of features available to see before purchase. You will also be able to see the prices of the plans offered.  For a complete newbie it can be a little overwhelming but if you know ahead of time what you’re looking for, the process becomes much more manageable.  This is why asking those questions that were listed in the above sections are so important. When you know exactly what you’re looking for in a hosting package, you won’t run the risk of paying for more than you need.

If you have any questions about the type of hosting package you need, all of the hosting companies have telephone support that you can use to speak with a sales agent and ask all the questions you have about hosting and the features. That is what they’re there for so don’t hesitate to call them. What they won’t do is strong arm you into getting a package that you don’t need, but they can explain the ins and outs of what they offer and how it can help you with what you need.

Comparing Multiple Web Hosting Providers

When you start comparing hosting companies, you will need to do some research and compare the different company offerings and what they provide in the way of extra features as well.  There are several things you need to check out when looking for the right hosting company for your needs.  You may find that it’s worth it to pay a little more to go with a hosting company that offers features that you want and/or need and that way it can allow for growth for your website and business as well.

You can compare these hosting companies online and in most cases you won’t have to get on the phone with anyone unless you can’t find the answers to certain questions you are looking for.  Put a list together of some of the more popular hosting companies that are available. The reason for going with the more well known companies is that they typically have a lot of features and excellent prices and customer service which is why they are well known.  A list of 5 or so should be fine.  Once you have decided on the five you want to check out more deeply, grab a notebook or a piece of paper and a pen and write down the 5 companies so you can write down the answers to the questions you’ll be looking for.

Questions to Ask Prospective Web Hosting Companies

web-hosting-questionsThe questions below will give you a lot of information to narrow down your choices until you find the hosting company that will be perfect for your individual needs. These questions don’t have to be asked personally, in many cases you’ll be able to find out the answers by searching the web hosting company’s website, but if you can’t find the answers to any of the questions, you can use the live chat that many have or just give them a call.

  1. How long has the company been in business? – A company that has a little longevity behind it is much less risky than going with a brand new company. Although you may get an excellent rate with the brand new company, you may find that their server uptime is shaky, or that they lack the experience needed to handle server issues that can come up. A company that has been around for awhile will have a proven track record which gives you and your site much more stability.  You can usually find out how long a company has been around on the “About Us” page or look them up on the BBB site which will also tell you when the company was started.
  2. What is the experience and training of the company’s technical and customer service staff? – When you have a problem with your account or site, that is not when you want to find out that the support staff has no idea what they’re doing.  Many web hosting companies take great pains to ensure that everyone from the technical staff to the customer service staff are all well trained in all aspects of their company.  This means that when you have a problem, you can rest assured that they will have the answers or know exactly how to find them if they don’t. The more knowledgeable the staff is the less you have to worry about when it comes to problems with your site.
  3. What is the Process for Upgrading to a Higher Hosting Package? – For a small business just starting out, you may find the need at some point to increase the size of your hosting to meet the demands that are being placed on your bandwidth or to add more space.  The easier it is to upgrade to a higher package the better it is for your business.  If the rates are higher, are there any discounts you qualify for as an existing paying customer? Do they automatically upgrade you to the higher package if needed or will they just charge you a per usage rate which can be an unpleasant surprise if you don’t know you’ve crossed the allotment you have in your existing package.
  4. Does the Company have a Setup Fee? – Some hosting companies charge a onetime set up fee from $25 to $50. A lot of the more well known hosting companies are including the set up for free for new customers.  If the company you really like out of your five choices charges a set up fee, it does not hurt or insult them to ask if they would consider waving the fee for you if you choose their company.
  5. What, if any, are the charges for extra bandwidth? – When you purchase a hosting package you will be allotted a specific amount of bandwidth that your site can use. When a business is first starting out, a lower bandwidth amount is generally not a problem. As your business grows and your website traffic increases, this can become an issue if you go over your allotted bandwidth amount.  Find out how the company handles this. Do they automatically upgrade you to the next level? Do they let you know when you are in danger of running over BEFORE it happens? Are you responsible for keeping track of that yourself?
  6. What are the hours of the support? – Most of the hosting companies have 24/7/365 tech support which is very important when your site is on the line.  If something happens and your site goes down at 2:00 am you don’t want to have to wait until “business hours” to get the problem taken care of.  Having this 24/7 tech support is imperative to having a secure site that your visitors can expect to be there whenever they go to it.
  7. How is site security handled? – Make sure that the company has back end security in place to keep others that are hosted on your same server from being able to access your files. This is not a problem with dedicated hosting in which your site is the only one on the server, but you still need to know what kind of security that company offers its customers.
  8. What is the average monthly uptime? – Uptime is very important, as this is the amount of time that the servers are working properly and ensuring that your site is online and accessible to your visitors. You want an average monthly uptime of at least 99.8% or higher.  The better their uptime average is the more site stability you have.
  9. Is Tech Support Outsourced to Other Countries? – It is important that the support staff of the company you choose is able to easily be understood and to understand you when you are having any kind of issues. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to explain a problem to someone who has such a heavy accent that they are impossible to understand, or who has such a limited understanding of your language that they don’t understand what you’re trying to tell them.
  10. What makes your company the best choice? – If you are talking to a live person, give them a chance to “sell themselves” to you. This will give you a lot of insight into the knowledge of the company by its sales staff and will give you a chance to hear what is unique about each company. The sales staff should have very definite reasons as to why you should choose them over the other companies you’re considering. This question alone can give you a lot of information about each company. You may want to consider talking to a live person for this question alone, even if you have the answers to all the others.

Costs and Payment Plans of Your Web Hosting Company

web-hosting-costsAll web hosting companies have their own payment schedules and costs.  Most offer new customers a large discount which you can take advantage of for up to three years and then you will revert to their regular charges.  It is in your best interest savings wise to get the longest term you can because that will almost always be the cheapest cost for you. You may have to pay it all at once initially, but the savings you will get makes it well worth your consideration to do.

Hosting companies offer several payment terms for paying for your hosting packages.  You can usually choose monthly, quarterly, every 6 months and then yearly, two years at a time and three years at a time.  The monthly plan will be the most expensive in the amount you will pay over the long term, but sometimes you just can’t afford to purchase 2 or 3 years at a time.  Ask the company if they offer discounts for you if you want to upgrade and pay for longer terms after you have signed up.  If they allow it, you may be able to get in on the monthly plan and then pay for a longer time frame later on.

The Company You Choose is the Foundation of Your Website

Now that you have a good understanding of how web hosting companies work, you should be closer to making a decision on which one you want to place your site with. Remember that the hosting company you choose will be responsible for the reliability of your website as well as other things depending on how many of the features you choose to utilize.  It’s not only about price; it’s about quality, features, reliability and customer satisfaction.  Taking the time to check out the companies you are interested in ensures that you will be truly happy with your choice or if you’re not, you can be assured that they will do what they can to remedy the situation until you are.