THE TOP WEB HOSTING COMPANIES 2017
A hosting company can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. As a team of web designers with over 25 years experience, there is an internal agreement that some of our most frustrating professional experiences have come at the hands of them (Looking at you GoDaddy). And while there are literally tens of thousands of web hosting companies out there, here is a list of a few of them that we use depending on my specific hosting needs:
|Web Host Name||Customer Support||Shared Hosting Score||Dedicated Hosting Score||Full Hosting Review|
WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN A TOP HOSTING COMPANY
The main deciding factor has got to be the quality of the hosting that they offer. We want fast servers, a good connection to the world wide web and an easy to navigate dashboard with lots of control. The second thing is the customer service, which can be so important when you are relying on their answers to provide a good customer service on your own end. Then once these are matched up the pricing has to be considered and the final decision made. There are other things to take in to account like the server locations, additional services and security record; but these aspects are traditionally standard across the industry.
WHICH WEB HOSTING DO WE USE?
The Gorilla Marketing website is hosted by Smart Hosting. Depending on the type of website that we are planning to build however, we’ll use a different hosting provider to suit our requirements. As a general rule of thumb though, we tend to stick to the guide below:
|Website Needing Hosting||Best Hosting Type||Best Hosting Provider|
|Small Blog||Shared Hosting||Smart Hosting|
|Reseller Service||Reseller Hosting||Smart Hosting|
|Magento E-Commerce||Dedicated Servers||Hostgator|
|Small Business Website||VPS Hosting||Smart Hosting|
|High Traffic Websites / Blogs||Dedicated Servers||Hostgator|
|WordPress E-Commerce||Dedicated Servers||Hostgator|
|Community Websites / Forums||Dedicated Servers||Hostgator|
If you have already spent some time having a look around at different web hosting companies, you might be wondering what the difference between solutions like dedicated servers, VPS (Virtual Private Server) and shared hosting might be. We listed above what the best solutions are for each type of website, but didn’t explain exactly what they are.
Shared hosting is the cheapest hosting option provided by hosting companies, normally suitable for beginners, hobby websites and just generally testing things. It works out so cheap as the hosting company will partition a large server that would normally be very expensive, and rents out the smaller ‘lots’ at a more widely affordable rate. This isn’t without its drawbacks though, as you have no control over who else is on your server and the resources they are using. This can greatly affect your site speed. From an SEO standpoint you are also less trusted by search engines when you share your IP address and storage space with thousands of other websites.
A VPS (virtual private server) is faster and more powerful than shared hosting, but doesn’t include the cost of renting a dedicated server with similar specs. With a VPS you have as much control over the space on the server as you would if it was dedicated (like access to WHM). You are also allowed to host as many websites as you want on it (so you could save money by moving 3+ shared hosting sites to one VPS server you have full control over). You are also able to assign each one individual IP addresses pretty easily, so from an SEO standpoint you’re also a bit more covered. Your websites will also be a lot more secure, will be a lot quicker (as they are the only ones using the space / dedicated processors) and have more storage space.
Dedicated hosting is when you lease an entire server that hosts nothing but your website. These are generally ideal for websites that are getting more than 100 000 visitors a month to their website and require really strict security. These are normally a lot more expensive and difficult to maintain than other solutions, but sometimes needed depending on your needs.
The main problem with the solutions above is you are fundamentally limited by the hardware on your server. Cloud hosting looks to address that by giving you pretty much unlimited speed, bandwidth and storage. It does this by monitoring your sites needs and then gives it access to potentially hundreds of VPS servers in order to handle the data being transmitted.
WordPress is a free CMS (Content Management System) that you can use to build and manage your website. It’s so good infact, that this website and over 20% of the web is built using it. Because it is such a popular platform, some hosting companies have built dedicated solutions to help you get the most out of your WordPress website. Please note that you don’t need WordPress hosting if you want a WordPress website.
The first we did when putting this list together was to see if the web hosting companies were well established. You don’t want to choose a hosting company that could go out of business tomorrow; or the more often occurrence of not having the resources to handle problems that are affecting our websites.
We also wanted to ensure that customer support is available 24 /7 with a local number available and an internal ticketing system with a quick response time. Customer support should also be free and have a reputation of being helpful and friendly. We also took in to account careful consideration of the dashboard and the range of control that we are provided with. Web hosting should be hassle free, and especially geared towards people with little experience using the platforms.
The next aspect, which is probably the one most people care about, is the price of the hosting package compared to other solutions. Too often people just go for the cheapest one thinking that they are all just the same; but this is a mistake. Using a point system we compared the packages and their value, taking in to consideration the amount of storage provided, bandwidth and range of extras. There are a lot of companies on the list that will also give you a discount for ordering your hosting 1-3 years in advance, and most should have a 30 day money back guarantee that you can make use of if you decide they aren’t the company for you.
Lastly, we had a look at the technical aspects like the server speed and performance, protection against malware, viruses and DDoS attacks as well as if companies offered backup facilities. Once all this information was compiled, we ranked them in the order that you see on this list.
The internet is, at a very fundamental level, just a whole load of computers all connected to each other. When you view a website, what you are really looking at is a bunch of code (either Java, HTML or Flash), that is stored somewhere and connected to the internet. Hosting companies came about by offering storage space on a computer that was always connected to the internet. Depending on your hosting package, you will either share a computer (server) with other websites or have your own server. Your web hosting company then ensures that your server is always accessible and people all over the world will be able to access it 24/7.
Selecting a hosting company that is right for your specific needs isn’t that hard either. Your standard host will cover websites meant for small business or personal blogs. If you are looking for hosting for e-commerce websites or for larger sites that require use of a lot of resources, you are probably better off getting dedicated hosting or VPS hosting. Sometimes the extra cost associated with premium hosting is worth it, as things like site speed and performance can play a huge role in your SEO campaigns / conversions.
If you are looking to upgrade your web hosting, there are a few things that you have got to know. The first is knowing which solution it is that you currently have, and what you want to upgrade to. If you have been using a web building company like Wix or WordPress.com – it isn’t going to be possible to transfer your website to another host in its exact form. If your website is hand coded or uses a CMS like WordPress.org or Magento – then it probably has a CPanel – in which case it shouldn’t be too hard. If you are planning on sticking with the same web hosting company – then if you message the support team they will be able to sort that out for you. If you are looking to move to another web host provider – then the process involved will be a CPanel backup and restore.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE HOSTING COMPANIES
Smart Hosting (also known as Best Web Hosting) is a UK based web hosting company who look to put customer service and ease of use at the forefront of their business model. While not one of the largest companies out there – they have pretty much every provider out there beat with quality of product, price and customer service. In-fact, Smart Hosting are so good that the Gorilla Marketing is hosted with them!
Not only are their prices the most competitive on the market by a long shot (FREE DOMAIN + ~£3 P/M HOSTING!) – they also have the most competent and friendly staff I have ever come across as a web designer / SEO. Support tickets are always answered within the hour and they are understanding of any and all needs. It’s not just for the big hosting accounts either – I get all of my UK based clients to use them too, and the customer service is standard across the board.
Smart Hosting is one of the best priced hosting companies out there, and definitely the cheapest on our list of the best web hosting companies. This makes it all the more surprising that they also have the best customer service and are easily in the top 3 for the quality of the product they offer. Their VPS hosting starts at £9.99 ($13) – but just a quick reminder that the CPanel software you need in order to install WordPress and manage your domain / emails etc is an additional £9.99 p/m. If you are on a budget though, their shared hosting at £2.49 with a free domain isn’t matched anywhere else.
As mentioned above, we use Smart Hosting for our personal websites and a lot of client websites. In the couple of years that we have used them – we have sent them over 1000 support tickets for various things – and never once have I been unsatisfied with the response time (often immediately) or the quality of the product. They are probably also the most positively reviewed hosting company out there too. Sifting through the literally hundreds of reviews on TrustPilot – every single one is 5 stars. If that doesn’t tell you something then nothing will.
QUALITY OF HOSTING SERVICE
Smart Hosting have one of the nicest and most intuitive control panels out of any hosting company I have ever used. If you are new to all of this then you will be right at home and understand pretty much everything right away. Smart Hosting’s entry level shared hosting also comes with a free domain, which is spectacular if you are on a budget. Their reseller and VPS are also priced really low, but their is no compromise at all when it comes to server performance and customer service. A small flaw is that they don’t have full dedicated servers that some of the larger hosting companies offer, but the standard of their VPS is such that it isn’t too serious unless you are getting some serious traffic on a very resource intensive website.
I know Hostgators customer service reputation was a bit of a running joke in the industry for a while – and one of the primary reasons I avoided them when I first got involved in the web game. Over the last year or so they have really pulled it together though – with a website redesign, overhaul of their customer service channels and adding a few new products – the best of which is their new HostGator Cloud solution (HostingFacts.com ranks it #1 for speed & uptime too!).
Hostgator are very reasonably priced – with good cloud hosting in the region of $10 per month depending on how much you pay upfront. Their dedicated and VPS hosting is a few dollars a month more than the industry standard – but with the additional extras that they provide it is easily worth it. Depending on which package you sign up to, you will also be entitled to $100 free Bing and Google AdWords credit to help get your business going. They also make it really easy to move over to their company with their dedicated migration team and a 45 day money back guarantee if you don’t love their service. I would say you go for it!
As mentioned earlier, they have really pulled it together on the customer service front. The people working on their live chat system are knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. They have an active forum for members to discuss / ask questions and be part of a community; as well as over 500 video tutorials and 680 help articles on how to use their products. They are available 24 hours a day by phone or email too, so whatever your reason for needing to get in touch – they make it as easy and transparent as possible.
QUALITY OF PRODUCT
Hostgator have really knocked it out the park with the different hosting packages that they have on offer. While their standard shared hosting package isn’t that great – they make up for it by offering some real quality cloud and WordPress hosting. If you have a highly trafficked website or e-commerce website, then their VPS and dedicated hosting solutions are reasonably priced and with good specs and up-time. Overall I would put them at the top of the pile with the different hosting solutions that they have.
InterServer offer a wide range of hosting solutions at a very reasonable price. Their internet speed is also one of the fastest on the market. They also offer great extras in the form of security, although their back end is a little bit old school looking and difficult to navigate at first.
InterServer, like most web hosts, offer everything from shared hosting to dedicated hosting for their clients. Their shared hosting starts at $5 per month, and they also offer cheap WordPress hosting and asp.net hosting. On the VPS / dedicated server side, things are also pretty good (but not spectacular). Their cheapest VPS solution ($10 p/m) seems designed to get you to upgrade as soon as possible – as it is severely limited. When you get to a standard price range though (around $60 p/m) – comparably they aren’t at a level where I would be comfortable raving about them. There is a limit on your bandwidth and storage; and they have their own version of CPanel which doesn’t compare to the original. If you are familiar with using Linux and just want a rapid website that doesn’t really get high volumes of traffic – then these guys are one of your better options.
They have it together really well when it comes to customer support. Open 24 hours a day and with glowing reviews online, so if you have any questions about getting started or just help in general with some technical aspects related to your server space – then these guys are spot on. They are available with phone (toll free or landline), email or a ticket system; and are pretty good at getting back to you quickly.
QUALITY OF PRODUCT
As I mentioned above, they have a really quick connection to the internet (which lowers your website load time). They also operate top of the range servers and provide a really good customer service. Unfortunately they don’t offer domain registration / management services, so you will have to use another company get your domain name, and then point the domain to InterServer servers in order to go live. While not something especially difficult (maybe for a beginner), it does make it a bit of a mission. On the other hand, some people like to have the two companies separate, so I suppose it works out okay. Also mentioned above was the control panel that they have personally designed, which I’m not a big fan of. I prefer CPanel for these types of things, especially as it also makes it easier to manage email and other domain functions.
Really reasonably priced domains and a good variety of TLD’s (Top level domains). Their interface is really intuitive and easy to use. We like the live chat feature in the dashboard (which not a lot of hosts do) – so if there is anything that you need help with it a member of their technical support is pretty easy to reach.
Namecheap are really competitively priced, especially when it comes to their domain names. Their hosting is also really cheap, although limited. At a fundamental level they are a domain registrar that offers hosting – so if choosing them just for your domain, I would recommend that you use InterServer to handle the hosting side of it all.
As mentioned above, Namecheap look to answer all support / general inquiries within 24 hours. This is pretty good (Smart Host). They are also really liked online in general hosting forums as well as review websites.
QUALITY OF PRODUCT
Namecheap offer one of the widest ranges of TLD’s out there (with a few major exceptions). Their hosting is also fast, on really good servers and well priced. They are a reputable company and I can’t fault them on anything except that they aren’t exceptional. Their interface is also really intuitive and easy to use. If you are looking for hosting for your business or for a blog you expect a lot of traffic to – then I would look to use the hosting services of another company (Hostgator / Smart Hosting).
Founded in 1998, Netfirms aims to provide professional web hosting solutions and domain registration services to web entrepreneurs. The company claims to have a customer base that not only includes designers, inventors, entrepreneurs, but also developers and fresh thinkers. While that’s a wonderful marketing slogan, the product and service that they provide are easily beaten by others on the list.
You get what you pay for. These guys are really cheap, but difficult to deal with and their product isn’t the best out there by any stretch of the imagination. I recommend you look at Smart Hosting / Hostgator for other low price companies that offer an infinitely better product.
The phone and live chat support staff aren’t well managed at all. After trying several times to get in touch, the live chat button wouldn’t work (when it did the wait time was over 10 minutes). When finally speaking to someone it was very clear that their staff are clearly outsourced to India.
QUALITY OF PRODUCT
Netfirms don’t have the best hosting solutions out there by a long shot. If you are looking for a cheap solution for a tester website or a PBN etc, then yeah you will survive. For your main business / income website though, I would stay very far away. They provide decent email capabilities as well as advanced features such as unlimited mailboxes, and spam filters to keep junk mail out of your inbox. As a web hosting provider they surprisingly does not provide an SSL certificate, unless you purchase the highest priced plan – which is a disappointment.
NOTE: 1&1 Internet have inexplicably been given the title of best web hosting company by PC Mag. I’m going to guess that some serious money changed hands here – because they are anything but. Their customer service is a joke, their dashboard and the control they give you is very limited and they push their page building hosting (which isn’t real hosting; more of a competitor to WIX), making it very confusing to a novice when checking out.
If I had to credit them on anything, they are about as cheap as a web host you will ever find – although it’s not the type of hosting that you want if you are going to be building a website, with loads of expensive add-ons to actually get any sort of functionality out of it. If you want my honest advice, stay away!
They are priced competitively on the face of it, but it’s not worth it for what you are getting. They don’t offer anything that resembles a complete, normal hosting solution, charging you for addons like email addresses and added security while restricting your access to the backend of your server. Their WordPress hosting is alright to be slightly fair to them, and well priced. The main issue is the company and customer service.
Absolutely shocking. They know they are ripping you off when they offer ‘website hosting’ – and are unrelenting about milking more money out of you at every opportunity. They will take ages to get back to you about anything you are unhappy about / technically related you need help with. It seems only their sales department are the ones who are easily reached.
QUALITY OF PRODUCT
This ‘website hosting’ that they offer is a rubbish page builder solution that they offer and sell extras within. Often though new people will get their domain from them when signing up, so are pretty much stuck with using the thing. If you don’t know how to build websites, but just want to do it yourself, I really recommend you use Wix.com (which is who these guys real competitors are, despite mascaraing as a ‘hosting company’). Their WordPress hosting is probably their only semi-redeemable feature, but it’s just not worth it considering who the company are.