You could think of the sites that share your server as your roommates; there's really not that much separating you from them. Sure, you can close the bedroom door, but they can still cause nightmares for you in the kitchen and the bathroom. In web hosting terms, all the sites share a single server's resources, so huge traffic spike on Site A may impact the neighboring sites' performances. It's even possible that another site could take down the shared server altogether, if it crashed hard enough.
Before we launch into our buying guide, you should know the three different categories on offer: shared web hosting (a good basic option if you're on a budget), VPS hosting (more flexible) and dedicated servers (for those running a bigger operation and in need of something more capable). If you're not sure which is the best level for you, you’ll find a detailed explanation of the different tiers at the bottom of this guide. It's also worth bearing in mind that you need to pick something that's going to be able to grow and scale up with you.
You get other customer-centric bonuses for 24/7 customer support, including 24/7 toll-free callback phone support, free domain name and SSL certificates for as long as you remain a MochaHost customer, a website builder with 500 free templates (and a service that will custom-design your site if you need) and a site migration service. In addition, all plans are e-commerce ready and come with free shopping cart software.
For many customers, possibly the most influential variable in evaluating a hosting service is cost. Cost can drive conversion, but cost can also cause you to make regrettable purchasing decisions. Don’t assume the cheapest option you can find is the best. Low cost can also mean low value, but not with the affordable hosts atop our recommendations list.

In terms of what many vendors call unlimited service, Web Hosting Pad's terms of service indicate that its definition of unlimited is what it calls "incremental." Basically, as you need more capability, it wants to discuss that with you, both to help you get the most out of its services, and to make sure you're using its systems without abusing them.
When you sign up for SiteGround, you get a proactive chat from a live agent offering to call you, inquiring if you need any help setting everything up. Customer support includes tutorials, live chat, tickets, and phone calls. All are available 24/7 - and when you call on a Saturday night and get connected to an agent in 10 seconds, you know you're getting your money's worth.

HostGator offers unlimited storage and bandwidth and good support to assist you. The cheapest plan starts at $2.99/mo (with a 6-month commitment) and renews at $14.95/month or $3.98/mo (with a 36-month commitment) renewing at $9.95/month. You can host 1 website and thee plan includes generous unmetered storage and bandwidth, free SSL and a solid 45-day money-back guarantee.


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.
BigCommerce is a bit different from our other hosting plans in that it's a SaaS (software-as-a-service) provider instead of an IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) provider. In other words, rather than renting space on a virtual machine where you setup and configure your own site, BigCommerce provides you with an app you login to that creates and online store. 
It provides you with even more options, including root access, access to Apache and PHP.ini (modification of PHP variables), and much more. You can also install an SSL certificate, and all software program types. In short, you get more freedom in terms of administering and configuring your server, without the hassle of managing any physical hardware.
Alexandra Leslie’s interest in website administration was sparked in her teens, priming her for a fast-paced career in managing, building, and contributing to online brands, including HostingAdvice, Forbes, and the blogs of prominent hosting providers. She brings to the table firsthand experience in reviewing web hosts, perfecting website design, optimizing content, and walking site owners through the steps that add up to a successful online presence. Today, she combines her extensive writing experience with technical understanding to unpack some of the most complex topics that daunt novice website owners, as well as the subjects that excite veteran technologists within the HostingAdvice readership.
SiteGround has the best support and good performance but all that comes with a price (high renewal cost). The cheapest plan starts at $3.95/mo (with the 12-month commitment) and renews at $11.95/mo. You can host 1 website and the plan includes 10GB SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, and free SSL. Your purchase is backed by the 30-day money-back guarantee.

If you're planning on selling a product, look for a web host that offers a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, because it encrypts the data between the customer's browser and web host to safeguard purchasing information. You're probably familiar with SSL; it's the green padlock that appears in your web browser's address bar as you visit an online financial institution or retail outlet. A few companies toss in a SSL certificate free of charge; others may charge you roughly $100 per year for that extra security layer.
You get other customer-centric bonuses for 24/7 customer support, including 24/7 toll-free callback phone support, free domain name and SSL certificates for as long as you remain a MochaHost customer, a website builder with 500 free templates (and a service that will custom-design your site if you need) and a site migration service. In addition, all plans are e-commerce ready and come with free shopping cart software.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that, like other web host providers, A2 Hosting's unlimited plans aren't actually unlimited. It expect you to use its service like "similarly situated customers." This is like being on a highway. If everyone is going a few miles above the speed limit, you're probably okay, but if you're barreling down the fast lane past everyone else, you're probably going to be asked to slow down.
In terms of what many vendors call unlimited service, Web Hosting Pad's terms of service indicate that its definition of unlimited is what it calls "incremental." Basically, as you need more capability, it wants to discuss that with you, both to help you get the most out of its services, and to make sure you're using its systems without abusing them.
On the plus side, SiteGround offers free automatic daily backups, access to the Cloudflare CDN, high-performance SSDs for all plans, unlimited email accounts and integration of the free LetsEncrypt SSL certificate into sites. The company does limit bandwidth and storage, but even those who claim to offer so-called unlimited bandwidth and storage really have some limits in its terms of service.
CloudLinux helps protect websites in a shared website hosting environment. If one of the websites on the servers gets attacked or gets a sudden growth in popularity and a lot of unexpected traffic, it will start draining all of the server resources, affecting other websites. CloudLinux makes sure this doesn’t happen. It will either slow down the website to stop it from hogging all resources or it will temporarily shut it down.
This is a great effort, when you are talking about response time, it is ping response. Also, it would be a ping response on their primary site (which will usually give you 100% uptime). But, it depends on the response time of the shared Hosting server, where the websites are actually hosted - and what is the page load time. For instance, BlueHost on their primary website has 100% uptime and with a great response time. As soon as you get onto one of their servers, I have seen website page load time shoots up to over 30s.
* Comparison made on November 4, 2019 with GoDaddy's Enhance Plan and the VPS L package from IONOS using monthly list prices and features included with plans/packages for both products. Comparison is provided for information purposes only. The GoDaddy name is property of GoDaddy Inc. and is being used only for the express purposes of this comparison. The IONOS mark is a trademark of 1&1 IONOS SE. All rights reserved.
In terms of what many vendors call unlimited service, Web Hosting Pad's terms of service indicate that its definition of unlimited is what it calls "incremental." Basically, as you need more capability, it wants to discuss that with you, both to help you get the most out of its services, and to make sure you're using its systems without abusing them.
We're often asked whether a virtual private server is faster than shared hosting options. Unfortunately, it's impossible to provide a general answer. There are powerful hosting plans with faster computing resources than that of a VPS. The difference, however, lies in the fact that our VPS services offer guaranteed resources (computing power), whereas shared hosting products are influenced by the number of resources available to other customers and ultimately only represent theoretical values.

VPS hosting is an affordable option when your business requirements outgrow the capacity of shared hosting. It's the next logical step: substantially more capacity and control for just a bit more money. Users on a shared web hosting server share the computing resources for the websites, email, and databases. There is no guarantee of CPU, RAM on shared web hosting. VPS hosting provides dedicated compute resources for your websites, files, email, databases, etc. keeping you in complete control. In addition, you get more control with root level access to perform configurations not possible in shared hosting.
Web hosting services offer varying amounts of monthly data transfers, storage, email, and other features. Even how you pay (month-to-month payments vs. annual payments) can be radically different, too, so taking the time to plot exactly what your company needs for online success is essential. Many of these companies also offer reseller hosting services, which let you go into business for yourself, offering hosting to your own customers without requiring you to spin up your own servers.

You get 24/7/365 basic customer support for all the plans. If you need a team of server-admin experts to support you, we offer a fully-managed support plan for an additional charge. We also provide ala carte service offerings to solve specific issues through our hosting premium support. Of course, we also offer a rich library of detailed help articles. You can learn more about the support services in our Statement of Support.


All of this infrastructure has been built out to support the a wide range of hosting services. The family-owned company gains points for understanding the importance of transaction security by offering free AutoSSL and Let's Encrypt SSL encryption for its plans. While the company offers sophisticated services for technically strong clients, it also has a Weebly web builder option to get you up and running quickly. 
1. Is it going to be a static HTML site or do you need a website builder or a CMS? If you only need a simple static website, any host will do the job just fine, so you can concentrate on the cheapest pricing. However, if you need a CMS or website builder solution, look at the best providers that include auto-installers or built-in website builders.

People often think that a web host is the main cause of a slow website but, this is often not the case. When picking a provider, it's important for find a hosting provider that is close to your users and has a good amount of RAM and fast CPU power. Beyond that, it's often the way the website is set up that slows it down for users. To ensure that your website speed is optimal for users you need to make sure you pay attention to the following:


Sometimes you need more power than an entry-level web hosting service can provide. If you're looking to take your business online and want to build your website on a server that offers more power, stability, and flexibility than shared hosting, but you don't want to pay the higher cost of dedicated hosting, VPS, or virtual private server hosting, may be the perfect middle-of-the-road service tier for your business.


The best web hosts on the market include these web builders in their service offerings. Some include popular existing site builders like Weebly, while other hosting teams have engineered their own platforms for website design and development. For example, 1&1 has 1&1 MyWebsite, and InMotion’s BoldGrid sits atop WordPress for a more intuitive experience, whether you’re building your first site or your fourteenth.
When it comes to server operating systems, Linux is typically the default option. Still, some services offer a choice of Linux or Windows hosting. If you have specific server-side applications that require Windows, such as SQL Server or a custom application written in .NET, then you need to make sure your web host has Windows hosting. But don't let the idea of a Linux host intimidate you. Nowadays, most web hosts offer a graphical interface or a control panel to simplify server administration and website management. Instead of typing at the command line, you'll click easily identifiable icons. 

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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
We use this analogy on our web hosting page. Shared hosting is like an apartment building – lots of residents in the same building, sharing the same resources, but also very affordable. Dedicated servers are like having your state-of-the-art house, where you’ll pay a lot more, but you also don’t have to share the space or utilities with anyone. VPS is in the middle, like a townhouse, where you have a few residents in the same building, but you each have dedicated resources and are in full control of your home. It costs less than a dedicated server, but still gives you much of the same benefits.
For over a decade we’ve helped business owners, entrepreneurs, bloggers and digital enthusiasts make their online vision a reality with award winning web hosting services. For both personal and professional websites, we are the Canadian web hosting company you can rely on. We have the technology to ensure your site runs smoothly and we’re here for you every hour of everyday. Want to succeed online? Use HostPapa web hosting services to power your website. 

That means that, even though there may be multiple virtual machines on the same physical server, you are in an isolated environment with dedicated resources (RAM, Storage) and virtually allocated CPUs that no one else can touch. Plus, with root access, you can make technical changes that would not be allowed on a shared hosting plan. You get the advanced performance, control and flexibility usually reserved for dedicated servers, but at a much lower price.
Typically, a web hosting service gives you the option of selecting either a traditional hard drive or a solid-state drive as your website's storage medium. Traditional hard drives have large capacities and lower prices, but they aren't quite as resilient as their SSD counterparts. Solid-state drives, on the other hand, are often faster and more reliable than HDDs, but they cost more and have smaller storage capacities. Unless you truly need blazing speed, a traditional hard drive should get the job done.
Bluehost (established in 1996) is the most reliable beginner-friendly web hosting out there. The cheapest plan starts from just $2.75/mo (if you pay for 36-month in advance), renewals start at $7.99/mo. With the basic plan, you can host 1 website. The plan includes a free domain for 1 year, 50GB SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, free SSL and 24/7 live chat support.
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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.

Transferring your website to Web Hosting Canada normally involves two steps: transferring your domain registration, and transferring your website content. Our team can help perform both operations for you, free of charge, usually in under 24 hours. Simply open a support request asking for a site transfer after you’ve activated your hosting account, and include the login details from your current provider.


Great article, Paul! Definitely one of the best reads on web hosting that I've seen. I was pleasantly surprised to see Hostinger taking the first spot. In my opinion, they fully deserve all the praise that they get. Your example with the customer support test proves that point perfectly. No hidden tricks, no downtime, no long support waits. I'm really glad I decided to give them a shot a while ago. Cheers.
CDNs not only help the stability of your website by distributing the traffic among different servers, they can also help to prevent cyber attacks. If a hacker tries to gain access to the cached version of the website from the server closest to them, your original content will remain untouched. HostPapa always aims to provide you with the best website hosting features to ensure your visitors are always pleased with your website.
US-based GoDaddy is one of the largest web hosting companies around. As one of the few that’s done television advertising, it’s probably the best known, too. Even its cheapest web hosting package comes with 100GB storage, unmetered bandwidth, and a free domain – with plenty of options due to GoDaddy's vast domain name repository. GoDaddy also boasts a guaranteed 99.9% uptime, free backup and restore, and expert hosting support available 24/7, all year round. 
If you want reasonably priced server space that won't load pages at a snail's pace when a neighboring site gets a huge traffic spike, VPS is a good option for your business. We've reviewed many VPS hosting services and included the best of the bunch in this guide. You should look into a dedicated server if you want to build a website on an even stronger foundation and can afford the bill.
Shared hosting is web hosting in which the provider houses multiple sites on a single server. For example, Site A shares the same server with Site B, Site C, Site D, and Site E. The upside is that the multiple sites share the server cost, so shared web hosting is generally very inexpensive. In fact, you can find an option for less than $10 per month.
It provides you with even more options, including root access, access to Apache and PHP.ini (modification of PHP variables), and much more. You can also install an SSL certificate, and all software program types. In short, you get more freedom in terms of administering and configuring your server, without the hassle of managing any physical hardware.
Great article, Paul! Definitely one of the best reads on web hosting that I've seen. I was pleasantly surprised to see Hostinger taking the first spot. In my opinion, they fully deserve all the praise that they get. Your example with the customer support test proves that point perfectly. No hidden tricks, no downtime, no long support waits. I'm really glad I decided to give them a shot a while ago. Cheers.
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.
All the features I've detailed to this point are valuable to the web hosting experience, but none matches the critical importance of site uptime. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services. It doesn't matter how great the features are, or how good it looks; if your site is down, it might as well not exist.
A Content Distribution Network (CDN) is a network of servers distributed geographically. The purpose of a CDN is to deliver content on the internet much faster. If a user in Toronto is trying to access your website, the closest server to them will take care of this. But someone coming to your website from Sydney, Australia, will be catered to by a server closest to them. The main host server holds your website content, and all the other servers have a cached version each.
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