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.
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.
Many web hosting services offer so-called unlimited or unmetered service for whatever amount of bandwidth, disk storage and sites you use. It's important to understand that most terms of service actually do limit the definition of "unlimited" to what's considered reasonable use. The bottom line is simple: if you're building a pretty basic website, unlimited means you don't need to worry. But if you're trying to do something excessive (or illegal, immoral or fattening), the fine print in the terms of service will trigger, and you'll either be asked to spend more or go elsewhere.
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The company doesn't list a virtual private server offering, but it bills its Elastic Sites service as a VPS alternative, offering the ease of use of a simple shared hosting plan and the performance and scalability of a VPS. GlowHost also offers a number of different cloud hosting plans, with special attention to providing enterprise-grade services.
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.
VPS hosting contains the best elements of shared hosting and dedicated hosting services. Like shared hosting, VPS hosting puts your website on a server that also has other sites running on it, except that there are fewer sites per server. The sites share the cost of running on the server, which results in a monthly or yearly charge that's less than the relatively high price tag of dedicated hosting.
Excellent performance, great features, and helpful tech support propel InMotion Hosting to second place in our roundup of the best web hosting services 2020. InMotion has been around since 2001, and is one of the world's largest independent web hosting companies. It offers several shared hosting plans, with prices starting at a very attractive monthly cost.
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.
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
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.
If you host it in a VPS environment, your site won't share resources with neighboring sites, the way it would with shared hosting. In fact, your site lives in a partitioned server area that has its own operating system, storage, RAM, and monthly data transfer limits, so you can expect smoother, more stable site performance. The sites with which you share your server are far less likely to affect your site—or even take it down altogether—than they would be on a shared site. Knowing how VPS setups operate is just the first step, however. You still need to familiarize yourself with the essential features needed for building a rock-solid, VPS-hosted website.
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.
Many web hosting services offer a low "starting price," but require you to prepay for two or three years of service to get that price. After the promotional period, the renewal price for some web hosting services can be two, three, or even four times the initial promotional pricing. While the initial deal might be incredible, the cost of transferring your site (or paying the added fee) in a couple of years may be something to consider.
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.
Finally, we were quite happy with their money-back guarantee. They offer a full 90-day guarantee (except for domain names you buy) and a pro-rated refund for the rest of your time. So if you want to cancel after 18 months and have six months left in your term, you'll get back the cost of the six remaining months. It's clear, it's understandable, and it's the straightforward way we'd like to see most providers use as a model.
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.