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. 
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 

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. 
You also want a web host with 24/7 customer support—if not by phone, then at least by chat. Forums, knowledge bases, and help tickets are all well and good, but sometimes you just need to communicate with another human to get things ironed out as quickly as possible. That said, not all 24/7 customer support teams are equal. Companies like GoDaddy and Liquid Web boast incredibly knowledgeable and helpful customer support squads—a fact that we confirmed in our in-depth reviews of those web hosting services.
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.
As you might expect with a cheap hosting plan, you can only operate one website on the Hatchling plan. And you won’t get a free domain name for a year, either. But we like the super-low pricing and the free transfers for new accounts within the first month after you’ve signed up. A 45-day money-back guarantee means that if you’re not happy with the service, you can cancel it.

Why? Because word of mouth only gets you so far in the internet era. People discover new businesses—even local business—via Bing, Google, and Yahoo. The days when they'd just look you up in the yellow pages are long gone. If you don't have a sharable website address, your chances of building online word of mouth via social networking plummet, too. In other words, no website, no discoverability, no money. Of course, web hosting isn't just for businesses. You may want to host a personal website or blog, too. Either way, the services here have you covered.
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is an independent, virtual partition on a physical server. Think of a server with different "containers" within it. When you sign up for HostPapa VPS hosting, you get one of these containers to manage as you wish⁠—install applications or scripts, and arrange your web files the way you want. It's private, secure, and flexible.
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.
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.
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is an independent, virtual partition on a physical server. Think of a server with different "containers" within it. When you sign up for HostPapa VPS hosting, you get one of these containers to manage as you wish⁠—install applications or scripts, and arrange your web files the way you want. It's private, secure, and flexible.
If you're on a budget and looking for the best free web hosting service, we'd recommend Weebly. The free option comes with free SSL security and 500MB storage, plus SEO and lead capture and contact forms. As you'd expect, there are limitations that come with choosing a free option: you'll have a Weebly-branded URL and ads on your site. If you want to remove these, you'll need to bump up to a paid plan. Users can also benefit from Weebly’s range of stylish website templates.
Once you choose your provider, it's time for you to open an account with the monthly plan that fits your needs. If you still have questions about which plan is suitable for you, call its customer support staff and have them assist you through the registration process. Companies will generally charge a credit card on a monthly basis, however, some companies will also offer discounts for paying a yearly payment at once.
Running a website doesn’t have to be hard work! Our customer service experts & our Papa Squad are here for you at every stage of your website development. Need help registering a domain and configuring your email? We have everything covered! We’ll make sure that your website runs smoothly, loads quickly and is ready to handle the constantly evolving industry of internet marketing. Websites contain more data than ever before, and you need to know your web hosting company can provide you with the power and speed you need to keep your website running smoothly.
Rather than storing data on physical servers, cloud customers are hosted on a connected network of virtual machines. The service is software-independent and perfect for folks who benefit from high availability and on-demand, pay-as-you-go resources. Ranked #1 for cloud-based VPS hosting, InMotion offers performance-enhancing SSDs, free data backups, and managed server options.
The company also offers higher-end Windows and Linux servers, available with Plesk and cPanel respectively. We were very intrigued to see that the company offers low-end Atom-based dedicated servers as well as the more traditional Xeon-based machines. One great resource for those doing some basic experimentation, or site development, is that it has a free, three-month trial for one of its lightly equipped Atom servers.
If you require a lot of functionality and versatility from your website, you’ll benefit from programs and applications that can help you build your site. Our Web hosting plans give you access to free, server-side applications that can be used to develop and customize your website, including popular Content Management System (CMS) applications like WordPress® and Joomla!®. You can even add a Dedicated IP if you plan to add an SSL Certificate later.

One thing we learned in reviewing the services listed here (and many more) is that even though the packages are very similar, they are not identical. Some are more security-focused than others, offering anti-spam and anti-malware tools. Others offer a variety of email marketing tools. While most of the hosts we've reviewed have built-in e-commerce, you may want to consider using a more-robust third-party online shopping cart application like Shopify instead.


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.
Partitioning a single server to appear as multiple servers has been increasingly common on microcomputers since the launch of VMware ESX Server in 2001. The physical server typically runs a hypervisor which is tasked with creating, releasing, and managing the resources of "guest" operating systems, or virtual machines. These guest operating systems are allocated a share of resources of the physical server, typically in a manner in which the guest is not aware of any other physical resources save for those allocated to it by the hypervisor. As a VPS runs its own copy of its operating system, customers have superuser-level access to that operating system instance, and can install almost any software that runs on the OS; however, due to the number of virtualization clients typically running on a single machine, a VPS generally has limited processor time, RAM, and disk space.[2]
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.
As longtime website owners and hosting nerds, we've been asked often: "Which web host is your personal favorite?" We recently decided to take this question seriously — exhaustively testing accounts with all the best web hosting services to analyze their uptime, features, pricing, support, and more. So who do we believe offers the best web hosting? See below for our top reviews of 2020, conveniently broken out by category:
A web hosting account is a secure space on powerful computers (called servers) located in special buildings (datacenters) that provide consistently fast Internet connections, redundant power supply, and physical access security. Today, web hosting has evolved from being considered “just some space on a server” to being a comprehensive platform on which you can build, publish, and market your website, in addition to providing powerful collaboration tools such as email, calendars, and file sharing.
As you might expect with a cheap hosting plan, you can only operate one website on the Hatchling plan. And you won’t get a free domain name for a year, either. But we like the super-low pricing and the free transfers for new accounts within the first month after you’ve signed up. A 45-day money-back guarantee means that if you’re not happy with the service, you can cancel it.
Our site is committed to publishing independent, accurate content guided by strict editorial guidelines. Before articles and reviews are published on our site, they undergo a thorough review process performed by a team of independent editors and subject-matter experts to ensure the content’s accuracy, timeliness, and impartiality. Our editorial team is separate and independent of our site’s advertisers, and the opinions they express on our site are their own. To read more about our team members and their editorial backgrounds, please visit our site’s About page.

The web hosting provider offers solid plans with a good selection of features. The one area we're concerned about is how it presents its offers. Like many hosting providers, its published pricing is a bit misleading. You're not getting hosting for $2.96/mo unless you pay $71 for two years of service. Renewals are generally at a higher rate, although a salesperson we spoke to advised you ask for a "loyalty discount."


The company's entry-point pricing is extremely low, and while this will buy you up to three years of very low-cost hosting, do be aware that its post-promotion price will increase substantially, putting its subsequent year pricing more in line with the rest of its competitors. That said, we liked its 24/7 phone customer support, SSD support on some plans and 30-day money-back guarantee.
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.
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.
Unmetered hosting is generally offered with no limit on the amount of data-transferred on a fixed bandwidth line. Usually, unmetered hosting is offered with 10 Mbit/s, 100 Mbit/s or 1000 Mbit/s (with some as high as 10Gbit/s). This means that the customer is theoretically able to use ~3 TB on 10 Mbit/s or up to ~300 TB on a 1000 Mbit/s line per month, although in practice the values will be significantly less. In a virtual private server, this will be shared bandwidth and a fair usage policy should be involved. Unlimited hosting is also commonly marketed but generally limited by acceptable usage policies and terms of service. Offers of unlimited disk space and bandwidth are always false due to cost, carrier capacities and technological boundaries.[3]
Web hosting is a service that allows organizations and individuals to post a website or web page onto the Internet. A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed in the Internet. Websites are hosted, or stored, on special computers called servers. When Internet users want to view your website, all they need to do is type your website address or domain into their browser. Their computer will then connect to your server and your webpages will be delivered to them through the browser.

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.
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.

Many web hosts offer limited features in their starter packages and then expand the offerings (sometimes tremendously) for higher-tier plans. Read the small print to make sure the plan you are selecting offers what you need. If you need a site builder application to design your website, make sure that the low-cost web host you are picking actually comes with a site builder. Many of them require you to pay for the builder as a separate add-on. Website builders usually don't cost a lot of money, but if you can find a web host that includes one for free, that's money in your pocket. And, if it's integrated with your hosting service, you're more likely to have a smooth, supported experience. 

VPS hosting sits in the intersection of shared hosting and dedicated servers. Unlike shared hosting, VPS is an isolated environment with dedicated resources, which means you have more processing power and your site loads faster. VPS is best suited for applications that have seasonal traffic spikes or RAM-heavy/CPU-intensive applications. If you are developing a new application that has a complex database and you’re not sure how many visits you’ll get, VPS hosting is the affordable option to start with before you upgrade to a dedicated server.
On the topic of dedicated hosting, many web hosting services also offer managed hosting. This type of hosting sees the web host act as your IT department, handling a server's maintenance and upkeep. This hosting option is something that you'd typically find with dedicated servers, so it's a business-centric addition. Naturally, it adds a few bucks to the hosting cost, but nothing that should break the bank if you have the resources for a dedicated server.
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.
Partitioning a single server to appear as multiple servers has been increasingly common on microcomputers since the launch of VMware ESX Server in 2001. The physical server typically runs a hypervisor which is tasked with creating, releasing, and managing the resources of "guest" operating systems, or virtual machines. These guest operating systems are allocated a share of resources of the physical server, typically in a manner in which the guest is not aware of any other physical resources save for those allocated to it by the hypervisor. As a VPS runs its own copy of its operating system, customers have superuser-level access to that operating system instance, and can install almost any software that runs on the OS; however, due to the number of virtualization clients typically running on a single machine, a VPS generally has limited processor time, RAM, and disk space.[2]
The web hosting provider offers solid plans with a good selection of features. The one area we're concerned about is how it presents its offers. Like many hosting providers, its published pricing is a bit misleading. You're not getting hosting for $2.96/mo unless you pay $71 for two years of service. Renewals are generally at a higher rate, although a salesperson we spoke to advised you ask for a "loyalty discount."
Whether I’m geeking out with Ryan, Laura, and the team, or sketching out server diagrams to explain the basics to my grandmother, talking about a career in web hosting is always a creative endeavor, and I love it. Hopefully, this guide has cleared up some of the common confusions of hosting services, and you’re ready to sign up with the web host that best fits your upcoming site needs.

As you might expect with a cheap hosting plan, you can only operate one website on the Hatchling plan. And you won’t get a free domain name for a year, either. But we like the super-low pricing and the free transfers for new accounts within the first month after you’ve signed up. A 45-day money-back guarantee means that if you’re not happy with the service, you can cancel it.

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is an independent, virtual partition on a physical server. Think of a server with different "containers" within it. When you sign up for HostPapa VPS hosting, you get one of these containers to manage as you wish⁠—install applications or scripts, and arrange your web files the way you want. It's private, secure, and flexible.
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.
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.
You'll also want to determine how long you'll need VPS web hosting. If you need hosting for a short time period—say, less than a month or two—you'll typically receive a refund should you cancel your hosting within 60 days. These money-back guarantees vary from web host to web host. For example, Company X may offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, while Company Y may offer a lengthy 90-day money-back guarantee. As always, it's best to shop around for the features that best suit your web hosting needs.
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.
The first thing that caught our eye about Complete Internet Hosting was a great answer to my biggest complaint about hosting providers. Most hosting providers will suck you in with a relatively aggressive starting price, but when it comes time to renew, the renewal price can be two or three times the original price. I've even found one company that renews at more than six times the original price.
You also want a web host with 24/7 customer support—if not by phone, then at least by chat. Forums, knowledge bases, and help tickets are all well and good, but sometimes you just need to communicate with another human to get things ironed out as quickly as possible. That said, not all 24/7 customer support teams are equal. Companies like GoDaddy and Liquid Web boast incredibly knowledgeable and helpful customer support squads—a fact that we confirmed in our in-depth reviews of those web hosting services.
The web hosting provider got bonus points for its policy of performing regular daily backups, even on the lowest-priced shared hosting accounts. Be aware, though, that the promotional price on the low-cost shared hosting does go up after the promotional period. That said, Bluehost offers 24/7 phone support, a 30-day money-back guarantee and SSH access for certain plan options.
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