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 

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.

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.
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. 
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.
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.

Unlike shared or VPS hosting, dedicated hosting makes your website the lone tenant on a server. To extend the housing metaphor, having a dedicated server is like owning your own home. The means that your website taps the server's full power, and pays for the privilege. If you're looking for a high-powered site—an online mansion for your business—dedicated hosting is the way to go. That said, many dedicated web hosting services task you with handling backend, technical issues, much as homeowners have manage maintenance that renters generally leave to their landlords.


The best web hosting service right now is Bluehost. Based in Utah, Bluehost is the preferred partner for WordPress, the world's favourite website builder. This service does a great job of balancing price and features for less experienced businesses, while offering lots of options for more advanced users. Its shared hosting packages start with a very reasonable 'basic' plan, targeted at home users.
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. 

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.
With our dedicated servers, you rent an entire server. This is optimal for people that have very high traffic to their websites or need to setup their server in a very specific way. Not everyone needs to have a fully dedicated web server however. If you’re just getting started with your website, you can save quite a bit of money if you rent a small portion of the server. Shared hosting is when you share a portion of the server with other users rather than rent an entire server to yourself.

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.

Unlike shared or VPS hosting, dedicated hosting makes your website the lone tenant on a server. To extend the housing metaphor, having a dedicated server is like owning your own home. The means that your website taps the server's full power, and pays for the privilege. If you're looking for a high-powered site—an online mansion for your business—dedicated hosting is the way to go. That said, many dedicated web hosting services task you with handling backend, technical issues, much as homeowners have manage maintenance that renters generally leave to their landlords.
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.

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.
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.

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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.


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.
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:
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.
Do you plan to sell products or services? If so, you'll want to invest in a web hosting service that offers Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). An SSL connection encrypts the financial information that shuttles between users' web browsers and your website, thus safeguarding the transmission of the purchasing information. Some hosting companies include a free SSL certificate when you sign up for a web hosting plan, while others charge close to $100. You can save some money by shopping around for services that offer the cheaper SSL plans.
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.
I was running a small private weather website in AWS and the satellite images got "picked up" by a news website and they regularly use them during major weather evenings. AWS' 12c per GB of outbound network traffic made things expensive and VPSServer makes this a lot more manageable and has excellent data volumes included with the price of the VPS. I also get many more CPUs for the price compared to AWS, so I am a happy customer.
That said, not all web hosts offer email. WP Engine, for example, does not. In such instances, you must email accounts from a company other than your web host. GoDaddy, for instance, sells email packages starting at $3.49 per user, per month. That might sound like a hassle, and just one more thing to keep track of, but there are actually some webmasters who feel that separating your email hosting and web hosting services is smart. That way, one provider going offline won't completely bork your business.
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.
Unlike shared or VPS hosting, dedicated hosting makes your website the lone tenant on a server. To extend the housing metaphor, having a dedicated server is like owning your own home. The means that your website taps the server's full power, and pays for the privilege. If you're looking for a high-powered site—an online mansion for your business—dedicated hosting is the way to go. That said, many dedicated web hosting services task you with handling backend, technical issues, much as homeowners have manage maintenance that renters generally leave to their landlords.
Our Website Backup automatically backs up your data – every day. And in worst-case scenarios, if disaster strikes, it’s ok – you can restore your data with a single “click.” So, get Website Backup and stop worrying about data loss. Get back to doing what you do best – running your business and making money. And speaking of money, here’s the best part – we’re offering it for only C$1.99/mo.
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 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."


Once you register your website's domain name, it's time to start picking the specs for your server. Web hosts typically offer multiple VPS plans that have varying amounts of email capability, RAM, storage, CPU power, domain hosting, and monthly data transfers. The plans typically include website builders that let you quickly create a face for your site without much—or even any—coding required. A solid web host should offer at least 4GB of RAM, 100GB of storage, and an ample volume of monthly data transfers. If you expect a significant amount of website growth, then you should look for a web host that has as many unlimited offerings as possible. For example, Hostwinds—the PCMag Editors' Choice for VPS hosting—offers unlimited email, domains, and monthly data transfers. Note, however, that as with all unlimited service offerings, you really need to read the fine print to make sure that what you mean by unlimited and what the hosting service means by it.

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.


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.
Users are guaranteed the resources on their VPS server for their web hosting accounts. This means that your account will always be allocated the set amount of RAM, CPU, and disk space you've chosen regardless of what other users on the server are doing. This allows for greater stability and performance of your website, applications, and email. You also do not share the operating system with any other users, providing better security for your website files.
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.
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