So, we’re here: the big one, web hosting, is at hand. Web hosting is the most popular type of hosting for customers who aren’t major corporations or large businesses.
Web hosting generally provides a mix of affordability and performance that makes it tremendously attractive to all sorts. From individuals who want a small blog for their hobby, to small businesses with ecommerce needs, web hosting is flexible enough to provide tons of solutions.
Wait—What is web hosting? Do I need web hosting, and if so, what kind?
I’ll give a brief overview of the different kinds of hosting, using the most popular analogy I hear: home ownership and renting. Think of web hosting, also called shared hosting or shared web hosting, as living in an apartment.
Whether you live in a really nice apartment or a low-end apartment, you’re still living in a shared building. Your building may have certain accommodations—for example, a gym or pool. You can technically use this pool as often as you want, but if everyone in your apartment building used this privilege, you’d have a tough time actually using the pool or gym.
With shared web hosting, your website is sharing resources on a server with other customers. This is a very cost-efficient use of resources, as a small number of servers can power many websites for many people. Users may get certain accommodations in their shared hosting plans, such as unlimited storage or unlimited bandwidth.
Think of that like having access to a pool, or gym, in an apartment. It’s technically true, but if everyone else on the shared server wanted to push the limits, the shared server wouldn’t work so well.
This is what separates web hosting from something “higher end,” like Virtual Private Server hosting or dedicated hosting, which are rather like townhomes and houses, which are more expensive but allow you much more space and fuller control of the resources.
However, these other types of hosting can be expensive or sometimes difficult to maintain. Plus, they might provide more than you need. Web hosting can satisfy the needs of a lot of small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), not just individuals and hobbyists, without forcing people to take on more than they can afford or use.
When you look at hosting options, keep in mind what kind of hosting you need. Even if it’s web hosting, you’ll need to keep in mind a few things in order to find a host that best fits you. What kind of things? Well, these:
How did you determine this list? What makes these names the best web hosting?
You may be wondering how we determined these hosts to be the best. In short, we purchased a lot of different hosting plans from different companies and over the course of months, we recorded our uptime (the amount of time our host remains up and running) and routinely experimented with the different platforms. We also paid close attention to the pricing and customer support.
The hosts on this list are here because they performed well in either all or most of the following categories: performance and security, pricing and features, ease of use, and customer support.
These are also the types of things you should be looking for in your hosting search. You should also keep an eye out for more specific details, such as the price of renewing your service (which is almost always higher than the initial price) and the quality of backup services.
While all these categories are hugely important, we give extra weight to features and performance: how well does the hosting itself stack up, and how many resources are you given?
No host is a perfect solution for every person, but these names possess enough strengths that we find them worthy of recommending to almost anyone interested in web hosting.
If you want a more detailed look at how we review hosting (not just web hosting), you can read this. If not, I think I’ve given enough of a primer: let’s dive into our top 5 web hosts!
2020’s Best Web Hosting:
Without further ado, let’s dive into a detailed review of each Web hosting.
1: GreenGeeks (My Favourite)
In first place, we have one of the most unique hosts around. As the name implies, GreenGeeks is a host with a unique focus on environmental friendliness. Data centers can be tremendously wasteful, something few of us consider in the face of everything else that is unfriendly to the environment.
GreenGeeks’ servers are designed to be very energy efficient. Beyond that, for every unit of power they use, they invest triple that amount in the form of renewable energy via an environmental foundation. This means using GreenGeeks not only doesn’t hurt the environment, it helps it!
GreekGeeks does more than ease your conscience. GreenGeeks’ pricing is well within the industry average, and can sometimes be on the lower side—so you’re not going to pay extra for the more ethical choice. Plus, GreenGeeks’ shared plans are loaded with features.
An entry level account starts you off with unlimited disk space—which is great, but extra impressive because it’s unlimited SSD disk space. This is higher quality than space on traditional hard drives, and usually comes in more limited quantities on other hosts.
Besides that, you get unlimited email accounts, bandwidth, and domains. This latter point is unique: most entry level plans give you one free domain but will also only host one domain. GreenGeeks gives you a free domain, but lets you host as many as you can afford, which is excellent.
Besides that, you get unlimited MySQL databases (which is great), basic SSL (which you can upgrade), nightly backups, and Cloudflare CDN for free. That these are what you start with is very impressive, even if the renewal price is a bit high.
This means that their entry-level plan can be good enough for SMBs, not just individuals—to say nothing of their higher tiers, which of course are even better.
If that weren’t enough, GreenGeeks has great customer support and ease of use. It’s not exceptional in these areas, but that doesn’t matter much: it does well enough that you can’t really complain.
Best of all, though, is their great uptime and response time.
Yep. For four months in a row, our GreenGeeks had perfect uptime. To put a cherry on top, the response time is consistently low, making it not only one of the best hosts we’ve used in terms of uptime, but one of the most responsive.
To summarize, GreenGeeks has it all. The pricing plans are a little higher than usual upon renewal, but in total the prices are still within a fairly normal range for shared hosting. In return, you get a ton of features and incredible performance. And it’s quite environmentally friendly—an easy first place. You can read a more in-depth review of GreenGeeks here.
- Excellent performance: perfect uptime and very low response times.
- Lots of features and a generous allocation of resources, from the first tier onwards.
- Uniquely environmentally friendly!
- Some of the better features require paid add-ons. This isn’t a major fault, and GreenGeeks’ plans stand better-equipped than most other hosts’ plans anyway, but it can be annoying.
- Renewal prices are higher than usual, even if the initial prices are lower or standard.
Of all the names on this list, Bluehost is likely the most popular. It’s is one of the most popular hosts around, in the big leagues of hosting: around since 2003, Bluehost powers over 2 million websites and has hundreds of support staff ready to go.
I see Bluehost’s main appeal in being an overall great web host that is user-friendly. It performs well, its pricing is overall standard, and it has great ease of use and customer support.
Although the storage space isn’t unlimited, as it is with GreenGeeks, I’d like to remind you of the aforementioned apartment analogy: if everyone on a shared hosting account decided to use up as much storage as they possibly could because it’s “unlimited,” the whole shared hosting platform wouldn’t work.
So yeah, Bluehost does limit you technically, but practically speaking the storage allowances are quite generous, especially for an entry level account. Plus, it’s SSD storage, not HD storage.
Besides that, you get unmetered bandwidth, basic SSL, an included domain, some parked domains, and one website. Higher tiers get more of everything, plus marketing offers and some site backup.
These features are honestly generous enough for most users, even if it doesn’t look so impressive on paper. Having said that, I do think Bluehost could be a little more generous to keep up with some of its smaller competitors, like GreenGeeks or FastComet (which is coming up next!). For example, including backups or more websites for entry level accounts would be nice.
Something Bluehost does especially well is user-friendliness. While all the hosts on this list are fundamentally easy to use, Bluehost is particularly strong here. The website builder is intuitive and Bluehost is confident enough with it that you can try it for free on their website.
The overall layout and account management is very streamlined and easy to use. On top of that, the customer support is excellent: representatives are very helpful and the knowledge base is expansive.
As far as uptime goes, Bluehost isn’t number one. However, Bluehost has always managed to stay above 99.9% uptime even at its worst, and is usually better than that.
While it’s true that the uptime isn’t always perfect, the response times are consistently great. Even the higher numbers are still on the better side of the industry average.
For being an overall great host with decent pricing, good performance, solid features, and great ease of use and support, Bluehost has earned our second place spot. Still curious about Bluehost? We’ve got you covered.
- Though the first tier is pricier than usual for the first term, the second and third tier are affordable for the first term and have standard pricing for subsequent terms.
- Uptime is overall pretty good and response times are excellent.
- Generally good allocation of resources.
- Bluehost is very easy to use, and is great for beginners. Even for intermediate or knowledgeable customers, Bluehost streamlines things.
- Uniquely good customer support.
- Pricing is overall good, but the first tier is on the more expensive side for the first term. However, the renewal price is pretty standard.
- Uptime is usually good, but every now and then it can be a little below standard.
- Yes, features and resources are overall good, but some things could be added to the second or third tier, in my opinion, to keep up feature-heavy competitors.
FastComet is one of my favorite options for web hosting. Why? Because FastComet is the only major hosting company that doesn’t have significantly higher renewal prices. Ordinarily with web hosting, your first year of service will be a few bucks a month, but the second year onward will increase the monthly price greatly, sometimes even doubling it.
This is unfortunate, but so universal there’s little you can do about it…unless you use FastComet, which simply keeps your renewal price the same as your initial purchase price! Yes, even if they change the standard pricing later on.
Presumably this means their initial monthly price is higher than average, right? Nope, not really. FastComet starts at $2.95, which is on the lower end of average, and extends along three tiers to $5.95.
You get pretty much every feature that is common on other hosts, as well as some at the entry level that are typically reserved for pricier accounts with other companies. For example, FastCloud
has unlimited email accounts, unlimited databases, unlimited FTP accounts, BitNinja Server Security, free CloudFlare CDN, SSL, and daily backups.
Higher tiers have private DNS options, a 1-click restore manager, double or triple the CPU and RAM, better SSL, and much more. The higher tiers have everything you need, but the fact that the initial price is the renewal price makes everything so much better.
Plus, in my experience, FastComet is easy to use, has great customer support, and good security. So what’s the problem? For people who want shared hosting options, isn’t FastComet the pinnacle? After all, it is easily the best bargain in terms of features and price.
While FastComet is a great deal, it falls short on the most important item in hosting: the actual hosting! FastComet is overall fine, but in my experience, the uptime was a bit worse than some of the others here, and the response time was significantly and consistently slower than other top options.
The good thing is that FastComet kept things at the 99.9% mark, though again, these scores aren’t as excellent as some of the others here. While the response time and uptime aren’t the end of the world, it does make me think FastComet isn’t the best for those who are strongly prioritizing performance.
But for anyone willing to risk these numbers, and looking for a very cost-effective solution, FastComet is probably going to be your number one pick. If you want to know more first, our FastComet review has more information, plus an even longer uptime record to check out.
- Excellent budget option for those who want to consistently spend a low amount of money without sacrificing features.
- Very stable pricing and product packaging.
- Strong set of features, especially for the price. The entry-level option in particular is one of the most well-featured first tier web hosting packages I’ve seen.
- Uptime and response times aren’t as good as some of the other options here.
- Some storage limits even on higher tiers.
Of all the options here, I think SiteGround is one of the most esteemed. It’s got a real solid reputation, and all types of website owners seem to like it.
Part of why it’s respected is the fact that even though it’s huge, it’s independently owned:
Meaning, unlike Bluehost (for example), there’s no conglomerate at the top.
And as you can see, handling over 2 million domains is a pretty huge number. Surely, SiteGround must be doing something right, right?
Well, I’d say so.
But I know what you’re thinking—is SiteGround expensive, or too costly? Well, let’s take a look first:
I’ve got a lot of good things to say about SiteGround, but I should be honest with you first: the pricing is not exactly “cheap.”
Before I get into it, let me clarify: you get a lot of things with SiteGround, and that makes the price not too bad. In the scheme of things, businesses won’t be holding back a few bucks a month if the pros are worth it.
But for people who need the cheapest host available—usually meaning individuals and hobbyists—SiteGround probably isn’t it. The starting prices for the plans are a bit higher than average.
But the renewal prices are also on the higher end of average—even the cheapest SiteGround plan might be a little pricey compared to some of the other budget hosts.
But price really is only part of the picture. One of SiteGround’s great perks is the feature set that comes with it:
As you can see, the “essential features”—which every plan gets—are pretty good. Traffic is unmetered, there are unlimited MySQL databases, free SSL, free email accounts, and a free site builder.
Even if you think that’s kind of basic, free CloudFlare CDN is impressive. CloudFlare CDN can really boost performance and load times for visitors around the world.
And daily backups are awesome, especially when you consider that so many hosts only have weekly or monthly backups for entry level plans.
Now, those are just the essentials. The next two tiers get premium features:
Which primarily make it easier to set up your site, and boost performance. The geeky features are similar, in that they boost performance and also grant PCI compliance (which lets you safely process online transactions).
The downside to all this, of course, are the storage limits. Realistically, shared web hosting DOES have limited storage, even if your hosting plan says you have unlimited storage.
So for SiteGround to put a limit at 10GB isn’t as bad as it might seem at first. In fact, it’s pretty realistic—most people on entry level plans won’t use more than 10GB. But I still think it’s too bad they have the limit there. On the bright side, it’s SSD storage (which performs better)!
An important note about SiteGround: it’s really great for WordPress. In fact, WordPress.org recommends SiteGround along with two other hosts as best for WordPress hosting.
This is because SiteGround, aside from being reliable and user-friendly, has lots of features that make setting up or transferring WordPress sites way easier. So that’s a special strength of SiteGround.
Other than that, SiteGround is pretty easy to use (even if you’re not using WordPress), and it has great customer support. So SiteGround generally does well in most areas, including features—the only problems so far are the price and storage limits.
There’s something else we need to look at: uptime, of course. Because SiteGround may be well-received, but shared hosting everywhere is susceptible to outages and poor performance. So here’s how SiteGround has done for me:
In my measurements, SiteGround has performed EXCELLENTLY. Not perfectly, but it’s come pretty close. And not only is the uptime generally super high, the response times are decent.
Not as low as I’d like, of course—but not on the higher end that I’ve seen with other hosts. I’ll take what I can get.
So overall, SiteGround is a really solid web host, and easily one of the best in the business. The features are pretty good, it’s great for WordPress, and the performance is solid.
The only real drawback is that SiteGround might be overkill, and a little too pricey, for people in need of cheap hosts and less demanding websites.
If you want to know more about SiteGround—you guessed it! Check out our full SiteGround review.
Pretty good features, overall. Daily backups and CloudFlare CDN are included for ALL tiers, and the second and third tier have even more advanced features.
SiteGround is particularly suited for WordPress sites.
SiteGround has consistently been one of the best-performing hosts I’ve tested, in terms of uptime.
Higher than average starting prices, and higher than average renewal prices.
Upgrading to a higher tier isn’t insignificant in terms of price.
Storage limits seem a bit stingy.
5: A2 Hosting
So far, this list has been a mix of underdogs and massive names. A2 Hosting is another underdog: we don’t know its size exactly, but it’s pretty self-evident it’s not on par (in size) with Bluehost or SiteGround.
So what does A2 Hosting bring to the table? Despite being a relatively small name, A2 Hosting packs a punch when it comes to features, and their pricing is reasonable—plus, they offer more options than most companies.
The price differences are not too significant, and it’s nice to see these options available for those who are interested. The difference between Linux and Windows servers is a topic for another day, but briefly: for most users interested in shared hosting, windows servers might be better for .net sites/apps. More advanced users with heavier needs might prefer windows for more advanced reasons, but I’d suggest Linux for most of you.
Anyway, the allocation of features isn’t bad. You start with one site, unlimited storage and transfer, plus free SSL, but unfortunately only five databases. The second tier is pretty affordable, even including the renewal price, and doesn’t restrict any resources.
On paper, things don’t sound too impressive, but A2 Hosting has a lot of extra protocols and security features for web hosting that are included by default. Plus, A2 Hosting has a lot of available add-ons and upgrades.
The biggest of these is the “Turbo” upgrade (see the above feature list), which tremendously boosts performance. Even aside from that, there are miscellaneous and smaller upgrade options available.
As far as ease of use or customer support go, you might think A2 Hosting suffers because of its small size. Luckily, this is not the case. While I don’t find A2 Hosting super user-friendly, it’s not hard to use or learn either.
The representatives are generally good and respond in a timely manner, but it’s nothing I would consider outstanding. The knowledge base is pretty unremarkable, but still useful. That’s okay—A2’s support is still good enough to get the job done.
The flip side of this is that A2 Hosting is a little better for more advanced users. It’s developer friendly and is good for people with very specific ideas of their hosting needs. It’s, in a word, accommodating, and very customizable.
A2 Hosting has a lot of options for upgrading performance. These are pretty affordable if you’re interested, and can boost your site. However, I’ve been more interested in the base level performance, without the upgrades.
Ah…yeah, a bit unfortunate here. The bright side? A2 Hosting has largely managed to stay above the 99.9% uptime mark. The downside? It’s very inconsistent in staying above the 99.95% mark, and one month even dipped to the low end of 99.8%.
On top of that, the response times are pretty high, consistently. This means that A2 Hosting is a bit of a risk for those who are really counting on quality uptime and response time. If these things are less of a priority for you, then A2 Hosting could be a great option—but it might not be a great idea if you’re looking for ecommerce solutions, unless you’re interested in adding upgrades.
But upgrades shouldn’t be a mandatory part of making your service function, so that’s why A2, despite being overall solid and good if you use all that they offer, is in last place. Don’t be fooled though, it’s still good for web hosting (and other types of hosting, if you’re curious).
Plus, it has an anytime money back guarantee if you don’t like your service!
- Great for users who want options: there’s the choice between Linux and Windows plans, and the many available upgrades.
- A2 Hosting can perform well if you make full use of its infrastructure and upgrades. Furthermore, the upgrades are often affordable.
- On the note of those last two points, A2 Hosting is particularly good for those who anticipate the need for scaling, but still wish to remain within an affordable web hosting structure.
- A2 Hosting is developer-friendly: it supports a lot of scripts and even makes it easy for developers to get straight to work.
- Third tier prices are a bit expensive upon renewal, though it’s nothing crazy.
- Average customer support and ease of use. Good enough, but nothing exceptional.
- Performance isn’t great at the base level (without upgrades, with default features).
Wow! Although finding the best web hosting might have been daunting at first, hopefully this list helped simplify things. Just to make sure we’re on the same track, and to make sure you’re able to find the best hosting fit, I’ll reiterate a few things.
First, look at all the things we looked at. When it comes to price and features, remember to keep an eye out for the renewal prices; what features are included for free forever, and what have fees after the first year; plus what features are realistically necessary. How much storage do you really need?
Aside from prioritizing these aspects of pricing and features, it’s really important to pay attention to performance. Even if you’re not a business or not hoping to make money off your site, you probably have an interest in a site that’s up and running, right?
Uptime is everything. An uptime of 99.9% may sound good enough to you, but in practice that’s roughly equivalent to 10 minutes a week or 43 minutes a month. That’s why you want uptimes as high as possible, hopefully above the 99.95% mark.
Response times may not be as essential, but they’re still pretty important: low response times mean your visitors have a better experience, and they also boost your appearance in search rankings.
Here at Hosting Pill, we offer a couple free tools that you might find useful for this area. Instead of paying for an uptime calculator, check out ours while you try out different web hosts.
You can also use our website-down check. It’s as simple as the name sounds: just enter in the URL of your site, and check if the site is down just for you or for everyone!
Testing the hosts you’re interested in might be a bit too much work, so you can also just view our uptime measurements here. All the hosts we’re measuring are here—not just the ones on this list!
Aside from these essentials, ease of use and customer friendliness may be of varying importance to you. If you’re new to purchasing hosting, you might want to find a host that is transparent about its pricing and account settings, and that is user-friendly with great customer support.
As this list stands now, I think it’s a pretty good start. All these hosts are great web hosting options, but each has their own strengths.
GreenGeeks is affordable for the first year and a bit pricier after that, but offers a ton of features, has great performance, and is environmentally friendly.
Bluehost is probably the best all-rounder: pricing and features are okay, performance is very good, and it excels with user-friendliness and customer support.
FastComet has good customer support too, but its main strength is the phenomenal bargain it presents: tons of features for low prices that do not get higher upon renewal. The only problem? Its performance isn’t as good as Bluehost and GreenGeeks.
SiteGround provides great value hosting for the first term, and has standard pricing after that. It isn’t excellent on features, but has really good performance for its price and simplicity, plus a personal assistant feature that’s a nice touch.
A2 Hosting, in fifth place, is great for businesses willing to make upgrades for great performance and those who are more technically minded about their web hosting needs, but isn’t as great for those just looking for budget options (such as individuals and hobbyists).
You can try all of these for at least thirty days, and in some cases longer—so don’t wait. Happy hosting!