27 Feb Best web hosting providers: DreamHost, A2Hosting and more
Choosing a web hosting provider can be tricky. You’re likely looking for a commercial service that offers WordPress, but also one that performs well, experiences virtually no downtime, offers 24/7 customer support and comes at the right price. Whether you’re looking to start a personal portfolio site for job-hunting or make sure your small business has a strong online presence during the coronavirus pandemic, the right web hosting provider can make your life a lot easier.
Here, we’re taking a close look at some of the best web hosting services available, including DreamHost, A2Hosting, GoDaddy Web Hosting and more. We’re focusing on commercial web hosting companies that offer WordPress, virtual private servers, shared hosting and many web hosting services, along with a variety of annual and monthly plans.
How we chose
It’s important to note that we didn’t explicitly “test” the providers on this list. Instead, we compiled a competitive overview based on a variety of factors, including third-party ratings and features offered by the providers. Unless otherwise listed, these vendors all have a rating of A or higher from the Better Business Bureau, a rating of 3.9 or higher out of 5 from TrustPilot, and say they offer 24/7 support and 99% site uptime or better. They also have a speed test rating of A or higher from Bitcatcha, a site that purchases web hosting accounts, sets up test sites and runs server response times on them to measure performance.
Editors’ top picks
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If you want more advice on what to keep in mind while shopping for a web hosting solution, the different types of web hosting available and tips on speeding up your website, make sure you scroll to the bottom of this page.
A note on pricing: We’ve made every effort to verify that the prices listed here were accurate at the time of last publication. However, prices in this category are subject to frequent fluctuations and they’re consistently subject to special offers and limited deals. Furthermore, many of the prices listed here reflect the monthly rates if you prepay for 12 months of service or more. Please click through to the vendors in question to verify current pricing at any given time.
Web hosting providers, compared
|Basics||Dreamhost||A2 Hosting||WebHostingPad||Hostwinds||GreenGeeks||SiteGround||AccuWeb Hosting||GoDaddy Web Hosting|
|Starting price for shared hosting||$2.59/month||$3/month||$2/month||$5/month||$2.49/month||$7/month||$3/month||$6/month|
|24/7 customer service||Live chat; email; phone during certain hours||Phone; live chat||Live chat; email; phone during certain hours||Live chat; support tickets||Live chat; email; phone during certain hours||Live chat; support tickets; phone support||Live chat; support tickets||Phone; live chat|
|Money-back guarantee||97 days||30 days||30 days||None||30 days||30 days||30 days||30 days|
|Better Business Bureau rating||A+||A+||A+||A||A+||A+||A+||A+|
|Better Business Bureau accreditation||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Types of hosting|
|Virtual private server (VPS)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Best web hosting providers
With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and 4.7 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot, DreamHost is one of our most recommended web hosting providers for several reasons. First, it offers a custom control panel, which allows you to more easily manage your own hosting. While live phone customer support isn’t available 24/7, the provider is responsive to live chat and tickets. DreamHost also uses superfast SSDs for all its storage, has a free SSL certificate (for more secure web browsing) and provides SSH access for those plans that are intended for more technical users.
Other things we like about Dreamhost: It offers free shared website and email hosting to 501(c)(3) nonprofits. For all others, the pricing is pretty transparent — there are no hidden gotchas in the rates. Plus, it provides a 97-day money back guarantee, one of the most generous offers available.
GreenGeeks has an A+ rating from the BBB and 4.4 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot. If you’ve ever been worried about the tremendous amount of power large data centers consume, you might want to check out this service. 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 complicated, means that it’s not just energy neutral, it’s actually helping fuel the green energy economy.
Even though it’s green, GreenGeeks still offers a lot of power for your websites. Its basic shared web hosting plan offers unlimited web space and email accounts, unmetered data transfer, an SSL certificate, a free domain name for the first year, a nightly backup, CDN and a 30-day money-back guarantee. It also offers live chat and email support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It also has phone support most hours of the day.
GreenGeeks is one of the more developer-friendly web hosting providers, too, with multiple PHP versions and Git preinstalled.
SiteGround has an A+ rating from the BBB and 4.7 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot. It sits in the middle ground between a consumer web hosting provider and one that caters to enterprise businesses. If you’ve got a small business with more complex web needs than a typical small business, SiteGround is an ideal solution — and if your business ends up expanding, the service has options to grow with you.
Although offerings start as low as $7 a month, if you go up to its GoGeek plan you’ll get several other useful features, including access to a staging server and one-click Git repo creation. All of its plans include SSL, daily backup, CDN, email, unmetered traffic and unlimited databases. It also differs from some other services in that it sets limits on bandwidth and storage up front, whereas most others claim to be unlimited but have rules in the fine print (more on that below). You’ll also get a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 100% renewable energy match.
As is the case with most other services, if you want to get the lowest price, you’ll have to pay for a year of service in advance. After that year, the price will go up. Support includes 24/7 live chat and phone access, and tickets that are answered in an average of 15 minutes.
GoDaddy has an A+ rating from the BBB and 4.1 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot. While the site is perhaps best known for purchasing domain names, it also offers a variety of web hosting services, including WordPress, WordPress ecommerce and reseller hosting. However, it does not offer cloud hosting.
The service’s most basic shared hosting plan includes unmetered bandwidth, one-click WordPress install, a domain and Office 365 email (for the first year).
GoDaddy offers 24/7 phone support and live chat support as well.
Hostwinds has an A rating from the BBB and a 3.9 out of 5 stars from TrustPilot. Its web hosting offerings are best suited for business owners, with specific business hosting plans and reseller hosting plans. Hostwinds also offers managed or unmanaged virtual private server hosting for Windows and Linux.
The service’s shared hosting plans also include a number of features, like SSDs, free website transfers, unlimited domains, email accounts and databases, a free SSL certificate and a Weebly site builder.
AccuWeb Hosting has an A+ rating from the BBB and 4.1 out of 5 stars from TrustPilot. It stands out due to the wide array of hosting options it offers, including several different managed and unmanaged Windows and Linux hosting plans. AccuWeb Hosting also breaks down what’s included in each plan more clearly than some of the other providers. Like many of the others, plans include SSD storage, CloudFlare CDN, an SSL certificate and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
AccuWeb offers 24/7 live chat, phone and ticket support. However, it doesn’t offer monthly billing (you have to sign up for six months to three years at a time), and there are limits to the number of email accounts each domain can create.
WebHostingPad earned an A+ rating from the BBB and 4.3 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot. Its “all-inclusive” website hosting plan starts at $2 a month and includes free SSL certificates, a free website builder by Weebly, one-click install WordPress, a free domain and a 30-day money-back guarantee. It also offers unlimited websites, domains and email.
WebHostingPad offers fewer services than some of the other providers, but the all-inclusive approach may be appealing if you want a simple way to get started building and hosting a site. You can also pay for several different add-on services, including SSD database storage and an advanced spam filter.
A2 Hosting has an A+ rating from the BBB and 3.9 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot. The company does a lot of things right: With every plan, the web hosting service includes SSD, site migration, an SSL certificate and CloudFlare CDN (a group of servers worldwide that automatically determines the best route to connect visitors to your site for increased speed and security). Its Anycast DNS solution duplicates DNS records across its global network, increasing site performance, according to the site.
Customer support is also strong: A2 Hosting’s Guru Grew support team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by phone, email, online chat or ticket.
Like most web hosting providers, the published pricing is a bit misleading: The shared hosting price tag of $3 a month is only available if you sign up for the three-year plan and pay upfront. It offers a 30-day money back guarantee or a prorated refund for unused service after that point.
Additional web hosting options worth checking out
The following web hosts have slightly lower TrustPilot ratings than the ones above, but almost all are still highly rated with the BBB.
Web Hosting Hub
While Web Hosting Hub has an A+ BBB rating, its TrustPilot rating is a 3.3 out of 5. One standout feature is full service web design for an extra fee, so you don’t have to build your site yourself.
WP Engine Web Hosting
WP Engine Web Hosting has a A BBB rating and a 3.4 out of 5 TrustPilot rating. As the name suggests, it’s a WordPress hosting option that works with several large brands, including Yelp, Marriott and Etsy.
GlowHost has an A+ BBB rating and a 3.3 out of 5 TrustPilot rating. If you want to give it a try, the service offers a 91-day money-back guarantee.
HostPapa has an A+ BBB rating and a 3.8 out of 5 TrustPilot rating. It’s a small business focused hosting service that also offers free domain transfer.
While Hostinger doesn’t appear to have a BBB page (I’ve reached out to the BBB to ask about this and will update if I hear back), it does have a TrustPilot rating of 4.6 and high Bitcatcha speed tests.
Liquid Web Hosting
Liquid Web Hosting is not rated on BBB, but it does have a Trustpilot rating of 4.6 and high Bitcatcha speed tests.
Other web hosting options
The following web hosts have more mixed reviews and either a low BBB or TrustPilot rating. Again, we haven’t tested them ourselves, but would recommend doing more research before signing up.
- HostGator: C+ BBB rating, 2.6 TrustPilot rating
- Bluehost — A+ BBB rating, 1.7 TrustPilot rating
- InMotion Hosting — A+ BBB rating, 2.5 TrustPilot rating
- iPage — A BBB rating, 1.4 TrustPilot rating
- 1&1 IONOS — A+ BBB rating, 2.2 TrustPilot rating
- MochaHost– F BBB rating, 4.5 TrustPilot rating
Planning your web hosting purchase
Now that you’ve got a lay of the land for what types of web hosting services are out there, here are a few tips for when it comes to actually choosing a plan.
Be wary of the ‘starting price’
Despite the fact that web hosting services typically list a low starting price, this price will usually require you to pay up front for two to three years of service — so it’s not really, say, $3 a month, but $72 in advance for two years. And once that promotional period is over, the price to renew your service can end up being way higher.
Switching providers? Look for free site migrations
If your web hosting agreement is about to run out and the price is going to go up, you may want to transfer your site to another hosting provider to take advantage of their introductory deal. Look for those providers that offer free or low-cost site migrations to do so.
One more note about migration services: While these are useful, they’re often automated, which means not everything may migrate over, and you may have to make some changes. Make sure you research how it will work for you before you sign up.
Read the fine print on ‘unlimited’ services
While many web hosting services offer what they call “unlimited” or unmetered service for a certain amount of bandwidth, disk storage and websites you use, make sure you read the terms of service. Most actually do include a definition with a limit for use. But if you’re running a fairly basic site and aren’t trying to take advantage of the system, you should be fine.
Make sure you know the difference between web hosting and web building services
Most web hosting services also offer a drag-and-drop website builder, helping you get your site up and running. But make sure you read the fine print: Using one of these website builders will often lock you into the web hosting service, too. The builders may also be proprietary to the service, making it difficult to move your site to another service if you want to do so later on.
Website hosting definitions
When shopping for a web hosting service, you’ll see a lot of terms thrown around that you may not understand. Here are some of the typical options you might see, and whether they’re what you’re looking for.
- Cloud-based hosting is a great option if you want a lot of storage space and it allows you to use cloud computing. There are many advantages to cloud-based hosting, including guaranteed server resources, redundant data storage and unlimited website growth.
- E-commerce hostingis a popular option for many online businesses. In addition to helping you run an e-commerce site, many web-hosting service providers can also offer you a web server to host your website along with an email server and other standard web-hosting features.
- Reseller hosting is ideal for people who are interested in using their allotted hard drive space and bandwidth to host websites on behalf of third parties. To do this, the reseller will need to purchase the host’s services wholesale and then sell them to customers separately for a potential profit at retail prices.
- WordPress hosting is an ideal platform for anyone interested in making a custom-built website. WordPress is popular with customers because it lets you build a professional custom website using a variety of templates, plug-ins and widgets.
- Shared hosting is typically the most basic and least expensive plan available. While it should have everything you need for a personal or small business site, you are sharing resources with others on the same server, so if your site grows, you may need a different plan.
- Virtual private server hosting is a step up from shared hosting, allowing you to get similar capabilities and performance to a dedicated server for their sites, without going up to a dedicated server service. A managed VPS hosting service is typically more expensive, but is best for those with less technical backgrounds as it lets the company take care of the software and system updates you request. An unmanaged VPS hosting service means the hosting provider is only responsible for the physical server and making sure it’s available — you’ll need to take care of maintenance, upgrades and software installation.
- Dedicated server hosting is the option for websites with large numbers of visitors. With this more expensive plan, you’ll get a physical server (or multiple servers), giving you total control over that machine and far more resources for running your site.
More expert web tips
Originally published earlier. Periodically updated with new recommendations.