If you run a small business, getting the best web hosting is very important. Pick a shoddy provider and your business will suffer, from brand value to bottom line.
Hosting refers to where your site lives on the internet. You wouldn’t move house without checking the property was affordable, big enough for your family’s needs and structurally sound would you?
Finding a hosting provider for your small business should be no different.
Your small business hosting needs to be reliable: time is money and you lose dollars for every minute your site is down. It should also be fairly priced and include the security certificates you need to provide a safe online experience for your users.
If you run a small business and are looking for a hosting provider, you’re in the right place. In this guide we’ll introduce you to the three best web hosting services for small businesses:
We’ll look at price, guaranteed uptime, ease of use and customer support.
Before we wrap up, we’ll give you a crash course in how to pick the best web hosting for your small business. Plus, we’ll explain the difference between shared, dedicated and VPS hosting.
If you’re in a hurry, you can compare the key features of our top web hosting services on the chart below. Hit the orange button to sign up.
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Snapping up its opponents in our best web hosting for small business contest is HostGator.
Based on factors including price, ease of use, range of hosting options and support, HostGator scored a top mark of 96% in our comparative research.
It’s no surprise that eight million domains are hosted with HostGator.
HostGator guarantees uptime of 99.9%. That means your website will only be out of action for an hour or less in a year.
This kind of reliability is why HostGator is the best small business hosting service. A nice touch is that if HostGator fails on this promise, it will refund you one month’s billing. It puts its money where its jaws are.
When it comes to HostGator’s plans, there’s plenty for you to get your teeth into. The three shared packages are:
- Hatchling – from $2.75/month. Entry-level, great value for money.
- Baby – from $3.95/month. Get more help growing your small business.
- Business – from $5.95/month. Best for fast-growing businesses. Unlock features including SSL certificates, a dedicated IP address and VoIP phone service. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It protects data moving through your site (like customers’ bank details). Providers often charge over $100 for SSL certificates, so HostGator’s offer makes it great value for money compared to rivals like Arvixe. Your site’s URL will have a green padlock to show it’s secure.
HostGator’s pricing is very reasonable for the features you get. If you’re looking for affordable web hosting for small business, look no further!
All plans include unlimited emails (unusual for hosting services), one-click installation with WordPress and Drupal and unmetered bandwidth (you’re not billed for how much you use).
If your business outgrows the basic plans, HostGator offers VPS, WordPress and dedicated hosting packages.
Let me quickly explain what these are .
- Dedicated – you don’t share the hosting. You get your own servers. This is more expensive, but necessary for sites with heavy traffic.
- VPS – Virtual Private Server. You share the hosting, but get your own partitioned area of a shared server. Happy medium between shared and dedicated hosting. Get more space and bandwidth, without paying massively higher prices.
Medium-large businesses should look at HostGator’s dedicated server packages, starting at $79/month. You get all the hardware to yourself and can handle large volumes of traffic. Dedicated plans all include weekly backups – a reassuring safety net for your business.
VPS plans range from $19.95/month for the Snappy 2000 plan to $29.95/month for Snappy 8000. As you scale up you get more bandwidth, disk space, CPU and RAM. The last two are like the brain and body of your site. The more you get, the more powerful and fast your site becomes.
The best thing to do is start small and transition through HostGator’s packages as you grow.
When signing up to HostGator, check your package information carefully. Boxes for additional services are often pre-ticked. Uncheck any you don’t want to pay for. This is good practice whichever small business hosting provider you choose. Although, HostGator doesn’t charge as much for extras like CodeGuard and SiteLock as other services.
Downsides to HostGator include the lack of a free domain and the cPanel interface looks a little dated. First-time users might find the crowded layout confusing. If you use WordPress, however, you won’t need to access the cPanel. HostGator’s own site administration is not as sleek as Bluehost’s (number two on our list of best small business web hosters).
All in all, though, HostGator is the best all-round hosting service for small businesses.
Bluehost is one of the best web hosting services for small businesses because it’s a great all-inclusive package.
It’s owned by Endurance International Group, the same company behind HostGator, and powers two million websites worldwide. That’s a lot of people who have happily made their virtual home with Bluehost.
One of the big reasons why is its easy integration with WordPress. The one-click installation is a joy and means even the least technical user can launch their site with WordPress and Bluehost. Watch our video tutorial if you don’t believe us.
Bluehost uses cPanel as its site management system. The Utah-based company has done an excellent job adding simple but useful customizations to the cPanel layout. Sections are very clearly laid out and the process is simple to follow. It strikes a great balance between simplicity for beginners but having the functions needed for more advanced users.
At 99.98%, uptime with Bluehost is on a par with HostGator. This equates to less than two hours downtime in an entire year. Wondering, why not 100%? Well, it’s just not possible. Tech is a minefield. Between hardware glitches and cyber attacks, no provider can guarantee 100% uptime.
Disk space, though, is more limited than with HostGator. And servers can slow down if your website experiences a surge in traffic. For example, you could run paid social media campaign.
Bluehost’s hosting plans’ prices range from:
- Shared Hosting = $2.95 -$14.99
- Cloud Hosting = $6.95 – $15.95
- VPS Hosting – $19.99 – $59.99
- Dedicated Hosting – $79.99 – $209.99
Prices are similar to HostGator’s. Although, the more advanced the Bluehost plan, the wider the price gap to the equivalent HostGator package. Bear in mind that Bluehost offers hefty discounts on the first term cost and a 30-day-money-back guarantee.
The best Bluehost plan for a new business just starting out is a shared hosting package.
Which Bluehost plan you need will depend on how much traffic you expect to receive. If you’re just running a basic blog on WordPress, the 50GB plan will be fine.
On the Plus plan, you get unlimited domains, email accounts and email storage. Bluehost also throws in an SSL certificate and spam support – all for under $11/month. That’s great value.
If your business expands rapidly, Bluehost’s Cloud and VPS plans are a great option. You can access faster load times, unlimited bandwidth and more storage. Think of it like buying new clothes after you’ve had a growth-spurt.
As with HostGator, watch out for pre-ticked extras when signing up to Bluehost. If you’re a small business working to a tight budget, it’s tempting to ignore any optional extras. Domain Privacy, though, is a bargain at $1 extra a month. It hides your details from the public domain, protecting you from scams like domain hijacking and spammers. This can save your business time and money (not to mention you a lot of stress).
While not quite as good as HostGator’s, Bluehost’s support is still excellent. Help boxes try to answer questions on the specific page you’re on.
Bluehost’s transparent pricing and simple setup make it a fantastic hosting choice for beginners.
HostGator may be number one in our best web hosting services for small businesses. But affordability-champion iPage is longer in the tooth: the old timer of hosting was founded way back in 1998!
iPage’s USP is helping small companies and fledgling entrepreneurs build an online presence without breaking the bank. It’s a great solution for anyone looking for affordable web hosting for small business.
Prices start from just $1.99/month – if you sign up for a three-year term. The renewal price jumps up to between $7.99 and $9.99 a month once your term has expired.
The one-size-fits-all shared hosting plan is attractive. Top features you get include:
- Free domain for a year
- One-click WordPress installation (iPage has taken a leaf out of Bluehost’s book)
- Unlimited disk space
- Online selling features, including free online store and PayPal integration
- Unlimited domain names – unusual for more basic hosting plans
The pricing structure is a little jarring at first. It can get confusing after the introductory period is over. iPage’s plan is to encourage you to commit long-term. That said, the two-year price is among the best-value plans available.
The site-building features on offer from iPage make it a good option for smaller companies just starting out. The iPage site builder is intuitive and there are hundreds of stylish templates available to help you get your small business website off the ground.
iPage also offers VPS and dedicated hosting packages, but these aren’t as good value as HostGator’s or Bluehost’s.
For a hosting provider at the cheaper end of the market, iPage’s support is impressive. There’s 24/7 phone support, a 30-day-money-back guarantee and well-crafted step-by-step tutorials.
Compared to HostGator and Bluehost, iPage’s technical capacity is not as strong. Load times and speeds are slower, and uptime is a fraction lower than its two rivals at 99.94%. This is based on our own research; iPage makes no assurances about uptime.
While HostGator and Bluehost are the best small business web hosting, iPage is an attractive option if you value simplicity and are working to a tight budget.
You now know the three best web hosting services for small businesses. We’ve also shown you who each hosting provider is best for.
At this point, it’s time to discuss how to pick the right provider for you in a bit more depth. After all, no two businesses are the same right?
When considering a web hosting service, ask yourself:
- How tech-savvy are you? The less skilled you are with computers, the more support you might need. You’ll also benefit more from a simple hosting service.
- What’s your budget? This will depend on the size and scale of your business. If you’re a solo merchant or a small business of under five employees, a shared hosting plan will cater to your technical needs, and help you stay in budget.
- How much traffic do you expect to get? The rule of thumb is: the more traffic you receive, the better hosting plan you need. Established small businesses should look at dedicated servers as they can expect to receive more website hits. This is also true if you’ve got a large marketing budget and plan to pay for visitors to your website.
Generally, if you’re a small business owner starting out for the first time, we recommend shared hosting. If you outgrow your shared plan, you can transition to a dedicated or VPS hosting package. It’s like moving to a bigger property to start a family after flat-sharing with friends.
Our top three web hosting services for small businesses are based on our extensive research and experience. They’re the best starting point if you’re looking for a provider.
But HostGator, Bluehost and iPage aren’t the only good hosting providers on the market.
InMotion, for example, is a less well-known hosting service that’s very business-oriented. Although it can’t compete overall (yet), InMotion offers top-level support. Staff are trained for 160 hours and know the technicalities of hosting inside-out.
So if quality support is very important to your business, InMotion are worth considering. It’s a great company to for small businesses looking to scale.
Here’s the bottom line: it’s all about what’s important to your business.
For example, top-end hosting service WP Engine is a WordPress-specialist that’s great for companies with developer resource. It may be expensive, but if you’re a large business or a WordPress site owner, it could be right for you.
If you want to do more research before picking your hosting provider, head over to our hosting reviews section.
There are so many hosting providers out there it’s confusing to know where to start.
That’s what we’ve provided with this guide. All of our top three web hosters for small businesses are at the top of the market. HostGator and Bluehost are neck-and-neck when it comes to quality of plans and value for money.
Both are top-of-the-tree hosting companies that can guarantee your small business a reliable service.
If you’re taking your first steps online, HostGator offers the most comprehensive all-round package. Bluehost will appeal if you’re after simplicity and and easy set-up process, while iPage is great for sellers or companies working to a tighter budget.
Read through each provider’s plans carefully and take advantage of the money-back guarantees to find the hosting provider that’s right for your small business.