Web hosting is an important part of getting online. In fact, you might even call it essential. Everyone needs it. Some larger sites do it themselves, but us mere mortals use web hosting providers.
There’s a lot of talk around web hosting — dozens of suppliers providing almost as many plans. We’ve used data to cut through the noise, pitting the features of leading services head-to-head to work out who offers the best value.
The following three providers came out on top:
Uptime, disk space, pricing, support, and speed all factored in our research. We figured you’d want to know more about the cream of the crop, so this piece takes the top three performers and unpacks them below.
Keep in mind there isn’t one web hosting service better than all others in every respect. It depends on the demands of the site being hosted. Accordingly, we’ve considered strengths and weaknesses in different contexts.
A successful site needs a strong foundation. Signing up with the right one means you can kick on with the important work — your site!
HostGator is one of the old guard of web hosting, having been around since 2002. Like a lot of tech giants, HostGator started in a dorm room, but it’s come a long way since. It now hosts millions of domains, offering a variety of plans and features.
For all-round performance, HostGator is comfortably ahead of the pack. Its plans cater to personal blogs and business empires alike, with competitive pricing and good usability. Although support can be a little on the automated side, it’s largely superb.
Hostgator has three shared web hosting plans: Hatchling, Baby, and Business. Although features obviously ramp up with each, the baseline features are strong. All plans offer unlimited disk space, 99.99% uptime, and extensive support. It take these commitments seriously; if it falls short on uptime, for example, HostGator will add one month of credit to your account.
The Business plan comes with free SSL. For Hatchling and Baby you need to select it as an add-on (or not deselect it, to be more accurate). All packages include an integrated cPanel, which is essentially a streamlined control panel.
The Hatchling plan limits you to one domain, while Baby and Business are unlimited. The variety of top-level domains (.com, .org, .tech, etc.) you can acquire as part of signing up is also impressive, though for more niche domains like .art or .coffee you’ll need to go to a registrar like Namecheap and register the domain separately.
HostGator offers excellent value for money, though not without its conditions. ‘Starting price’ isn’t always the same as the finishing price, after all. That said, all HostGator ask in return for the cheapest pricing is long-term commitment, which in the world of web hosting is as much in your interests as it is in theirs.
These are the price brackets of HostGator’s three plans:
- Hatchling: $3 – $11 per month
- Baby: $4 – $12 per month
- Business: $6 – $17 per month
You’ll notice there’s some variety in cost. Short-term contracts will be closer to $11 than $3. You can pay monthly on HostGator, which is a good, but for the cheapest rates you need to lock in for 36 months. Once you’re convinced by their service, it’s hard to argue against taking that step.
A sound approach is to sign on for a month and see how the service holds up to your needs. If you’re impressed, you can renew on a longer-term contract. If not, you’re in a position to look elsewhere and won’t be out of pocket.
HostGator is an excellent service. On the off-chance it doesn’t satisfy, their support is comprehensive and 24/7. In an unremarkable twist, HostGator recommends its most expensive plan. We recommend you consider what you want, start small if you’re unsure, and upgrade as necessary.
Bluehost have been a reliable force in web hosting since 2003. Today it powers over 2 million websites. It’s big on flexible packages for meeting the needs of a wide range of users, because it cares. And because it means more customers, of course. Can’t begrudge them that.
As you’ve seen in the table above, there’s little to separate Bluehost from HostGator as far as services and pricing goes. Both are excellent. The only major difference is Bluehost’s support isn’t quite as comprehensive. Not a dealbreaker for those comfortable with tech, but it’s nice to have the option.
Bluehost’s three shared hosting plans are Basic, Plus, and Prime, all of which come with 100 GB of disk space and 99.98% uptime. If you value the wiggle room of unlimited disk space you’re better off with HostGator or GoDaddy.
Signing up gets you a free domain, free backups, and cPanel, which is very handy for managing your site hosting.
If you’re looking to integrate with a WordPress site, then Bluehost is a fantastic option. It has been optimized for WordPress since 2014, offering a one-click setup. You can see from our guide how simple it is to set up when you sign up.
Like HostGator, Bluehost has a healthy variety of top-level domains to choose from when you register. Unless you’re planning a particularly unconventional site address, you should be able to set everything up in-house.
Bluehost offers excellent value for money, though that’s partially because you can only sign on for long-term contracts. The shortest contract is 12 months. Like HostGator, the cheapest rate requires signing up for at least 36 months.
These are the price brackets of Bluehost’s three plans:
- Basic: $3 – $5 per month
- Plus: $5 – $8 per month
- Prime: $5 – $15 per month
If those prices look little odd to you, that’s because they are — but in a good way. There always seems to be a sale on at Bluehost, so the starting price of the Plus and Prime packages are a fraction of what they ‘normally’ are.
Bluehost also recommend their most expensive plan. Uncanny. Their Basic plan can be a bit restrictive to larger sites, but for most it’s a great option. SSL, unlimited bandwidth, and 99.98% uptime comes with each plan, so it’s just a question of how big you’re going.
Bluehost is reliable service with excellent performance and ease of use. Although support isn’t quite as strong as Hostgator’s, odds are you won’t need to use it. Bluehost prides itself on simplicity. This is an excellent provider for beginners, especially if you’re looking to set up on WordPress.
You’ve probably heard of GoDaddy as a place to buy domains, but it also provides web hosting. Pretty well, too. It performs admirably in our research. GoDaddy’s overall service isn’t as complete as HostGator and Bluehost, but its hosting capabilities are as good as anyone’s.
Just about all the hosting boxes get ticked by GoDaddy. Their three plans — Economy, Deluxe, and Ultimate — include unlimited disk space, 99.99% uptime, and cPanel integration. A domain comes free when you sign up.
The Economy plan limits you to one website, while Deluxe and Ultimate allow as many as you want.
The variety of domains is slightly limited, which is surprising given GoDaddy’s registrar status. CLUB, CO.UK, COM, NET, XYZ, UK, ORG, or CO are the only options available to you. For anything else you’ll need to register your domain separately.
Although their support has improved in recent years, it’s still lagging behind its competitors. It doesn’t provide 24/7 live chat and tickets, although the phone support is very good.
The cold hard truth is that GoDaddy charges more and provides less than its rivals. These are the price brackets of GoDaddy Hosting’s three core hosting plans:
- Economy: $4 – $8 per month
- Deluxe: $6 – $11 per month
- Ultimate: $9 – $17 per month
Those baseline prices are higher already, and that’s saying nothing of added fees. An SSL certificate is an extra $6 a month, for example. Also, it’s one of the only providers that doesn’t offer a money back guarantee. Not ideal when you’re testing the waters.
A handy thing about GoDaddy is that it offers domains, hosting, and website building tools all in one place. The standard of the hosting service it provide is top drawer; it’s the value where it slips. The sheer number of plans means it’s worth a look, but odds are you’ll be better off with Bluehost or HostGator.
Reading our rankings, you may wonder if web hosting is a three-horse (or even two-horse) race. The short answer is, No. Our research looks at web hosting in broad terms to connect people with the best all-round provider with minimum fuss.
We believe in our process, but the fact is web hosting can be complicated. The ‘best’ changes depending on need. The Godfather is one of the best films of all time, but you wouldn’t watch it if you fancied having a laugh. It’s the same with hosting. There are better services than iPage hosting, but if you wanted a super cheap plan with solid support, they’re worth considering.
Personal blogs, small business, and multinational conglomerates all have their own priorities to consider. If web hosting isn’t high on your list of things to be thinking about (which is fair enough), our recommendations will see you right.
Being the largest company in a field often gets you associated with sluggishness and penny-pinching. In the world of web hosting, size translates to a cheaper, more reliable service.
There’s little to separate the quality of hosting offered by HostGator, Bluehost, and GoDaddy. It’s when you step back and look and the full package that the differences become clear. GoDaddy has excellent high-end plans, but for beginners it’s hard to look past HostGator or Bluehost.
All three are comfortably ahead of the field, so whoever you go with you’ll have made a good decision. If you’re starting out, we recommend HostGator. Have a browse of their plans, be wary of ‘starting costs’, and rest assured you’ll find a package that works for you and doesn’t break the bank.
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