The Top Web Hosting Companies for 2024:
Welcome to our round-up of the best web hosting companies! Our selections are based on hundreds of websites hosted on dozens of major hosting companies. We assess how easy it is to set up a website with each company. We also test important factors like bandwidth and speed. If you have any questions or are confused about what to look for, you can scroll past our list for a deeper explanation of what you should be looking for in a company.
Also, our list is sorted by our ratings, but you don’t have to go by our list. If price is most important, you can sort by ‘price’. You can also choose to only show hosting companies that offer a free domain name with their web hosting plan.
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How to Choose the Best Web Hosting Company:
A business that doesn’t have a website should place a “Business Closed” sign on the front door. After all, the Internet represents the most effective way businesses and entrepreneurs get the word out about products and services. There was a time not long ago when many business owners debated the merits (and costs) of going online with branding messages.
That time seems like a distant memory.
Every business and entrepreneur has different criteria for choosing the best web hosting company. You can use one, two, or all of the following factors for how to choose the best web hosting company for your website.
Fast Uptime Means No Downtime for Website Visitors
You’re going to hear a lot about “Uptime,” which is the percentage of time that a website is live. Business operators should only consider web hosting companies that guarantee at least a 99.5% uptime rate. Anything below that percentage should prompt you to ask for a refund. Although uptime plays a huge role in determining your choice for a web hosting company, you also have to consider the speed of uploading your website. Think about what turns you off the most about a website. You probably sit by the computer monitor and quietly steam, as you wait for the website to upload. Slow uploading times send a message to website visitors that your brand offers inferior products and services.
Fast and Knowledgeable Technical Support
They say two things are certain in life: Death and taxes. Well, you need to add technical support for websites to make the list a trifecta. You must have technical support access 24 hours per day, seven days a week throughout the year. Any web hosting company that you consider must have established a strong record of providing fast and knowledgeable technical support. Online reviews help you learn about web hosting company technical support records. The reviews should mention the amount of time technical support places customers on hold, as well as the accuracy of diagnosing website hosting issues. Online customer support should include representatives that immediately respond to questions. Moreover, technical support also means friendly customer service. Avoid web hosting companies that employ rude technical support representatives. Whenever you experience website issues (and you will), you need to work with a technical support professional that expresses empathy for your dilemma.
Strike Up the Bandwidth
Bandwidth measures the amount of data (bytes) that move from your website to visitors of your website that browse your online content. Be very wary of web hosting companies that advertise “Unlimited Bandwidth.” Web hosting companies foot the bill for the amount of data you transfer. Whenever you move a lot more data than a web hosting company expects, the term “Unlimited” turns into “You owe us money.” Many businesses find this out the hard way by receiving large bills from web hosting companies that charge for exceeding the “unlimited bandwidth.” We find it difficult to exceed something that doesn’t have a concrete number attached to it, so avoid “unlimited bandwidth” web hosting companies, as you would avoid a plague.
Review the data transfer plans of different web hosting companies and select the company that matches your budget constraints and more important, your data transfer requirements.
You Need a Backup Plan
Let’s face it: Websites crash. Whether you’re website succumbs to a hacker or you entire database suddenly vanishes, you must have access to your website via a web hosting backup file. The web hosting hard disk might have failed or someone attached a virus to some of your website links. It doesn’t matter what caused the website crash; what matters is whether the web host runs complete backups on a regular basis, not just once a month. You should also have access to running a backup program through the control panel. However, automatic website backups performed at least once a day is the way to go for websites that rely on attracting customers.
In our top 10 list, only Mediatemple and Dreamhost offer free backups as part of their hosting plan. Most offer backups for $10/year, which can add up to more expensive hosting plan than what you think you’re getting.
How Much Disk Space Do You Need?
Think of disk space the same way you approach bandwidth. Avoid web hosting companies that promise “Unlimited Disk Space.” If you don’t plan to upload numerous video and music files, you can probably get by using less than 20 megabytes of disk space. However, small businesses that implement video marketing programs should consider going a bit higher in disk space. In April of 2013, the website thesitewizard.com presented more than 400 web pages. However, the website operated on just 18 megabytes of disk space. Several web hosting companies try to attract customers by offering free this and free that. Chances are the free this and free that features end up costing you money. You also should review the track record of web hosting companies that provide considerable disk space to verify you have enough disk space to store all of your files.
Take Control of Your Website
Web hosting companies call the control panel different names, but the meaning of the feature remains the same. The control panel gives you more control for managing all facets of your website. From managing email addresses to changing passwords for security reasons, the control panel is a must have feature for any website owner. Make sure any web hosting company under consideration offers a comprehensive control panel that places control in the right person: You!
Set Up a Secure Server
Website owners that plan to sell products and services online must set up a secure server (SSL) to protect customer information. Most web hosting companies that offer a secure server charge small fees to create the level of security you and your customers need to prevent financial loses and identity theft. Some web hosting companies offer a secure server as part of a higher priced package. The key is to avoid any web hosting companies that don’t offer SSL protection. This feature is especially important for websites that use third party payment systems, such as PayPal.
Flexible Refund Policy
Some web hosting companies charge customers absurd cancellation fees, as well as ask you to meet several ridiculous conditions to get your money back. You need to know how web hosting companies handle refunds and cancellations in the event things go south on your website. Factors that include poor uptime rates, slow web page uploads, and vulnerable servers can prompt you to cancel your web hosting plan to search for another provider.
Here are three must-have refund policy features:
- No cancellation fees
- The company provides a full refund, after you notify the company of your plans to cancel the web hosting service
- You receive a full refund even after your trial period ends
Stick with the web hosting companies that issue full money back guarantees, without any restrictions such as pro rated refunds and time constraints. Some web hosting companies refuse to refund money to customers that have been with the companies for less than one year.
Ignore the Mac or Windows Operating System Debate
Most website owners believe that the options for operating systems only include Mac and Windows. However, Unix-based operating systems (Linux, OpenBSD) typically work best for customers that sell products and services online. Most web software packages assume you’re using a Unix platform and an Apache web server. By going with a Unix operating system platform, you decrease the number of incompatible software programs. You should only consider Windows, if you plan to run ASP scripts. Even if you plan to run ASP scripts, the PHP feature of a Unix operating system platform ensures faster uploads.
The Price is Right
If it comes down to a couple of web hosting companies that provide similar features, then to break the tie, bring cost into the buying decision. Remember the time tested adage of “You get what you paid for.” Moreover, remember that the most expensive web hosting package doesn’t mean you’re going to get the highest quality features. Some web hosting companies prey on novice website operators by upselling features the customers don’t need. Reviews presented by objective third party web hosting company review sites do a great job of analyzing the different packages and price points. You also have to consider payment plans, such as monthly payments or annual fees.
The most effective method for selecting the best web hosting company requires you to list the features you want in order of importance. For example, your website includes dozens of images and videos, which means disk space is an important buying factor. On the other hand, you place prompt and knowledgeable technical support at the top of your priority list. Choosing the right web hosting company should involve considerable research, before you make a decision. We’ve mentioned this one time, but it bears repeating: Never choose a web hosting company because of price alone.