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How To Choose The Best Web Hosting (The Definitive Guide)

By Aquif Shaikh

May 20, 2024

How to choose the best web hosting? This is a question that has been asked by people from all walks of life, from those who are starting their very own website to those who have had a website for years but are not happy with their current hosting provider.

The task of choosing a web hosting can be daunting, especially when you don’t know what you should be looking for.

To help you make the decision easier, I have compiled a list of factors that you should consider before choosing a web hosting provider.

How To Choose The Best Web Hosting Provider In 2022

Below are the key factors to look for when choosing a web hosting provider

1. Know Your Requirements

The first and the most obvious step is to know your requirements. You need to have a clear understanding of what you need from a web hosting provider before you can start looking for one.

Some of the things that you need to keep in mind are

  • What type of website you are going to host?
  • How many websites are you going to host?
  • What CMS you will be using, if at all?
  • What level of hosting management are you expecting?
  • How much traffic are you expecting?
  • What is your budget?
  • Whether you have traffic from a particular country or global traffic

Once you know your requirements, it will be much easier for you to find a hosting provider that can offer you what you need.

2. Number of Websites Hosted

Depending on how many websites you plan to host, you will need to find a web hosting plan that can accommodate them.

If you only have one website, then you can get away with a basic shared hosting plan. These plans are the most affordable ones and can be found for as little as $2 – $5 per month.

However, if you have multiple websites or expect a lot of traffic, then you will need to look into more expensive plans that can cost you $5-15 per month or even more in some cases.

3. Type of Website You Will Be Hosting

The type of website you will be hosting will also play a role in determining which web hosting plan is best for you.

For instance, if you are planning to host a blog or a simple website, then you can go with a cheap shared hosting plan as long as you don’t expect too much traffic.

On the other hand, if you are planning to host an e-commerce website, you must go with the best hosting provider that provides high uptime even if it comes at a high cost. This is because you might lose a lot if your website goes down even for a couple of hours.

You should also consider going with Managed CMS providers, for example, Managed Magento Hosting so that you can focus on your business while your hosting provider manages everything for you.

In addition, you will need to make sure the web hosting provider you choose provides an SSL certificate that satisfies the requirements of your Payment Gateway.

To summarize, e-commerce websites have a lot of requirements that a simple blog or HTML website doesn't. So knowing what type of website you want to host is critical to choosing the best web hosting for your business.

4. Level of Hosting Management Needed

The level of hosting management you need is another important factor you should consider while choosing the best web hosting. If you are a developer or know to code then you can go with Unmanaged web hosting. However, if you are not from the technical side, a managed hosting solution would be ideal for you.

For an e-commerce website, as discussed earlier, you can go for Managed CMS Hosting like Managed WooCommerce Hosting so that you can focus on your business while the hosting provider will manage the server and CMS for you.

5. Number of resources

The next thing you need to consider is the number of server resources your website will need. This includes things like CPU and RAM.

You must choose the right plan with enough server resources keeping in mind your website may need more resources as it grows. This is because most hosting providers only offer discounts for the first time and any upgrades will be at the regular pricing

So, you must choose a web hosting plan that offers at least 2x server resources than you need today.

Also, some hosting companies like Siteground have restrictions on CPU cycles. If you exceed the limit they will take down your website until you upgrade or your limit resets.

So, you must carefully study the plans to look out for such restrictions.

6. Type of Hosting

There are different types of hosting, each with its own set of features. The most popular types of hosting are shared, VPS, Cloud VPS, and dedicated server hosting.

Types Of Web Hosting

a. Shared Hosting

Shared Hosting is the most common type of hosting and is perfect for small websites. With this type of hosting, your website will be sharing the server and its resources with other websites.

The main advantage of shared hosting is that it is the most affordable type of hosting starting as low as $2-$5 per month.

On the downside, since your website will be sharing resources with other websites on the server, your website may be affected by the traffic and resources used by other websites on the same server.

b. VPS Hosting

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server and is a step up from shared hosting. With VPS hosting, your website will still be sharing the server with other VPS Servers.

However, your hosting will be hosted in a Virtual Dedicated Environment with access to dedicated CPU Cores, RAM, Storage, etc.

The main advantage of VPS hosting is that it is more stable than shared hosting. On the downside, it is usually more expensive than shared hosting.

c. Cloud VPS Hosting

Cloud VPS is a newer type of hosting that is becoming more popular. With this type of hosting, your website will be hosted on a server network that is powered by multiple servers instead of a standalone server.

You get dedicated resources like in the case of normal VPS hosting. The main advantage of cloud VPS hosting is that it is more scalable than other types of hosting. Plus, if a server in the network goes down, it does not affect the availability of your website as your website will switch to using resources from other servers.

Most companies these days offer Cloud VPS instead of the regular VPS. Since there is usually no price difference between regular VPS and Cloud VPS, you should always prefer the latter.

d. Dedicated Server Hosting

Dedicated server hosting is the most expensive type of hosting. With this type of hosting, your website will be hosted on your own server and will not be sharing resources with any other websites.

The main advantage of dedicated server hosting is that it is the most secure and stable hosting as your website won't be affected by other websites on the server like in the case of Shared Hosting and VPS Hosting. The downside is that it is the most expensive type of hosting.

e. CMS Managed Hosting

CMS stands for Content Management System. A few popular examples of CMS are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

Some hosting companies offer CMS-specific hosting plans that are optimized for performance and security. These plans usually come with a higher price tag but are worth it if you are using a popular CMS like WordPress.

7. Server Uptime

The Server Uptime is the amount of time that your website is up and running. You should select a web hosting company that offers an uptime guarantee of 100% or close to 100%.

Some websites even have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that guarantees 99.99% uptime. This means that your website will only be down 0.01% of the time and if your website stays down for a longer duration, the hosting company will compensate you usually by extending your plan validity.

However, some companies exclude scheduled maintenance from the uptime guarantee. So you should always check the Terms and Conditions of their SLA.

8. Server Responsiveness & Network Speed

Load time is the amount of time it takes for your website to load. The ideal load time for a website is 2 seconds or less.

While your load time depends on several factors, server responsiveness, and your hosting provider's network speed contribute to your load time.

Server responsiveness depends on the server configuration as well as the technology used by your hosting company. The latest the server configuration and better the server technology, the faster would be your load time.

So, you must choose a company that offers Servers with the latest configuration and high-speed network connectivity.

Load Time

9. Initial Pricing & Renewal Pricing

Pricing is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a web hosting company.

The pricing of the various types of hosting can vary significantly. Shared Hosting is usually the cheapest type of hosting while Dedicated Server Hosting is the most expensive.

Even pricing of Shared Hosting can vary significantly from $2 to $25

Also, you must keep in mind that most hosting companies offer discounted promotional pricing for new customers. But for renewals and upgrades, the pricing may increase several times the original pricing.

So, the best way to save on hosting costs is to choose a company that offers a long-term plan like 3 years or more. This way, you can lock in the promotional pricing for the entire duration of your plan.

10. Scalability

Your website's hosting needs will change as your website grows. So it is important to choose a company that offers upgrade options.

Usually, most companies offer an upgrade from a basic Shared Hosting plan to a higher-tier plan with more server resources.

Also, the majority of companies offer an upgrade from Shared Hosting to VPS Hosting. And some companies also offer an upgrade from VPS to Dedicated Server Hosting.

In terms of scalability, Cloud VPS Hosting is usually the best option. Cloud Hosting providers such as Cloudways and Liquid Web offer the ability to easily scale up your website.

You must also keep in mind that most hosting providers that offer initial discounts usually provide upgrades at regular pricing.

So if you bought hosting worth $8 per month for say $2/month and you now want to upgrade to a higher tier plan you might have to pay $12 per month for a plan which was initially available for say $4 per month.

That's the reason I always recommend buying web hosting with more server resources than you need especially if you are committing for a longer duration.

11. Type and Amount of Storage

The type of storage is one of the factors that decide the load time of your website. Servers with fast NVMe SSD storage can read the data from the disk faster thus speeding up your website. SSD storage is also more secure as its failure rate is lower than traditional SATA Hard Disks.

Apart from the type of storage, the amount of storage is also an important factor you should consider. This is especially necessary if you have an image-heavy website like a photography website or e-commerce website, as images take up a lot of disk space.

Plus, most hosting companies offer local backups on the same server and they count towards your overall storage space. So, you have to take that into account as well.

12. Control Panel

A control panel is a web-based interface that allows you to manage your hosting account and website. While most hosting companies offer some form of the control panel, the type of panel offered can vary significantly.

Most shared hosting providers stick to the industry standard, the cPanel control panel. cPanel is easy to use and comes with a wide range of features.

However, some companies use custom control panels. While these panels may not be as feature-rich as cPanel, they do usually come with all the necessary features to help you manage your website as well as hosting account.

Some companies even offer multiple types of control panels so that you can choose the one you're most comfortable with.

13. Type Of Web Server

The type of web server also plays an important role in the speed and performance of your website. The most common type of server is Apache.

Nginx is also a popular choice these days. LiteSpeed is used by some high-end hosting providers.

Talking about speed, Apache is the slowest among the available Web Servers. NGINX is much faster than Apache. However, the LiteSpeed WebServers are blazing fast.

So, you should try to get web hosting with LiteSpeed WebServer.

14. SSL Certificates

SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer and is a type of security for websites. It encrypts the data that is sent between your website and the user's browser.

Most hosting companies offer free basic SSL certificates with their plans. Some hosting companies offer advanced SSL certificates suitable for e-commerce websites with their higher-end plans.

So, you must check what SSL certificate your hosting company is offering.

15. Money Back Guarantee

No matter how good a hosting company is, there are chances it might not be the right fit for you for several reasons. So, you might have to opt-out of their services.

That's the reason a Money Back Guarantee is a must. Most hosting companies provide a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, some hosting companies offer as high as 97 days money-back guarantee.

16. Security Measures

When it comes to security, there are several measures a hosting company can take to protect your website from malware and hackers.

Some of the common security measures are DDoS Protection, Firewalls, Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), Anti-Spam protection, etc.

You must check what security measures your hosting company is offering. The more the better.

17. Backups

A hosting company might have the best security measures in place. But, that doesn't mean your website is completely safe from all the threats.

There are always chances of something going wrong and your website data getting lost or corrupted. That's why it is important to have a backup of your website data.

Most hosting companies offer automatic backups. But, some companies charge an additional fee for this service. So, you must check if the hosting company you are considering offers automatic backups or not.

18. Data Center Location

The location of the data center also plays an important role in the speed and performance of your website.

The close your website is hosted to your target visitors, the faster will be your website load time.

If most of your visitors are from the US, then it is better to choose a hosting company with a data center in the US. This will ensure that your website loads faster for US visitors.

Data Center Location

19. Customer Support

Customer support is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a web hosting company.

No matter how good a company is, there will always be times when you need help from customer support. So, it is important to choose a hosting company that offers quick and quality customer support.

You must also take into account the scope of support. Some companies only after server-level support while others also provide application-level support.

20. User Reviews

One of the best ways to know about a company is to read reviews from people who have actually used its services.

You can find user reviews on various websites and forums like Trustpilot, HostAdvice, and more. You can also refer to Twitter for complaints or compliments about the hosting company.

However, bear in mind that not all reviews are real. Some hosting companies pay money to people for writing positive reviews about them. So, take user reviews with a grain of salt.

21. Migration

If you are already using a web hosting company and want to switch to another company, then migration is an important factor you must consider.

Some companies offer free migration while others charge a fee for it. So, you must check if the company you are considering offers free migration or not.

Recommended Hosting Companies Based On Above Criteria

Below are some of the hosting companies that I recommend based on the above criteria. I have divided the hosting into 3 main categories depending on the hosting type.

Recommended Shared Hosting

Below are the recommended hosting companies based on the above criteria.

1. Dreamhost

Dreamhost is one of the popular names in the hosting industry. It is one of three companies officially recommended by WordPress.Org.

At Dreamhost, all the plans come with a free SSL certificate, free migrations, and an easy app installer. As for the control panel, Dreamhost uses its in-house control panel which offers all the basic functionalities.

Coming to support options, Dreamhost offers support through chat and ticketing. The customer support team is quick and knowledgeable. Dreamhost also offers a 97-day money-back guarantee which is among the best in the industry.

On the downside, Dreamhost offers only Apache Web Server for both its plans.

Dreamhost offers affordable hosting plans starting at $2.59/month. It also offers VPS and Dedicated Server plans if you wish to upgrade.

Dreamhost Pricing

2. Hostinger

Hostinger is one of the most popular hosting companies. It is known for its affordable hosting plans.

All Hosting plans come with a free SSL certificate and free migrations. Unlike most hosting companies, Hostinger offers LiteSpeed WebServer even with their base plan. As far as I know, it is the cheapest web hosting that offers LiteSpeed WebServer.

Hostinger too uses a custom panel which it calls hPanel. However, if you are a cPanel lover, Hostinger also offers cPanel plans, though at slightly premium pricing.

Coming to support options, Hostinger offers 24/7 live chat and ticketing support. However, the support is on the slower side.

The shared plans of Hostinger start at $1.99/month. However, the pricing differs across various regions. Hostinger also offers VPS hosting plans, though it's not Cloud VPS.

Hostinger Shared Pricing

Recommended Managed VPS Plans

Below are the two recommended managed VPS hosting

1. Cloudways

Among the Managed Cloud VPS, Cloudways is one of the cheapest with their base plan starting at just $10/month (Minimum $0.5 extra for offsite server backups)

Technically speaking Cloudways is not a hosting provider. Rather it is a PaaS provider that allows you to choose from 5 different cloud hosting providers, namely DigitalOcean, Vultr, AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Linode.

Cloudways will then add their optimized server stack, firewall, and control panel to the selected hosting provider to offer Managed Solutions for you.

The biggest advantage of Cloudways is that you can almost always choose a cloud provider who has a data center near your target audience. Plus, the cloud providers use the latest server infrastructure.

On the support front, I wasn't a fan of their support team. However, in the last few months, their support has improved leaps and bounds and is now reliable.

The main downside of Cloudways is the lack of a file manager. So you'll have to rely on SFTP and SSH for managing your files. Plus their control panel can get confusing as it offers two interfaces, one for managing the server and another for managing your apps.

Cloudways Pricing

2. Liquid Web

Liquid web is a lesser-known web hosting company that offers enterprise-level solutions. It has options right from VPS hosting to Dedicated Cloud and Private Cloud.

Unless you are too big a brand that needs to maintain its own servers, Liquid web likely has a solution for you.

The customer support team of Liquid Web is one of the best in the industry. Another positive thing about Liquid web is that it owns all its data centers.

However, on the negative side, it has data centers only in the US (Lansing and Phoenix) and the Netherlands (Amsterdam). So, it lags well behind Cloudways on this front.

All the Cloud VPS plans at Liquid Web offer flexibility of choosing between cPanel Admin, Plesk Web Pro, and their own control panel, InterWorx.

The basic VPS plan starts at $25/month for 2GB RAM and 2 vCPU VPS when paid for 24 months in advance. However, Blogging Ocean readers get the 2GB RAM VPS for just $15/month.

Liquid Web VPS Pricing

Recommended Dedicated Server

Below are the recommended Dedicated Server

1. Liquid Web

Liquid Web is also our recommended option for dedicated servers. They offer dedicated servers with the latest configuration at affordable pricing.

Currently, they are offering the Intel Xeon 1230 V6 server starting at $169/month when paid upfront for 12 months. This dedicated server plan includes Acronis Backup. However, if you are looking for cheaper option, you can get Intel Xeon 1271 V3 starting just $99/month.

Liquid Web Dedicated Server Pricing

2. Interserver

If you are looking for unmanaged Dedicated Servers at affordable pricing, Interserver is one option you should definitely consider. Interserver offers Dedicated Servers starting at just $44/month.

Although lesser known, Interserver hosting has its own data center in the US. They even offer co-location facilities.

Coming to the support front, they have excellent customer support. In one case, when the customer support team wasn't able to solve my query, John, one of the co-founders of Interserver himself attended to my query and resolved it.

InterServer hosting has the option of 10GBPS Unmetered Bandwidth. So, if you want to resell hosting, you can always rely on Interserver for the server infrastructure.

Interserver Pricing

Recommended Managed WordPress Hosting

Below are the two recommended Managed WordPress Hosting providers.

1. Nexcess

Nexcess is a sub-brand of Liquid Web that handles Managed CMS solutions including Managed WordPress Hosting. Being a Liquid Web brand Nexcess is a highly reliable hosting provider that offers great customer support.

Nexcess offers several WordPress-specific features including easy WordPress Staging, Visual Regression Testing, and Advanced server-side caching.

Nexcess also offers free SSL certificates and the IThemes Security Pro plugin. Daily backups and free migrations are also included in all the plans.

Nexcess also offers automatic image compression and Lazy loading for better performance. You also get free Nexcess CDN with 22 edge locations.

The basic plan of Nexcess is priced at $19/month and allows you to host a single website. However, Nexcess runs promotional offers for new customers regularly.

Nexcess WordPress Deals

2. WPX Hosting

WPX Hosting is a lesser-known web hosting company that offers only WordPress Hosting solutions. They are known in the industry for their high-quality customer support with an average response time of 30 seconds.

The support team is knowledgeable. Their support team offers WordPress-specific support and free malware removal. Site migrations are included for free.

WPX Hosting is powered by LiteSpeed WebServers and hence you can expect fast page load times. WPX CDN is also included for free with all the plans.

The basic plan of WPX Hosting starts at $24.99/month and allows you to host 5 websites. You get 2 months free when you go for their annual plans.

WPX Hosting Pricing

Final Words

When you are choosing a web hosting provider, there are many things to consider. You need to consider the type of hosting, the uptime, the load time, the pricing, the storage, the SSL, the money back guarantee, the backups, and the security measures. By considering all of these factors, you can choose the best web hosting provider for your needs.

About Aquif Shaikh

Aquif Shaikh is a Blogger and Web Hosting Expert from Mumbai. He loves writing, traveling, and sharing his knowledge and ideas with the world. At Blogging Ocean, he writes about blogging tips, web hosting tips, content marketing, online business, and SEO.