Web Hosting Reviews

Internet expert and entrepreneur Yan Huang teamed up with Reviews.com to compile a list of 214 web hosting companies and chose 13 top hosting providers to review based on 64 web hosting features.

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What Web Hosting Features Matter and Why?

Administration

Very Important
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Administration explains the different resources that the company provides for controlling and managing accounts. Many allow users to manage their domains, emails, and their account settings from an easy-to-use control panel, such as cPanel. The best companies even allow site owners to view website statistics, a feature which many are sure to appreciate. This is a very important category because it contains many of the most important functions related to owning and operating a website.

  • Account Settings - You can change your account settings.
  • cPanel - Your account comes equipped with cPanel.
  • DNS Management - You can manage your domain name settings in the control panel.
  • Manage Domains - You can manage the domains in your account.
  • Manage Email Accounts - You can manage your email accounts.
  • Software Downloads - You can download software while logged into your account.
  • Website Stats - You can view your website statistics.

Hosting

Very Important
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Hosting contains many of the features that are most important to website owners, such as the available bandwidth and disk space that the company offers. Certain providers may also offer private domain registration and data backups, along with additional software like WordPress. Many website hosting companies guarantee at least a 99.9% uptime for their users, though this typically excludes scheduled maintenance downtime, and the best companies also implement green practices, such as using wind power. This category is extremely important because these features are vital to operating a smoothly running website.

  • 99.9% Uptime - The company guarantees 99.9% uptime.
  • Data Backup - The company offers a data backup.
  • Environmentally Friendly - The company has implemented environmentally friendly practices, such as using wind power or purchasing wind credits.
  • Open Source Hosting - The company offers one-click installations of popular open source CMS software.
  • Private Domain Registration - The company offers the option to protect your privacy by hiding your domain ownership information from the WHOIS database.
  • Unique IP Address - The company offers an option for you to have a unique IP address for your website.
  • Unlimited Bandwidth - The provider offers unlimited bandwidth.
  • Unlimited Disk Space - The provider offers unlimited disk space.
  • Unlimited MySQL Databases - The provider offers an unlimited number of MySQL databases.
  • WordPress - The company offers one-click installation of WordPress.

Support

Very Important
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Support refers to all the ways clients can contact the company. Common methods include phone and live chat support, with some companies offering email and social media support as well. Though customer support is important for any product or service, it is especially important to web hosting because users want to make sure their websites are up and running as they should be at all times. For this reason, Support is a pretty important category and consumers will want to look for a website hosting company that offers fast 24/7 support, if possible.

  • 24/7 Live Chat - The company offers 24/7 live chat support.
  • 24/7 Phone Support - The company offers 24/7 phone support.
  • Email - The company has an email or ticket system dedicated to support.
  • Live Chat - The company offers live chat support.
  • Phone - You can contact the company by phone to get support.
  • Social Media - You can contact the company with questions via social media websites.

Domains

Fairly Important
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Domains refers to the number and types of domains the company permits their users to host from a single account. It is common for many providers to allow an unlimited amount of domains and subdomains. The top companies even offer a free domain after sign-up. Unlimited add-on and parked domains are components that will also be appreciated by some people. An add-on domain is its own domain that is hosted by the primary account, while a parked domain shows the same content as the user's primary domain in a different domain. All of these options are fairly important because it is necessary for a website owner to select a company with the right type of domains to fit their needs.

  • Free Domain - The company offers you a free domain when you sign up.
  • Unlimited Add-On Domains - You can have an unlimited number of add-on domains.
  • Unlimited Domains - You can host an unlimited number of domains.
  • Unlimited Parked Domains - You can have an unlimited number of parked domains.
  • Unlimited Subdomains - You can host an unlimited number of subdomains.

Email

Fairly Important
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Email encompasses all the email capabilities the company provides to website owners. This often includes spam and virus filters and a catch-all email for any messages that are sent to the website. More advanced features include the ability to create auto responses and mailing lists. Some providers even allow owners to create unlimited email addresses associated with their domain. Features like these could be valuable to the website owner and should definitely be considered when choosing a website hosting company.

  • Aliases - You can create email aliases.
  • Autoresponder - You can create auto responses to your emails.
  • Catch-All Email - You can have a catch-all email address to capture any emails sent to your domain.
  • Forward - You can automatically forward your emails to another email address.
  • IMAP/POP/SMTP - The company offers all three protocols for email communication.
  • Mailing Lists - You can create mailings lists in your email account.
  • Spam Filter - The company provides an email spam filter.
  • Unlimited Email Addresses - The company allows you to have an unlimited number of email addresses associated with your domain.
  • Virus Filter - The company provides a virus filter.
  • Web-Based Email - You can have access to web-based email communication.

Bonuses

Less Important
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Bonuses explains all the extras that the provider gives to its customers once they sign up. One common offering is a money-back guarantee, though the length of time this is offered varies, depending on the company. Advertising credits for Google AdWords and the like are another bonus that providers often include. This can be a very useful tool for people looking to create a business website. Free ecommerce and shopping cart tools will also be appreciated by these individuals. Though these features are not directly related to the quality of the company's services, they are still nice extras and could help sway potential customers one way or another if they are torn between several providers.

  • Additional Software Included - The company will provide you with additional software for free, such as web design software or anti-virus software.
  • Free Ecommerce - The company offers a free ecommerce software when you sign up.
  • Free Shopping Cart - The company offers free shopping cart software when you sign up.
  • Free Toll-Free Phone Number - The hosting company provides you with a toll-free phone number for free when you sign up.
  • Google AdWords - The company provides you with Google AdWords credits for free.
  • Money-Back Guarantee - The company offers some form of money back guarantee.
  • Other Advertising Credits - The provider offers some form of online advertising credits as a bonus besides Google AdWords.

Hosting Types

Less Important
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Hosting Types details all the different types of hosting that the company offers. Most people opt for shared hosting, while others may be interested in paying a little extra for VPS hosting or dedicated hosting. Cloud web hosting is becoming increasingly popular and can be found in the offerings of many providers. Those interested in starting their own web hosting business will want to look out for a site that allows reseller hosting. This is an important category because finding a company that offers the kind of hosting that the site owner is interested in is the first step to choosing the company that will be a perfect fit.

  • Cloud - The company offers cloud hosting.
  • Dedicated - The company offers dedicated hosting.
  • Reseller - The company offers reseller hosting.
  • Shared - The company offers shared hosting.
  • VPS - The company offers VPS hosting.

Learning Materials

Less Important
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Learning Materials are all the tools the hosting provider offers to help people learn how to use the site administration features offered by the company. In many cases, this includes an FAQ and a knowledge base of help articles. The best web hosting services also offer a forum where users can ask and answer questions and video tutorials for a step-by-step walkthrough of certain procedures. Though these features can be extremely useful, particularly for a beginner, Learning Materials should not be a make-or-break category when searching for the best provider.

  • FAQ - The company's site provides a list of answers to frequently asked questions.
  • Forum - The company's site provides a forum where users can post questions and answers.
  • Knowledge Base - The company's site provides a knowledge base of detailed help articles.
  • Video Tutorials - The company's site provides video tutorials.

Security

Less Important
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Security describes all the precautions the website hosting company takes to ensure that website information is safe and secure. This can include measures like password protecting the website and providing SSL certificates, which are crucial for anyone intending on selling items on the Internet. Server backups are also a vital part of data security, and daily backups are preferred since they drastically minimize the amount of data that can be lost if something goes wrong with the server. Security may not be as important to some site owners, but those that frequently publish content and those interested in selling products online will want to pay close attention to this category.

  • Daily Server Backups - The company conducts daily server backups.
  • Dedicated SSL Certificate - The company provides a dedicated SSL certificate.
  • Password Protected - The company offers password protection for your website.
  • Secure FTP Access - The company has secure FTP access.
  • Shared SSL Certificates - The company offers a shared SSL certificate.

Website Design

Less Important
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Website Design is the resources the company offers to assist in designing the website. Tools like a drag-and-drop site builder and customizable templates will be welcomed by anyone who does not have the technical expertise to design the site on their own and doesn't want to pay extra for someone else to do it. Also, as mobile devices are becoming more and more common, many of the best web hosting services are now adding mobile site creation tools to their menu. Those looking for an easy way to create a simple, professional-looking website will want to select a company that scores highly in this category.

  • Customizable Website Templates - The company offers customizable website templates to help design your website.
  • Drag-and-Drop Site Builder - The company offers a simple drag-and-drop website builder for you to create your site.
  • Mobile Site Creation - The company offers tools to create a mobile website.
  • Website Design Tools - The company provides you with tools to help design your website.

Choosing the Best Web Hosting Company

When looking for a web hosting provider, each person's needs are largely dependent on what their website will be used for. Some hosting providers pride themselves on offering the lowest prices, while others cater to those who want to host a WordPress website or run a small business. For others who know they don't want shared hosting, it might be best look into the different top lists below that highlight the companies that offer other hosting options.

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