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Last updated on Sep 09, 2019

The Best Web Hosting

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How We Found the Best Web Hosting Sites

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49 Web hosts considered

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7 Must-have features

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6 Top picks

The Best Web Hosting Sites

The best web hosting company provides the tools to launch your website and the support to help it grow. We rounded up 49 web hosts known for their reliability and evaluated them based on user resources and customer service. Then we signed up for the top 13 to figure out which company offered the most useful features for new website owners, whether you’re a tech pro or an absolute beginner.

The Best Web Hosting Sites: Summed Up

FastComet GlowHost InMotion TMDHosting Blue Host Green Geeks
Best for Website Building Customer Service Short Contract Terms Cheap Domestic Hosting Cheap International Hosting Eco-Friendly Hosting
Price per month $2.95/mo. $2.95/mo. $2.95/mo.
Hosting types Shared, VPS, Cloud, Dedicated Shared, VPS, Cloud, Dedicated Shared, VPS, Dedicated Shared, VPS, Cloud, Dedicated Shared, VPS, Cloud, Dedicated Shared, VPS, Dedicated
Server locations 9 18 2 1 7 4
Set-up fees $19.95 for 1-month contract; $0 on all other plans $0 $40 for Pro Plan; $0 on all other plans $0 $9.95 for 1-month contract; $0 on all other plans $15
Money-back guarantee 30 days 91 days 90 days 30 days 60 days 30 days
View plans View plans View plans View plans View plans View plans

How We Chose the Best Web Hosting Sites

Variety of hosting options

We required all of our web hosts to offer at least three types of hosting: shared, dedicated, and VPS (virtual private server) or cloud hosting. Shared is most likely your first step if you’re just starting to build your website. Dedicated and cloud hosting are upper service tiers that can help your website flourish as it grows, and an upgrade option will save you the future trouble of migrating to another company as you expand.

Nadzrul Hanif, web developer and owner of Mindtrick, explained it to us like this: “Shared hosting is the cheapest web hosting plan that you can get since you are sharing web hosting resources with many others; it’s similar to living in a house with a bunch of housemates. VPS has similar principles as shared hosting but you get more private resources; like living in an apartment. Dedicated hosting is when you are not sharing the server with anybody — like owning an entire house.”

Easy-to-compare service tiers

We looked for hosts that made it easy for shoppers to compare services by clearly listing service tiers, the differences between those tiers, and how much we could expect to pay for each. Companies were dinged for being misleading. For example, the incredibly low prices advertised on the front page were sometimes only an option if you signed up for a company’s longest-term contract, and some companies also tacked on a “setup fee” if you signed up for just a month-long contract. Other companies advertised special features that weren’t revealed to cost extra until we’d already signed up.

U.S.-based servers

We focused on U.S.-based servers in this review, requiring companies to have at least one data center in North America. We focused on U.S.-based servers in this review, requiring companies to have at least one data center in North America. This helps with both search engine optimization (SEO) and the speed of your site. “Google does place some emphasis for website ranking on server proximity, so the closer the better,” David Ambrogio, web developer and SEO strategist at Online Optimism explained to us. “Geographic location of your servers also has an effect on your website’s speed — the closer it is to where you’re based, the less hoops it has to go through, and the faster your information will move around.” We also preferred web hosts with additional data centers — if you live in Texas but your readers are all in the U.K., it’s useful to have a web host with servers in London — but we didn’t require it. We also preferred web hosts with additional data centers — if you live in Texas but your readers are all in the UK, it’s useful to have a web host with servers in London — but we didn’t require it.

Excellent uptime

Uptime measures a company’s track record for keeping websites online all of the time. In a perfect world, your website would be available to readers 100% of the time, but companies typically only guarantee 99.9% uptime, since occasional technical difficulties are inevitable. “Just about any web host will have above 99% uptime,” web consultant Stacy Clements told us. “However, the web host’s uptime doesn’t mean your site will be up.”

We used a third-party monitoring service to verify uptime claims and spot top performers: companies that kept their websites up at least 99.95% of the time. Less than 1% of difference in uptime may seem trivial, but each 0.1% of downtime equals 43 minutes of a broken website each month.

User-friendly knowledge bank

We wanted to find environments that would be easy for brand-new customers to navigate while providing a range of technical resources to accommodate more experienced users. We checked each site for: a knowledge base with tutorials, a forum for user-to-user discussions, and a company blog or news section. We liked seeing user forums for the peer discussion, though we gave the most points to companies with knowledge bases — a section devoted to providing guides, tutorials, and diagnostics to help clients learn about building and running a website. We prioritized those that were easy to search, with comprehensive topics and in-depth responses.

Accessible and responsive support

Your web host should have 24/7 support service, either via phone or live chat. If the website for your company in Syracuse, New York is running slowly — or down completely — you don’t want to have to wait for business hours in California before being able to resolve the issue.

We also wanted to make sure that the customer support representatives would be amiable, patient, and helpful. To score well, a company had to have fast, personalized, and friendly care. Those with generic, vague responses or cold attitudes didn’t impress us, while knowledgeable, personable reps won our approval.

Appropriate specs for beginners and experts

Whether you’re a website beginner or an expert, you need the right set of tools to get started. For beginners, we prioritized companies that didn’t charge exorbitant fees for WordPress or daily backups. WordPress is one of the easiest ways to get a blog up and running without requiring you to design one from scratch. All of our finalists offered a WordPress installation button, but we preferred hosts who didn’t upcharge for it. Website backups ensure that, if your site does go down, you’ll still be able to recover your data. If you’re running your website solo, the easiest way to ensure you’re backed up is to go through your web host.

For more experienced web designers, we required current software: MySQL version 5.6+ and PHP version 5.6+. We also required FTP access, which most web hosts have, and SSH access. It’s a more secure file transfer protocol that is particularly useful for advanced technicians (if you’re a beginner and see this option, we recommend asking your web host for advice on how to use it).

The 6 Best Web Hosting Sites

    Why we chose it

    User-friendly interface

    FastComet excelled at presentation, boasting a clean, user-friendly interface. It’s easy to find the information you want with just one or two clicks.

    Simple website building templates

    For beginners, FastComet offers website builder tools to help you get up and running. You can choose from three different plans, including a 14-day free trial. Among the various site building tools are over 350 templates featuring drag-and-drop design. If you don’t know anything about HTML or CSS, this tool makes it easy to build a professional website without hiring a web developer. FastComet’s website builder helps you customize and personalize templates to create a website without needing a lot of technical knowledge.

    Extensive knowledge center

    We loved FastComet’s in-depth knowledge base, which includes both written guides and video tutorials. It caters equally well to people first setting up a website as well as to those with more advanced technical skills who are trying to troubleshoot specific issues. With easy explanations for things like installing WordPress, as well as guides for more complicated problems, you can try to DIY before calling in the experts.

    Points to consider

    Inconsistent customer service

    FastComet’s customer service was good, but uneven. It’s one of only six companies who responded to our email inquiry, responding to all of our questions within an hour, and we had a pleasant time using the live chat. But when we called, FastComet’s phone rep struggled to communicate, took a long time to respond to our questions and, at one point, inexplicably began listing off different types of domain names (there are many and we hadn’t asked). Although the rep was friendly and eager to help, we ended up cutting the call short and turning to the site’s email support, live chat, and knowledge base instead, all of which are superb. If phone-based customer service is your top priority, we’d suggest GlowHost.

    Set-up fee

    FastComet might not be the best option if you’re looking for a cheap one-month plan. While most of its service tiers don’t require a service fee, you will be required to pay $19.95 to set up a one-month plan. While FastComet does have a 45-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with its service, you won’t get a refund of the $19.95 fee.

    Why we chose it

    Generous trial terms

    GlowHost has no setup fee, even for month-long contracts, and offers the best one month contract rate — while other providers tacked sign-up and set-up fees onto their base price, GlowHost’s one-month plans start at just $4.95 with no additional fees. For year-long subscriptions, GlowHost also offers a generous money-back guarantee period of 91 days (in contrast, FastComet’s money-back period is 45 days). This gives you more time to figure out if it’s the right host for you.

    Exemplary customer service

    GlowHost had the best customer service of any web hosting company we tested, endearing itself by responding to our emailed list of questions with detailed and thoughtful answers within an hour. As we sent more questions its way, by email and phone, GlowHost continued to impress with friendly and courteous conversation (although we’re pretty sure its live chat relies on a bot).

    Numerous server locations

    Spec-wise, GlowHost and FastComet are pretty neck-and-neck, but GlowHost does provide a few additional server locations in Australia, China, and the U.S. Theoretically, this means GlowHost is more flexible in how quickly it can serve websites up to customers across the globe, but this benefit is primarily for its higher service tiers: If you’re signing up for shared hosting, our rep told us that you’ll most likely be assigned a server based in Salt Lake City or Phoenix.

    Points to consider

    Simple website builder

    If you want a website builder, you’ll be better off with FastComet or a dedicated website builder. GlowHost includes a site publisher tool with over a thousand templates, which should be enough to get a single information page, or a temporary status page up and running, but it might prove more difficult to use if you want a fancier layout (read: multiple pages, buttons, or pictures).

    Outdated interface

    GlowHost’s own website has a clunky, late 90s vibe. While not nearly as easy on the eyes, it was similar to navigating FastComet’s and we had no trouble accessing GlowHost’s knowledge base or interacting on its forum. GlowHost’s no-frills landing page makes it easy to find the exact link you’re looking for, even if it looks a bit plain.

    Why we chose it

    Generous money-back period

    InMotion offers a generous satisfaction guarantee: if you’re not satisfied within 90 days of starting your contract, you can get your money back. Most companies only extend their money-back windows to 30 days, with the exception of InMotion and GlowHost. InMotion makes it easy for you to explore your options before committing to any one plan.

    Minimal setup fees

    Though its monthly contracts are a dollar or two pricier than other companies’, InMotion balances that out by not charging any setup fees for its shorter-term plans. The only exception is the Pro Plan, which costs $40 to set up. Among our featured picks, InMotion and GlowHost are the only ones to not charge additional setup fees for one-month trials: if a short-term contract is what you’re after, InMotion is a good company to try.

    Points to consider

    Average customer service

    InMotion was one of our only top picks to not send us an email response to our queries. While we received all of the answers we needed from friendly phone and live chat reps, they didn’t go out of their way to help: If we had a question, they answered. If there was a natural follow-up question, they left it up to us to ask. That’s not a dealbreaker, but if you’re a beginner and attentive customer service is a priority for you, it’s something to keep in mind.

    No international servers

    InMotion is the only one of our picks without any international servers: this means if you know your site will be getting traffic from around the world, it might be a better idea to go with another provider. InMotion’s servers are based in Los Angeles, CA and Ashburn, VA, so if your intended audience is based in the US, these two servers on each coast should cover your bases.

    Why we chose it

    Great prices

    Bluehost’s standard pricing is one of the most competitive in the web hosting space. That means you can trust you’re getting a great price even after any promotional sales have run their course. With plans starting at $3.95/mo, they also make our list of best cheap web hosting platforms.

    Accessible customer service

    BlueHost has multiple 24/7 customer service platforms, including phone, email, and live chat. Bluehost’s help services are split into three departments — Sales, Tech Support, and Account Management — which are each further broken down into more specialized subdivisions. And if you want to avoid phone trees, you can easily call directly into the relevant divisions: It provides not one, but seven different contact numbers. New customer questions? There’s an extension for that. Questions about a plan? There’s an extension for that, too. And that’s in addition to BlueHost’s live chat and ticketed support system.

    Points to consider

    Mediocre customer service

    We got answers when we posed our questions to BlueHost’s customer service reps, but it wasn’t as easy as with some other companies: our questions in the live chat were answered vaguely (“We have servers around the US”), and we had to prompt the representative to answer our questions more thoroughly after they suggested we check the homepage for more information about pricing. Granted, quality may vary between reps, and BlueHost’s were very responsive, just not the most forthcoming with their advice and expertise.

    Why we chose it

    Affordable international servers

    TMDHosting is tied with FastComet and GreenGeeks for the cheapest of our six finalists. Compared to FastComet, GlowHost, and InMotion, its service plans are less expensive at almost every tier. The cost savings aren’t huge — at most, $36 per year — but if you don’t need the specific features offered by our top picks, there’s no reason to avoid TMD. We also liked that for its affordable price, TMDHosting offers a good number of servers (seven altogether), including five international ones — Amsterdam, London, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney — in addition to Chicago and Phoenix.

    Points to consider

    Average customer service

    The company was one of only six web hosts to actually answer our email. Its response was short and professional, and while we had to rephrase our questions a few times on the phone and in live chat to get the answer we needed, we eventually got it.

    Basic website publisher tool

    While the company provides a basic site publisher tool, if you’re looking for a more robust website builder, you’ll want to look elsewhere. If you’re a beginner and want as much support as possible while navigating website design, TMDHosting may be a little too basic for you. We recommend FastComet for those seeking a simpler, drag-and-drop approach.

    Best for Website Building



    Affordable international servers


    Average customer service
    Basic website publisher tool

    Why we chose it

    Eco-friendly servers

    According to one expert, “an average website with 10,000 page views per month could be responsible for emitting up to 4,700 lbs of CO2, equivalent to driving a car for over 5,000 miles.” GreenGeeks is a recognized EPA Green Power Partner, meaning it works with environmental foundations to purchase three times as many wind energy credits as the amount it consumes through its servers. It not only erases its own carbon footprint, it effectively erases two like-sized companies’ footprint, too. If responsible energy use is important to you, Green Geeks is the only web hosting site we saw that made such an impressive commitment to sustainability.

    High uptime

    Just because GreenGeeks prioritizes energy efficiency doesn’t mean it sacrifices reliability and speed. GreenGeeks has four dedicated servers in North America and boasts an impressive 99.95% server uptime, so you can be confident website crashes will be kept to a minimum. And in the rare event that your site does go down, it even offers free nightly backups on all of its plans.

    Relatively inexpensive

    Along with Bluehost, GreenGeeks was one of the cheapest web hosting sites we found that met all of our criteria. Its most basic plan costs less than $50 per year, compared to a $60 average for the rest of our top picks.

    Points to consider

    Slow customer service

    The biggest downside to choosing GreenGeeks is that it doesn’t have the same level of customer support as the rest of our top picks. Live chat is available 24/7, but we were unable to reach agents several times during our tests. You’ll also only be able to reach GreenGeeks by phone from 9am – midnight (Eastern Time). That said, we found the customer service to be knowledgeable and friendly — you just might have to wait a while to get through.

    How to Choose a Web Host

    You should probably start with shared hosting

    Shared hosting is the most basic form of web hosting, and is best for websites with low to moderate traffic. “Shared hosting is suitable for small personal sites, or for beginners who just need to get online quickly,” web consultant Stacy Clements said. “You’re sharing the resources of the server with dozens or hundreds of other websites.” Your site will be allocated a certain amount of the collective bandwidth, and it may be impacted by other sites on that same server since the server’s abilities will be affected if any one of its websites — yours or someone else’s — experiences unusually high traffic. If someone else’s site has excessive usage, your site may slow. If your site has a spike, it may be shut off by your host and you might be charged for exceeding your allotted bandwidth.

    VPS (virtual private server) hosting is one step up. It uses a single server, but makes virtual copies of it — even though lots websites live on the same server (just like with shared hosting) each one gets its own personal copy. “You typically have a certain amount of disk space, memory, and computer processing power allotted to you, which can lead to better site performance,” Clements told us. “There’s also generally a higher level of security with a VPS, since you don’t share the virtual environment with other users.” VPS hosts are still designed to handle low-to-moderate traffic levels, but if you don’t want your site’s performance to be impacted by anyone else’s, it’s worth it.

    Dedicated hosting is renting a server that’s completely yours. “You have full control over the server and access to all the server resources,” Clements said. “Typically, you’ll get great performance with a dedicated server, but it does require technical expertise to set up and run (or you need to pay for someone to manage it for you).” If you’re not sure whether you need a dedicated server, you probably don’t. It’s meant to handle routinely high traffic and offer more server control.

    Cloud hosting is relatively new and has the potential to be the best option for everyone because, in theory, your website will never go offline. According to Clements, “the primary difference in traditional web hosting and cloud web hosting is that with cloud hosting, you aren’t leasing space on one physical server.” Because it’s not tied to anyone particular server, if one fails, your site will bop over to one on a different cloud. And you pay for only the server space you use: you’ll pay less when you have slower traffic and more when you have a traffic spike. The downside is that it’s new enough technology that security is a concern — no one is quite sure how safe information in a cloud can be.

    We recommend getting upsold

    All of our top picks include most add-ons for free, like daily backups and basic SSL encryption. But it’s worth paying the extra $10 a year for private domain registration. This keeps your personal information out of the internet’s required registration database, WHOIS. Instead of listing your phone and address, your server will list a proxy, so you won’t have to contend with spam calls to your real phone number. (One tester from our original review on web hosting, published in 2016, only just recently stopped receiving daily telemarketing calls in 2018.)

    A dedicated IP address (the number that locates your website within a network) isn’t necessary for domain owners who are just starting out, but it’s worth considering. There’s nothing inherently wrong with sharing an IP address but it can lead to consequences beyond your control. For example, if one of the websites on your shared server sends spam emails or engages in other illicit behavior, that website’s IP address may be blocked from other sites or services. The firewall used to block the IP won’t be able to distinguish between the offending site and yours and you’ll be blacklisted (at least temporarily) from sending emails, too.

    The free basic-level SSL is likely enough

    SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption is the “s” in “https://” that gives your website its green browser padlock. It’s an absolute necessity for websites that deal with any sort of sensitive information, whether it’s credit card numbers or usernames and passwords. But it’s important beyond that, too: Google considers security as a factor for ranking, which means opting for SSL encryption doesn’t just ensure your visitors’ browsing actions can’t be seen by a nefarious third-party, it might also increase your site’s position in search results.

    “We’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”

    Google Webmaster Central Blog

    Domain validation (DV) is the most affordable and most common option, and it’s free with all of our top picks. This level certificate indicates that the domain is valid and the applicant controls that domain. It’s easy to obtain and doesn’t require any paperwork. On a site with DV, you’ll see a green padlock in the browser bar, and for most sites, this is plenty.

    You’ll only need to step up your SSL level if you need to connect your website to a physical company or business, or if there could be confusion about your web address. Your options are organization validation (OV), which costs $80+ and validates the site owner’s legal existence and physical address, or extended validation (EV), which verifies this same information but through third-party, not self-reported, sources. You’ll spend $100+ a year for an EV certificate and the browser padlock will also display your company name. Many banks have this level of validation on their websites, but both Google and Amazon simply use OV.

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