The Best Small-Business Web Hosting Companies
The best web hosts for small businesses offer super-reliable uptime, enhanced security features, and a wide range of scalable plans that can keep pace with any company’s growth. Starting with a list of 15,000 web hosts, we used third-party verified uptimes to determine which were the most reliable. Then, we looked at the security and e-commerce tools of each of the top contenders, and repeatedly emailed, ticketed, live-chatted, and called all of them to see which provided the best all-around service.
The most user-friendly web host we tested, with 99.95% average uptime and easy to upgrade plans.
Exceedingly reliable, with a 99.98% average uptime and best-in-class e-commerce tools.
Large businesses might be able to afford spending hundreds of dollars a month on top-of-the-line dedicated hosts that offer an entire server’s worth of bandwidth and RAM, but most small businesses can’t – and probably shouldn’t anyway. If you’re operating a newer business, a shared web host is the most affordable way to get your site off the ground. Once you start attracting more web traffic, you can easily upgrade to a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated server that offers more memory and bandwidth to support your growing customer base. This kind of flexible scalability is key for small businesses.
The best web hosts let you start with an affordable shared hosting plan, then upgrade with a couple of clicks when you need to.
The best shared host for small businesses we found through our testing is InMotion Hosting, which won us over with its rock-solid 99.5 percent average uptime and exceptional 24/7 US-based customer support. With one of the easiest onboarding processes of all the hosts we tested, InMotion is also the simplest way to get your site launched if you’re brand-new to the web hosting game. It’s also reasonably priced with plans starting at about $7 per month, and offers VPS and dedicated hosting options, too. For small businesses that have been around a few years and have more than 8,000–10,000 daily visitors, GoDaddy’s VPS hosting and its best-in-class 98.98 percent uptime can’t be beat. With four VPS hosting plans starting at $29.99 per month, GoDaddy offers the kind of flexibility that growing businesses demand. And since it’s also our pick for Best Dedicated Web Host, you’ll be able to stick with it even when your business starts to attract more than 30,000 visitors per day and you need to upgrade again.
How We Found the Best Small-Business Web Hosting Companies
“Small” is a relative term when talking about small businesses, which can vary greatly in size and thus demand a variety of different web hosts. In this sense, our search for the Best Overall Web Host was a logical place to start, since it covered the three main types of web hosts: shared, VPS, and dedicated.
With a shared web host, users share a server’s storage and processing power with hundreds of other websites. This is the least expensive option, but it may result in slower speeds as other sites suck up bandwidth and memory. VPS servers represent the next level up, offering each website its own allocation of memory and thus more reliable speeds. At the top of the web hosting food chain are dedicated servers, which promise unmitigated control of a server’s full resources for a higher price tag.
Small businesses with a tight budget and/or no prior web hosting experience
Growing businesses that need more speed and reliability while keeping monthly costs down
Businesses with established web traffic willing to pay more for optimal versatility
We used the results from our original third-party verified uptime tests to determine the reliability of each host’s servers, requiring a minimum of 99.95 percent. Then we called, emailed, and live chatted with each of our top contender’s customer service departments again to see which offered the most helpful advice the fastest. After that, we focused on assessing the attributes that matter most to small businesses, like security and e-commerce tools.
Server uptime was crucial. Consider this nightmare scenario: a prospective customer types in your URL, hits ‘Enter,’ and finds that your website is down. That’s exactly what happened to Amazon.com in 2013, when the major retailer went offline for about 40 minutes and ended up losing $4.8 million in profit. Though less money is in play, the stakes are actually higher for small businesses just gaining traction. Once your business starts attracting consistent traffic, any time your server is down – even if it’s just a few minutes per day – is bad news for your bottom line. That’s why we only considered hosts with an average third party-verified server uptime of 99.95 percent or higher. To get those numbers we used Webhostingstuff.net and Uptime.besthostratings.com, then found the average uptime between each. Among the most impressive hosts were GoDaddy and Arvixe, each with a nearly perfect average uptime of 99.98 percent. HostGator and InMotion were also among the contenders that met or surpassed our high bar, with average uptimes of 99.97 and 99.95 percent, respectively.
What it is SSL, and Why Do You Need it to Sell? An SSL certificate encrypts the sensitive financial information that transfers between your website and customers’ browsers. You’ll need it to sell anything online securely. Pricing for dedicated SSL certificates varies; GoDaddy offers one for $69.99 annually, while InMotion’s costs $99.95 annually. Keep in mind that certain web hosts (including InMotion) also allow you to bring your own SSL purchased from a third-party like Symantec.
We also looked at online security and e-commerce tools. Businesses that operate an online marketplace need the right tools to keep things running smoothly and safely. Shared hosts offer adequate protections, such as InMotion’s free shared SLL and remote backup service for accounts under 10GB in size, but dedicated plans tend to offer the most robust e-commerce and security features. GoDaddy stands out from the pack with its own branded e-commerce software (GoDaddy Online Store, $29.00/month) to go with with SiteLock malware removal, and a Web Application Firewall (WAF). No matter which host you go with, you’ll want to purchase a dedicated SSL certificate to protect you and your online customers from cyber threats.
Then we called customer support. There’s no getting around the fact that web hosting can be confusing at times — especially if your first priority is running the day-to-day operations of a business. In the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ll want someone on your side to talk you through problems, and to get your site back up and running quickly. That’s why we only considered web hosts with 24/7 customer service, and repeatedly emailed, live chatted, and called our top contenders with a barrage of questions. InMotion Hosting’s US-based support earned our highest mark. On multiple occasions, their agent Patrick O. intelligently talked us through every obscure question we had about SSL certificates, plan pricing, and upgrading.
Our Picks for the Best Small-Business Web Hosting Companies
InMotion Hosting may not feature the absolute best uptime (to be fair, its’ 99.95 percent average still puts it among the best), but there isn’t a single host out there that offers a better onboarding experience. Running a small business takes a lot of time, and you can’t afford to waste hours troubleshooting your web host. InMotion’s straightforward sign-up page gets you access to your new webspace within the span of just a few minutes, whereas other hosts we tested made us sift through confusing pages and ambiguous pricing for up to an hour – not to mention the extra time spent connecting with customer service.
InMotion is also one of only a few companies to market its shared hosting plans specifically to small businesses. You can choose from three tiers of plans starting as low as $5.99 per month (with a two-year commitment), all of which offer business-friendly features like free data backups, a free domain name, and secure IMAP email that lets you access and sync your email across multiple devices. Like most web hosts, InMotion only offers Linux servers, so users dependent on Microsoft tools will have to look at GoDaddy, our other top pick, or another host that offers Windows-based servers. The good news is that the Linux servers offered by InMotion come loaded with SSD (solid-state drive) storage for all hosting plans, making your site’s backend more reliable than it would be with a host that still uses traditional hard disks.
If we had to pin down just one reason to choose InMotion over the field, however, it would be the company’s outstanding US-based customer service department. We consulted them many times over the course of our testing, and they never failed to provide thoughtful and straightforward answers to our queries within minutes. The 24/7 live chat is especially helpful for small businesses that operate on non-traditional hours.
Even if you’re new to web hosting, GoDaddy is probably a name you’ll immediately recognize. But the popular web host has moved past its era of controversial Super Bowl ads and built a reputation on what matters most: helping small businesses build smooth, streamlined websites. In fact, GoDaddy won top honors in our Best VPS Host and Best Dedicated Host reviews on account of its 99.98 percent average uptime and supreme flexibility.
With four hosting plans at both the VPS and dedicated levels – starting at $29.99 and $109.99 per month, respectively – GoDaddy is a web host that’s perfectly suited to accommodate growth. Its’ best-in-class uptime starts to look even better when you consider the tens and hundreds of thousands of visitors your site will soon be attracting, too. (Hopefully.)
When Should You Upgrade to a VPS or Dedicated Server? If your site starts attracting roughly 9,000 daily visitors, it’s probably time to upgrade to a VPS plan. Once you’re near 30,000 daily views, switch to a dedicated server to ensure your site continues to run at optimal speeds.
Unlike InMotion Hosting, GoDaddy is also one of a relatively small number of hosts that offer servers running both Linux- and Windows-based operating systems. This means you’ll be able to use Microsoft tools like ASP or ASP.NET, if necessary. Factor in GoDaddy’s business-friendly features such as security monitoring, automatic backups, and unlimited domains and emails, and you’ve got an exceptionally solid host to help you continue to grow your business and find new web traffic.
GoDaddy’s 24/7 customer service and onboarding process doesn’t match the ease of InMotion’s, mostly because the website is more difficult to navigate and tends to assume a basic understanding of web hosting that some new users simply don’t have. With that said, we can’t judge GoDaddy’s otherwise excellent customer service too harshly; every time we contacted them, they proved to be patient, friendly, and detailed. The fact that they can be reached four ways (phone, chat, email, or ticket support) is definitely a plus, too.
Did You Know?
It pays to sign up for a long-term plan. Most web hosts offer big discounts if you’re willing to commit long-term, and you could end up saving as much as 50 percent or more off the typical monthly price. We recommend signing up for a long-term plan if you feel confident about your business being around for at least two years. If you don’t love the plan within the first month or two, most services offer a money-back guarantee to minimize the risk. GoDaddy’s 30-day guarantee is right in line with the industry standard, but InMotion offers a much more impressive 90-day guarantee.
Upgrading to a better plan is easy – really easy. Don’t lose sleep over which plan to choose to start off with. If you’re not sure which size is right for you, we recommend erring on the side of caution and starting small. Upgrading to a bigger plan later is remarkably easy. In most cases, you’ll be able to do so with just a few clicks from the login portal, after which you’ll be steered toward checkout. The host will then move your site to the new server in a matter of hours, or even minutes. You don’t have to do anything. There’s no additional cost involved in switching plans, either, aside from the increase in your monthly bill.