There is almost an unlimited number of various hosting providers available. Some are even free, while other web hosts can end up costing you hundreds of dollars a month with rates that aren’t so clear when you sign up. I’ve tried many different providers, some popular, and others that aren’t as visible when doing a Google search but have proven great for my needs. Considering how many hosting services are out there, choosing the best web hosting plan can be a daunting endeavor, especially since many of the ones that pop up on a google search aren’t that spectacular. I’ve divided the options into groups based on cost and amount of hands-on technical effort that is needed in setting up and managing a typical content management site, such as WordPress, using the web hosting provider’s services.
Basic Managed Web Hosting
These include your most popular and cheap hosting providers that anyone starting a simple blog will probably find adequate. Most of these involve ample storage space and some also throw in a free domain, as well as a free SSL certificate. They all offer helpful tools to get your favorite CMS site up and running, whether you’re migrating from another location or starting fresh. Most provide cPanel, one-click installs, and automated backup options, although some of these are only available on their higher-end web hosting plans.
One of the biggest and oldest shared web hosting providers that has been in business for over 20 years. While originally focusing on cheap shared hosting environments, they have greatly expanded to offer more performance levels and add-on features. They even provide really affordable Windows ASP.NET & Web Core servers.
Their regular shared hosting plans range from $6-$20. They have these website builder plans now that are their own content management system coupled with the hosting appearing similar to what Squarespace offers. These start at $0 and go up to about $20.
Their Windows hosting is really cheap, but I don’t know how good they perform. For $6 you get a ASP.NET or Web Core environment with MSSQL and/or MySQL. They also throw in MS Office Mail.
GoDaddy was my go-to place a decade or so ago for my own sites and any others I managed. Over the years I ran into several issues, including clunky error-prone performance on their web admin panels and a friend’s site going down for days, because they couldn’t resolve some integration issue between their hosting space and a WAF service they provided. I believe the WAF was not actually managed entirely by GoDaddy, so that may have been what made it more difficult for them to resolve. In any case, GoDaddy keeps evolving, so some of their services might not be entirely stable, but they are pretty much a one-stop-shop that provides a lot of features for a price that’s hard to beat. I would give them a try again maybe in the future.
The one other thing that I didn’t like about their web hosting is they always seemed to charge for an SSL cert, while many other providers started offering it free with something like Let’s Encrypt.
Their customer support has been easily reachable and usually helpful.
Very similar offerings to GoDaddy for maybe slightly lower cost ranging from $2.65 to $18.95.
They seem to also now offer their own website builder like GoDaddy. Unlike GoDaddy, I’ve never had any issues with their web admin panels or sites going down due to issues on their end.
They seem to also specialize in shared hosting and offer very good pricing, especially when you sign up for a couple years. This includes the typical cPanel, as well as one-click CMS installs for things like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. I haven’t used them much, but if I was to get a new shared hosting plan, I would probably try them before the other low priced vendors I mention here due to the really low pricing.
Similar to HostGator but maybe a little more expensive (i.e. a couple cents) when you commit for 3 years. Unlike HostGator, they do offer Advanced Caching, whatever that is. I like how they mention they use NVMe SSD drives, but as far as processor speed, number of cores, and amount of RAM, this isn’t disclosed right on the price comparison page below:
As you may have guessed, they specialize in only WordPress hosting, and apparently have some contract with BlueHost, as they use them for their servers. The prices are pretty good and include some extras, such as their drag’n drop website builder and automated backups on their Choice Plus (for the 1st year) and Pro plans.
They also offer more expensive web hosting plans with additional features, like themes and their JetPack Pro suite of plugins, so if you’re going to use that, it might be a good package deal. It still seems a bit expensive, though, for a shared hosting plan.
Moderate Priced Intermediate Hosting
They provide instances called Droplets that you can pretty easily spin up through their admin panel, customize, and integrate with additional resources, like database and storage, if you want to have those separate from the main instance. The shared CPU droplets start at $5/month, and the dedicated ones at $40/month. They provide apps, like WordPress, that you can use to create a droplet. I like the level of customization DO provides, but the prices aren’t cheap IMHO.
Linode provides servers of different sizes based on your needs. Their shared hosting starts at $4/month and dedicated instances at $30/month. Like with Digital Ocean, you get an admin hosting panel that is pretty hands on, so technical expertise is pretty much required. They do offer many tools thru their web panel that can make life easier, so you don’t have to use terminal access to manage every aspect of your server space.
WP Engine is a high-end WordPress hosting provider. Their prices start at $25/month for the most basic setup, however, that does provide some management and tools to get you up and running. The cost is high compared to most other providers, so unless you want a provider that only focuses on WordPress, and you will take advantage of their web hosting services, such as automatic plugin update management, multi-environment deployments, and support, you might want to look elsewhere.
For Drupal hosting, Acquia is one of the top web host providers with a very evolved environment that is optimized specifically for the Drupal platform, but it does come at a fairly high price. There are separate spaces for your live, development, and staging sites with a user friendly admin panel for managing deployment of code and data changes between them. The Acquia service can be expensive, though, as with WP Engine for WordPress. Their pricing model is also not as easily accessible, so you may have to sign up to get a better sense of the actual costs. Remember, Drupal can be hosted just about anywhere, so unless you need the bells and whistles, Acquia may be a bit extreme for your needs.
Advanced Self Managed Web Hosting Solutions
AWS is the most popular high-end web hosting provider. They provide pretty much anything and everything you may need from servers to serverless, including databases, security, a content delivery network, and storage all of which you can setup on a very granular level. The complexity can make setup a challenge for someone who isn’t knowledgeable with their admin panels and technology. They offer courses and have certifications.
If you’ve never navigated their offerings and are planning on having just one or two small WordPress sites without the need of putting your database, site, and storage on their own technology, then AWS might be a bit much. However, if you are familiar with their structure or have a need for something specific that they offer, such as s3 storage, which is a very popular and fairly cheap storage solution, they might be worth the effort. They do offer a free tier on many of their services for an initial period to try out.
For the typical CMS blog AWS might be too much, but for a medium sized company that has an eCommerce site they need to serve globally, which gets a lot of traffic, or for a web development agency that hosts a lot of their client sites, AWS might be a good web hosting service option.
Their security features are hard to match.
SkySilk is a rather small US west coast hosting company that provides Linux cloud servers with just an operating system like Ubuntu or Fedora or packaged with some software, which can be a CMS like WordPress or Drupal, or it can be a productivity app, such as Redmine.
Costs range from $4/month for a Pico basic instance to a beast at almost $3k/month, so you have a very wide range of options depending on how much power and resources you need. They do provide occasional discounts that once you take advantage of, you can keep for the duration of your subscription, which is great.
They have a pretty basic but fully functional and reliable web admin panel to manage your servers. You also get full root access to connect in thru a terminal.
Final Thoughts on Choosing a Hosting Service
While I personally used all of these web hosting providers at one point or another and found all of them at least pretty good for my needs, the hiccups I’ve faced with GoDaddy, the lack of free SSL certs, and the over abundance of effort needed to setup an Amazon environment would probably deter me from using these two in most cases. I’ve included them in this review, because they are super popular, but with the other options available, they would be a hard sell for me.
I would recommend any other web hosting company and choose the ones that most closely will match the type of features I’m looking for, such as one-click installs and automated backups. I also like cPanel for the shared hosting, as it provides a lot of tools, which do require some technical no-how. SSH access is also a must for me, and that isn’t always full-featured when offered on the shared hosting plans, which is understandable, because you’re sharing the space with other clients. That is one reason why I prefer to get something from at least the moderate level hosting, if it’s hosting I’m getting for myself. I also like to have more control of the configuration of the instance I’m running things on, but not everyone needs that or cares for it.
I really liked SkySilk and use them for hosting my environments with WordPress and also some custom apps that I manage. I subscribed during one of the holidays they offered a discount, so I got a really good deal, and I’ve never had any issues since, except my auto-renew payment sometimes fails, and I have to go manually add credits. That is a minor inconvenience, though.
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