The Best Web Hosting Services

There are 5 website hosting providers I like best

Quick Sprout recommendations for web hosting services are based on months of research and testing. We’ll never point you to a product or service that we don’t believe in or have first-hand experience with. Our content is reader-supported, which means if you click on one of our links to a recommended web hosting service, we may earn a commission.

The best web hosting service for you really depends on what you need, and what you’re willing to spend. Most small businesses will be served very well with a great shared hosting provider that makes it easy to grow as you grow.

I focus the bulk of this review on shared hosting because it makes the most sense — cost and features-wise — for most small businesses. If you don’t need more, why pay more? You’ll be happy with any of my top picks, which I walk through each in the in-depth web hosting reviews for all 5 providers below.

Shared web hosting means your site shares a server’s resources with lots of others, which cuts way down on costs. The best, like SiteGround, do that without sacrificing your site’s performance or customer support.

However, if you’re running a content site on WordPress, you should consider WP Engine. It’s what we use at Quick Sprout. The difference is that it’s a fully managed WordPress host, which means it’s optimized for WordPress and takes care of a lot of the leg work for you. It’s also about 3X more expensive. The heftier price tag might very much be worth it if you don’t have the time, resources, or interest for backend admin.

The Best Web Hosting Providers

SiteGround

  • Stellar reputation
  • Impressive number of built-in features

SiteGround is a hugely well-regarded web host, with a rabid fan base and glowing reviews — something especially noticeable in an industry full of fed-up (and vocal) customers.

Along with DreamHost and Bluehost, SiteGround is one of WordPress’s three recommended web hosts. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, there are some elements of managed WordPress hosting is built into all of its shared hosting plans — something InMotion considers an upgrade. If your site uses WordPress, and you’re not quite ready to budget for a fully managed WordPress host, this is absolutely a perk: automatic updates, streamlined security, and expert technical support that are all just part of the package.

SiteGround is widely considered to be a technology leader, particularly in the shared hosting space where all hosts are duking it out for business. Its servers are ultra fast and extra secure, and SiteGround is constantly deploying new updates and technology to keep them that way.

While all its shared hosting plans are powerful, SiteGround is especially well-known for its highest-tier shared plan, GoGeek, which is suped up with tools developers will find especially useful, including a staging server and Git repo creation. Lots of small business and personal websites will probably find this overkill, but if your needs are more complex than the basics, SiteGround has a lot to love.

That said, once you blow through SiteGround’s introductory pricing (you choose contracts for one, two, or three years) your plan’s price triples: its lowest tier of shared hosting jumps from $4/month to $12 and its highest tier jumps from $12/month to $35. That doesn’t feel great. In fact, it was the reason for most of the one-star reviews on TrustPilot.

SiteGround also has the shortest trial period of all our other shared hosting our top picks: only 30 days.

In addition to shared hosting, SiteGround offers upgrades to cloud hosting and dedicated servers.

InMotion Hosting

  • Outstanding customer support
  • Best for beginners

InMotion may not look flashy, but it’s a solid web host with truly excellent technology, a wide assortment of plans, and a legion of longtime customers.

InMotion Hosting got 25,500+ compliments last year on its support

Its massive self-help knowledge base is the industry standard, and customer support is among the best. Don’t believe it? Try for yourself. InMotion’s 90-day free trial period for shared hosting is one of the longest around, second only to DreamHost’s 97-day trial.

There’s not a lot of hierarchy in InMotion’s plans. Upgrading from its lowest-tier shared plan, Launch, to Power or to Pro doesn’t unlock access to lots more slick tools or free add-ons.

InMotion Hosting Excellent customer supportUpgrading is simply designed to accommodate websites that require more oomph — not to upsell. It’s a straightforward approach we like, especially for small businesses and websites that aren’t overly complex.

In that vein, you’ll unlock the excellent customer support on even the entry level plans. It’s 24/7 via 5 communication channels: phone, chat, email, tutorials, and Q&A, which were actively answered. I also appreciate that none of this support is hidden or hard to find. The phone number is broadcast at the top of the page and the chat support login is easy to find in your admin panel. (There’s nothing more annoying than 24/7 support that requires you first unearth the contact methods on your own. It’s a waste of time and tells me exactly what I need to know about the host.)

I also appreciate that the support is available at your level — whether you’re just starting and need someone to walk you through the ultimate basics with a friendly and supportive demeanor, or you want someone who can talk specs and technical nuances like a pro, the InMotion support will meet you there.

InMotion regularly runs promo pricing, with deals that start as low as $5/month. Normal pricing for shared hosting bumps up to $8–$9/month after the initial contract is up.

In addition to shared hosting, InMotion offers upgrades to managed WordPress hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated servers.

WP Engine

  • Most popular managed WordPress host
  • 3X more expensive than shared hosting

When most people think of managed WordPress hosting, they think WP Engine. And for good reason — it provides truly excellent service. That service comes at a price. A fully managed WordPress host is noticeably more expensive than shared hosting providers. WP Engine’s lowest-priced plan is $35/month, and that’s only for one 10GB site with max 25,000 visitors/month. If you look at the numbers only, InMotion surpasses WP Engine for $4/month.

Pricing structure of WP Engine plans

But when you factor in what WP Engine does for that price, it’s an incredibly appealing option for WordPress site owners. As a managed WordPress host, WP Engine only provides service to WordPress users, which means its entire infrastructure can be optimized to make WordPress run its best. Lots of stuff that most site owners have to manage with plugins on the front-end, WP Engine takes care of automatically behind the scenes at the server level: caching, security patches, core and plugin updates. The list goes on. This makes for a site that’s notably faster than what you’d get with even the best shared web host, with virtually zero downtime or glitches.

Customer support is also laser-focused on WordPress, which makes for highly competent knowledgeable support staff available through tracked tickets and on live chat 24/7. The biggest WP Engine caveat is its list of banned plugins and scripts. By disallowing certain add-ons, WP Engine can maintain its highly optimized service — but that could be a dealbreaker for sites with a banned plugin that’s integral to business.

DreamHost

  • WordPress recommended host
  • Best host for nonprofits

Like SiteGround, DreamHost is one of WordPress’s three recommended hosts, and includes some managed WordPress hosting in its basic shared plans (it also offers a managed plan with more bells and whistles called DreamPress). Monthly plans under $3/month are available if you pay annually, $8/month if you’d like to add email. Like InMotion, it has an industry-leading free trial period — a full 97-day money-back guarantee — and transparent pricing that doesn’t increase after your initial contract. It’s the best of both worlds.

DreamHost has a custom cpanel and fast reliable service

DreamHost is notable for being completely customized, skipping the customary cPanel that SiteGround, InMotion, and so many other web hosts use for a control panel it’s built and tailored in-house. Think of it a little like Apple versus Android: DreamHost customers love it, but it’s not universally compatible should you ever migrate to or from a different host.

In addition to shared hosting and managed WordPress hosting, DreamHost offers upgrades to VPS and cloud hosting, as well as dedicated servers.

What’s really worth noting is the outstanding offers DreamHost has for nonprofits: one free Unlimited shared hosting plan (which includes unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited sites, and email hosting) for 501(c)(3) organizations, plus a 35% discount on the suped-up DreamPress managed WordPress hosting.

DreamHost has a great Nonprofit discount for hosting

DreamHost has the best non-profit hosting plan of any host I’ve seen. If you’re a 501(c)(3), it’s definitely the host for you.

Flywheel

  • Noteworthy newcomer
  • Best managed WordPress host for small sites

Flywheel is newer to the managed WordPress space, and offers small websites with smaller budgets a lot of the great services of WP Engine. Its Tiny plan gives 5GB websites with 5,000 monthly visitors most of the performance and security enhancements — plus expert WordPress support – for $14/month. That said, it’s not until you get to Flywheel’s $69/month package that you gain access to free CDN and a free staging site, both of which are built into all of WP Engine’s service tiers.

Flywheel's managed WordPress pricing for a single site
Flywheel has also eked out a niche market of agency and freelance designers, who are consistently building and/or managed new WordPress sites. Cool tailored features include “blueprints” for theme and plugin settings you use regularly, plus access to password protected demo sites to show works in progress. Multiple users get their own accounts and access levels, and transferring Flywheel billing to clients is also streamlined.

Ucraft

  • Free one-page website
  • Custom domain name
  • “Powered by Ucraft” ad in bottom right corner

Ucraft is a drag-and-drop builder that lets you create a long, scrolling “landing page” site for free. It’s not unlimited. Ucraft is build using “elements” — a text block is one element, a button is another — and you only get 50. But it provides a nice rolodex of modern, customizable templates and is one of only two website builders out there than allows you to use your own domain name.

Some of the customizable templates available from Ucraft website builder.
Ucraft’s drag-and-drop templates are clean and modern.

Google Sites

  • Free (very) simple website
  • Custom domain name
  • Google Sites ad in footer

Google Sites is the other free website builder that allows custom domain names as opposed to sub-domains. Google Sites is extremely basic: You get one template and limited layouts to work with, and they aren’t exactly pretty. But you also can have as many pages as you want, and it integrates with every other Google service, including Docs, Forms, Slides, and Gmail. If you’re looking for something simple, or are already paying for G Suite, it’s a no brainer.

The six themes available on Google Sites
Google Sites limits you to one basic template with a few themes.

How to Find the Best Web Hosting Services for You

First, get a handle on what you actually need from your web host

The first thing to understand is how much web hosting your site or sites need to function well, without paying for what you don’t need. It starts with a game of Match the Specs.

Knowing your site’s stats (or what you predict your site’s stats will be) before you start comparing options and offers will help prevent that upsold-at-the-register feeling. Here are the basic ones to know:

  • Storage: How many gigabytes of space does your website need?
  • Number of sites: How many domains are you looking to host?
  • Bandwidth: How many visitors do you get in a month? Do you plan on any high-volume traffic surges (for example, from a viral blog post, a big PR push, Black Friday)
  • Supported technology: What programs, features, and apps does your site use (for example Perl, Joomla, a shopping cart)? What operating system is your website compatible with?

Match what you need with what each host offers, and try not to get too distracted by the stuff a host offers that you aren’t going to use — Bluehost isn’t a better host than DreamHost because it supports Drupal if you’re never going to use Drupal.

At the shared hosting level — the most common and where most websites start out — lots of providers are fairly tit for tat: two or three tiers of plans with a variety of perks, functionality, and resources that increase with each tier. Unless there are specific conditions you’re trying to meet (you really do need that Drupal, for instances) at a pure specs point of view, you’d probably be happy with any of them.

Not sure what all the different types of web hosting are? Here’s a breakdown:

An easy analogy is homes – GoDaddy has a nice little illustration of this.

Shared hosting is like an apartment complex. One big building (the server) hosts lots of different residents (websites), who share the building’s resources (storage, bandwidth, often an IP address). This is an excellent solution for a lot of small and midsize websites, but the downside is if someone on the server hogs too much of the resources, it impacts everyone – imagine sharing the basement laundry with another resident who wants to wash all their sheets and towels and clothes every day. Web hosts offer a range of shared hosting plans. The higher the tier, the “nicer” the apartment building: fewer residents, more washing machines.

A virtual private server (VPS) is more comparable to a townhouse — you’re still sharing a building with other residents, but far fewer than in a shared hosting apartment building. Plus you get more flexibility and control over your space. That’s because the server makes virtual copies of itself, and each resident gets its own copy: you get your own IP address, private access, your own washing machine.

Dedicated hosting is like a house and there’s only one resident: your website. A dedicated server is designed to accommodate huge traffic — you can do all the laundry you want! — and requires a fair amount of upkeep that you or your webmaster is on the hook for. That lawn isn’t going to mow itself.

Not every web hosting service offers cloud hosting — it’s the newest form — but think of it as owning multiple residences. If there’s a problem at one of your servers, your website will instantly go stay at one of the others. In theory, your website will never go offline.

Lastly: WordPress hosting. WordPress is the most common CMS available. As such, most web hosting providers offer managed WordPress hosting, where the plan is designed with WordPress as its primary consideration: WordPress comes pre-installed, WordPress core updates are automatically applied, your server’s security might be more specifically tailored to what WordPress prefers.

This isn’t to say other hosting plans aren’t good for WordPress. They are all designed to be seamlessly compatible. But think of managed WordPress hosting like a yard service: it’s going to water your lawn and trim the hedges automatically.

What does unlimited and unmetered mean?

Many web hosts advertise “unlimited” or “unmetered” bandwidth and storage on their plans, which means there are no set thresholds for the amount of resources your website is allowed to use at any given time. But, as Hostgator puts it, “unlimited doesn’t mean infinite.” If you’re negatively impacting the other sites on your server, every web host in the world will throttle your usage and/or suspend your account until you optimize your site or upgrade to a higher plan. Most let you know you’re exceeding your usage with an email a day or two before they take action.

Even though this sounds alarming, most websites will likely never experience this. (Bluehost claims that 99.95 percent of its 2 million websites stay within “normal” usage.)

Skip right past free web hosting

For just about everyone, free hosting is not worth it.

Web hosting is not where you should save money; if you’re worried about the price of hosting, I’d say you need to worry about lead gen and traffic, not cutting down on hosting costs.

A free host is only good for something like an event one-pager or an extremely small, extremely low-traffic site. (Though I challenge you — why are you building such a small low-traffic site? Think big!) If you are doing either of those things, you should still skip the free host route and jump straight to a free website builder that’ll let you link your site to a custom domain for free, like UCraft or Google Sites. They’re both very basic limited builders, but they are easier to get up and running than a free web host.

That being said, there are some great free and discount web hosting plans for nonprofits and educators. If that’s you and you want to know more, head over to my best free web hosts review. I go into lots of detail there.

Then, put customer service to the test

Beyond any basic “does my website have what it needs to function well,” customer support is the single most important thing a web host can offer. Think of it like health insurance. It doesn’t matter how robust the policy is. If the claims process is a nightmare, you’re going to switch providers.

Customer support can be split into live support — phone calls, help desk emails, and chat — and knowledge centers, which include everything from help articles to tutorials to community forums to blogs. Both live and self-help support are vital for when you’re having issues in set-up or performance.

When it comes to a knowledge center, you want a catalog that’s well-organized and easy to search, with a huge library of hyper-specific content. Bonus points for active moderators who are answering questions.

As for live support, your priorities are fast access and nuanced, specific help from people who know what they’re talking about. That’s tricky to evaluate without being a long-term customer.

One way is to get a sense of a web host’s reputation, particularly over the past two years.

If you start reading user reviews, you’ll notice how many are focused on customer support. This is especially apparent with Bluehost, HostGator, and GoDaddy, whose products rank high with industry publications like CNET and PCMag, but who are ravaged by customers unhappy with the the support they’re provided.

Ratings and reputation don’t always match up

Attention: The internal data of table “15” is corrupted!

But the true test of support quality is to experience it yourself, and that’s where free trials come in. Pretty much every web host has some sort of money-back guarantee on their shared hosting plans, which means you can set up your website and see what you think of the service with relatively low stakes — just your time and any add-on fees you opt into, like paying for domain registration. We recommend going to town with customer support during that trial period. Get on live chat, open tickets, hop on the phone as much as possible to see if you like what you’re being served up.

Try not to worry about uptime too much

Beyond customer service, the most common complaint you’ll read from customer reviews is about uptime – or rather, lack thereof. Uptime is vital to your business: in 2013, Amazon.com famously went offline for 40 minutes and lost $4.8 million.

Every single web host in the world strives to have 100 percent server uptime, but there’s unfortunately no industry standard to evaluate how well they do. Lots of web hosting review sites do personal tests to try and gauge server performance, including WhoIsHostingThis and Web Hosting Facts, but since these tests only look at one site at a time, and often for short amounts of time, they are best used as indications, not gospel.

To try to avoid the “just trust us” promise of near-perfect uptime, most hosts provide some sort of guarantee of at least 99.9 percent uptime. However, that guarantee isn’t much of a guarantee. It just means your bill can be discounted in the event of any unplanned downtime. There’s a lot of fine print on these guarantees, too, including not accepting self-reported or third-party uptime data, and not providing refunds for downtime that was out of the host’s control (for example, a hurricane).

SiteGround displays its monthly uptime stats on its website
SiteGround posts each month’s uptime right on its website.

Pay attention to migration, especially if your website already exists

Frustrating support and downtime — particularly when they’re combined — are the most common reasons to abandon one host and join another.

It’s always possible (and free) to migrate your existing site manually to a new web host (another reason those knowledge bases are so critical). But it gets more challenging the bigger and more complicated your site is, which is why web hosts often provide some sort of “managed” migration to ensure it’s done right.

Look for room to grow long-term

A typical upgrade pattern for a new website is to start with shared hosting, max that out, and then jump to VPS, cloud, or dedicated. WordPress websites might take a pit stop in Managed WordPress hosting for awhile, too — which, depending on the host, could be on a VPS server (like Bluehost) or cloud server (like DreamHost and HostGator).

It’s time to upgrade when your site’s size and traffic over-burden your current plan. Sometimes, the host will let you know it’s time to upgrade — that will happen if you’re, say, overwhelming a server and making everyone else’s sites on that server slow down. Another reason to upgrade is if you’re ready for more functionality, customizability, and autonomy: upgrading usually gets you access to a more robust toolkit.

Always sign up for domain privacy

If you’re creating a new website, you’ll need to register a domain. Many web hosts allow you to register with them (sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee) even though it’s not required — you can register a domain with Namecheap or NameSilo and still be hosted by SiteGround or InMotion. In fact, we recommend it!

When you’re purchasing that domain, always opt into domain privacy, which means proxy contact information from the domain administrator will be submitted to the WHOIS registry. If you don’t opt in, you will be spammed. A lot. Domain privacy usually runs $1–2/month, although the best domain registrars offer it free of charge.

Example of WHOIS contact information before and after Bluehost domain privacy

Always, always, always get domain privacy. Or you’ll be sharing lots of personal info.

Other web hosting specs to look for

Backups: It’s best practice to manually backup all your files and databases and store them on separate machines — we consider it one of the top 4 content areas you should worry about. But lots of web hosts advertise complementary backups to act as a kind of auto-save in case you corrupt a file, delete something vital, or otherwise break your website.

SSD storage: Solid State Drive technology is notably faster than regular “spinning” hard drives, which in turn means content is delivered to your website and your website’s visitors faster. It’s pretty common among well-known web hosts to include SSD storage in even lower-tier shared hosting plans.

SSL certificates: Certificates for Secure Sockets Layer encryption (SSL) are like internet passports that confirm your website is secure enough for your visitors to submit sensitive data, like credit card information and passwords. It’s considered best practice to have SSL certification — in fact, Google considers it as a factor in how your site will show up in search rankings.

Most web hosts include basic SSL certificates for free in their shared hosting plans. That basic SSL certificate should be enough for most websites. More advanced encryption is needed if your website is also connected with a physical presence, like a brick and mortar store. Those suped-up SSL certificates are available for purchase through all web hosts.

SSH access: Secure Shell access means you have a secure channel straight into your account to manage files and databases. It’s a feature that’s critical if you’re have a web developer or technically-inclined site administrator who wants to manage and troubleshoot everything themselves.

Email hosting: If your web host includes email hosting, it means you’ll have access to a customized email address and room to store your emails. Lots of web hosts offer this, often for free.

It’s worth keeping in mind that email isn’t stored in a separate place — it all pulls from the same server space as the rest of your site, which means it will impact how much room is “left over” for you to use. If that doesn’t sound ideal — maybe your website is already pretty weighty — your web host isn’t your only option for getting a custom email address. G Suite (aka Gmail for businesses) and services like Hover also provide email, and often it’s a more robust, more intuitive solution, like what you’re used to with your personal email. Lots of small business owners prefer keeping their email and websites on separate hosts: if your web host is also your email host and it goes offline, you’ll be without access to email.

In Sum: The Best Web Hosts in 2019

To recap, these are my top 5 picks for the best hosting providers this year. They’re all really great: their plans have room to grow, their technology is safe and reliable, the customer support will be there when you need it, and the price point is on point.

  • SiteGround – Best reputation and my overall top pick
  • InMotion Hosting – Best customer support, like seriously impressive
  • WP Engine – Best for WordPress sites
  • DreamHost – Quality shared hosting and the best nonprofit discount on web hosting
  • Flywheel – Noteworthy newcomer

Among these options, the most expensive plan is certainly from WP Engine, but it’s a premium product that’s only worth it if you’re running a WordPress site and don’t want to shoulder the updates and other backend things WP Engine will take care of automatically. It’s more expensive, but can definitely be worth it. If you’re a nonprofit, certainly consider DreamHost.

More Web Hosting Reviews and Resources

Update notes

  • Last updated March 26, 2019 – I’ve updated the page with the most recent pricing information and added more information about InMotion’s awesome support and DreamHost’s best hosting plan for nonprofits.
  • First published October 29, 2018