Compare Hosting For Video and Audio Streaming
Publishing audio and video content online requires significant resources. If you are publishing streaming media on your website, you need to select a web host that not only supports this type of content, but does it well.
Some key elements you should look for when choosing a streaming host are solid-state drives (SSD), content delivery networks (CDN), scalable architecture, and reliable uptime.
These are the criteria we used in developing our list of the best streaming hosts, in addition to expert and user reviews. Read on for an in-depth explanation of what you need to know about choosing a streaming host.
Here are our experts’ and readers’ top choices for streaming-ready web hosts:
Best Streaming Web Hosting of 2021
- A2 Hosting – Best Hosting for Streaming
- Bluehost – Best WordPress Hosting for Streaming
- DreamHost – Best Shared Hosting for Streaming
- GreenGeeks – Best Eco-Friendly Hosting for Streaming
- LiquidWeb – Best Managed Hosting for Streaming
How Did We Pick the Best Streaming Hosts?
We analyzed hundreds of hosting companies and selected those with the required speed, performance, scalability, uptime, and overall value.
Then we factored in consumer ratings from our large database of user reviews.
Become an Internet Broadcaster With Streaming Hosting
Streaming hosting is probably the most demanding kind of hosting. As a result, getting the right kind of hosting can take a lot of work.
This article will explain what you need to look for in a streaming host. Hopefully, it will stop you from making one of the many common errors, and get you started with the right host that you can stick with for years.
Best Streaming Web Hosting Reviews
A2 Hosting offers users a variety of options that are ideal for streaming, including managed and unmanaged VPS hosting, as well as dedicated hosting.
For users who need the support of managed hosting, but still want more control over their server, A2 Hosting’s Core VPS plan might be an attractive option. Users can choose from three different plan tiers, and get up to 8 GB RAM, 150 GB SSD storage, and 4 TB data transfer.
If that doesn’t meet your needs, A2 Hosting also offers both managed and unmanaged dedicated hosting, letting you scale your server to your exact specifications.
Certain plans are built on the Wowza streaming engine, which is a media server specifically designed for streaming services with ultra-low latency. Wowza comes with a lightweight HTML5 and Flash video player, but supports others as well. However, these plans do require that users have a bit more technical aptitude.
Starts at $5/month
Starts at $99.59/month
|Yes; anytime||>99.8% uptime|
>Free domain included
>More features at A2 Hosting
Pros & Cons of A2 Hosting Streaming Hosting
A2 Hosting provides users with a lot of flexibility, including the option to choose between managed and unmanaged hosting. Their TurboBoost add-on feature lets users access speed-enhanced servers for even faster load times. Although A2 Hosting promises a 99.9% uptime, an independent audit found their actual uptime, 99.835%, falls slightly short of that.
- Managed and unmanaged hosting
- Anytime money-back guarantee
- Uptime concerns
What Customers Are Saying
A2 Hosting has built a loyal customer base thanks to their reliability, affordability, and customer service. “I have been with A2 Hosting for years now, and I will never leave,” writes one customer. “They have the fastest servers, the best tech support, and excellent prices.”
Bluehost uses world-class technology to give users the resources they need to stream audio and video. These include SSD hardware, dual quad processor performance servers and customized Apache web servers, and support for multiple databases.
Their three VPS plans let users quickly and easily scale up resources as necessary. Their base Standard plan starts with 30 GB SSD storage, 2 GB RAM, and 1 TB bandwidth, and VPS subscribers can go up to 120 GB SSD storage, 8 GB RAM, and 3 TB bandwidth.
The other option Bluehost provides is dedicated servers, which give users up to 1 TB mirrored storage, 16 GB RAM, and 15 TB bandwidth.
Regardless of which type of hosting you choose, Bluehost includes several key free perks, including a domain name for the first year, SSL certificate, world-wide CDN, and three different webmail solutions. Users who are not satisfied have 30 days to get a full refund.
Starts at $19.99/month
Starts at $79.99/month
|Yes; 30 days||>99.9% uptime|
>24/7 customer support
>More features at Bluehost
Pros & Cons of Bluehost Streaming Hosting
One of Bluehost’s primary perks is how easy they make it for customers to scale up resources as needed. Users can add more VPS, shared, or dedicated hosting services quickly, and continue to manage all their servers from one location. One thing customers should note is that an independent audit of web host speeds found that Bluehost came in at 1,176ms.
- Dynamic resources
- Instant provisioning
- Slow server response speeds
What Customers Are Saying
Bluehost is a popular hosting choice for professionals. “I’ve been doing web design for years, and these guys are the best,” writes one customer. “Absolutely the best product and service ever. They have a mindful, highly skilled staff whom you can talk to in person when any doubt or tech issue appears.”
DreamHost offers all three types of hosting that are most useful for streaming — VPS, dedicated, and cloud hosting.
No matter which type of hosting you choose, all Dreamhost plans support HTTP media streaming, and their website includes easy instructions for how to set up streaming on your website.
If you want a scalable, managed hosting solution, you can choose from four VPS hosting plans, which give users up to 8 GB RAM and 240 GB SSD storage. Dreamhost’s dedicated servers are also fully managed, and let users select the amount of RAM and SSD storage they need. Those who prefer root access can opt for one of Dreamhost’s three cloud hosting plans.
As long as users comply with Dreamhost’s unlimited policy, there are no caps on the amount of traffic your website can receive. Dreamhost also promises security features like 24/7 server monitoring and DDoS protection.
Starts at $10/month
Starts at $149/month
Starts at $.0075/hour
|Yes; 97 days||>99.9% uptime|
>More features at Dreamhost
Pros & Cons of Dreamhost Streaming Hosting
Among the hosts we reviewed, Dreamhost’s server response speeds are the fastest, based on an independent audit. Their 97-day trial period is also one of the longest among the companies on this list. One potential con of Dreamhost is that they use their own custom control panel, instead of cPanel.
- Fast server response speeds
- Cloud hosting available
- Long trial period
- Custom control panel
What Customers Are Saying
Customers praise Dreamhost for providing affordable hosting and good customer service. “DreamHost has been there for me whenever I have needed them,” says one customer. “Nothing is too much hassle for them. They go above and beyond every single time. Their prices are the best and their plans are more than fair.”
GreenGeeks has staked their claim as a leader in the tech industry as the world’s #1 green energy web hosting provider. Their server infrastructure is built on putting three times the power they consume back into the grid in the form of renewable energy. Combined with their reliable services and robust features, this makes them an attractive option for all types of web hosting.
Users who want to host streaming content on their site should take a look at GreenGeeks’ VPS hosting plans. These plans give users up to 8 GB RAM, 150 GB SSD storage, and 10 TB data transfer.
All GreenGeeks VPS hosting plans are fully managed, and include cPanel, a free SSL certificate, and a free Softaculous license. Advanced security features include 24/7 server monitoring, custom security rules. and DDoS protection. GreenGeeks supports customers with 24/7/365 technical support.
Starts at $39.95/month
|Yes; 30 days||>99.9% uptime|
>SSL certificate included
>More features at GreenGeeks
Pros & Cons of GreenGeeks Streaming Hosting
Depending on the user, GreenGeeks biggest selling point may well be their eco-consciousness. However, this does come at a price, as their monthly costs are among the highest of the companies on our list. This also gets users an excellent 99.975% uptime, according to an independent audit, but GreenGeeks does not offer any dedicated hosting solutions.
- Environmentally friendly
- Good uptime
- High price point
- No dedicated hosting
What Customers Are Saying
Among web hosting providers, GreenGeeks has one of the highest overall customer ratings. “I am very satisfied with the service that this company offers,” writes one customer. “The speed is super, and the supporting team is always online to solve customers’ problems on the spot.”
The backbone of LiquidWeb’s customer base is small and medium-sized businesses, so they are an ideal choice if you plan on streaming a lot of content from your business’s website.
They have several hosting choices, allowing your resources to expand as your business grows. Customers can choose from a variety of VPS, dedicated, or cloud hosting plans.
LiquidWeb’s VPS hosting bundles are a good value, combining 10 TB of bandwidth, SSD disk space, and RAM with site remediation and protection; premium business email, and free daily back-ups.
For those who need more resources or want more control over their servers, LiquidWeb also offers dedicated and cloud hosting services. With these types of hosting, users also have the option to choose a Linux or Windows operating system.
All of LiquidWeb’s servers are high-quality, designed for speed with built-in SSD disks and CDNs. Support is available 24/7/365 via phone, chat and email.
Starts at $59/month Dedicated:
Starts at $199/month Cloud:
Starts at $169/month
|Yes; 30 days||>99.9% uptime|
>Free SSL certificate
>More features at LiquidWeb
Pros & Cons of LiquidWeb Streaming Hosting
One of LiquidWeb’s key selling points is that customers are allowed to register up to 30 domain names for free. They also let users choose between Windows and Linux operating systems, as well as several control panel options. However, customers should be aware that all of this comes with a higher price tag.
- 30 free domains
- Windows hosting available
- Multiple control panel options
- Uptime concerns
- Limited hosting options
What Customers Are Saying
LiquidWeb customers praise this hosting company for being an excellent value, especially for the high level of service they receive. “The most significant factor that makes LiquidWeb a great hosting company is the tech support staff,” says one user. “Considering the support and the servers they provide, the pricing is good.”
What Is Streaming Hosting?
If you produce audio and video content, you may need a web host that supports streaming media. Not all of them do.
In addition, you’ll need a host that can cope with potential traffic spikes without downtime, and it’ll need to support the type of content that you intend to publish or distribute.
Is your website the next YouTube? Pandora? Spotify? If your goal is to provide video or audio-on-demand to your site’s users, you need streaming hosting.
Okay, so maybe your site’s not quite that big yet. Regardless, if you plan to stream movies, music, or video or audio files of any kind, streaming hosting is what will keep that media running smoothly with fewer snags and interruptions.
Why Streaming Needs Special Hosting
Not all hosting plans can accommodate the resources it takes to stream audio or video files.
Streaming hosting is specialized for media sharing. Imagine how frustrating it would be for your users to sit through a video that constantly stops and starts.
Or for them to try to listen to music only to have their favorite songs cut off. How many of those visitors do you think would return to your site? Right.
Streaming hosting alleviates those kinds of issues. Some hosts that offer streaming plans are making them available via cloud hosting, which takes much of the burden of streaming off the local computer, speeding things up and increasing fidelity and reliability.
More Than Just Streaming: Other Hosting Features
Many streaming audio/video hosting providers also offer managed hosting, removing much of the day-to-day management and maintenance from your plate. This allows you to do more with your media-streaming site.
If what you plan to stream is anything along the lines of webinars, tutorials, or industry leader interviews, you may want to look for a host that archives your streaming media.
This way, should anything happen to your site, you’ll be able to recover that data, and continue to provide service to your customers and listeners.
Why Do Your Own Streaming?
Over the last decade, streaming sites have sprung up all over the web. YouTube is perhaps the most famous, but there are thousands (many with a high Quantcast rank).
In some cases, it really is best to use one of these sites to upload content and simply paste an embed code on your website.
But, there are some reasons to bypass these established services. So why should you set up your own streaming service?
- Streaming gives you more control over the way content is distributed to viewers
- You can host content for other users using a membership system, possibly charging a fee
- Your content doesn’t need to be associated with anyone else’s brand or website
- It’s easier (though not hassle-free) to host content that other sites may not publish
- You can create your own niche.
Make Sure You Follow the Law
Note that publishing your own content isn’t going to protect you from the law.
If a site like YouTube won’t allow something because it’s copyrighted (or controversial), your web host will probably have the same opinion.
However, some hosts do have more relaxed rules about what’s allowed to be streamed.
Features to Look for in Streaming Hosting
Selecting the right streaming host is vitally important. The five critical features are: reliability, bandwidth, storage, speed, and server power.
Before we get to the details, here is a list of the features, what they mean for the website owner, and what your goal is for the website visitor.
|What Streaming Features Mean for You and Your Visitors|
|Feature||Owner’s Attribute||Visitor’s Attribute|
|Reliability||Maximum Uptime||Media Always Available|
|Bandwidth||Large Streaming Ability||Uninterrupted Playback|
|Storage||Large Disk Space Amt||Availability of Content|
|Speed||SSDs and CDNs||Instant Access to Content|
|Server Power||VPS, Dedicate, Cloud||Dependable Streaming|
If your goal is to provide streaming media, your server needs to be constantly online. If media disappears halfway through streaming, it’s going to frustrate people, and users are unlikely to revisit the site.
100% uptime is not common in the web hosting industry, and when you find it, it’s not cheap.
Bandwidth is the amount of data that you can stream to your customers. If every show you need to stream is a gigabyte, you will need a lot of bandwidth, if you have a reasonable number of site visitors.
While a typical shared hosting plan may be marketed as “unlimited,” you’ll run into problems fairly quickly, since your usage is going to be disproportionate and could cause issues for other users.
You need sufficient bandwidth to handle massive amounts of data flowing from your host to your users, and the flexibility to cope with spikes in demand.
Before audio or video can be streamed, it must be read from a file on disk. Although you won’t need as much storage as you do bandwidth, you still will need a fairly large allotment.
Once you have a lot of content, you might want to put your older or less popular content on a different server. Google and Dropbox both offer very good deals for this.
But you will still want to have a large storage capacity on your main server.
There’s nothing more frustrating than a video or audio track that continually stops and starts. Make sure you have speed on your side. Choose a server location close to your main users.
For the fastest disk speed, make sure that your host uses State Drives (SSDs).
Many hosts now only use SSDs, and many others offer it for a relatively small extra charge. It is seriously worth considering.
What should you do if your user are spread out all over the world, or if you just want to provide the best service to the minority of your users who are located farther away?
In these cases, you should seriously consider a content delivery network (CDN).
Streaming audio and video requires much more from a web server than just sending text a few small images. So if you want to stream well, you will need a powerful server.
Kind of Server: VPS, Dedicated, or Cloud
A VPS is the minimum you should buy for a streaming site. But serious sites use dedicated servers so that they run a completely isolated environment.
The other main option is cloud hosting, since your site will be run from multiple servers in a cluster, which should help it cope with peak demand and downtime.
Streaming Technologies: HTTP and Beyond
Additionally, your server must specifically support the streaming technology that you want to use.
Many hosts offer HTTP streaming on entry-level or mid-cost hosting plans, but this limits you to older technologies like RealPlayer and Windows Media Player.
For anything more complex, such as streaming Flash video, you’ll need something like FFMpeg instead.
Let’s Talk About Scale
If you plan to host videos that may get popular or go viral, you’ll need to be able to scale quickly, especially if you’re hosting HD video files that require a lot of bandwidth.
When you choose a host, make sure that it’s one that lets you scale up your resources as you need. Most hosts that offer VPSs will be able to accommodate your viewers.
“Unlimited” Bandwidth and Disk Space
Be careful with plans that offer “unlimited” bandwidth and disk space on shared hosting plans.
They only offer unlimited resources until it affects other customers.
Streaming video, and even audio to a lesser extent, will almost certainly cause your content to slow down to an unusable speed.
With this in mind, here is a comparison between the resources of a shared hosting plan and dedicated server plan between our editor’s choice hosts:
|Host||Plan Type||Storage||Bandwidth||Starting Price||User Rating|
|SiteGround||Shared||10 GB SSD||Unlimited*||$3.95/mo||4.8 / 5.0|
|SiteGround||Cloud||40 GB SSD||5 TB||$80.00/mo||4.8 / 5.0|
|A2 Hosting||Shared||Unlimited SSD*||Unlimited*||$3.92/mo||4.7 / 5.0|
|A2 Hosting||Managed VPS||45 GB SSD||2 TB||$25.00/mo||4.7 / 5.0|
|Liquid Web||Managed VPS||40 GB SSD||10 TB||$29.00/mo||4.8 / 5.0|
|*”Unlimited” is subject to the host’s definition of reasonable resource consumption on shared servers.|
What About a CDN?
On our blog, we’ve referred to the CDN as a game-changing technology for hosting.
Since web hosting customers are producing more content, the CDN is really coming into its own, and streaming media is one of its many specialties.
With a CDN, your streaming content is hosted in multiple locations (in your area and around the world), so it’s served more quickly no matter where the user is based.
The technology is ideal for any website that needs very high uptime and good speeds. It is why it is used by gaming giant Steam.
Should You Get a Third-Party CDN?
If your hosting provider doesn’t offer media streaming, you could use a third party CDN to bridge the gap.
However, this means you have to deal with two providers just to publish your posts or content.
Watch Out for CDN Limits
Additionally, not all CDN providers will allow you to stream media, so check the specs carefully. You’ll also need to weigh up the pros and cons of push vs. pull CDNs.
Is a CDN Right for You?
CDNs are very powerful, but they add a layer of complexity and a secondary cost. To conclude: keep it simple, if you can.
Choose a host that offers a robust streaming service. If you have the perfect host but no streaming support, a CDN could be the answer.
Pros and Cons of Hosting Your Own Audio and Video
Streaming audio and video is a serious endeavor. So it isn’t a surprise that there are some major pros and cons of doing it yourself.
Great reasons to use streaming hosting to stream your own media:
- You have complete control of your content
- It’s easier to edit content
- You can customize media options
- It’s expensive
- You’re responsible for all formatting and optimization
- Not all hosts can scale with traffic.
More About the Pros of Streaming Your Own Media
Having complete control of content is helpful. When you upload content to a third-party site like YouTube or Vimeo, you waive some rights.
Additionally, you can’t control who sees it, and have little control over other aspects (e.g., you can’t choose specific pre-roll ad).
One of the best features of streaming your own content is your ability to control that content.
If you make changes to a video, you can simply replace it on your site if you’re hosting it yourself. If you were on YouTube, your video rankings, comments, and stats would be wiped out.
Customization is also really important. You get to choose the exact formats to offer to visitors. For example, you can offer downloads or even live streaming.
More About the Cons of Streaming Your Own Media
Cost is probably the biggest thing that stops people from doing their own streaming. Video, and (to a lesser extent) audio, require a lot of storage space and bandwidth. And hosting that provides that does not come cheap.
Cost may seem like the biggest issue with streaming, but more important is your responsibility to make sure everything runs correctly — especially if you are selling streaming resources.
If you upload a video to YouTube (and then embed it), YouTube takes care of all that automatically. That is convenience that is hard to put a price on.
More than with most kinds of hosting, streaming is a place where you really have to be careful.
The more traffic you need, the more data you need to transfer. Some hosts scale better than others. You need to do your homework and pick the right host.
Streaming media is the future, and that future is now.
More and more, site visitors expect video and audio as part of your site. So don’t get left behind.
Provide video or audio to your audience by getting a reliable streaming host today.
Need a great web host? Want to save some time? This shortlist is your best place to begin: