Publishing audio and video content online requires significant resources. If you publish streaming media on your website, you need to select a web host that supports this content and 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.
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? You need streaming hosting if your goal is to provide video or audio-on-demand to your site’s users.
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.
How To Choose a Streaming Host
Selecting the right streaming host is vitally important. The five critical features are reliability, bandwidth, storage, speed, and server power.
Reliability — Your server needs to be constantly online. If media disappears halfway through streaming, it will frustrate people, and users are unlikely to revisit. 100% uptime is not common in the web hosting industry, and when you find it, it’s not cheap.
Bandwidth — Bandwidth is the amount of data you can stream to your customers. If every show you need to stream is a gigabyte, you will need a lot of bandwidth. 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.
Storage — 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 excellent deals for this. But you will still want a large storage capacity on your main server.
Speed — Nothing is more frustrating than a video or audio track that continually stops and starts. For the fastest disk speed, ensure your host uses Solid State Drives (SSDs). Many hosts now only use SSDs, and many others offer them for a relatively small extra charge. This technology is often faster than traditional spinning disk drives, which is why they are perfect for hosting streaming audio or video. What should you do if your users are spread worldwide or just want to provide the best service to the minority of your users located farther away? In these cases, you should seriously consider a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN replicates your data to servers in locations throughout the world. Users then access your files from whichever server is closest to get the fastest response times.
Server — Streaming audio and video requires much more from a web server than just sending text and a few small images. So, if you want to stream well, you will need a powerful server.
VPS, Dedicated, or Cloud Server?
A VPS is the minimum server you should use for a streaming site. But serious sites use dedicated servers to run a completely isolated environment.
The other main option is cloud hosting. In this case, your site will be run from multiple servers in a cluster, which should help it cope with peak demand and downtime.
Why it’s best: Has a variety of options that are ideal for streaming
A2 Hosting offers users a variety of options that are ideal for streaming, including managed and unmanaged VPS hosting, as well as dedicated hosting.
Certain plans are built on the Wowza streaming engine, a media server specifically designed for streaming services with ultra-low latency. Wowza has a lightweight HTML5 and Flash video player but supports others. However, these plans require users to have a bit more technical aptitude.
A2 Hosting provides users with a lot of flexibility, including choosing between managed and unmanaged hosting. Its TurboBoost add-on feature lets users access speed-enhanced servers for even faster load times.
Why it’s best: Bluehost goes out of its way to make it easy for your to scale as needed
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.
Its three VPS plans let users quickly and easily scale up resources as necessary. Its base Standard plan starts with 30GB SSD storage, 2GB RAM, and 1TB bandwidth, and VPS subscribers can go up to 120GB SSD storage, 8GB RAM, and 3TB bandwidth.
The other option Bluehost provides is dedicated servers, which give users up to 16GB RAM and 15TB bandwidth.
Regardless of your hosting type, Bluehost includes several key free perks, including a domain name for the first year, an SSL certificate, a worldwide CDN, and three different webmail solutions. Users who are unsatisfied have 30 days to get a full refund.
One of Bluehost’s primary perks is how easy it is 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. Customers should note that an independent audit of web host speeds found that Bluehost came in at 1,176ms.
Why it’s best: Offer VPS, dedicated, and cloud streaming hosting
DreamHost offers all three types of hosting that are most useful for streaming — VPS, dedicated, and cloud hosting.
All Dreamhost plans support HTTP media streaming, and its 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 8GB RAM and 24 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.
Why it’s best: All GreenGeeks VPS hosting plans are fully managed; include cPanel, a free SSL certificate, and a free Softaculous license
GreenGeeks has staked its claim as a leader in the tech industry as the world’s #1 green energy web hosting provider. Its server infrastructure is built on putting three times the power it consumes back into the grid as renewable energy. Its reliable services and robust features make it an attractive option for all types of web hosting.
Users who want to host streaming content on their site should look at GreenGeeks’ VPS hosting plans. These plans give users up to 8GB RAM, 150GB SSD storage, and 10TB 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.
Depending on the user, GreenGeeks’ biggest selling point may be its eco-consciousness. However, this does come at a price, as its monthly costs are among the highest of the companies on our list.
Why it’s best: LiquidWeb’s VPS hosting bundles combine 10 TB of bandwidth, SSD disk space, and RAM with site remediation, protection, and more
LiquidWeb has several hosting choices, allowing your resources to expand as your business grows. Customers can choose from various VPS, dedicated, or cloud hosting plans.
LiquidWeb’s VPS hosting bundles are a good value, combining 10TB 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 can choose a Linux or Windows operating system.
LiquidWeb’s servers are high-quality and designed for speed with built-in SSD disks and CDNs. Support is available 24/7/365 via phone, chat, and email.
One of LiquidWeb’s key selling points is that customers are allowed to register up to 30 domains for free. It also lets users choose between Windows and Linux operating systems, as well as several control panel options. However, customers should know that this comes with a higher price tag.