Our head-to-head web hosting comparisons make it easy for small businesses to get the right deal. Contrast features and pricing at a glance to help you decide which company is best for you.
Web Hosting Comparisons
Comparing any small business service can be tricky. Each provider has its way of presenting features and pricing. The more you read, the more confusing it gets.
As a small business owner, you need the facts quickly. That’s why we’ve created simple web host comparisons to make buying hosting easy.
Digital web hosting comparison reviews
- Bluehost vs. DreamHost
- Bluehost vs. GoDaddy
- Bluehost vs. HostGator
- HostGator vs. DreamHost
- HostGator vs. GoDaddy
- Siteground vs. Bluehost
- Siteground vs. HostGator
Why Comparisons Matter
Web hosting is a major purchase. Although the monthly price can be cheap, you could be locked into using one provider for many years, depending on your contract. And once you create a site and grow your business, moving a site to another provider is a hassle that most businesses try to avoid.
It’s much better to get the right hosting on day one rather than repeatedly experimenting with different hosts and migrating data.
- Each time you move your site, you risk corrupting a database, losing the contents of your email mailbox, or forgetting a crucial file that could prevent your site from working properly.
- Inevitably, there will be downtime during the move, even if it’s just a few minutes; that will disrupt your customers’ experience and could eat into profit.
- Moving hosts can be technically complex. Your new host may migrate your data for free, but some hosts require you to do it yourself.
- If you must pay a system administrator to assist you each time you move, the costs can quickly mount up.
So for all those reasons and more, you need to get the right hosting. Our comparisons make it easy to do that.
Hosting 101: The Types of Hosting Plans
There are several different hosting plans available, since web hosting, like most everything else, is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
The most common types of hosting include:
- Shared hosting
- VPS hosting
- Cloud hosting
- Dedicated hosting
- Managed WordPress hosting
- WordPress hosting
- Windows hosting
- Reseller hosting
Shared hosting is the most inexpensive type of web hosting available. Generally, shared hosting is appropriate for small sites that do not serve a high level of traffic.
Web hosts can offer shared hosting at such low prices by hosting a lot of websites on a single server. As such, you will find yourself competing with many other websites for a finite level of (server) resources.
Many web hosts consider shared hosting plans entry-level options used by beginners, so these plans tend to be easier to use than others. You will also get graphical user interface (GUI)-based tools, such as control panels, to help manage your websites.
Shared hosting plans typically contain everything you need to get a website up and running, but some web hosts bundle more with their packages. By shopping around, you may find an option that offers more without drastic cost increases.
Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is the next step up from shared hosting. While web hosts still place multiple websites onto a single server, there are restrictions on how resources are allocated — you get a set amount, and you cannot tap into your neighbors’ (and vice versa).
Less expensive VPS options tend to be self-managed. You handle getting everything installed, set up, and configured. Then, you are responsible for management and maintenance over the lifetime of your service.
The operating system (OS) might come pre-installed, but everything else is on you. Note that many hosts do not include a GUI-based control panel with self-managed VPS plans, so unless you want to work with your server through the command line or terminal only, it is best to add on a control panel.
If you need a VPS plan’s speed and resource allocation, but you do not want to handle the server system administration, consider looking for a host that offers managed VPS services.
Cloud hosting is not a type of hosting but a method in which a web host will service its clients using a network of computers instead of from a single (or a few) physical locations.
As such, you will find things like cloud-based shared, VPS, or dedicated hosting. Cloud-based hosting tends to be more reliable than other options because your information is stored in multiple locations.
If you have a large website (perhaps one that serves up a lot of high-resolution images or audio and video clips) or you see a lot of traffic to your site, dedicated servers are probably the best option for you.
These are the most expensive options, but they offer the best and the most regarding performance, resource allocation, and freedom. Because you get the entire server for use with your website, there are minimal restrictions on what you can or cannot do software-wise, and no other website competes with yours for physical resources.
Like VPS plans, dedicated servers (especially on the low-end/less expensive side) tend to be self-managed. However, some companies offer managed dedicated servers.
Managed WordPress hosting is a specialized hosting service that includes WordPress installation and maintenance, a network infrastructure optimized for WordPress security and performance, and customer support provided by staff with WordPress expertise.
WordPress is easily the most widely used and popular website builder and content management system (CMS) worldwide. The platform powers users’ websites that range from personal bloggers and small businesses to globe-spanning companies.
WordPress hosting providers offer you a product conveniently pre-configured to host a WordPress-powered site efficiently. As there’s no industry-standard definition for the term “WordPress Hosting,” the exact product can vary from one host to another.
When choosing a WordPress host, see what server configuration is being used. Will you get a shared WordPress hosting package, a VPS WordPress host, or something else?
This has a variety of advantages, especially if you prefer certain programming languages, need more control, and dislike cPanel. While Windows hosting is available at all levels, there are fewer overall web hosts that offer Windows hosting services. Therefore, it can be challenging to find. In addition, Windows hosting tends to be more expensive than packages that use the more popular Linux OS.
This is typically an option for those looking to start their own web hosting business or seeking to launch multiple sites (e.g. corporations that own numerous businesses, each needing their own website).
With reseller hosting, you will get a set allocation of resources that can be distributed among the individual websites you set up. Generally, you will also get specialized software that makes it easy for you to manage multiple websites as well.
Choosing the best option for your business
If you are just getting started with a website for your small business, you cannot go wrong with shared hosting. Not only is it budget-friendly, but it’s also easy to use and comes with everything you need to get up and running.
Do not be discouraged by the prospect of choosing an option not as powerful as VPS or dedicated hosting — you can always upgrade as necessary. But for now, it might be helpful to avoid the complexity that opting for an advanced option might introduce.
However, those getting started can also opt for a VPS plan or a dedicated server. If your website will be resource-heavy (perhaps you have a robust product catalog with many high-resolution images) or you are planning on aggressive growth, it might make sense to leap into a more expensive, feature-rich option.
Before you choose your host, ask yourself these questions:
- How much storage space do I need?
- Does this host offer the site speed I need?
- What uptime does the host guarantee?
- Are there enough security features in place?
- Does the host offer Secure Sockets Layers (SSL)? (Particularly if you have e-commerce offerings.)
- What happens if my site grows? Is it easy to upgrade plans?
- Does the host’s customer service meet my needs? (response time and method of contact)
- Does the host do backups? Does it cost more to have the backup installed?
- Does the host offer a money-back guarantee?
WordPress is currently the most popular CMS in use. As such, many hosts offer hosting plans explicitly aimed at WordPress users and their more general web hosting options.
There is no set of guidelines that web hosts must meet before they can claim something is a WordPress hosting plan, so when shopping, compare your options carefully.
Generally, you will find your site hosted on a server configured to be WordPress-friendly (e.g., it comes with the appropriate versions of PHP and MySQL installed). Your host may also offer things like one-click WordPress installation, saving you some time, and automatic core updates as patches, security fixes, and other updates as they’re released.
Other bonuses offered to WordPress users may include plug-ins and themes.
Managed WordPress services
WordPress is easy to use, but depending on how you have implemented your site, you may be facing a lot of work in keeping your web hosting and CMS core up-to-date. As such, some hosts offer managed WordPress services, where the companies’ tech support staff will keep your back-end up and running on your behalf.
If you can afford it and tackling the back end of your website is not a priority, opting for managed WordPress hosting services can be a good idea.
Endorsed by WordPress
WordPress lists some of its partners on its website, but these are not necessarily the only options to look into. The WordPress partners are guaranteed to meet the minimum requirements, and companies not on the list may also. WordPress admits there is some arbitrariness to the list — as such, the list is an excellent place to start, but it is not the end-all-be-all.
Features We Compare
Digital.com compares key host features head-to-head to give you the fastest and clearest comparison of hosting available on the web.
Our hosting reviews and comparisons consider:
- Plan value: What plans are available, and do they offer a good value?
- Ease of use: Is the dashboard easy to navigate?
- Support: How fast can you get help when needed, and is support genuinely helpful?
- Features: What features does the host offer, and how do they compare to similar competitors?
- Security: Does the host offer SSL certificates, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack protection, backup services, and scans for viruses and malware?
- Speed and uptime: Does the provider offer a fast, stable environment for your website? How does it perform in tests, and what kind of servers does the hosting company use?
- Recent improvements: What has the host done lately to update its technology and services?