Hostwinds is among the lesser-known providers online, but its service is still excellent. It caters to the small-scale audience, and the no-nonsense plans and pricing mean you’ll know exactly what you’re getting before you pay.
Who should choose Hostwinds? Anyone in the market for small-scale focused hosting, including small to midsize businesses (SMBs), individuals, or entrepreneurs.
Hostwinds Pros and Cons
Hostwinds’ primary focus is small-scale hosting, and that shows in the plans and pricing structures offered. While Hostwinds does not offer phone support, free domain name system (DNS), or free SSL, both options can be purchased directly from Hostwinds, so you won’t need to go elsewhere. Most other hosting providers only offer these for “free” for the first year and then charge you on renewal.
Hostwinds, in contrast, is very upfront about what is or isn’t included in every plan.
What we like about Hostwinds
- Depth and breadth of options: Multiple plans with numerous sizing options and add-ons means you can find the right hosting for you.
- Mostly upfront and straightforward pricing: Many providers offer an introductory price and obscure the true cost of a service, but I was pleased to find out that while Hostwinds offers introductory pricing, the true cost (after the introductory period) is readily visible.
- Free migration: Every plan — surprisingly, even the dedicated and VPS plans — comes with free migration.
- Application-specific hosting available: It’s a little hidden on Hostwinds’ front page, but when you create a cloud server on your account, there’s a myriad of pre-configured server packages available, including Minecraft. This menu of options is more available after you create an account.
What fell flat
- Pricier DNS registration: A .com domain is $16.80 per year at Hostwinds, but these domains can be found cheaper elsewhere.
- Some plan options can be confusing: Each hosting plan only has three size options, and the only thing they vary in is the number of sites supported. But across plans, different features aren’t well-surfaced.
- No phone support: 24/7/year-round email and live chat support are included, but no phone support is provided at any plan level.
- Backups are not included: Hostwinds has a backup feature available but at an extra charge.
Digital.com’s Editorial Review
Hostwinds’ plans and pricing model are great overall, and I appreciated the straightforwardness with which plans were presented. However, Hostwinds falls a bit short in the performance and security departments. In my testing, my site’s performance was acceptable, but not fast by any description, and I was disappointed the latest version of Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) was not installed by default on my shared hosting plan.
- Shared–$5.24 per month
- Business–$8.99 per month
- Reseller–$5.24 per month
- Linux VPS–$4.99 per month
- Windows VPS–$10 per month
- Cloud–$4.99 per month
- Dedicated–$146 per month
Hostwinds Plans and Pricing
Hostwinds offers many plans and features ranging from small and affordable to quite hefty. Every website hosting plan except for White Label offers three tiers consisting of one, four, or unlimited domains. Each of these plans offers unlimited bandwidth and storage.
Shared–starts at $5.24 per month
- Good for: Hosting for an individual or small business, especially if saving money is a priority
Business–starts at $8.99 per month
- Good for: General hosting for businesses; several useful business features included
Reseller–starts at $5.24 per month
- Good for: Someone just starting out and wanting to run their own web hosting business
White label–starts at $10 per month
- Good for: Reselling shared, business, and VPS plans.
Windows or Linux VPS–starts at $4.99 per month
- Good for: Anyone that wants full control over a Linux or Windows environment
Cloud–starts at $4.99 per month
- Good for: Someone considering VPS hosting but who wants more flexibility in billing or options
Dedicated—starts at $146 per month
- Good for: Web applications, game servers, and building a server to your exact specifications.
The billing terms listed above are the default, but all plans offer month-to-month and multi-year options for up to three years. Cloud servers also offer an hourly billing rate, allowing you to only run a server for the times during the day that you need it.
When you pick any plan with Hostwinds, the first thing you’ll see is a set of options you can add to your plan before purchasing. These choices either upgrade your hosting plan or are value-added features you can add on after you purchase your server.
With the high degree of flexibility that Hostwinds offers, it shouldn’t be hard to find a plan that meets your needs.
Depth of hosting plan customization
I was pleased to see all of Hostwinds’ website hosting plans (shared, business, and reseller) offer unlimited bandwidth and storage at their base levels. Each plan has three price points: one, four, and unlimited domains. Having unlimited storage and bandwidth is great because these figures are often difficult to guess when starting, and most (other) hosting providers use these factors to create different pricing tiers.
The business plan adds to the shared plan by including solid-state drive (SSD) disks, CloudFlare, constant monitoring, and the LiteSpeed HTTP server (a highly customized version of Apache).
For VPS hosting and dedicated, choices are similarly precise: Do you want managed or unmanaged, Linux or Windows, and how much server do you want? It’s all laid out very clearly, and selecting an option takes you to a customization page with your option filled in for you.
Cloud hosting provides a menu of central processing unit (CPU) and memory combinations, and dedicated hosting allows you to create a fully customized server with a server builder tool.
Many value-added features available
After you create an account, the customer portal reveals several more services and features that you can add onto your plan that aren’t displayed on Hostwinds’ front pages. These include:
- SSD cloud server
- Unmanaged SSD cloud
- Software licenses for virtual private cloud (VPC)
- cPanel licensing
- Monitoring services
- SSL certificates
- DNS name registration and hosting
It’s great to see that if you want one of these services, it’s as easy as adding it to your plan.
99.9999% uptime with mostly reasonable restrictions
This is a big guarantee of uptime on Hostwinds’ SLA, beating out many competitors. And unlike some other hosting providers that advertise 100% uptime, the restrictions on this 99.9999% (called “six nines” in the industry) uptime are mostly reasonable, quoted below:
- Any scheduled or emergency maintenance
- Any internet service provider (ISP) or other third parties blocking connectivity in any way
- Configurations as set by default or the account owner on a given service
- Actions taken or requested by an account owner
- Suspensions/terminations as resulting from a lack of payment, violations of Hostwinds Terms of Service, or possible fraud
Of these conditions, the only two that seem a bit weaselly to me are “… or emergency maintenance” and “third parties blocking connectivity.” I could envision these potentially being used to get out of compensating you in the event of an incident such as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, depending on how honest Hostwinds is regarding when to uphold these terms.
The rest of these terms are quite normal and expected, and in my opinion, basically boil down to scheduled maintenance or anything that may be self-inflicted, for instance, if you accidentally delete some key files on your server. Test results suggest a 99.96% true uptime rating over the past 30 days, which doesn’t account for these exclusions, so this number isn’t that much of a surprise.
Application-specific cloud hosting
Hostwinds also offers application-specific hosting within its cloud offering. This isn’t the most advertised feature on the homepage, but when selecting a cloud server, you also have the option of several pre-configured server images set up for a specific application. The full list is available within Hostwinds’ cloud control panel after you set up an account.
Fast and knowledgeable live chat
While Hostwinds does not offer phone support, it does have live chat and email (ticket-based) support. I asked for a phone number over live chat and couldn’t get one.
But the live chat was very helpful. I got a quick response time (under a minute in every instance) and a solution or answer without being shuffled around to multiple support staff. Most individuals probably won’t miss the lack of phone support.
Compare Hostwinds Alternatives
When comparing Hostwinds to other providers, I selected hosts that offer at least one — if not more — services comparable to those Hostwinds offers in the following priority order:
- Website/shared hosting
- VPS and dedicated hosting
- Application-specific hosting
I then considered each provider’s plans, uptime guarantee (if any), and how these compared to Hostwinds’ offerings. Check out the comparison below or see our full list of the top web hosting providers to learn more about all of your options.
Pricing + Basic Plan Features
What You Need to Know
Who owns Hostwinds?
Hostwinds is self-owned, not a subsidiary of another company or under another brand’s banner.
What kind of support does Hostwinds offer?
24/7/year-round live chat and ticket support. Phone support is not available at this time.
Where are the Hostwinds servers located?
- Seattle, Washington, U.S.
- Dallas, Texas, U.S.
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
How We Reviewed Hostwinds
I test web hosts based on the following factors:
- 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?
Learn more about our review methodology.