Its 2016. Businesses today are fighting tooth and nail in the online arena for maximum exposure in front of an ever-increasing audience base. And they are deploying every possible weapon in their arsenal to reach out to their customers. At the forefront is search engine marketing, followed by content and then social media. The website design and development, which is an equally important part of the mix, gets its due share of attention too.
Sadly, web hosting is often put on the backburner and most businesses try a cookie cutter approach by signing up for a hosting plan off the shelf. It just does not cut it anymore. Choosing a hosting plan on the basis of the massive discount for an annual signup, which is thrown to lure the customer in, is passé.
In fact, it would be fair to say, that choosing the wrong webhost in 2016 can be digital-hara-kiri.
Before you select a web hosting service, think about your intent of doing business. Is it to get more traffic? To get more leads maybe. Is it to expand on your brand building endeavors in the offline world?
If you had a brick and mortar store, would you risk opening it in a ramshackle building in a shady neighborhood? How does that reflect on your brand, your business and your credibility?
A web host is something similar. There are good neighborhoods and bad ones. There are service providers who ensure that your site gets the speed, the bandwidth and the security it deserves and there are charlatans who’d be happy to rip you off your hard earned money, given the tiniest opportunity.
The choice is up to you. The cost of hosting is sadly not an indicator of the quality of service anymore. There is a lot more at stake here. Here are some of the ways in which a wrong web hosting company can affect your business.
You lose revenue: Every minute that your site is unavailable to your customers is a potential opportunity for your competitor to gain a new customer. Think of downtime in terms of lost revenue and lost customers. How many of those customers you lost were repeat customers who would have become brand loyal to you? Forget the downtime. Customers even hate a website that is slower than usual.
Your SEO goals are affected: Frequent downtime and slow loading websites can have a negative impact on your SEO rankings, which you may have earned painstakingly. Here’s an interesting article by Moz that specifies the importance of website speed in SEO.
You risk a lapse in security: Digital security is of predominant importance for an online business. There is nothing worse than having a reputation of being lackluster with your security protocols. A good web hosting provider has multiple security systems in place including DDOS attack prevention, everyday backups and redundancy checks to ensure that your website and business critical customer data are secured from hacker and malware attacks.
These are of course, just some of the ways in which choosing a wrong website hosting company can hurt your business.
The fact is that if you are new to the online space, then it is extremely easy to be fobbed off or lured into signing up with a low quality web host.
There has been an explosion in the number of websites in the past few years. And it is all set to quadruple in the years to come. All these websites need to be hosted somewhere on the internet and there’s enough room for newer and unscrupulous players to peddle their mediocre stuff.
While the top webhosting companies are forthcoming with their pricing and service related details, a shady website host may use deceptive and misleading advertising tactics to get your business and then leave you high and dry, in the event of a problem.
That’s what makes it so challenging to find a good web host.
Hidden Charges: Ever seen flashing advertisements that promise you unlimited annual web hosting for $10? There are probably a million other hidden charges that are often buried so deep under the fine text that you’d be impossible to spot it until the credit card statement comes knocking on your door. Some of the ways in which the charges may be applied are, setup fees, ridiculously high renewal fees or even fees to pay for their dog’s hysterectomy. You never know how it’s going to hit you.
The famed ‘Unlimited’ Claim: The lure of being able to host a hundred or even a thousand websites on a web host for $7 a month seems like the ultimate deal. How can you better that? This advertising tactic alone, fools millions of customers each year into signing up with mom and pop outfits who rake in staggering profits. The fact is that nothing is unlimited. There are two things you need to be aware of. Unlimited is probably a fancier way of saying unmetered. It means that you can get as much bandwidth as your hardware supports. If you have subscribed for a dedicated server with a 50 Mbps port, then you can continue to transmit data at the rate of 50 Mbps. But if there’s a sudden demand for more bandwidth, it will cause a traffic bottleneck which will slow down or even crash your website. The other factor is storage space. If a company claims to sell you shared web hosting with unlimited hosting space, you need to check their ‘inode’ limits. Inode is a technical term for files. Every webhost that claims to have unlimited hosting space has an inode limit which can be 200,000 or more. But it’s there. Once you cross this inode limit, you get an email politely informing you about this and asking you to delete files from your account. If you don’t delete it, they will.
While it may seem like dog-eat-dog world out there, the fact is that with a little bit of information, some research and a bit of prudence, you can easily find a webhost that is reliable, secure, cost effective and scalable.
Here are a few factors to consider before signing the dotted line with any web hosting company.
What services they provide: When it comes to web hosting, one size never fits all. Your hosting needs are business specific. What options does the web host provide? Some hosts may only offer VPS. Others will let you choose from Shared hosting, dedicated servers and managed hosting. Do your research about the pros and cons of each type of hosting to know what works best for your business.
Customer Support: While every webhost in the world will have the best pre-sales team to answer your questions, you can easily gauge their intentions from the way the sales rep interacts with you. A typical way is to push the customer to sign up for the most expensive hosting plan the company has, without explaining clearly, why it is being promoted. That is a huge red flag. Time to skedaddle. On the contrary, if a sales rep is forthcoming and explains to you the pros and cons of choosing each type of hosting rather than making ad-hoc recommendations, it may be a good sign.
Uptime: Any company that does not commit to a 99% uptime at least, is not worth it in 2016.
Scalability: If your website and your business grows, you will need more resources and scalability will be a crucial part of your expansion. Can your webhost scale the hosting plan to include more resources on-the-go?
Cost: While cost is not an indicator of quality in web hosting, you must keep your eyes out for hidden costs being sneaked under the pretext of nauseating marketing gimmicks.
Reputation: Last but not the least, one of the best ways to know if a web host is worth your money is to hear what past customers have to say about it. While it is impossible to satisfy everyone and there will be someone who’s disgruntled with the service, an overall positive rating of 80% of more is considered to be good. You should also check if the business is listed with the Better Business Bureau. How long have they been in business? Keep your claws sharp.
Without further ado, here’s our list of the top web hosting companies in 2016. We have done in-depth research about these companies on the basis of all the parameters that we have mentioned above. They have scored well above what we would call an ideal score. So, these guys are your best bet for any type of business hosting.
If a company has been around in business for over 20 years, they have to be doing something right. Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosting companies in the world. It is estimated that they host more than 2 million websites, a lot of which have been with the company for years, which works as a testimony to the quality of service and the top notch customer support.
They started their business with extremely pocket friendly shared hosting plans but now offer a whole bevy of service plans including Woocommerce hosting, shared hosting, WordPress hosting, vps, dedicated servers and Cloud hosting.
Despite adding to their repertoire, their most popular plan remains the shared hosting plan which offers tremendous value for money. This is a flawless plan for startups, personal websites and small to medium sized businesses who find a VPS or a dedicated server to be an overkill.
Key features: Official webhosting recommended by WordPress.org, 1 free domain for the 1st year with a shared hosting plan, feature rich cPanel, antispam solutions in cPanel, unlimited email accounts, everyday backups, 24/7 phone support and live chat, scalable, account customizations, built-in CDN, 30 day money back guarantee.
As we said before, we did a complete analysis of Bluehost on the basis of the parameters we mentioned. Here’s how it scored.
Services: Bluehost provides all the services that are needed from a large webhosting company in 2016. The specialized services for e-commerce and WordPress websites in particular, are a no brainer and let you get going in just minutes.
Customer support: Top notch. All questions that we had, were answered without any pesky sales pitches or marketing gimmicks. Clear and concise answers.
Uptime: Bluehost has a 99.98% uptime for their shared hosting account. The other, more detailed services have a slightly better uptime rate making it one of the most reliable hosting companies around.
Scalability: You can upgrade to any of their hosting plans with more space or bandwidth without having to worry about moving your websites. The company has a seamless scalability plan that lets businesses move without breaking a sweat over it.
Cost: The company has very competitive pricing plans which start with $3.45/month for their most basic shared hosting plans. It is a lot cheaper than many other hosting companies, which make it an advantageous choice for startups and newbies.
Reputation: Bluehost has a near flawless reputation that has been constant over the years. The only time it faced a bit of flak was in Feb 2015 when their servers took a hit from repeated DDOS attacks. That is an incredible track record.
Final Verdict: The Best web hosting company of 2016. No second thoughts about it. → Go for it.
With some of the best shared hosting plans that offer a gaggle of features for the novice webmaster, Hostgator is our #2 pick of the best web hosting companies. But its benefits are not limited to the novices. It offers seamless scalability to dedicated and virtual private server (VPS) packages.
Key Features: Hosts more than 950000 websites, more than 10 years in business, 24/7 phone support and live chat options, 45 day money back guarantee, 1 click installation for commonly used scripts, reseller plans, dedicated WordPress hosting.
Here’s how Hostgator fared in our tests.
Services: Hostgator may be more popular for their shared hosting services but the company offers some of the most reliable Virtual Private Servers and dedicated hosting services, which includes Linux, Windows and Managed servers. Their cloud hosting services offer excellent scalability for businesses looking for more firepower down the road.
Customer Support: Very knowledgeable tech support team with fast and efficient responses. We hate automated responses as much as you do. Thankfully, the Hostgator team offers personalized responses that are tailored to your situation. No pushy salesmen encountered in the pre-sales chat.
Uptime: 99.99% uptime. We tested this over a 6 month period and Hostgator was not down for even a single minute. That is very impressive.
Scalability: With an array of services to choose from and a very helpful customer support team, you should have no problems upgrading to a dedicated server with Hostgator. Also, their dedicated accounts are priced very competitively.
Cost: Hostgator is among the most pocket friendly web hosting companies in the world currently. If you are a cash strapped professional, then get ready to be blown away at the pricing and the features you will get.
Reputation: Over 95% positive customer rating which is exceptional for any company in the web hosting business. And to have maintained that for 10 years is no mean feat.
Final Verdict: The only reason why Hostgator rates behind Bluehost is because it has been in business for a decade whereas Bluehost has been around for 20 years. Otherwise, it is an equally good web hosting service with some great features and exceptional value. → Go for it.
What started as a one employee outfit in 2007 is today one of the top 3 web hosting companies in the world, hosting more than 450,000 domains around the world. SiteGround.com offers some very robust features for both shared hosting customers as well as webmasters looking for more power. They have datacenters in Europe and Asia Pacific, which is a neat addition to an otherwise common feature interface among hosting providers.
Key Features: Free domain, free setup and transfers (annual billing only), 99.9 percent uptime guarantee, Cloudflare CDN, Daily backups, unlimited MySQL databases and bandwidth, cpanel with SSH access.
Services: Siteground, like most other web hosting providers harps more on their shared hosting plans, because that’s the most popular service preferred by small to medium sized websites. They call it the Startup plan, the GrowBig Plan and the GoGeek plan. They also have optimized WordPress hosting plans. But their VPS plans and their cloud hosting services are equally good, if not better. So, if you ever want to look beyond shared hosting, these guys have just the thing for you.
Customer Support: Extremely friendly and helpful customer support team. One of the first teams that we have interacted with who do not direct you to online tutorials even if you pop a CMS related question at them. If you are a newbie learning the ropes of WordPress, these guys can be a real plus on your side.
Uptime: During our tests, Siteground almost had a 100% uptime rate which was marred by just 10 to 12 minutes of downtime during the entire time frame. We consider it to be one of the most reliable web hosts that we have worked with in recent times.
Scalability: While most webhosts will be looking to upgrade you to their most premium package, Siteground will explain the best option for you and help you scale slowly as your business grows.
Cost: The Startup plan is the most basic shared hosting plan and costs $3.95/mo. whereas their dedicated hosting plans start from $229/mo. That’s not the cheapest hosting plan around. And if you are looking purely at saving some money upfront, then you might find Hostgator to be a better choice.
Reputation: Sitegrounds claim to fame has been the superb customer support team. They do not have a pricing advantage. But customers who prefer to have the backup of a strong support team and some very good features with their host, prefer Siteground over other companies.
Final Verdict: Siteground retains its #3 spot in the top 5 web hosting companies for a reason. They have a bevy of features and back it up with a strong support team, who will always be there when you need them. → Go for it.
With three different Linux based shared hosting plans as well as dedicated and VPS, there was no reason why InMotion Hosting couldn’t have been our #1 choice for a web hosting company. But the lack of Windows Servers and managed WordPress hosting services along with a dated website builder tool, pegs it below some of the other companies that we have written about.
Inmotion Hosting has a loyal customer base that swears on the super friendly onboarding that the company has and a bundle of free e-commerce tools that it provides.
Key Features: 1 free .com domain, 24/7 tech support, Unlimited disk space (remember our inode warning), 90-day money back guarantee, Free backups, SSDs on all disks, 1 click install for WordPress.
Services: InMotion Hosting offers three Linux-based shared Web hosting plans with limitations on the number of sites and domains you can host. They do offer unlimited email, storage, and monthly data transfers on all their plans. Their VPS hosting plans boast of the best in-class features and the dedicated hosting is where they really shine with 15TB monthly data transfers and 16GB RAM.
Customer Support: While the customer support is easy to deal with, they can be difficult to contact. On two occasions, we had to wait for over 15 minutes to get connected to a customer support rep on Chat. On phone, we tried to contact the manager twice and were unable to. While it is not a deal breaker, it certainly doesn’t paint a rosy picture, especially if you are desperate for a quick solution.
Uptime: It has a 99.99% uptime which is the best in-class. It is one of the most reliable web hosts in the market currently.
Scalability: With some of the best dedicated server plans and VPS plans in the business, if you are looking at a scalable web host, then it is one of the best choices you have.
Cost: At $5.99 with a promotion thrown in for their most basic shared server plan, It is not the cheapest option you have. Does the service justify the price? It’s a close call with other web hosts like Bluehost offering a much better pricing advantage.
Reputation: Other than a few minor hiccups with the customer support, It is one of the very few companies that has never had a meltdown in the past few years which caused their reputation to tank.
Final Verdict: it is a reliable web host with a US based customer support team and the best in-class hosting features for their dedicated plan. They are not the cheapest web host around. But with a bundle of impressive features and a solid reputation, they are one of the best choices you have. → Go for it.
With more than 26% of the world’s websites using WordPress, having a dedicated WordPress managed hosting service is always a plus. WPengine strives to be that service. It has a many pros and a few cons which put it on the fifth position of our list of the best hosting companies in the world.
For starters, It isn’t the most cost effective hosting service we have reviewed. But they offer enough features for anyone looking for hands-free WordPress hosting. Everything that one needs to do manually is taken care of.
Key Features: Daily backups, 24/7 support from WordPress experts, firewall, malware scan, evercache technology to speed up the websites, SSL ready, CDN ready, timely speed reports.
Services: WP Engine offers 5 different hosting plans for WordPress sites. The most basic plan which allows just one WordPress install is priced at $29/mo. The most advanced business plan for up to 25 WordPress sites is priced at $249/mo. They also have enterprise level plans which will be based on a custom pricing.
Customer Support: Top notch. There is nothing WordPress related that these guys cannot help you with. It’s a qualified team of WordPress experts at your fingertips.
Uptime: It has a 99.99% uptime guarantee which is the standard in the industry these days. Any lesser and that would make people turn up their noses.
Scalability: Some of the big Fortune 500 companies are hosted on their servers. So, scalability should not be a problem while hosting with these guys.
Cost: Not the most budget friendly choice. But it is specialized and completely managed hosting service which does offer premium services. It gives you the much needed assurance that your WordPress site is using the most bulletproof security measures to protect it from hacking attacks.
Reputation: They have a stellar reputation mainly due to the quality of hosting and the super-fast customer support team.
Final Verdict: If you are not a picky customer who’s bothered about the monthly pricing too much and have several WordPress websites/ blogs that you would like managed without too much fuss, then this is your best bet. → Go for it.
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