The best web hosting providers for 2019 – cnet

Welcome to the CNET 2019 directory of hosting providers. In this directory, we’ll look at a few of the best website hosting providers like Hostinger, Dreamhost, InMotion Hosting, MochaHost, Bluehost, Lunarpages and more. In this evaluation, we’re featuring commercial hosting providers who offer WordPress, Shared Hosting, VPS and many more hosting products.

Many services offer a low "starting price," but require you to prepay for two or three years of service to get that price. After the promotional period, the renewal price for some services can be two, three, or even four times the initial promotional pricing.

While the initial deal might be incredible, the cost of transferring your site (or paying the added fee) in a couple of years may be something to consider. What "unlimited" really means

Many services offer so-called unlimited or unmetered service for whatever amount of bandwidth, disk storage and sites you use. It’s important to understand that most terms of service actually do limit the definition of "unlimited" to what’s considered reasonable use. The bottom line is simple: if you’re building a pretty basic website, unlimited means you don’t need to worry. But if you’re trying to do something excessive (or illegal, immoral or fattening), the fine print in the terms of service will trigger, and you’ll either be asked to spend more or go elsewhere. Watch out for page builders

Almost all the services offer some sort of page builder that makes it easy to drag and drop to build your page. These are great for getting started, but they often lock you into the service. Most page builders are proprietary to the service, or don’t create HTML that’s portable enough to be easily moved to another service if you decide it’s necessary. Migration services are great, mostly

Migration or transfer services are often free or offered at a reasonable fee. These services help move your existing site to the new hosting provider. They can save a huge amount of hassle. Just remember that the migration process is often automated, and may fit in with the host’s processes and needs rather than yours. Not everything may migrate, and you may find the organization of the newly migrated site makes for harder maintenance in the long run.

Beyond that, Dreamhost is a 5-of-5 hosting company for many reasons. They operate their own control panel, which is convenient and easy to understand. While phone support isn’t available 24-7, they are responsive to chat and tickets. The company uses superfast SSDs for all their storage, has a free SSL certificate (for more secured web browsing), and provides SSH access for those plans that are intended for more technical users.

There are two other factors that led to the nearly perfect score earned by Dreamhost. First, the company’s pricing is pretty transparent. There are no hidden gotchas in the rates. Plus — and this is the best we’ve seen across all our hosting providers — Dreamhost provides a 97-day money back guarantee. There’s quite literally zero risk in giving them a try. See it at Dreamhost

Rounding out the wins, InMotion offers a full 90-day money-back guarantee. On top of that, here’s a special money-saving hint. In a chat session confirming pricing and offerings, the operator offered me some special prices and deals that reduced the published price by a few bucks. I was also told that while promotional pricing does go up at the end of the offer period, if you contact customer service, InMotion has a "loyal customer discount" that may bring the price back down. Visit InMotion Hosting

HostGator gained points for uptime monitoring and regular backups, along with free cPanel or Plesk. We liked that SSH is available for the more technically inclined site operators and that dedicated IP addresses could be purchased. We did take points off because it’s sometimes difficult to tell what the price is once promotional plans run their course. That said, with a generous 45-day money back guarantee, there’s a solution for almost everyone at HostGator. Visit Hostgator

The company got bonus points for its policy of performing regular daily backups, even on the lowest-priced shared hosting accounts. It lost points because its promotional price on the low-cost shared hosting does go up after the promotional period. That said, Bluehost also gained points for offering 24-7 phone support and SSH access for certain plans. See it on Bluehost

The company also offers higher-end Windows and Linux servers, available with Plesk and cPanel respectively. We were very intrigued to see that the company offers low-end Atom-based dedicated servers as well as the more traditional Xeon-based machines. One great resource for those doing some basic experimentation, or site development, is that they have a free, three-month trial for one of their lightly-equipped Atom servers.

On the plus side, SiteGround offers free automatic daily backups, access to the Cloudflare CDN, high-performance SSDs for all plans, unlimited email accounts, and integration of the free LetsEncrypt SSL certificate into sites. The company does limit bandwidth and storage, but even those who claim to offer so-called unlimited bandwidth and storage really have some limits in their terms of service.

Sadly, there is a bit of a "gotcha" to the free automatic backup service. If you’re paying $3.95 a month (for the first year of hosting, then $9.95 a month), you don’t get restores for free. Each restore, no matter how small or large, will cost you $19.95. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, the company has to pay salaries to tech support reps who can handle panicking customers. On the other hand, it seems kind of mean-spirited to hit someone when they’re down with an added fee. That said, getting your data back – at any price – is priceless.

In particular, Web Hosting Hub uses BoldGrid as a site builder. BoldGrid is actually an add-on to WordPress, so there’s no lock-in. This overcomes the major problem of most site builders: you’re locked into that host and that tool, often requiring you to completely rebuild your site if you want to expand. By using a WordPress-based solution, all of the rather considerable power of WordPress is available for future expansion.

We liked how Web Hosting Hub describes its new customer process. They tell new customers, "We walk you through setting up your account in a personal on-boarding call." The company has a few other wins as well. They offer an all-SSD infrastructure, automatic vulnerability patches and a custom firewall, SSH access for certain plans, free site migration and an excellent 90-day money-back guarantee. See it at Web Hosting Hub

Established back in 1998, LunarPages operates three state-of-the-art data centers. Equipped with multiple GigE fiber connections to the internet backbone, the company built out seismically-braced racks and cabinets, fully-redundant Liebert HVAC cooling systems, a diesel generator that can run for weeks, and a pre-action dry pipe fire suppression system.

All of this infrastructure has been built out to support the a wide range of hosting services. The family-owned company gains points for understanding the importance of transaction security by offering free AutoSSL and Let’s Encrypt SSL encryption for its plans. While the company offers sophisticated services for technically strong clients, it also has a Weebly web builder option to get you up and running quickly.

For the technically-inclined, SSH access is available for a $2/mo upcharge, as is a dedicated IP address. The company allows for backup through its various dashboards and permits customers to build scripts to automate the backup process. While the company doesn’t automatically perform malware scans, you can request one if desired. See it at LunarPages

In terms of what many vendors call unlimited service, Web Hosting Pad’s terms of service indicate that their definition of unlimited is what they call "incremental." Basically, as you need more capability, they want to discuss that with you, both to help you get the most out of their services, and to make sure you’re using their systems without abusing them.

The company’s entry-point pricing is extremely low, and while this will buy you up to three years of very low-cost hosting, do be aware that its post-promotion price will increase substantially, putting its subsequent year pricing more in line with the rest of its competitors. That said, we liked its 24-7 phone support, SSD support on some plans, and 30-day money-back guarantee. See it at Web Hosting Pad

BigCommerce is a bit different from our other hosting plans in that it’s a SaaS (software-as-a-service) provider instead of an IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) provider. In other words, rather than renting space on a virtual machine where you setup and configure your own site, BigCommerce provides you with an app you login to that creates and online store.

If you’ve ever been worried about the tremendous amount of power large data centers consume, you might want to sign up with Green Geeks. The "green" in the company’s name reflects the Green Geeks’ commitment to the environment. It purchases three times the energy it actually uses in wind energy credits, essentially putting energy back into the economy. The company does this through a form of renewable energy certificates, which, while a bit complicated, means that it’s not just energy neutral, i’s actually helping fuel the green energy economy.

Just because it’s green doesn’t mean it limits your power to do what you need with your websites. Rather surprisingly, its low-end account provides both SSH and WP-CLI (useful for automated WordPress deployments) access, along with Git preinstalled. It’s also possible to customize PHP and PHP.INI, a capability unheard of on a low-end plan.

The company doesn’t list a virtual private server offering, but they bill their Elastic Sites service as a VPS alternative, offering the ease of use of a simple shared hosting plan and the performance and scalability of a VPS. GlowHost also offers a number of different cloud hosting plans, with special attention to providing enterprise-grade services.

GlowHost picked up major points for their 91-day money-back guarantee. They were six days short of DreamHost’s 97-day guarantee, but with these numbers, who’s quibbling over a few days? The company also picked up points for their 24/7/365 phone support option and free cPanel offering for most plans. The company operates 18 datacenters worldwide. Finally, the company gains major points by driving all its hosting services with wind power. See it at Glowhost

They got other customer-centric bonuses for 24/7 support, including 24/7 toll-free callback phone support, free domain name and SSL certificates for as long as you remain a MochaHost customer, a website builder with 500 free templates (and a service that will custom-design your site if you need), a site migration service. In addition, all plans are e-commerce ready and come with free shopping cart software.

For the more enterprise-oriented customers, they offer a full range of VPS and cloud hosting, along with serious Java Tomcat hosting, including shared and private JVMs, as well as Java VPS offerings. With a company named MochaHost, you’d expect some quality Java support and they have it. So brew yourself a cuppa, open a browser window, and give MochaHost a spin. You have half a year to make up your mind, so if it turns out MochaHost really isn’t your cup of tea, they’ll understand. See all MochaHost Plans

What sets the company apart is their first-year hosting price of less than a buck a month. The company’s least expensive plan is a startlingly-low 80 cents a month. This is the least expensive hosting program we’ve seen, although the price does go up after that first year. In fact, most of the company’s plans increase after their promotional price expires.

Once you choose your provider, it’s time for you to open an account with the monthly plan that fits your needs. If you still have questions about which plan is suitable for you, call their customer support staff and have them assist you through the registration process. Companies will generally charge a credit card on a monthly basis, however, some companies will also offer discounts for paying a yearly payment at once.

People often think that a web host is the main cause of a slow website but, this is often not the case. When picking a provider, it’s important for find a hosting provider that is close to your users and has a good amount of RAM and fast CPU power. Beyond that, it’s often the way the website is set up that slows it down for users. To ensure that your website speed is optimal for users you need to make sure you pay attention to the following: