Who is the best web hosting provider? We compare five of the top companies

Do you have an interesting project or a good idea for a website, and want to get it online right away? Not so fast! First, you’ll need a web hosting provider. With the market growing so quickly, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the choices available. As there are clear differences in price and performance, you must choose the provider that best suits your needs and/or specifications.

Comparison of five of the best hosting services

In 2018, 1&1 IONOS won the Hosting & Service Provider Award in the web hosting category in Germany. We will also introduce you to four other web hosting providers and see how they fare against the award winner (as of April, 2019).

  1&1 IONOS GoDaddy Bluehost HostGator Wix
Cost (per month) ca. $4–14 $2.99–24.99 $3.95–23.99 $2.75 (as part of 36-month contract), otherwise $10.95 Free (very basic), otherwise around $5–$28
Webspace (storage) 100 GB–500 GB 100 GB–unlimited 50 GB–unlimited Unmetered 500 MB–20GB
No. of included domains 1 1 1–unlimited 1–unlimited 1 (none in basic Connect Domain package)
SSL ✔ (only in Ultimate and Maximum packages)
PHP 7.3 7.2 7.3 5 and 7 ✘ (only supports HTML code)
WordPress
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1&1 IONOS

In Germany 1&1 IONOS is not only known for being a DSL and cell phone access provider: with over 20 years of experience, the company has one of the best web hosting portfolios on the market. Features include the HTTP/2 transmission protocol which has become a standard for web servers from 1&1 IONOS. Guaranteeing fast transmission of your data via a Content Delivery Network (CDN), your static content is delivered from whatever one of the 62 data centers worldwide is located closest to the user. The web space supports PHP 7.3 and up to 768 MB RAM for PHP scripts.

1&1 IONOS provides different levels of security including a Wildcard SSL Certificate that encrypts the transmission of your visitors’ sensitive data. DDoS Protection on the other hand, protects your website if cyber criminals attempt to paralyze it with a targeted attack. 1&1 IONOS detects the attack and initiates countermeasures at an early stage. Another feature is geo-redundancy, which ensures physical security as all data is mirrored in a second location that’s separated from the first. If one site fails, your website remains online. Both data centers meet the highest standards in data security.

1&1 IONOS also offers several solutions for beginners. With 1&1 IONOS MyWebsite you can quickly and easily create your own website. A WordPress hosting package is another option which gives users access to servers already equipped with pre-installed content management systems. Other options include ecommerce software for online sellers, and domains that can be purchased separately, although most packages already include one for 12 months.

1&1 IONOS offers three different packages, each of which delivers different levels of performance. With a starter package for $4 per month, you receive 10 GB of web space and can host one website. In the Expert package for $14 per month, you receive 500 GB of web space and can host up to 50 websites.

Summary

1&1 IONOS has ideal packages for both beginners and professional web designers. Decades of experience are reflected in the level of performance and security.

GoDaddy

GoDaddy is an American domain registrar and web hosting company.

GoDaddy uses the industry standard cPanel for its server backend and has customized it for simplicity. It makes the backend a lot easier to use than it originally was, but the disadvantage is that the user has to fork out an extra dollar a month for it. You can integrate GoDaddy’s hosting packages with so many other products (e.g. domain and email hosting), which is definitely a big plus. There’s easy 1-click setup, generous storage and bandwidth, as well as award-winning security so you don’t have to worry about any suspicious activities taking place, or DDoS attacks.

GoDaddy offers four packages: Economy, Deluxe, Ultimate, and Maximum. Economy is perfect for those starting out with one website and usually costs around $7.99 per month, but can be as low as $2.99 if there’s a sale on. Users receive 100 GB storage and unmetered bandwidth (GoDaddy doesn’t limit the amount of bandwidth as long as your website complies with the company’s hosting agreement). The Deluxe package costs $10.99 per month ($4.99 on sale), Ultimate costs $16.99 per month ($5.99 on sale), and Maximum costs $24.99 ($12.99 on sale), supporting multiple complex sites with high-resolution photos and videos.

The company regularly has offers on its products making them the cheapest on the market, but when you add on other products and apps, you will end up paying as much as you would with other web hosting providers. For example, you can add on a website backup feature for $2.99, which means your website is automatically backed up daily and is scanned for malware.

Summary

GoDaddy is a consumer and business friendly option, but lacks in a few areas such as the stingy email storage available in the cheapest plan. It is more suited to those who want to quickly set up a website since the tools it offers are basic.

Bluehost

Bluehost was founded in 2003 and has its headquarters in Utah. The popular hosting service already powers over two million websites worldwide.

What makes it one of the best web hosting services is that it offers five main types of hosting: shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated hosting, WordPress hosting, and cloud sites. Shared hosting is the best choice if you’re looking for something basic and not too expensive. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive option and is more suited to large businesses that require full control of their resources.

When it comes to shared hosting, the plans include Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro with prices ranging from $7.99 (or $3.95 on sale) to $23.99 (or $13.95 during a sale) per month. All plans include:

  • At least one domain (unlimited domains for the Plus package and above)
  • Backups (daily, weekly, and monthly)
  • Resource protection (technology that identifies websites with bad intentions and isolates them)
  • Scalability (the possibility to choose more powerful options when your website outgrows the previous option)
  • SSL certificates (provides a secure connection between the website and visitors, keeps personal data secure, and enables safe transactions).

You also have the option of upgrading your plan with advanced features in the form of add-ons. These include “SiteLock”, “CodeGuard”, and “Spam Protection” as well as others. There’s the “Build It For Me” feature where Bluehost’s team of professionals take the reins and create a website for you, so you can concentrate on other business activities.

Just like GoDaddy, Bluehost uses cPanel for its server backend, making it easy to configure and control your website.

Summary

Bluehost has so many options that there is definitely something for everyone, whether you want a basic package for your own personal website, or a powerful hosting package that can fulfill large scale company requirements.

HostGator

HostGator is a Texas-based provider, founded in late 2002. The company offers three web hosting packages: Hatchling Plan, Baby Plan, and Business Plan. The price of each plan depends on the duration of contract, for example, the Hatchling Plan can cost as little as $2.75 a month, but you have to commit to it for 36 months. If you prefer a month by month plan for easy cancelation, it’s $10.95 per month. A 45-day money-back guarantee is a good incentive for those considering HostGator, if you aren’t satisfied in the first 45 days, you’ll get a full refund of the contract amount.

The one-click installation makes the setup super easy and each package comes with at least one domain, unmetered bandwidth, and a free SSL certificate that provides security for your domains and subdomains. The Business Plan even comes with a dedicated IP and SEO tools, as well as an upgrade to Positive SSL security, which is backed by a $10,000 warranty.

The website builder provides a convenient way of creating a website to match your exact requirements with its drag-and-drop building experience. There’s a wide selection of themes and ready-made sections to help save you time and effort. The latest cPanel control panel is easy to get the hang of as well as being flexible.

HostGator runs on Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, meaning that it’s compatible with thousands of existing applications. You can create any type of website such as blogs, forums, CMS, e-commerce stores, and lots more. Customers will be happy to hear there’s a 99.9% uptime guarantee and around the clock support if anything should go wrong. The 500+ video tutorials and 680+ help articles that HostGator provides in its Online Support Portal could also come in handy.

Summary

HostGator is a little different from the other web hosting providers in that it offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, which is great for those not sure whether to take the plunge. It provides so much in its packages, and whatever it doesn’t offer can easily be added on. The service runs on several operating systems and is therefore extremely compatible.

Wix

Founded in 2006, Wix is an Israeli company that hosts over 119 million websites. Wix’s web hosting service is free for as long as you want, but if you require professional features such as your own domain name or priority support, then it’s best to opt for one of the premium plans. The web hosting company has four premium packages available: Connect Domain, Combo, Unlimited, and VIP. Prices range from around $5 to $28 and with the cheapest option, you have to accept that Wix branded ads will be displayed on your site. The bandwidth included with each package ranges from 1 GB to unlimited, and the storage from 500 MB to 20 GB. A free domain for the year is also included in all packages except the cheapest option.

With Wix’s packages, you’re able to enjoy free web hosting, premium support, and a customized favicon, which is a unique icon for your browser tab that you can use to brand your website. Google Analytics is included so you can track, analyze, and optimize your website’s traffic. “Connect a Custom Domain” enables you to replace your free Wix URL with your desired domain that you purchased from Wix, or one that you already own.

Wix’s website builder offers hundreds of different templates, so you can design your website exactly to your liking, whether it’s for blogging, business, e-commerce, etc. There’s also no need to worry about security since your website content is stored on secure servers located around the world. Users can enjoy 99.9% uptime, meaning the website is always up and running.

As with HostGator mentioned above, there’s a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied after 14 days, which isn’t as impressive as HostGator’s 45 days.

Summary

Wix gives you a lot of flexibility especially when it comes to designing your website. Although there is a free plan, which is adequate for building a basic site, if you want more features and your own domain, you should choose from one of the premium packages. There’s a money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied after 14 days.

What you should pay attention to when comparing hosting providers

When comparing hosting providers, the first thing you will probably look at is the price. It is very important to take a closer look at the price structure (for the companies presented in this web host comparison as well as for others) as although the monthly costs look too good to be true, you usually only get them this cheap if you pay the complete annual fee upfront. If you decide to pay monthly, the costs are usually higher. It helps to look out for any specials the web hosting companies have and how long these last.

You should also consider the security of your website. SSL Certificates, now based on TLS technology, are standard on the web and browsers like Google Chrome label websites without encryption and certificates as unsafe. Many web hosting providers include at least one free SSL certificate in their packages, however you can usually purchase additional certificates if needed. Other security features to look out for include DDoS protection and geo-redundancy, which is particularly important for eCommerce companies. If your website goes down, you may see a loss in sales.

The amount of storage space required depends entirely on the project you want to put online. For example, if it’s simply a “business card” that you want to use to introduce yourself or your company, you don't need a lot of storage space. Also blogs that don’t use large amounts of media files can be stored on small partitions. However, as soon as you plan larger projects with large files and large databases, you should ensure you have sufficient storage space in advance.

Another aspect to take into consideration is how much support the hosting company provides. Simple solutions for creating websites are the best options for beginners and modular systems or supported WordPress hosting can be extremely helpful. The amount of support is equally important for beginners and professionals. When can you reach a member of the support team should a problem occur? And which channel is the best to contact them on? In addition, many providers can help increase traffic to your website by automatically optimizing it for search engines.

Web hosting with a personal consultant

Fast and scalable, starting from only $1/month!

Free domain
Wildcard SSL
24/7 support
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Summary

In order to find the best web hosting service for you, you’ll first need to understand the needs of your project. So when comparing web hosting services, look at which provider has the right portfolio for you.


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