Best web hosting for small businesses – Mashable
It’s vital that your small business has a website. For many companies, it’s potentially even more essential than a physical presence in the form of a shop or office building. A business website doesn’t necessarily need to be expansive, complicated, or even expensive to launch, but you do need some kind of web presence. After all, many users flock to Google first when trying to find a new product or service they require.
As the name suggests, web hosting is where your website is hosted. It’s the home of your site, which means the speed of your site and its reliability depend upon the web hosting service you choose. It’s crucial then that you pick a host carefully. Much like you wouldn’t want your business to have an ugly storefront, nor do you want your web presence to be unappealing. It can be a daunting process to set up your site online, though, especially if you’re not tech-savvy.
Read on and we’ll explain everything you need to know about finding the best web hosting for small businesses, so that you can set up an online store or simply an online presence with the minimum of hassle.
Each web hosting provider offers a different service and set of features, but they also offer different ways of hosting too. Broadly, these can be divided up into four main categories: Shared hosting, VPS, Dedicated, and Cloud Hosting. Shared hosting is the cheapest out there because it means that your website is hosted alongside other sites. This tends to mean that speeds are slower because you can be impacted by the performance of the other sites on the server. You also don’t tend to have as many features made available to you. However, it’s ideal for a small business that just wants to have an online presence in some way.
VPS hosting and Cloud hosting are quite a similar type of hosting service in that your website is still hosted alongside others. However, the number of other sites is typically smaller in number and you get the benefit of a virtual private server which usually means more flexibility and general performance, for a price.
The most expensive but highest-end form of web hosting is dedicated hosting. This type of web host offers the best speed, performance, security, and uptime, but it comes at a substantial cost as you’re provided with a whole server dedicated to your website. For a small business, this is almost always overkill.
For most small businesses, the cost is a considerable part of the decision-making process when buying web hosting. (Check out our cheap web hosting services roundup for more on that.) You need to consider purchasing web hosting, a domain name, as well as potential add-ons like an SSL certificate (if you’re selling online). Some web hosting comes with all that included, while others add it on as you purchase.
Ease of use is essential too, with an intuitive control panel making the process much smoother, as well as excellent customer support. If you plan on selling products through your website, you’ll need to look out for features that enable you to set up an ecommerce website with some hosts offering special packages for an ecommerce store. Some web hosting also offers built-in page builders so you can get a website built within hours by picking out a theme rather than editing the design yourself.
Speed is also something to take into account as a slow loading site is off-putting to customers and can affect your search engine ranking. Reliability is essential too although all the hosting companies we’ve listed here are highly reliable and offer very high uptime.
HostGator is a welcoming web host in many ways. Simple to use, you can register for a single domain, shared hosting, and unlimited bandwidth within seconds. It’s very cheap too with a free SSL certificate tossed in for added security. It’s the kind of business hosting that should work for the majority of users until they feel the need to upgrade to a dedicated server or VPS, which are also available here.
When it comes to customer support, it’s available 24/7 via phone and live chat, so you’re good to go at all times, even if you’re working during some unsociable hours. A drag-and-drop site builder, as well as one-click WordPress setup, means you can get a website launched quickly, although keep in mind you’ll need to pay for a business plan to gain SEO tools, which could be helpful. Uptime is consistently 99.9% and guaranteed to stay that way, so you won’t have to worry about your site going down at a key time.
Recommended by WordPress itself, Bluehost is a great option if you know you want your business site to run on a WordPress installation. For a low price, Bluehost offers unmetered bandwidth across all its plans, along with a free SSL certificate. The basic plan only provides 50GB of storage but it’s SSD-based which means faster speeds for your website.
One of the best things about Bluehost is that it’s great at helping out beginners. If you’re not tech-savvy, this is a great place to go, thanks to extensive guides and one-click solutions so you’re never intimidated. 24/7 customer support via phone, email, and live chat means you’re only moments away from extra assistance via a human being. Like many web hosting providers though, bear in mind that things can get expensive if you only commit to a one-year plan rather than the better value three-year option.
Liquid Web is a strong candidate if you need VPS, Cloud, or Dedicated server options. While the company now offers managed WordPress installations, its strengths most lie in the advanced solutions it provides. Beginners will be intimidated by the need to understand how various features work, and you’ll need a website ready to upload, since there’s no website builder, but it’s ideal if you know what you’re doing.
Liquid Web is great for fast performance, guaranteed 100% uptime, and all the security features you could possibly imagine. Its services will protect your website from DDoS attacks, amongst many other things, and your site will always run quickly. Liquid Web is also able to offer 24/7/365 support via phone, email, or live chat. It won’t be for every business, given the high prices and complex needs, but if you know what you’re doing, this is the provider for you.
Designed with WordPress in mind, WPEngine isn’t an all-in-one solution like some web hosting. It lacks the option to add on a domain while you’re purchasing, as well as email accounts. If you know what you’re doing though and don’t mind going elsewhere for a domain name, it’s a good cloud-based hosting service. That’s partly thanks to its fantastic speeds and performance, including a content delivery network (CDN) which ensures faster page loading for you and your customers. That also means the chance for higher search engine rankings.
You’ll require a bit of prior knowledge though, as WPEngine isn’t quite as intuitive as some of its competitors — but it’s worth it. It’s well optimized for WordPress and has fantastic uptime with daily backups ensuring you won’t lose valuable content. A staging area is great for planning ahead too without any disruption. If you know what you’re doing, you’ll be happy with WPEngine.
DreamHost is a well-known name in web hosting fand or a good reason — it’s very reliable. So reliable, in fact, that it promises 100% uptime for shared hosting plans — an attractive (and unusual) claim to make. On the Shared Starter plan, you get that promise, unlimited traffic, bandwidth, and fast SSD-based storage for better performance. Email is an optional extra, so you need to factor that into the cost, but it’s still pretty low.
There’s also extensive WordPress support here with a website builder app built-in, free WordPress migrations, and WordPress pre-installed. A free SSL certificate means your business will be secure. Just remember that if you’re a big fan of live chat and don’t like phone support, chat is only available during select hours each day.
If you simply require an online presence, Hostinger is perfect. Its cheapest plan starts at only $1 per month and gives you enough bandwidth to keep your website ticking along, as well as an all-important SSL certificate, although you’ll need to buy your own domain name. Ideally, you’ll want to upgrade to a higher-end package if you’re going to do more with your website, but it’s a great place to start.
Whatever plan you choose, there are one-click install options and an easy website builder so you can build a landing page in hardly any time. 24/7 tech support is a useful bonus too, plus uptime is near-perfect. Prices rise steadily after the first year, and you may need a better plan for things like domain names and speedier performance, but that’s precisely why the basic service works just right for those who need a minimalist website.
GoDaddy isn’t quite the cheapest but it’s arguably the simplest web host out there. That’s because it offers a free one-click WordPress install across all its plans as well as GoDaddy’s page builder facility if you wish to set up a non-WordPress site. You’ll also get a one-click install of over 150 free apps so you can easily build up your site exactly how you want without needing to know much about web design and coding.
Other features include 100GB on the basic plan and unlimited storage for everything else, along with unmetered bandwidth across the board, a free domain, and speed boosts for the Ultimate and Maximum plans. Just bear in mind that you only get a free SSL certificate on the latter two plans so you may need to factor that into your budget.