Planning Your Web Hosting Purchase
Different websites have different needs – your ultimate goal as a website owner should be choosing the one web host that works best for your website. You need to first understand what do you actually need for your website.
Questions to ask before buying a web host
So before you go any further – put everything aside and think about the following questions:
- What kind of website are you building?
- Do you want something common (a WordPress blog, perhaps)?
- Do you need Windows applications?
- Do you need support for a specific script (e.g. PHP)?
- Does your website need special software?
- How big (or small) can your web traffic volume go?
Picture in your mind what you want your website to be now, then build on that idea until you’re roughly 12 months ahead of that. Don’t just consider what you want to offer, but also what may want or need.
This ultimately boils down to one very simple fact: How much server resources will your website need?
If you are running a personal blog or small to medium website, it is unlikely that you will require the extra capabilities of a VPS host. If you are running a large business server or carrying out a lot of eCommerce activities, then a VPS or dedicated server may be needed to manage a larger volume of traffic as well as for the extra reliability.
At the end of the day, each choice has its own cost level and features, even among the two categories of web hosting I’ve described here. Attention needs to be paid to detail and matched with the requirements of your website.
Recommended Hosting Solutions for Different Scenarios & Use Cases
In the following section, we will recommend different web hosting packages for various use cases.
Which Web Host is Best for Beginners?
If you are a beginner, we recommend hosting provider that is affordable and easy to start with. Instant account activation, an easy-to-use control panel, comprehensive user guide, and helpful technical support that’s always ready to help are important requirements.
Which Web Host is Best for Hosting Multiple Websites?
If you own many smaller sites and wish to host them together – it’s best to go with an affordable hosting solution that allows unlimited website – this put A2 and Hostinger in the strategic spot.
Hosting plans to consider include:
Note that some web hosts limit the number of websites you can host in one account. Premium providers like Kinsta charge expensive monthly fees to host additional website – avoid these hosting if you are running multiple websites with little traffic.
Which Web Host is Suitable for Developers?
Most web hosting providers don’t offer much in the way of developer tools for cheaper hosting packages. A2 Hosting and InterServer are the rare exceptions that do. For those looking towards VPS hosting, most environments are configurable.
Which Web Host is Best for Small Businesses?
A great small business hosting should have stable uptime, fast loading speed, reasonable cost, and features that help your business to grow. Business websites usually need enhanced security requirements (dedicated SSL certificates, 2FA logins, etc) and special eCommerce applications to support the business. Hence hosting with specialty support on those features would be a big plus.
If you are running a small business, consider using the following hosting solution:
- A2 Hosting Drive ($5.99/mo) – Host unlimited websites, free SSL, upgrade to Turbo Boost, support all popular eCommerce applications including Magento, PrestaShop, and WooCommerce. For a new Online Store – A2 Hosting Drive is a good place to start.
- Hostinger Premium ($2.99/mo) – Host 100 websites for up to 25,000 visits monthly, free SSL certificate, free domain, free Google Ads credit.
- ScalaHosting ($3.95/mo) – Highly scalable and suitable for wide range of usages. ScalaHosting offers shared and virtual hosting from their in-house data centers as well as cloud hosting powered by Digital Ocean and Amazon AWS infrastructure.
For more choosing guide, read Best Small Business Hosting
Best Managed WordPress Hosting
During your search, you might came across numerous Managed WordPress Hosting and found that in some cases, prices of these WordPress Hosting Plan are way higher than the average.
Such big price difference is mainly due to a number of WordPress-focused and advanced server features, including specialized caching mechanism, WordPress developer-friendly environment, SFTP and SSH access control, HTTP/2 HTTP/3 and NGINX Proxy server, and WordPress Expert supports. These features may be a necessity for users operating high-traffic WordPress sites, development / marketing agencies, or mid-size businesses.
For advanced WordPress users looking for a Managed WordPress Hosting, consider starting with:
- Kinsta Starter ($30/mo) – Support one-click staging setup, WP-CLI, in-house performance monitoring dashboard, free host migration, and powered by Google Cloud Platform.
- WP Engine Startup ($25/mo) – WP Engine is not listed in my best hosting list but they are a notable (and cheaper) alternative to Kinsta. The biggest disadvantages I didn’t like about WP Engine is their lack of white-glove site migration support.
Which Web Host is Suitable for Writers / Artists / Personal Websites?
For individuals building a simple website, choosing a hosting provider that saves time is top priority. An easy-to-use site builder (to put up and maintain a site quickly), webmail (to communicate with clients and publishers), and affordable price tag are your three most important requirements.
- Hostinger Single Shared Package ($1.99/mo) – Hostinger’s low price tag makes them a perfect fit for individuals who are building a non-commercial or simple portfolio website. Some domain extensions are 30% – 50% cheaper at Hostinger. You can use Hostinger Domain Checker to search and register your domain name for as little as $0.99/year!
Note that the term “individual with a simple website” includes most freelancers and hobbyist websites. Whether it’s to publish your CV or promote your “personal brand” or to build a writing portfolio or to create a gallery website for your photography business – the recommended hosting plan above should be right for you.
Which Hosting Package is Suitable for Teachers?
For teachers running educational websites, consider:
- A2 LMS Hosting ($2.99/mo) – A2 offers Learning Management System (LMS) Hosting plans at very affordable price; you can host Omeka, Chamilo, or Claroline eLearning platform for as low as $2.99/mo.
- InMotion Hosting ($2.29/mo) – InMotion runs an EDU program to provide professional teachers with free hosting and students with 50% discount.
Given the significant surge in remote everything, it comes as no surprise that the education sector finds itself with some interesting solutions. There are many websites specific to this sector now coming more brightly under the spotlight.
For example, even individual teachers can work to help their students by setting up a Learning Management System (LMS). Of course, it’d be better if it was done at the institution level, but hosting companies are making it simpler and more affordable for everyone.
A2 Hosting, for example, offers dedicated educational hosting plans that are custom-made for this purpose. They’re cheaply priced to reflect the use case while retaining that solid A2 Hosting quality.
Other web hosts have also joined the foray. InMotion runs an EDU program to provide teachers with free hosting and students with steep discounts (from $2.49/mo). Hostinger doesn’t have such plans but sponsors a college scholarship.
Which Web Hosting Package is Best for Users with Tight Budgets?
When searching for a cheap web host – it’s important to be aware that your initial signup fees and free domain do not represent your long term hosting costs.
For users looking for low-cost hosting solution, we recommend:
- Hostinger Premium Shared – Reasonable long term hosting costs for hosting 100 sites; signup at $2.99 per month.
- TMD Hosting Business – Not in our “best hosting” list but still a great host not to be missed. Cloud Package comes with 60 days free trial; signup at $4.95 per month and renewal at $8.95 per month.
Some hosting providers offer steep sign-on discounts which are hard to resist but jack up their prices significantly when it’s time to renew your plan. Keep this in mind when you are choosing and counting the potential cost of a web host. Make sure that you also check out your package renewal fees before signup.
Best Web Host for Websites with Worldwide Traffic
For users running a website with worldwide traffic, the best solution is to pick a hosting company with data center that is close to your primary audience.
Latency is a certain part of your website loading time. By improving the latency (choosing to host closer to your audience), your website loading time will improve significantly. In other words, if majority of your audience is located in the same country or region, it’s best to host your website closer to them.
This explains why server location is an important factor for users hosting an “International” website. In such, consider:
- ScalaHosting Managed VPS ($14.95/mo) – You get to run their website on in-house data centers in Dallas (US), New York (US), Sofia (Bg); OR integrated DigitalOcean and Amazon AWS data centers which cover all major cities around the world including Bangalore, London, Singapore, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Toronto, and more.
What is latency?
To understand what makes a hosting provider best for a specific location – say England or Singapore or Brazil, we need to discuss about latency.
Latency is the time span of a server receiving and processing a user-made request.
Consider it like a flight – When an English visitor access a website hosted in the Australia, his requests fly from England – Middle East – Asia – Australia – Asia – Middle East – England to return a result. The flight time is the latency of that website.
If that particular website is hosted in England, the requests would have flown inside England only, minimizing the travel time.
To see how latency happens in real life, here’s an example.
To monitor hosting server performance, we host various test sites with hosting companies. The following image is the speed test results for one of our test sites hosted in United States (East Coast). The speed is tested from 10 locations using a free tool named Bitcatcha.
From the screenshot, you can see that the server response time differed from location to location. The site loaded quickly (24ms) for test node in United States and loaded slower for test nodes in Singapore, India and Australia (439ms, 224ms and 196ms).
The closer your audience location is to your server, the lower latency it is.
Do you need a CDN?
If your website pulls in visitors from different countries worldwide, then – Yes, it is very likely that you need a content delivery network (CDN).
A content delivery network is a network of servers that deliver web pages and other content to users based on their geographical locations. In other words, it helps reduce latency.
Usually, it catches static content stored on the nearest possible server to the user’s geographical location. As the distance traveled by the data decreases, the delivery time (or the loading speed) improves.
For example, let’s say you are accessing a website from Mumbai, India. The primary server hosting this site is in London, UK. Owing to the vast physical distance, it will take considerable time for the website to load.
However, if the site is using a CDN, it will connect you to the nearest edge servers (CDN servers), which in turn, will retrieve the content from the original server.