As a small-business owner in the throes of launching an e-commerce website, you probably know you need a Web hosting service. But you’re probably also overwhelmed by the enormous number of options available.
There are dozens of hosting companies to choose from, and many provide different levels of service, which gives way to all kinds of questions.
Will a shared hosting service suffice, or do you need dedicated hosting? Should you specialize in WordPress hosting? And what’s the difference between all of the available services?
This article will break down everything you need to know about choosing a Web hosting service for your business. That way, you can determine which service is the best fit for your situation.
The Different Types of Web Hosting
There are many different types of hosting, and the one that is best for your best business depends on your short- and long-term goals. You want a hosting service that will handle your current needs and will be able to grow along with your business.
Let’s look at some of the main types of Web hosting available.
Shared hosting is the least expensive type of Web hosting service. It’s exactly what it sounds like–you share the web hosting server with other businesses.
The amount of disk space and bandwidth you get with a shared service can be low, and you’ll be charged if you surpass your allotted amount. For that reason, shared hosting is only a good option for businesses with low website traffic.
Shared hosting can be an excellent place to start, but you probably don’t want to stick with it for too long. At some point, it will limit the growth of your e-commerce business.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress hosting is specifically designed for WordPress users and is typically much faster than generic shared hosting. It also tends to be more secure and offers better uptime.
However, it can be restrictive for users with highly customized WordPress sites, since many plugins may not be supported. And it does tend to be more expensive than other hosting options.
When you buy this hosting package, you’re purchasing a dedicated server for your business that you don’t share. This is important for sites that have heavy traffic or expect to have heavy traffic in the future. However, it does tend to be more expensive than shared hosting.
If you’re looking for a hybrid option, then a Virtual Private Server (VPS) may be a good option. VPS hosting mimics a dedicated server within a shared hosting environment.
VPS hosting is significantly cheaper than using a dedicated hosting service, but still provides similar bandwidth and disk space. However, it is more expensive than shared hosting, so you may be overspending if your site traffic doesn’t warrant the upgrade.
Plus, some hosts don’t allocate server resources for VPS as well as other services do. So doing your own research is crucial in making your final decision.
Cloud hosting is similar to VPS hosting in that your hosting is provided across a network of servers instead of just one. This type of hosting allows for significantly better uptimes for your e-commerce site. And it gives a more robust safeguard against DDoS attacks, which attempt to overwhelm your site with traffic to essentially shut the site down.
Things to Look for in a Hosting Provider
To find the best hosting services, we spoke to a variety of small-business owners. These individuals use varying types of hosting services, from shared to VPS and dedicated servers. We talked to them about the features they look for in a hosting provider.
The most common features customers named as important were cost, uptime, and support. The scalability of services and security were important as well.
We also did extensive research, read hundreds of online consumer reviews, and compared and contrasted dozens of services. Based on our research, here are the most important features you should look for in a hosting provider:
Website building tools
Free domain names
Ease of use
The Best Web Hosting Services in 2020
With all of that in mind, let’s review some of our favorite Web hosting services and why you should consider them for your e-commerce business.
Best overall Web hosting service
HostGator provides superior shared, cloud, WordPress, VPS, and dedicated Web hosting packages. And each of these services includes tiered plans, so you can choose the best service for your business.
The only downside is that HostGator only offers Linux servers for its VPS hosting. But its shared and dedicated packages provide both Linux and Windows servers. The service comes with unlimited storage, email, and monthly data transfers for all hosting tiers.
HostGator’s shared Web hosting plans start at less than $3 per month for the most basic service. These plans include a free domain for the first year, free SSL certification, and unmetered bandwidth.
The company recommends its Business Plan, which costs $5.95 per month. It comes with unlimited domains, a free dedicated IP, and free SEO tools.
HostGator’s dedicated hosting is comparably inexpensive, with its most basic service starting at $89.98 per month. This package comes with 1TB hard disk drive, unmetered bandwidth, and a Linux or Windows OS.
HostGator’s broad range of quality offerings allows you to start small and upgrade gradually over time without changing hosting providers.
Reliable customer service and support
Excellent uptime across a variety of hosting plans
Highly scalable hosting offerings
Solid website building tools
Unlimited data transfers
Check out our full HostGator review.
2. Liquid Web
Best dedicated hosting provider
You have to consider a lot of things when choosing a dedicated hosting service, especially if you’re a new business looking to grow. Liquid Web is the best dedicated hosting provider, especially for small businesses.
One of the things that truly stands out about Liquid Web is its customer support. The company offers around-the-clock service and promises to help you in less than a minute by phone or chat. They’ll get back to you in 30 minutes or less when you submit a help desk ticket.
This kind of support led John Gonzales, owner and principal of Trust Consulting Group in Austin, to choose Liquid Web to host his company’s website. According to Gonzales, Liquid Web provides the most value out of all the companies he considered.
“They were not the least expensive choice, but their product included many services that were add-ons with other firms,” he explains. “When we need an expert to help us, we know that they are available and willing to help.”
Liquid Web’s dedicated server hosting begins at $199 a month, offering four cores at 3.4 GHz, 32 GB RAM, 5TB bandwidth, and more. If you’re not ready to invest in a dedicated server, Liquid Web also offers Cloud VPS hosting for $29.50 per month.
Liquid Web is a company that can grow with your business, but you may want to have quite a bit of established Web traffic to justify the cost.
Excellent VPS and dedicated plans, with high-end specs
Solid customer support
Excellent scalability, disk space, security, and bandwidth
Check out our full LiquidWeb review.
Best all-in-one hosting service
If you’re just starting out and want to find everything in one place, GoDaddy is the hosting service for you. In addition to Web hosting, you’ll get access to domain names, SSL certificates, Windows 365, and online marketing tools.
The company provides excellent customer service, intuitive and flexible site building tools, and excellent uptime. In fact, Trust’s Gonzales uses GoDaddy to manage websites for about 50 of his clients.
“We needed a tool that was easy for a non-technical role to use,” Gonzales says. “While there are limitations with graphics, layouts, and integrations, it allows us to deliver a simple, customized website at a value price for our customers.”
GoDaddy offers robust site-building tools and a broad range of hosting plans to meet your needs. Basic Web hosting starts at $2.99 per month and comes with a free domain name, 100GB of disk space, unmetered monthly bandwidth, and up to 50 FTP users. The company offers both Linux and Windows server options.
Also, GoDaddy offers growth flexibility, so you can upgrade your services as your business grows. However, your domain name can only be used with GoDaddy hosting, so you can’t take it with you if you ever leave. And unlike HostGator, you won’t get free VoIP phone service.
24/7 customer support
Easy to use
Solid security, bandwidth, and disk space
Scalable services that can grow with your business
Check out our full GoDaddy review.
Best Web hosting for newbies
When it comes to price, ease of setup, use, and maintenance, it’s hard to beat BlueHost’s shared hosting service. It’s everything a new business could want.
At the time of this writing, BlueHost has a great introductory offer of $2.95 per month (regularly $7.99 per month). For that price, you get:
Unmetered website space
Free SSL certificate
Unlimited parked domains
Unlimited email accounts
Unlimited email storage
Site Backup Pro
BlueHost also offers 24/7 support, superior security, reliable uptimes, one-click WordPress installation, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Best of all, the company’s services are scalable, so you can upgrade your services as your business and site grow.
Other Options You Can Consider
We reviewed dozens of hosting services, and while they couldn’t all make our top four list, there are many great options. Here are several other services you can consider:
At one time, Rackspace was an industry leader, particularly for dedicated server hosting. But something seems to have changed in the last few years.
There are thousands of online complaints about how the company’s quality of service has gone downhill. The service is quite pricey and starts at about $10,000 per year, though you’ll have to request a quote to determine the exact cost for your business. For that reason, it didn’t make our list of best hosting services.
Like BlueHost, iPage is a good option for small businesses that are just getting started. The company offers unlimited bandwidth, disk space, and email accounts. However, there have been reports of uptime issues.
At the time of this writing, iPage offered an introductory rate of $1.99 per month (regularly $7.99 per month) with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Site Builder is an all-in-one hosting service with easy to use drag-and-drop tools and free templates. Its most basic shared hosting service costs $8.99 per month but doesn’t allow for an e-commerce store.
It doesn’t offer priority support either. You’ll need to upgrade to the $19.98 per month plan for these two features, which is expensive than other shared hosting services.
1&1 Hosting is an excellent service, especially for anyone looking for dedicated server hosting. The company offers Linux and Windows-based servers, exceptional customer support, adequate bandwidth, disk space, and excellent uptime.
It’s also an excellent choice for WordPress hosting. But unlike its competitors, 1&1 Hosting doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee, and you can’t code site templates unless you invest in higher tiers of service.
Amazon offers highly flexible, customizable hosting services at a range of prices, but the options can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. But if you know exactly what you need and have the technical savvy to put it all together, Amazon is a very flexible solution.
Pricing can be as overwhelming as the options. Because virtually anything is possible, you may start with what seems an inexpensive service and end up with something quite pricey.
If you run an e-commerce business, you need a website, and the right hosting provider can make building your site much more straightforward. Hopefully, this article gave you some good options to start with. But no two businesses are alike, so you’ll want to do your research to determine which hosting provider is best for you.
This article was updated on October 7, 2020.