The Best Web Hosting for Small Business

The Best Web Hosting for Small Business
Eric Goldschein
on April 16, 2018
Read in 10 min

If you’re about to launch a new business website, then you’re probably thinking about the number of pages you intend to create and the types of content you’ll provide. But there’s something else that you need to get right first before delving into these other matters, important though they may be. You need to find one of the best web hosting for small business providers because this element of your operations will have a long-lasting impact on achieving your goals.

Don’t worry if you’re unfamiliar with the web hosting landscape. We’re here to help you narrow down the myriad options available, and in fact, we’ve been able to identify three of the best organizations for small business web hosting.

Types of Web Hosting for Small Business Success

There are three general kinds of website hosting services: shared hosting, dedicated hosting, and cloud hosting. They each have their own advantages and drawbacks, and the decision of which one to get will depend on the size and nature of your enterprise.

Shared hosting involves many websites being hosted on the same server. There are usually restrictions placed on storage space, bandwidth, domains, and the other elements of a website. Shared hosting is the most inexpensive of these three options.

With dedicated hosting, your site will have its own separate computing hardware that won’t be divided up among multiple customers. This is best if you have a huge amount of traffic: more than could be adequately served with a lower-end hosting arrangement. However, the drawback is the cost, which can be prohibitive.

Cloud hosting is a kind of hybrid between shared and dedicated hosting. It distributes the serving load for multiple web pages across many physical computers. Thus, it doesn’t provide the site-specific hosting hardware that dedicated hosting does; yet, it does possess some ability to scale up via the cloud to a certain extent.

The Right Kind of Hosting for You and your Small Business

If you’re building a new website, then shared hosting is probably the way to go. You won’t find yourself overpaying for horsepower you don’t need, and the money you save could almost certainly be devoted toward more pressing business matters. If traffic grows to the point that shared hosting becomes inadequate, then you can always upgrade to cloud or dedicated hosting later on.

You’ll want to select a web hosting company that’s honest, reliable, and affordable. It will have to serve up your pages rapidly enough so that your users don’t get frustrated and go elsewhere. Also, you’ll want to select a provider that has solid enough infrastructure that downtime is kept to a minimum. Finally, it’s useful to find a host with a variety of service levels so that you have the flexibility to switch plans whenever appropriate without having to migrate to a new hosting firm.

3 of the Best Shared Web Hosts for Small Businesses

We’ve identified three web hosts that will allow you to get started with shared hosting for a small investment while still preserving your ability to upgrade to a beefier hosting solution should your needs increase in the future. All of these organizations are trustworthy, reputable and reasonably priced.

#1 BlueHost

BlueHost, founded in 2003, is one of the most widely used web hosting organizations with more than 2 million websites calling it home. A large firm, it employs more than 750 people.

BlueHost Shared Hosting Plans

The lowest tier of shared web hosting at BlueHost is called Basic, and you can get it for $3.95 per month if you spring for a three-year plan. However, the price rises to $5.45 monthly if you sign up for only a year. Basic restricts you to a single website, 50 GB of storage, five email accounts with 100 MB each, and 25 subdomains.

To remove these limitations, you must opt for one of the more expensive Plus or Prime memberships, which will each set you back $5.95 per month for a three-year program. At either of these higher levels of service, you’ll get $200 in marketing offers, which are not provided with Basic service.

BlueHost Freebies

Regardless of which option you select, you’ll get a free domain when you register your account. Moreover, you’ll be able to cancel within 30 days for a refund of the money you paid. When it’s time to renew your subscription for BlueHost shared hosting, the price you must pay will increase beyond that of the initial term.

One area in which BlueHost is currently behind the times is in migrating existing websites over. Whereas many hosting firms provide this service for free as an enticement to potential new customers, BlueHost actually charges $149.99 to move your pages from your previous host. This won’t matter if you’re creating a brand-new website, but it’s a huge drawback if you already have a site that you want to move.

BlueHost Hosting Details

According to all the information we’ve seen, BlueHost is among the top ranks of web hosts when it comes to speed. This is a vital component of visitor acquisition and retention because slowly loading web pages often cause users to go elsewhere. In terms of reliability, BlueHost also scores well with uptime metrics in excess of 99.95%.

You may have heard less than flattering things about BlueHost’s speed and dependability in the past, and they might have been true at one point. A major server upgrade in 2017 addressed these issues, and these troubles have largely been put in the rear-view mirror.

BlueHost supports  a range of advanced functions for power users, including:

  • Secure shell access
  • Log file viewing
  • Cron job customization

If you intend to use WordPress for your site, then you’ll be pleased to discover that BlueHost prides itself on its WordPress features, which have led to the company being named an official WordPress recommended hosting provider. There are even WordPress experts on staff to answer any of your queries about this open-source content management system.

Speaking of customer support, you can get in touch with them at all hours of the day through live chat, phone, email and a ticketing feature. The support staff seems to be a bit hit or miss; there are plenty of knowledgeable agents who can answer your questions accurately, but there are sometimes delays and incomplete or incorrect information given. If you’d rather help yourself, then you can browse through the extensive collection of articles in the knowledgebase.

If you’re satisfied with BlueHost shared hosting, then you may wish to explore its cloud product, which starts at $6.95 per month. For even stronger hosting performance, there’s dedicated hosting available starting at $79.99 a month.

BlueHost doesn’t really provide much in the way of additional perks, but what it does deliver is rock-solid server performance at competitive prices. Join up at BlueHost today if this sounds appealing to you and you’re in search of web hosting for a small business.

BlueHost Summary:

Speed: A+

Reliability: A

Security: A

Support: B+

 

#2 SiteGround

SiteGround‘s website states that it has 1.7 million hosted domains: an impressive total for sure. This Bulgarian company has grown from nothing in 2004 to become a big player in the independent web hosting game.

SiteGround Shared Hosting Plans

There are three levels of shared hosting service at SiteGround: StartUp, GrowBig and GoGeek. The main way that this provider differentiates these accounts is by storage space. At the StartUp level, you’re limited to only 10 GB of storage and can only host one single website. On GrowBig and GoGeek, the restriction to a single website is lifted, but you’re still capped at 20GB and 30GB of storage respectively. As your site grows, you may find it expanding beyond these rather small capacities, but they should suffice for any new web project.

The pricing for these three tiers of service is as follows: StartUp for $3.95 per month, GrowBig for $5.95 per month and GoGeek for $11.95 per month. In order to obtain these enviable prices, though, you must sign up for one year or longer. It is possible to take things one month at a time, but in that case, you will be charged a setup fee of $14.95, which partially nullifies the normally low cost of shared web hosting.

SiteGround Freebies

SiteGround doesn’t really throw in a ton of extras with your subscription, but everything that you really need is there, including a free SSL certificate and free, unlimited email addresses along with daily backups of your site.

You may be surprised to discover that SiteGround doesn’t give you a free domain upon signup. This doesn’t matter if you already have a domain that you’d like to use, but otherwise, you’ll have to buy a new one.

One perk that’s standard at SiteGround but for which you may have to pay extra elsewhere is free use of the Cloudflare content delivery network. This is a service that caches your content on remote servers around the world and then forwards it to your visitors from whichever location is fastest. Customers at the two highest subscription levels, GrowBig and GoGeek, additionally benefit from SiteGround’s proprietary SuperCacher software to optimize website loading.

It has become increasingly common for hosting organizations to provide a visual website builder package to help their clients create pages even if they lack coding experience. SiteGround does have such a solution available, but it’s the free version of the well-known Weebly suite, and it comes with certain restrictions, like the inability to upload HD video to your pages.

SiteGround Hosting Details

While the freebies that you get when you join SiteGround may be a bit underwhelming, these complimentary gifts are not what people are mainly looking for in a host. What’s most important is the serving performance.

SiteGround actually has four data centers in:

  • Chicago
  • London
  • Amsterdam
  • Singapore

You get to choose the server that you want your pages hosted on, which means you can select the one that best fits the areas that your visitors tend to come from. This, in combination with its Cloudflare integration, NGINX technology and other innovations, allows SiteGround to deliver your content much faster than most other hosts.

In the area of reliability, SiteGround also excels. It guarantees 99.9% uptime, but the company is actually lowballing its capabilities here. Independent, third-party reviewers have confirmed that it easily beats the 99.9% metric and, in many months, achieves an uninterrupted service record of 99.99% or higher. Its in-house tech, like proactive server monitoring and anti-bot protocols, help SiteGround reduce downtime to almost nothing.

If you intend to manage a WordPress site, then you’ll be sure to appreciate the special features that SiteGround offers for this CMS package, like automatic updates to your installation, including plug-ins. There are even dedicated WordPress support personnel who are experts in resolving any WP-related issues. Not for nothing is SiteGround named as one of only three official hosting partners on WordPress.org.

If you should encounter any problems during your time at SiteGround, it’s easy to contact customer service agents via live chat, telephone and a website ticketing system. Demonstrating its international street cred, SiteGround offers support in three languages: English, Spanish and Italian. By all accounts, the highly knowledgeable workers here have the ability to address user concerns speedily, and they provide answers that are deep and relevant. There’s also a comprehensive knowledge base if you wish to read up on how to solve your own problems.

Beyond shared hosting, SiteGround also offers cloud hosting starting at $80 a month and dedicated servers from $269 a month. Thus, if your web hosting for small business requirements increase going forward, you’ll have potential upgrade paths available.

We believe that most of our readers would be best served by signing up for SiteGround, our #1 pick for shared web hosting. In the unlikely event that you try it out and are not pleased with what you get, you can take advantage of the 30-day money back guarantee on all hosting packages. So there’s nothing to lose by giving SiteGround a chance.

SiteGround Summary:

Speed: A

Reliability: A+

Security: A

Support: A+

 

ipage email hosting

#3 iPage

iPage has been around since 1998, and it underwent a major overhaul in 2009 to improve its capabilities. This shared web host serves more than one million websites.

iPage Shared Hosting Plans

iPage’s greatest competitive strength lies in its low pricing: ideal for small business web hosting where extra cash may be tight. There’s only a single service plan for shared web hosting, and it costs only $1.99/mo. for a three-year period. Two years of hosting will set you back $2.49/mo. while it costs $2.99/mo. to sign up for iPage for a single year.

When it’s time for renewal, these rates will increase dramatically, but for the initial term of service, iPage provides solid shared web hosting for the cost. You can check out iPage today and see if you like it. If not, simply cancel within 30 days for a full refund.

iPage doesn’t put any limits on pretty much anything you do with your web pages. You have unlimited bandwidth, storage space, domains, databases and email addresses. This is, of course, subject to commonsense interpretation. Notwithstanding that these resources are listed as “unlimited,” if you abuse this policy, your account may be suspended.

iPage Freebies

With your new iPage account, you’ll get a variety of complimentary goodies. First of all, you’ll be able to pick a new domain and get it free for a year. Next, iPage provides you with $100 in marketing credits for Google and another $100 to use with Bing. This free ad money gives you the possibility of boosting your search traffic, which can be quite useful for a fledgling website.

There’s a website builder to help get you started if you don’t wish to delve into HTML and CSS code yourself. However, it’s based on the third-party Weebly platform and comes with certain restrictions, like only being able to create six pages unless you pay to upgrade it.

This brings up one of the downsides to iPage: There are many points at which the company will try to sell you optional upgrades. In some cases, additional items will be added to your cart, which you’ll have to remove manually if you don’t want them. It’s kind of understandable that the organization wishes to supplement the income it gets because its regular web hosting pricing is so low, but these upselling tactics can become annoying.

iPage Hosting Details

In the realm of performance, iPage is a mixed bag. Records show that its servers (located in the Eastern United States) achieve more than 99.95% uptime, which is great. However, website speed, while not especially slow, isn’t swift enough to make iPage among the fastest hosts out there. The technology used in the web serving infrastructure at iPage includes:

  • Two data centers
  • UPS power backups and generators
  • Cisco routers running the advanced BGP4 protocol
  • SiteLock anti-hacker and anti-malware security software

iPage’s help section consists of 24/7 phone, chat, and email support. In addition, there’s knowledgebase that you can use to find the answers yourself, but it’s a fairly bare-bones affair with only a few documents and articles present.

If you want to acquire more powerful hosting at some later point, then you can obtain cloud-based VPS hosting starting from $19.99 per month and a dedicated server from $119.99 per month.

We feel that iPage deserves a close look by anyone looking to establish a new web presence especially if the price is a major concern. Remember that if you purchase iPage web hosting and it fails to live up to your expectations, you can cancel within 30 days and get a full refund.

iPage Summary:

Speed: B-

Reliability: A

Security: A-

Support: B

Start Your Website Adventure Today

The World Wide Web is an indispensable avenue for reaching out to your customers and giving them accurate information on what your enterprise is all about. Start off on the right foot with your website by partnering with one of the sites on our list of the best web hosting for small business. For a small monthly payment, you’ll get dependable performance, plenty of support resources, and the flexibility to move up to more a robust hosting platform if warranted.

BlueHost, SiteGround, and iPage all allow you to cancel your service within a specified timeframe if you’re not satisfied. There’s, therefore, no risk involved, so there’s no reason to hold off on exploring their worthwhile shared web hosting offerings. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll reap the rewards of establishing a winning website.

Eric Goldschein Finance Journalist

Eric Goldschein is a freelance journalist who covers entrepreneurship, small business trends, emerging technologies, culture and sports.

He was previously the managing editor of SportsGrid.com, and has written for Business Insider, Trep Life, the Huffington Post, Fundera and more.

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