Best Web Hosting in 2020
We tested the top 15 hosting providers in the UK
to help you save time and money.
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So what’s on the menu today... the best web hosting available right now, served just for you?
Alright boil the kettle, I’ve got you sorted ☕ Bob’s your uncle, here with another review from the UK heartland. You’ll have to indulge my “humour” a little.
This guide will provide simple answers. But—remember—behind every simple answer is a long laundry list of factors 📜
Just a few:
- Uptime (fancy word for non-dodgy)
- Customer support
- Speed ⚡
- Hard-won firsthand experience (ouchie)
Guide Revised January 2020
Some may say - “You’d need to have lost the plot—to go through all that. I’m running a business in cupcakes.. not meta-analysing server uptime scores.”
Fair point - if I might say. Hosting’s now a great screaming industry that’s expanded tenfold, featuring superb servicers and poncers alike. Mind the language there.
Guides like this are what any pro does: keeps an eye on the market, where money can be saved—learn more—and benefits made for my clients and you.. the reader.
“Ta?” you say. Well, your welcome. I’ll get my beer(s) 🍺 then, before I type away. Let's get into it.
Meet Your Tech Host
So the name’s Alex Williams, not Bob actually. Maker of puns (see above subheading). My official title is Front End Developer aka Person Paid to Code.
Building websites—taking responsibility for splendid guides like this that inform my UK residents, business owners, readers—these are my joys.
Save yourself going through swarms of new host providers, rising talents, server crashes.. save rummaging through shambling test-data. On with it. 😎 ➡
How This Guide Works – See Our Live Tracking
For the last three years we've tracked hosting uptimes and downtimes across over 15 major hosting companies.
I’ve ranked the sites in terms of overall recommendation, topmost one being best. That might not be true if you’re wanting something specific.
You’ll notice hosts are also ranked by category. Other than that I’ve trimmed the fat, kept the information nice and lean. See our other hosting reviews.
Final note: every host in this guide’s the best of the best. Some are just better than others, which is where details come into play.
Let the geekery begin. 🤓
One Quick Note....
Good decisions add up when making your business—from cost to speed to reliability.. Every Little Helps – Tesco knows this secret.
The Best Web Hosting Providers, Sorted By
General and Specific Needs
1. SiteGround – Best Overall / Best for WP
Does the cheap without the dirty.
Gourmet host 🍔 Michelin-worthy service without the cost 🔥. Alright, food analogy out of place.
Cost matters a lot to me, is my point. I’ve been there before—as a small start-up with little capital. Yet they’re solid as a rock—even recommended by WordPress, as mentioned in our SiteGround in-depth review.
Superb plans across the board. We’ll talk more about WordPress later. It’s just what you use to build/design your site.
Others big names are Drupal and Joomla. We call a site builder a Content Management System (CMS for short).
Why I’m a Fan, You Ask?
SiteGuard’s reputation. (Do not base on image).
Bad pun. You were warned. The Bulgarian company’s been around since 2004. Seen a steady growth.
Solid infrastructure. Top contender in the game, not yet money-hungry. Razor-edge features and free upgrades ☺
Lots to choose from, including a lovely data tracker to check your site’s progress. Small price in an ocean of goliath advertisers—a real.. catch?
Delivers the whole shebang: 24/7 customer service, unlimited traffic, fast loading speed.. that last one #FTW.
But.. “What Have You Done for me Late-ly?”
In this section we're going to look at each of the features offered in the various SiteGround plans.
#1. Creation Tools
Construction site tools?—No, your Web site.
WordPress/Weebly = two options that come part-and-parcel (You can also pay for premium versions. Simple install).
🤔 Knock something out quickly for your business card. Weebly is a drag-and-drop way to skip as much tech stuff as poss.
Create a site with a picture of a paintbrush gripped between your sparkling white—coffee-stain-resistant—teeth. Done. Check out these high-quality UK-based website builders to sparkle more.
Once you know your key info pieces—plus legally obtained pics—Weebly saves you time, getting you up and running. No fuss, no nonsense.
I normally recommend WordPress over drag-and-drop editors. To have a look at #bigboys 💪 scroll down past the main list.
#2. Excellent 24/7 Customer Service & Team Tools
To be a part of the great whole, eh.
On the ball. Customer support is always a god-send. SiteGuard seem to be enthusiastic on this aspect.
This team ethos extends to the layout: slick menus, organized—clean, concise. Let’s start with a standout tool.
Go to the account area, find the collaboration feature.. This one’s a close call for number 1 benefit.
The GrowBig/GoGeek plans give you this in your chosen domain (domain just means your website’s name).
If you’re managing people who all support different football teams—like me—then you’ll want solo login abilities.
Got a writer, editor, pro designer you call for updates from time to time? Splendid: just give them their defined user role, superb—no, crucial—for project management.
That’s the er point of the name I suppose: GrowBig. Easier to do that in a team. Create a registry of users, choosing what Site Tools they access.
Are you an agency, developer or designer? Send the sites you’ve created to your paying clients. Give what’s called a “White Label Access” handover.
With all of the above, the excellent support team’s happy to help in the process. Unless your team beat theirs last weekend.
#3. User Interface
Works simpler than the name sounds.
Now, just a last word on the user interface—here’s a screens:
SiteGuard originally used c-panel, which is the rather bland. You’d normally see it when logging into any host.
They’ve made a customized setup, screened above. The home screen’s stylish, miles more interactive.
Pin down your fave site tools to the dashboard. This type of usability should be the gold standard for all hosts imo.
Employing someone superb at another skill like guest blogging or photography but who hates tech?
Welcome to a home screen that’s more welcoming than c-panel. 👍 👍 Average non-techie user FTW.
#4. Loading Times
Sell your pizza like real fast food.
Still time for a final benefit. Couldn’t leave this out—nothing more I dislike than a website taking forever to load.
As the tiny text says, SuperCacher boosts your page loading times.
2. Hostinger – Best Discount
Both Cheap & Reliable
Uptime average: 99.1%
Cost: 80 pence/mo
Regular possibly £7.99/mo (more on that later)
When I did research for our Hostinger review, I was happy to find out that it was cheaper than a litre of lager with a 30–Day Money Back Guarantee thrown in...
In other words, these are the masters of marketing at the micro-budget level, which I’m not arguing with.
Please note: monthly costs change but you can secure two years at your chosen price if you’re willing to pay ahead.
Clear plan structure, super cheap at the small website/blog level. Grab a mid/top-tier plan get a domain for free.
Enough discounts to make you dizzy—there can’t be a money excuse not to get a host when Hostinger’s about.
It's one of the absolute best cheap web hosts around.
Why I’m a (Part-Time) Fan
The hidden truth.
I’ll just take a brief second to point out that these guys offer Bitcoin payment 👏 Bravo my boys. Absolutely bravo.
As the man responsible for this guide—and a crypto enthusiast—that’s a cool sign of innovation: loads of other options also available.
I’m just a tad hesitant to go full hog on recommending Hostinger as they’re a smaller user base, though they’ve been around since 2004.
But I’m also an entrepreneur. If your goal’s to start up by hook or by crook and your margins are by the pennies ➡ proceed
With a tad bit of caution. The discounts may put you at 80 pennies per month but usually you’re hooked into a 48 month deal, which may contain hidden stingers.
Eventually, the costs may hike up to say 6 or 7 squid a month—so read the small-print to avoid that surprise. Know exactly what’s in store.
Other than that.. they’re a Lithuanian company with about 29 million users, originally under the name Hosting Media.
As said in earlier in this guide, everyone on this list is a top dog. Hostinger’s reached international status—129 countries use them.
(You won’t find the same names: Hostinger goes under at least four different aliases, depending on the country).
Many companies use pricing gimmicks and schemes. You may prefer to save early then average the cost out later when on better footing.
“Am I Still Enough for You?”
#1. Actually Good Service
Get what you don’t pay for.
Get the basic features that you’d expect from any hosting provider. Scrap the tinsel and icing on the cake.
That’s what Hostinger offers: a no-thrills, fast service that gets you going. You won’t have think about it even if you’re near bankruptcy. Probably.
You also won’t have to worry about your site suddenly disappearing for a week, as they have a 99.1% uptime score or higher.
99.1% is still a good score. Remember, “uptime” is basically the same thing as reliable. Their load time is also surprising good.
This is probably the most important factor to think of when choosing a site. eCommerce sites might want to think carefully on this host.
I’ve also heard rumours of long drops in the past but as of recent, no—“they’re solid.. solid as a rock. That’s why they’re rated #2 on my list—for budgeting.”
Still, if your business relies on site sales then it’s generally wise to pay for the best uptime you can find. Cheap might not be cheerful in that instance.
#2. Speedy Gonzalez
They’re at the races. For sure.
Hostinger’s load time is 389ms average, which is ironically above the average for host providers.
Despite the lack of certain features that you find in other host providers, you can expect stability and speed for your site.
On the topic of features, let’s have a nip inside this CMS to continue to see what it has to offer. Not bad.
Fast page loading is a user’s dream. User clicks your page and—assuming no lag on the network end—it loads instantly.
Statistics show that—in the age of distractions—users click out of a page if it takes more than a few seconds to load.
Hostinger uses a 1000 Mbps connection to secure their loading, which is a very cool selling point.
* Over the last 16 months, they’ve been well ahead of the average for page loading times, if you were wondering.
#3. Customer Service Support for Different Languages
Once again, customer service is one of those things that you don’t need until you do, so I always stress it.
Say your URL stops working suddenly, rather than being left in the dark you can get inside eyes right away.
Speak to an agent through live chat—once logged into your account (if you don’t log in, live chat isn’t available).
Find it by clicking the smiley speech icon in the lower right side of the main page. It looks like this –
Boom—you’ll also be supported by a substantial database of Q&A articles, which can save a bunch of time in finding the specific solution.
#4. A 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Promises were made.
Try your luck with no risk. I doubt you’ll have site crashing of page loading issues, based on their track-record.
But perhaps you’re unsure on whether the features will be sufficient, or are concerned about compatibility issues with your CMS of choice.
I believe some of their services are non-refundable, so please have a look at their refund policy if you want to be safe.
#5. Free Doman name & Site Creator
To the business card enthusiasts who just want something up and running—Hostinger’s site creator’s right up your alley.
They give you a good selection of templates to choose from, based on theme and industry niche. Point and click.
It’ll populate a site for you, which you can just tweak and fill out: adding headlines, words and adding your own photos if you choose.
The domain name’s free too—yet another expense saved—though more than one domain does cost.
3. HostGator – Best Cloud
Because I Dream Big.
If you have any confusion about cloud computing—or other hosting types—scroll down to the supporting section of this guide. I break it all down simply. Moving forward, even if this is the first time you’ve delved into the world of hosting, you’ve probably heard of HostGator.
They have over a decade in the game and are about as professional as they get. You can expect lots of freebies: e.g. unlimited emails/disk space/bandwidth.
Easy WordPress installation: use the one-click install—does what it says on the tin. Another impressive freebie is over £70 in Google Adwords marketing credit to promote your site
Why It Has My Attention
Just kidding. They’re not just known due to their relentless marketing strategy in different mediums, and promotional deals.
The mega company has been around since 2002 and built serious infrastructure in that time to make pretty big guarantees.
Their datacentre is cutting-edge, with checks and balances in place that no single failure will put down the network. Very cool. They need more 😎 😎
You shouldn’t expect issues with traffic capabilities, uptime or loading speed—particularly not with their cloud hosting service (not to be confused with cloud storage options). This takes things to the next level.
Over 12,000 servers in fact, with high-end support. This is one of the biggest around. They’ve won multiple awards and overall consistent—a household brand.
“Are You Not Entertained?”
#1. Cloud Hosting
Cloud computing is mostly just called “the cloud,” which involves many computers or servers speaking in a virtual, non-physical space.
Because your virtual space can mimic having a quality dedicated server (see this guide’s supporting section), the level of security and speed are greater.
We call this a cluster cloud. HostGator’s cloud service is standout, letting you climb into a higher plane of performance and flexibility so your customers get a stellar service.
Avoid resource constraints, because you’ll be guaranteed a level of single tenancy-style security that you simply can’t get in shared space. This gives you the edge against your competition.
You have more control: quickly increase or decrease your site’s resource capacity, based on demand. If you’re a YouTube superstar or bustling eCommerce store, this option may be critical for business, though VPS models are closely competitive.
Think of a marketer selling an online course for one week. You’ll want to take full advantage of traffic spikes.
Scroll to the supporting section of this guide—called Extra Credits—for more info on cloud hosting, VPS and other types. It could be crucial to your biz.
More benefits ➡
#2. Cloud Uptime & Stability
They’re at the 99.99% range for Uptime—this even in their contractual guarantee—which is a bleeding good figure.
If you use the cloud hosting package, you’ll be left with an even more robust setup—though at more cost than a shared setup (again see the end of this guide for proper explanations).
NB. Go to the host next down on the list if you are running a small up-and-coming biz and want as much guarantee as possible with less costs.
I wouldn’t go so far as to rule HostGator out—and certainly not if you have extra money for cloud hosting. HostGator even has ecommerce features, which I’ll go into in the next benefit.
They’re a serious consideration though cloud hosting is recommended more for mid-tier businesses, or those who hope to expand in the near future.
If you want to pay the cost, there is also the option for VPS hosting or even dedicated hosting which gets even more technical and costly—see the bottom of this guide for more.
#3. Cloud Speed & Security
You can expect remarkable speeds that are higher than average on the hosting market—this with a competitive price if you’re a mid-tier company.
This goes for double if you choose to opt for a cloud hosting setup—it’s perhaps the second-faster hosting plan available anywhere.
Dedicated servers are the very best, which I go into in the supporting section of this article. But that’s for the real big wigs.
You want to think of your cloud service as having all of the benefits of a dedicated server (again, see the supporting section) with less weaknesses.
#4 Cloud Customer Service
A staple of any good host—I won’t stop pointing it out. In this case, it’s clear that Gator’s team are knowledgeable.
You can expect to talk to professionals who can get to the heart of your technical problem, when one arises.
Because of Gator’s sheer size, there may be some delay in getting through to support, but if you specialise with a cloud hosting plan—which costs more—you get speedier, more tailored attention.
Medium to large bizzes doing much of their business online—even indirectly—are going to want to climb the rungs of hosting types. One crash could cause irritating money losses.
#5. FREE Website Creator & WordPress One-click Install
You don’t need to have a fancy premium theme to attract customers to your site, which is why I never write off drag-and-drop editors.
If you’re advertising in other ways—or do not need to win over clients through branding—having a place to share details is good enough.
HostGator lets you rustle something up—there’s over 4,500 mobile-friendly themes to help you make a splash.
Using the native apps, you can have WordPress up and moving in a few hours through the c-Panel dashboard.
Non-technies may not like c-panel but for technicians accustomed to it, they may prefer to have this as the homepage, rather than a customized version.
Choose a WordPress hosting plan specifically for increased loading speeds of up to 2.5 times—always a good way to get ahead of the competition.
#6. Cloud eCommerce
As Amazon has taught us, it’s not just about building something that looks good when you’re in eCommerce. It has to all function toward making a sale.
eCommerce means selling online by the way. It’s the easiest it’s ever been; you don’t need to spend thousands on hiring a developer or learn to read the Matrix.
As people mostly shop on their mobiles, a responsive site is of prime importance.. but most pages are nowadays so not a worry.
With all the suitable benefits we’ve already listed regarding cloud hosting, choose to use HostGator’s awesome free website builder and you’ll also find options for eCommerce.
Here’s what you get – a shopping cart to buy the selected product(s), review functionality to rank customer satisfaction publically.
We’re not done - cool checkout options like promo codes, a search bar, and categorization options for your products based on how people shop.
Grab traffic and ensure you serve them optimally through a page with fast cloud loading times and reliability.
Should be said, I still recommend WordPress for site design, especially when you’re talking making sales through it (see support section of guide).
#7. Long-Term Discounts/45-Day Money-Back Guarantee
HostGator didn’t get as far as it did by not knowing how to market. The guarantee is notable not only for its long length but because it covers the 99.9 % uptime guarantee. You don’t need to sign a contract—also, if you buy 36 months hosting, they’ll cut monthly hosting by 62%.. Worth a mention aye.
I’ve heard this described as the best premium WordPress hosting service out there…now, that’s a pretty bold claim, but with a five-year consecutive award streak to back it up, they might be onto something.
This is a provider for serious business. From a small and rapidly growing team to an established company looking to streamline their performance, Kinsta has a plan for you. They’re fast, secure and comprehensive—words to make any CEO’s spine shiver with excitement.
I’ll get into loading times in the benefits section below. With so much marketing gimmickry out there, let me give a smidgen of attention to who this company is.
Kinsta isn’t the only host provider that offers WordPress hosting—which we’ll discuss below—but they do some key things differently, putting themselves in a different league.
Why My Eye is on Kinsta
The Dirty Secret.
I love innovation. People don’t often associate creativity with programming and web development. Those people would be wrong 😎
Kinsta’s the true new kid on the block of this list. They were only founded in 2013 with a central office in LONDON TOWN (WAHEEYY!) –amongst other countries.
No, in all seriousness, this company really is standout and the speed with which they achieved their reputation says something about how innovative they really are!
But you’re a business owner, not a nerd, so I doubt you really care how cool their coding is. Well let’s put it in another language, Kinsta is robust, boasts impressive performance, and is guaranteed* to make your business grow.
*(may not actually make your business grow unless you’ve got something worth buying…but it’ll definitely help).
On the WordPress Hosting package, their team handles things like backing up and securing your website, in case something goes wrong (it can be done manually if you want though).
Kinsta offers a pretty comprehensive range of hosting services, whether your business is just starting, or already in need of some heavy-lifting hosting.
So, whatever your circumstances, if you want some serious, premium hosting and have got the cash to splash, Kinsta is the service for you.
#1. WP Hosting—Faster Loading Times
I mentioned HostGator earlier as my top cloud hosting pick. Kinsta is a bit of a mixed bag in this regard—a better expression might be “Best of both worlds.”
I’ve seen page loading speeds of 307ms over a 30-day analysis, which is well ahead of the average #ftw –that’s under a third of a second.
The loading speed may be higher with the more comprehensive “multipurpose” WordPress themes with tonnes of features. That’s to be expected, however.
Their WP plan runs on the Google Cloud Platform, which is essentially a cloud network that many companies use, including Philips, Best Buy, Snapchat, and Spotify.
Cloud hosting—also known as cluster cloud hosting—gives you the benefit of a personal virtual space without having to rent a whole server.
Kinsta uses 20 servers located across the globe, with more added all the time.
If you’re a start-up, you’ll want to attract lots of customers, and you’ll want them fast. Likewise, if you’re a big biz and you’re feeling the strain of huge customer loads, you want things sped up and optimized. Get the right package, and Kinsta’s cloud-based service will excel in either of these needs.
#2. WP Hosting—Less Downtime
With so many computers speaking to each other—“cloud computing” is another alias for cloud hosting—the chances of crashes dwindle to more than a great shared host provider.
It’s simply far less likely that several servers all across the world will crash at the same time, thus send your web site down the shoot.
Plus, the automatic systems check for downtime issues every five minutes, while the 24/7 support team is on call to deal with any flags.
If your site suddenly needs a surge of resources to handle a spike in traffic... no problem. This is the beauty of combining WP optimization with cloud hosting.
Take advantage of viral attention without worrying about your site squeezing your bandwidth, as a shared hosting setup would automatically do. (MAJOR).
#3. WP Hosting—Outsourcing & Customer Support
The Kinsta team places your website in an environment optimized for WP websites, which explains the boosted performance metrics.
The customer support will also be specialists in WordPress-related issues. Some will even be WP developers! This is a great outsourcing tool.
Backups are automatic—on file for at least a fortnight (and up to a month). If you want to find lost information, it’s a straightforward process. They take place each day, with the option of making it hourly available as default.
As a last tidbit, there are data centres in Europe to choose from. If your customers are mostly in the UK, grab one closest to it. That’s a minty bit of control.
#4. WP Hosting—Testing (Staging Site)
Very cool feature. The staging site lets you test out experimental and everyday edits to your site, before publishing or adding to your main site.
Maybe you have new bits of code, plugins (special features/capabilities), or changes to your look. You can quickly test these out before going live.
Kinsta’s basic plan covers you for 20,000 visitors a month, a reasonable amount for a new and growing business. Should you overshoot this (the pains of success, I know) there’s an overcharge fee. But at 76p per 1,000 extra visitors, it isn’t going to break the bank.
The plans scale up from roughly “I’m a small business owner” (20,000 visitors per month) to “I own business itself” (3,000,000 visitors per month). Like I keep saying, whatever the scale of your hosting needs, Kinsta’s got you.
All these plans come with a 30-Day money-back guarantee with all the typical bells and whistles thrown in.
You won’t get an entry-level pricing plan here, but if you’re serious about getting the best service possible, then that shouldn’t really matter.
And you’ve graduated from the first semester of our class. Now it’s time to round out our knowledge so that the terms being spun around all make sense. 🎓
Extra Credits –Clearing Up Hosting Terminologies
For the fellow boffins out there 👨🎓
(Yes I’m looking at you)
See, the difference with this guide and your average is that I’m here to make sure you graduate with true know-how.
Think I mostly done a good job explaining terms and names that wandered into the tech boffin area.
In case there were a few important things lingering as unanswered, hopefully this section will clear it up.
From WordPress to Cloud hosting and free web hosting plans–I’ve got you covered in this extra credits class. Class is in Session!
To Be or Not to Be on WordPress
A short discussion.
The most popular site creation and design tool today. We always recommend WordPress for people who expect to want something unique, branded and tailored for their site.
Your website represents you. Like SiteGuard in overall hosting, WordPress is the best of the best for site creation—whether you use an easy customizable “theme” package, or pay an expert like me to customize it for you.
It’s a one-click installation. Having SiteGuard’s native interface come with WP means you save time and hassle—with automatic updates. This one falls in the Every Little Helps category.
Get SiteGuard’s experts to handle the migration of any old site you had—over to their hosting plan, in case your current host isn’t up to scratch. And to provide general WP support.
1-Click WordPress Installation
I’ve blithered on about this a few times in the guide. As it says on the tin, it’s a no fuss way to start building your WP site.
1-click installations are actually a standard now with most host. Once you’ve bought your web hosting, you’ll find the option to install WordPress with one click.
Presto chango—you’ll have your WordPress, domain and hosting accounts tied up, ready for mobilization.
The app itself will either be through c-panel or a customized version that your host has created—use WP itself to enter.
Because you’ve got your domain—if you haven’t here’s a guide on purchasing a web domain—you can begin on a free WP account.
Why WordPress is (Probably) the Best for You
What’s with the obsession?
Everyone ogles over WordPress, which is quite crude. Why do they seem so sexy and appealing?
If you were to go directly through WordPress for everything, you’d need to pay them for hosting and a domain.
But to me, WordPress is a speciality service—they do one thing very well: design your place of business. If you decide to go the WP route, make sure to get the best hosting for WordPress.
In terms of themes, you want to think of WP as like the Google App store: unlimited. Thousands and thousands of templates.
“Themes”—aka pre-designed sites that you can customize—are a business onto themselves that range from basic to Fortune 500.
- Open a store
- Create a membership site
- Display your portfolio
- Create a browser version for your app
Endless possibilities.. But this might not be ideal for your business. Let’s briefly talk about three more CMS’s—Content Management Systems.
It’s important to note that all of these coding types can be incorporated into WordPress. Indeed, one of WP’s coolest features is its expandability for scaling up or customization.
Is PHP Right for You?
Actually, your WordPress website might contain PHP elements. What we’re talking about here is a complete Custom PHP website framework versus a WordPress Website framework.
A PHP framework is more secure versus your regular CMS’s. The code is customized just for your site, so hackers can’t send automated problems your way so easily.
Some of the most creative programming minds have used PHP to create unique, irreplaceable websites. This obviously means lots of time and programming expenses.
You’ll find it’s the standard for every player on the front-end: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Twitter, eBay.. the list goes on forever.
This will be incorporated into some of your WordPress themes—if you choose to use that for your site design—focused on enhancing user experience across devices and browsers.
Is Joomla Right for You?
Even more possibilities.
These guys are running the closest second behind WordPress though they’re several hundred metres behind in the race.
The reason is the lack of user-friendliness on the CMS. It’s hard for me to recommend this designer as there is no real benefit over WordPress.
They’ve been around since 2005. While WordPress were started at around the same time, WP has 60% market-share and Joomla only 5.
Mostly, if you’ve used Joomla for some time and love it then continue—especially if a developer. But there’s less easy entry for non-developers.
The supporting features are also less by a large margin: fewer themes, plugins, a less active community, and fewer ways to easily expand and scale up your website.
The main advantages Joomla has are multilingual support, multiple templates for different pieces of content, and more advanced access/management controls.
Hosting Types Explained
Kids in a candy store, as they say.
Welcome to the wonderful world of being a boffin. If you’re here and reading, you are now one of us.
As you tumble down the rabbit hole, even the question of hosting type unravels—that’s this section #TheMatrix
People tell you to go get hosting, but the question of what type is less commonly asked—as though you’re a rookie 😑
Each type is very different with defined strengths and weaknesses that affect overall capabilities.
Your most common and expected type is shared hosting, which we’ll look into first as it fits most needs. But there are specialized alternatives for the big wigs. Five, roughly speaking -
- VPS (virtual private server)
*Takes deep breath* Nope, it’s not really that bad and quite dandy to know. On with it then ➡
Shared hosting: What is it?
This is the most popular, common and least expensive type—and probably the hosting you’ll buy as a newbie or small-to-medium sized business.
Of course, with less cost comes less resources, so shared hosting offers the least amount of power. But it does come with great user friendliness, with features like 1-click install.
You have what you need to manage your own site—creating a unique look without needing years of coding experience.
The vast majority of sites won’t need to worry power-wise, with the amount of traffic coming in (Traffic = visitor count).
Unless you’re YouTube. If YouTube are reading this, forget what I said above—proceed to the next type pronto! ➡
Your Shared Hosting Team
On a shared hosting plan—ideal for smaller and newer sites—you are just one user of many sharing a server’s abilities.
Once you sign up for a plan, you’re slotted into a space in whatever datacenter, your host promising to look after its performance.
Right now, there are technicians in lab coats monitoring your server’s hardware, software, hacking security, updates.. and so on.
If your host doesn’t uphold their end of the bargain—such as by too-frequent crashes—you may be entitled for reimbursement.
Though the communal arrangement has limitations in capacity, self-starters with a creative idea can hop online rapidly on a budget.
This massive pooling—like Uber—lets these host offer continuous promotional offers and discounts on new signees.
Shared Hosting Limitations
There are a few—for sites that handle very sensitive data, shared hosting plans may be a large concern.
The server’s very communal nature may allow viruses to spread across a server site, infecting those linked to it.
You have no way to personalize your security. You’re essentially relying on your hosting team to protect you.
There are also restrictions in the fine-print that you may not be aware of in your shared hosting contract.
The small price often goes hand-in-hand with annoying pricing schemes that may suddenly see your charges quadruple.
Your hosting plan can also be terminated for a broader number of reasons—in some cases—if you exceed your traffic quota!
One day swimming in new money, next site crash. For the online product creators with sharp time windows … yeah, careful.
A sudden spike in traffic might break or slow your site, due to the server’s cap, killing golden opportunities.
It takes three seconds of waiting for a user to click out of a site in frustration. Servers limit individuals so that all have good average performances.
Spam is another issue—spammers target a certain site and all those tethered to it become targets also.
Overall, it’s still a very capable and useful plan, which suits most businesses. If you expect great spikes in traffic, it’s worth considering an alternative ➡
VPS hosting: What is it?
If you like bottle-service, VIP-lounges and limousines, welcome to VPS. It stands for Virtual Private Server.
This plan is a rung up in terms of power—and as you might have guessed—also in the price tag 🍷
(There are some great VPS hosts that are free/cheap but they lack the quality of ones with expensive plans.)
You’ll also get features, integrity and capabilities not possible in shared hosting.. though the physical differences are not so wide.
You’re actually still on a single server, but a portion of it has been cut off just for you—so you can put your feet up.
You get enhanced control—remote control—to manage your site, letting your scale your plan up or down depending on current need.
The control panel is expanded. For technical people, this gives you self-tailoring options not available in shared hosting.
Security is less of a concern and more robust. VPS goes to an intense standard to prevent causalities.
Cyber-crime is an exponentially growing industry. If you expect to deal with large assets, getting the best VPS hosting available is probably essential.
Your VPS Hosting Team
Aside from the pickled eggs and chauffeurs, VPS offers you majorly increased bandwidth (traffic allotment) and space. Your VPS team works to ensure your slice of the server pie is powerful enough to give your users an outstanding user experience.
If you plan to be in the big league—or to get sudden traffic spikes—and want to secure performance regardless, say no more. I’m very.. big on this principle as—in my experience—one of the markers of success is quality.
Getting to the next scale of high-paying client can often involve scaling up your infrastructure in kind.
VPS gives you performance you can rely on which is a hallmark of stellar business performance and customer service.
Downtime costs to your business are limited several times over—something even smaller businesses could benefit from.
Also - PEOPLE LOVE SMOOTH, QUICK SITES. Sorry for yelling there—bad habit picked up as a kid.
The support teams in VPS solutions are also usually very quick to help you out with any queries. Just don’t yell.
VPS Hosting Limitations
It isn’t all roses and sunshine. I’ll give you extra credits in this class if you recall the negative by the end of this sentence.
Dosh, fella.. You gets what you pays for, as they say. As you get a whole lot more, you’ll pay lots more too.
VPS hosting is still probably suitable for mid-to-large businesses, as the optimal boost in performance pays for itself.
You’ll also need to pay for tech support if you want to utilize all of the increased controls on offer—unless you’re already savvy.
This may amount to hiring a team in a 24/7 tech admin support role. No point in having capability if it’s unmanaged.
To Buy or Not to Buy VPS
- You’ll want VPS hosting if:
- You expect to grow your biz substantially over the coming year
- You require optimal security
- You want as much control over traffic adjustments as possible
- You want full specialist customer support 24/7
- You want the capability to handle a large audience or large bursts of traffic
- You’re already edging into the mid-tier or higher category of business
Are you not entertained? Well, then let us PROCEED deeper into the depths of hosting boffinery. Two more types.
This next one is right up your alley: the crem-de-la-crem—the BEST—of luxury personal online accommodation ➡ ) ➡
Dedicated 🙏 Hosting: What is it?
Till the very end.
Yep, we’re here. The top of the mountain. The pie in the sky. Your bestest possible hosting setup. YouTube, welcome.
They feed you a server to yourself—or more—and look after it with the attention of a shepherd watching his flock.
Yes, there’s a reason YouTube doesn’t go down.. ever. The risk of crashes and downtime issues depletes the bigger and more dedicated the resources.
Of course, this is the most complicated and costly hosting option, but also the most powerful, robust and secure.
Security is extreme in this setup, to safeguard sensitive data stored on the server network site.
In one sense, security risks are lower as there are no tethered accounts transferring potential infected files across the server.
On the other, providers take great care to use the most state-of-the-art scanning systems to search for spammers, hackers and viruses.
Your Dedicated Hosting Team/Limitations
Your team will give you full control over your server, which includes the hardware and operating systems used.
Ironically, opting for a dedicated server puts more of the managerial responsibility in your hands, though you may be provided with dedicated engineers.
Other hosting setups come with a preexisting team supporting the server, while this plan expects you to build your own.
You should have more technical knowledge—or hire a team with it—so they can customize your setup.
This is ideal for people experienced in web development and system administration. You’ll have freedom to define your plan to a fine point.
The role of dedicated service providers at this level is a little vague, with much flexibility and less industry standards.
Maintenance of the operating system and server may include security patch and monitoring updates. But you can also opt to move your team onto the site instead.
There are four main level of support available:
- Fully managed – you, as the customer, put complete faith in the service provider to handle the server’s day-to-day running
- Managed – you involved yourself in certain aspects, while leaving the monitoring and maintenance of the server to the provider
- Self-managed – you handle most of the operational going-ons, with some monitoring and maintenance support from the service provider
- Unmanaged – you handle everything, from monitoring, security, upgrades and maintenance
Cloud hosting: What is it?
For the dreamers, the square pegs in a round hole...
We’re not done.. not by a long shot.
Chances are you have a rough idea of what “The Cloud” is—not the one that usually frequents the isle.
There’s some similarity with VPS. But rather than being on one site, servers/computers are pooled together from different locations.
You end up with very quick loading times and lots of flexibility in climbing up or down the scale ladder.
This goes for space. Upgrades are immediate, which is why cloud hosting has boomed in popularity recently—we’re still waiting on a single.
Your Cloud ☁️ Hosting Team
Though there are similarities between ordinary web hosting and “cloud computing,” which is another name for cloud hosting.
Here’s how ordinary—mortal people—hosting works.. First, your chosen team will give you access to their servers for a fee.
On that server, you can store website files and info. This is then beamed across the world—onto the World Wide Web.
Cloud computing/hosting differs by turning many physical servers into ones connected by a virtual thread.
Cluster hosting. The way of thinking about this is that one site may have traffic problems, causing your site to go/slow down.
But many differently located sites working together would have to all go down to affect you. Much less likely.
Many computers speak together in a virtual space that can be toggled and controlled very rapidly.
It’s overall superior control, very suitable for people who expect sudden and specific traffic increases.
The cloud setup multiplies the hosting capacity to levels that a non-cloud server cannot keep up with.
You’ll have increased power available, with even more decreased risk of downtime (crashes) in demanding periods.
Cloud Hosting Limitations
In truth, cluster hosting resolves many of the issues that can occur in VPS or shared hosting setups.
Despite the instability of actual clouds, cloud computing is a very solid and reliable hosting solution.
In a sense, it’s more communal than shared hosting minus the security, power and space negatives. Though virtually shared, you still have a personal space.
Reseller hosting: What is it?
Deep boffin territory.
This last type is for if you want to share some of your paid-for hosting resources to a third party, as a source of income.
You allot a portion of bandwidth, email accounts or space etc. for a fee. This is similar to being a landlord, renting out a place to tenants.
Perhaps you’re looking to offer WiFi in a certain location for a daily charge. Reseller hosting could be ideal for you.
Aaaand we’re at the end of class. Bells rung..
Well done, you’ve managed to stay awake. We’re handing out graduation caps outside. With robes.. Possibly broomsticks too.
Closing out: “Dum duh-duh dum, duhh dum dumm..” (That’s Harry Potter’s theme, for all those with #confusedfaces about now.)
You should now know all you need to make an informed decision. There’s no perfect way to get started—action’s the greatest driver.
Did warn you about my world of geekery, earlier. And multiple personalities.. Screw it - let’s end with a spell:
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