You’re finally going to do it. You’re creating your own website. Good for you! One of the first choices you’ll need to make is the provider you’ll use to host your site. Unless you are truly techie (or a super-bright high school kid) you’re probably already a little overwhelmed with the available choices. So perhaps together we can cut through some of the clutter and give you some recommendations to consider.
First of all, there are plenty of web hosts available that say they are free – but not really. And considering the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” we will only be considering paid hosting providers in this article. And don’t panic. For the most part, they are not expensive, and they are worth it for the expertise they provide.
So what are some of the key components you should look for?
- Speed. Your web host should be both fast and reliable. It should guarantee a minimum uptime of 99%. In fact, 99% may actually be too low — it really should be 99.5% or better. And if it’s not consistently that high, you should be entitled to some sort of refund or discount if it falls below that figure. Although refunds may be a little hard to collect, publishing these numbers gives your host a little incentive to ensure that its servers are running all the time.
- Bandwidth. This means the amount of bytes transferred from your site to visitors when they browse your site. Any commercial web host that advertises “unlimited bandwidth” is probably exaggerating. The host has to pay for the bandwidth, and if you consume a lot of it, they will likely pass the cost on to you. Always look for details on how much traffic your particular package allows.
- Tech support. It’s got to be 24/7/365. This includes day and night, weekends, and all holidays. Because when things malfunction, it’s usually on a weekend, or the night before Christmas! And of course they should be competent, not just someone sitting in an offshore phone bank. Try before you buy. That’s the only way you’ll know if they can meet your needs.
- Ease of use. You need to be able to post your material easily and quickly, without jumping through a bunch of technical hoops. All three hosts we recommend (see below) support WordPress, the #1 website platform on the Internet.
So now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s do a little comparison shopping. There are three hosts we recommend, and we’ve put together a quick summary of what each has to offer.
BlueHost — GetBlueHost
- 1-click WordPress installation
- Free domain name registration
- 24/7 real human support
- Also live chat
- Lowest fee now reduced to $3.95 per month
- Cloud hosting starts at $6.95
- Share hosting as low as $2.75 per month
SiteGround – GetSiteGround
- Supports WordPress and Joomla
- Cloud hosting $80/month minimum (contrast with BH?)
- Shared server is $3.95 per month
- Offers both phone support and online chat
- 9% uptime
- Will migrate your existing site for free
WPEngine – GetWPEngine
- Supports WordPress
- Offers plugin for free automated site migration
- Starts at $29 per month for 25k visitors
- Award winner for service and security
We’ve done a ton of research on web hosting, and trial and error too. These are our recommended providers, and there are certainly dozens more you could consider. The best way to find out what works for you is to jump in and try the one you think is best. If for some reason you’re not happy, it’s a decision you can always change. We’re here to help. If you have a specific question, please leave a comment and we’ll answer promptly.