The 13 Best Small-Business Web Hosting Providers
Choosing a web hosting service for your small business isn’t as difficult as you’d imagine (or fear). Business.org has narrowed the field to find the best hosting plans.
Best for Low BudgetsLow-priced plansSuperior security and speed
Easiest to UseSimple interfaceExcellent speed and security
Best Shared HostingBudget-friendly shared plansWindows servers
Best Cloud HostingWindows- and Linux-based cloud plans97-day guarantee
Best WordPress HostingExcellent, inexpensive WordPress plansFast, solid uptime
You already know your business should have a website—but just using that Facebook page is so easy, isn’t it? At least it used to be; Mark Zuckerberg’s ecosystem is becoming less user-friendly and more indefensible in terms of security and privacy by the day. You need to move out of Mark’s house and get your own place.
Like finding a home, searching for a website hosting service presents almost too many choices. There are hundreds of web hosting companies in the market, all vying to get your business online and in front of customers who aren’t looking for you in the Yellow Pages (ask your parents; they can explain).
Regardless of size, all web hosting companies provide the same utility: servers that store and stream the files (graphics, text, audio, video, etc.) that make up the content of your website. Keep in mind, web hosting services are for pro-level sites that need to handle plenty of content and traffic—which is most types of business sites. Some small, micro-budgeted enterprises could get by with simple, third-party website builders like Squarespace or Wix, or even Tumblr or Blogspot. But a real business needs real hosting muscle behind its site.
|Brand||Monthly plan pricing||Hosting||Learn more|
|Bluehost||$7.99–$209.99||Shared, Dedicated, VPS||View Plans|
|WP Engine||$35–$290||Shared, Dedicated||View Plans|
|HostGator||$6.95–$293.82||Shared, Dedicated, VPS||View Plans|
|DreamHost||$3.95*–$279*||Shared, Dedicated, VPS||View Plans|
|TMDHosting||$2.95–$149.97||Shared, Dedicated, VPS||View Plans|
Types of web hosting
They may all do the same thing, but they don’t all do it the same way. Depending on your current usage and future traffic expectations, there are critical differences in the types of web hosting and servers that companies provide—distinctions that will affect your site’s capacity, as well as price rates.
Shared web hosting
What’s shared web hosting? It’s right there in the name: you share server space with other clients of the hosting company. You’re also sharing costs, which makes shared hosting an inexpensive option. It’s a good starter choice for sites not expecting large amounts of traffic, but there are downsides. If another site sharing the server attracts heavy usage (or worse, gets hacked), it’ll affect your site’s performance and could potentially take down your website until usage normalizes. Or if your site generates the increased traffic, you could be charged extra.
Dedicated web hosting
While shared hosting is cheaper, and limited in disc space and bandwidth, dedicated web hosting assigns a server to your business exclusively—and it’s usually more expensive. However, the trade-off would be worth it if your site generates significant traffic or you expect it to in the future. With dedicated hosting, you may also have to take care of your own maintenance, unless you upgrade to managed hosting (another added expense).
Like finding a home, searching for a website hosting service presents almost too many choices.
Managed and dedicated web host companies do almost entirely the same thing. The only difference is that with managed hosting, the company you work with will handle the maintenance of your site. If you don’t want to hire a technical developer to manage the maintenance of your website, paying extra for managed hosting may be worth the additional cost.
VPS web hosting
Somewhere between shared and dedicated hosting in price and performance is virtual private server (VPS) hosting. VPS hosting simulates a dedicated server within a partitioned shared server, with its own operating system, storage, RAM, and data transfers for more stable and insulated site efficiency.While VPS is still a form of shared web hosting, it’s more expensive—but still typically costs half as much as dedicated hosting.
Cloud web hosting
Cloud web hosting is another version of VPS hosting—or the same thing, depending on which provider you ask. With cloud hosting, instead of relying on a single server, your site is supported across a network of servers acting as a system. With the heavy lifting spread over a cloud network of servers, reliable uptime is increased (as is regional load-time speed) and more safeguards against site cyberattacks are in place.
Bluehost: Best inexpensive hosting
- Low-priced plans
- Stable uptime
- Superior security and speed
- No monthly plans
- No Windows servers
- Data transfer caps
Provo, Utah, company Bluehost has a basic shared web hosting plan that can get your site up and running for a mere $7.99 per month—you can barely get a drive-thru combo meal for that price. Their larger plans aren’t all that expensive either, topping out at $209.99 a month. Commitment-phobes take note, however: Bluehost’s attractively cheap plans require annual contracts with no month-to-month options.
There are plenty of reasons to go steady with Bluehost, though. The shared plans offer most everything a small-staffed business would need from a website, with reasonable storage, data transfers, and email accommodations. Bluehost’s dedicated web hosting plans up the ante with up to 16GB of RAM, 1TB of hard drive space, and 15TB of data transfer bandwidth, while their VPS plans offer close to the same for less money.
Bluehost also offers WordPress hosting plans, which range from a basic $7.99 a month up to $59.99 for a WP Pro plan—not too steep if you’ve grown accustomed to WordPress’s simplicity, security, and speed, but still a bit of a price bump. Bluehost also offers a free version of the super-easy, if somewhat plain-Jane, website builder Weebly, in addition to a decent array of e-commerce tools.
If you want to get your small business online quickly and cheaply, there’s much to like about Bluehost. Their uptime and security stats are striking, on par with companies charging almost twice the monthly price, and you won’t need a techie to run your site (though there are enough features to keep a webmaster on their toes).
WP Engine: Easiest to use
- Simple interface
- Managed hosting
- Excellent speed and security
- Expensive plans
- No domain registration
- No email hosting
The “WP” stands for WordPress, and WP Engine is one of the many hosting services focused exclusively on the popular CMS platform. Based in Austin, Texas, WP Engine is also a managed hosting service, meaning that, unlike standard shared or dedicated setups, the company takes care of all your site’s technical needs (hardware, security, site backups, plug-in updates, etc.).
Ease of setup is the hallmark of WordPress sites, and creating content and making it live with no hitches is facilitated seamlessly through WP Engine. For site-building novices, WP Engine’s interface is reassuringly simple and clean and offers plenty of WordPress e-commerce plugins to try out. Its security and uptime are also impressive, as are its 24/7 customer support and 60-day money-back guarantee. WP Engine has an answer for almost every website-newbie trepidation.
And when we say “almost,” we mean that WP Engine is missing a couple of biggies—specifically, domain registration and email hosting, which you’ll have to hook up yourself through a third party. A not-so-minor inconvenience, especially since other WordPress-specific hosting services include these in their plans. Also, WP Engine isn’t cheap, as even their most basic plan starts at $35 a month, and the visitor and data caps are a bit more oppressive than you’d expect from such a pricey service.
Still, for an internet beginner more concerned with running their small business than being a full-time webmaster, WP Engine is a highly attractive web host option.
HostGator: Best shared hosting
- Budget-friendly shared plans
- 24/7 support by phone
- Windows servers
- Pricey dedicated plans
- Clumsy interface
- Only 45-day money-back guarantee
Another common thread you’ll notice in these reviews is Windows servers—as in, four of our top five web hosting companies either utilize them in a limited capacity or not at all. Don’t despair, Clippy: Texas’s HostGator has more Windows than a ’67 VW Bus. Surprisingly, despite growing demand, near-parity between Windows and Linux is as rare among web hosting companies as, well, a ’67 VW Bus.
Near-parity, in that HostGator’s VPS and cloud plans are Linux-only—but the shared and dedicated options have Windows capability, and those are the plans that stand out. The dedicated plans offer a lot (like unmetered bandwidth and up to 30GB of RAM), and you’ll pay for it (between $188.87 and $286.50 a month). HostGator’s shared plans are more attractive for a small shop just getting started. The Hatchling plan, the Baby plan, and the off-theme Business plan all come at under 20 bucks a month.
HostGator also offers a decent array of website-building tools, including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and others, as well as its own in-house CMS (though, judging by HostGator.com’s passé layout, you might not want to use it). HostGator’s 24/7 customer service includes phone support along with email tickets and online chat, in addition to an online support portal with hundreds of video tutorials and help articles.
While most of HostGator’s plans are either high-priced or low-powered, their shared plans look mighty good for a small business in its early stages, as well as net newbies looking to graduate from their Facebook page.
DreamHost: Best cloud hosting
- Windows- and Linux-based cloud plans
- Several unlimited options
- 97-day money-back guarantee
- No Windows-based dedicated or VPS plans
- No phone support
- Limited reseller plans
“Unlimited” is a welcome term to see in web hosting plans, and DreamHost has nearly unlimited “unlimiteds”: monthly data transfers, email, domains, and disk storage space are all uncapped, and DreamHost will even throw in your first domain (.com, .net, .org, or .info) at no charge if you sign up for annual billing. The California-based company also offers a generous, if oddly numbered, 97-day money-back guarantee. (Why not 90, or 100? DreamHost was founded in 1997, so maybe that’s it.)
Apart from those aspects, DreamHost’s shared, dedicated, and VPS plans are mostly similar to those of other web hosting companies. When it comes to cloud hosting, however, the sky’s the limit. DreamHost’s cloud plans begin at $4.50 per month, so you get a lot of internet power for little money.
DreamHost’s cloud hosting also offers something that their other plans don’t: Windows-based servers, an increasingly important alternative to Linux. (Like Apple vs. PC and iPhone vs. Android, the Windows vs. Linux debate rages on—but having the choice is still important.) No matter the hosting type, all of DreamHost’s plans include a clean, easily navigated dashboard interface and their feature-packed Remixer website builder. For $3.95 a month, DreamHost also offers shared WordPress hosting, or you can get a managed WordPress hosting plan for $16.95 a month. And unlike other WP hosting plans, this one allows you to install any plugin you like.
Some might see DreamHost’s no-phones customer service as a downside, but plenty of customers—and tech-award outlets—are perfectly satisfied with the company’s 24/7 email tickets and online chat support. Overall, the independently owned DreamHost could do well by any small business, especially internet power users (or hopeful future power users).
TMDHosting: Best WordPress hosting
- Excellent, inexpensive WordPress plans
- Wide variety of non-WP plans
- Fast, solid uptime
- No phone customer service
- No email hosting
- Limited Windows server options
If you’ve noticed one recurring element here so far, it’s probably WordPress hosting. WordPress is popular due to its simple, intuitive interface and extensive plugin capabilities, not to mention its familiarity—most people’s first blogging and CMS experiences likely happened on the WP platform, and who likes change? When starting a business, you’ll be inclined to go with the tools you know, and almost everybody knows WordPress.
TMDHosting offers every type of web hosting—shared, dedicated, VPS, and cloud—but the Orlando, Florida, company really excels at WordPress hosting. Their WP plans come in three flavors: Starter ($2.95 per month), Business ($4.95), and Enterprise ($7.95), all of which come with unlimited bandwidth, one free domain, and a 60-day money-back guarantee. If you already have an existing WordPress site, TMDHosting will transfer it and your database for free without any downtime on your end.
TMD Hosting’s shared plans offer identical pricing and features as its WP plans while the dedicated plans are more expensive (between $79.95 and $149.97 a month). But the dedicated plans are also fully managed and have “military-grade” security. The VPS plans are a bit cheaper ($19.97 to $64.97 per month), as are the cloud plans ($5.95 to $9.95 per month). If you’re in the market to get other businesses online, TMDHosting’s reseller plans are worth a look at $19.95 to $49.95 a month.
Like other web hosting companies on this list, TMDHosting is short on Windows server options, and staff would rather talk to you online instead of on the phone when it comes to customer support. But the positives (reasonably priced plans, solid uptime, and WordPress expertise) far outweigh the negatives.
8 more web hosting companies researched by Business.org
|Brand||Monthly plan pricing||Hosting||Storage||Servers||Best alternative for||Learn more|
|Liquid Web Hosting||$29–$5,299||Dedicated, VPS||40GB–10TB||Linux, Windows||Dedicated hosting||View Plans|
|Hostwinds Web Hosting||$2.45–$507.50||Shared, Dedicated, VPS||30GB–Unlimited||Linux, Windows||High-traffic power users||View Plans|
|InMotion Hosting||$5.99–$519.49||Shared, Dedicated, VPS||40GB–Unlimited||Linux||Reliable uptime||View Plans|
|GoDaddy||$4.33–$179.99||Dedicated, VPS||30GB–Unlimited||Linux||Easy, all-in-one hosting||View Plans|
|SiteGround Hosting||$11.95–$729||Shared, Dedicated||10GB–960GB||Linux||Website beginners||View Plans|
|Yahoo Small Business Hosting||$2.59*–$7.49**||Shared||100GB–Unlimited||Unix||Ultra-basic e-commerce||View Plans|
|iPage Hosting||$7.49–$10.49||Shared||Unlimited||Linux, Windows||Unlimited bandwidth||View Plans|
|1&1 Web Hosting||$2–$160||Shared, Dedicated, VPS||10GB–Unlimited||Linux, Windows||WordPress hosting||View Plans|
Any one of our top five web hosting providers could get your business online quickly and professionally—the only real variants are pricing and extras. Don’t overlook what you think should be obvious inclusions with service, like domain registration, email hosting, and—especially if you plan to sell goods and services online—e-commerce and SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption protocols.
Do you have any experiences with the web hosting companies above, good or bad? Let us know in the comments below.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.