Pick the best web hosting plan for your goals and needs
The best web hosting for you is a plan that combines a list of features that meet your requirements at a price you can afford.
The best web hosting for others might not be the best for you.
Every website owner has some needs (real or not), some expectations (realistic or not), a level of technical knowledge, a strategy to grow their website and ultimately, a budget.
For different people, the best web hosting can mean something completely different.
For a site that doesn’t make money, the best hosting is free or very cheap.
For some owners, web hosting is seen as an expense, not an investment in the foundation of their online business.
So if they find something free or very cheap that works, their goal of spending as little money as possible is met and that hosting solution is deemed “the best web hosting”.
For a business owner, the best hosting will be reliable hosting with near-perfect uptime.
Some websites are extensions of offline businesses, and owners don’t mind paying a premium for peace of mind.
The goal of the website owner is not to get free or cheap hosting, the goal is to have the website up and running flawlessly.
Therefore, the best web hosting for such a website is one with superior uptime, paired with proactive monitoring, and site maintenance.
For a publisher, the best hosting will be one that can handle traffic spikes.
Content creators, bloggers, online magazines or newspapers can receive unexpected spikes in traffic.
For these site owners, the goal is to have web hosting that can handle the incoming traffic without going down. They need more eyeballs on the website because more views = more revenue.
For a shop, the best hosting will be one that’s fast, reliable, and scalable.
Online stores have the biggest needs.
The owners need stability, performance, and scalability because the website is not just supporting an offline business; the website is the business.
What are your needs when it comes to web hosting?
People are different, and websites are different. Nobody else knows what’s important to you. Your answers to the following questions will help you understand exactly what you need when comparing web hosting options.
- what are your needs?
- what are your website’s needs?
- what are your tech support needs?
- what’s your budget?
These questions may get different responses from different people. Your answers will help you understand exactly what you need when comparing web hosting options.
- Do you need to host one site or several?
- How important are your websites to you?
- Do you need email hosting?
- How important is email?
- Do you manage the technical aspects yourself?
Your website’s needs
If your site is a low-traffic blog, it won’t need the same things as a high-traffic online store. Identifying what your site needs helps you evaluate your options.
- What is the site’s traffic?
- Will the site have spikes of high traffic?
- Does the site require dedicated resources?
- Does the site need constant monitoring?
- Does the site need performance optimisation?
Your support needs
Many people underestimate the complexity of owning a website because technology has made it so easy, fast and cheap to launch.
- Are you able & willing to handle the technical aspects?
- Or do you have an employee or collaborator who can take care of the technical part?
- Or do you need technical assistance & support from WordPress experts?
The budget is an important criterion, but it shouldn’t be the only or the main filter through which we look at our web hosting options.
- How much money do your websites make?
- What percentage are you comfortable spending on hosting?
- Do you have a 5€ budget for each site you own?
- Or do you have a total budget of 5€ for all sites?
Ultimate Web Hosting Guide
If you want to learn more about web hosting, we’ve put together this detailed guide that we hope to help you choose the best web hosting for your needs.
Web hosting basically means you’re renting server resources (storage space, CPU, memory, etc.). The server runs HTTP and PHP services, database software, an email server, a DNS server, and other monitoring, security, and backup services.
Web hosting is a general term that may include several elements:
- file hosting
- DNS hosting
- email hosting
- application hosting – hosting for web applications (websites) that can be PHP, Node.Js, etc
- database hosting
Most of the time, all these services are put together in one easy-to-use package, that’s why the most popular solution is shared hosting with cPanel.
Shared hosting is the most popular, because it’s cheap and because its limitations are good enough for most websites.
As can be inferred from the phrase “shared”, this type of hosting is one in which all customer sites are hosted on a physical (or virtual) server and share its resources.
It is a mass-market web hosting solution, designed to meet the needs of as many website owners as possible.
The main advantage of shared hosting is the value for money, and the relatively low price that a website owner pays compared to the services and benefits.
The main disadvantage of shared hosting is that the performance of your site is affected by the neighbours on the server, more precisely by their resource usage. The loading time of your website is not consistent and cannot be guaranteed by the provider.
Who is it for?
- low traffic websites
- static websites
- brochure-style websites
- hobby websites
Never run critical websites or apps on shared hosting.
Advantages of shared web hosting
- low price
- decent performance
- everything in one place (DNS, web, email, backup)
- Easy-to-use control panel
Disadvantages of shared web hosting
- resource limitations
- limited customisation possibilities
- inconsistent performance
- limited scalability
The hosting provider manages the infrastructure, and the software running on the server, server security (not your website’s security) and disaster recovery (some may even include a backup of your data).
The customer gets access to an administration panel (the most popular is cPanel) and that’s where their responsibilities start. Clients can install whatever applications they want (the most popular being WordPress), applications that they manage both from a technical point of view and from a content point of view; they can create email addresses, edit DNS zones, restore backups, etc…
What is the best shared hosting?
There are so many shared hosting providers, thousands in each country.
There are many differences between providers of shared hosting, but there are also a lot of similarities, it’s impossible to say one is the best. I cannot even say about our own shared hosting that it’s the best, there are so many great companies out there.
But I can say that I would choose independent companies that use a modern stack:
- CloudLinux and LiteSpeed, no outdated Apache;
- enterprise-grade SSD storage;
- daily backups;
- free SSL;
- good WordPress knowledge;
- not very cheap because low prices attract the wrong kind of tenants, and you don’t want those neighbours.
So… maybe someone like us.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a hosting solution where several virtual servers are created on a physical server, and you rent such a virtual server to host your website.
Each VPS has a certain level of dedicated resources (RAM, CPU), unlike shared hosting where cPanel accounts don’t have allocated resources, they have resource limitations.
The cPanel control panel is usually used, as with shared hosting, but the customer has a higher level of access and can create their own cPanel accounts to isolate sites or even resell hosting.
In addition to the advantage of having dedicated resources, another major advantage of a VPS compared to a shared solution is the possibility of customizing certain settings (PHP, MySQL, the number of emails that can be sent per hour, etc.), so fewer limitations than shared hosting.
The main disadvantage of a VPS is the higher costs.
The client hosted on VPS no longer shares resources with other clients, but also no longer shares costs (cPanel license, LiteSpeed webserver license, software backup license, anti-spam software license, server administration, etc.).
Advantages of VPS hosting
- better security
- better performance
- dedicated resources
- the possibility of customisations
- all-in-one (DNS, web, mail, backup)
- better scalability
Disadvantages of VPS hosting
- higher costs
- it’s also an all-in-one solution with cPanel so still limited
- performance is not necessarily better (depends on setup, stack and resources)
This hosting solution means the entire physical server is leased to a single client.
It is the traditional hosting solution that involves the highest costs but has the advantage of high performance.
Any setting of the services installed on the server can be customised to accommodate the needs of the site and the limitations are only given by the physical ones (the server specifications).
Advantages of dedicated server hosting
- better security
- better performance
- performance can be consistent (no neighbours)
- all-in-one (DNS, web, mail, backup)
- the possibility of customisation
Disadvantages of dedicated server hosting
- higher costs
- limited scalability
- downtime if a physical server component breaks down
These are semi-managed types of web hosting, usually offered with cPanel or another control panel: ISPConfig, DirectAdmin, Plesk, etc.
Semi-managed means that the hosting provider manages the server and everything running on the server (operating system, web server, database server, email server, etc.), and the customer manages their cPanel account with everything they have there (website, email addresses, etc.).
Unmanaged hosting solutions are virtual servers and dedicated servers that are offered by the provider without administration, without cPanel or other control panel, with root access, at a much lower price.
They are not for novice users, they are aimed at developers, sysadmins, and DevOps, i.e. people with technical skills needed to manage servers.
You could say that these are not actually web hosting solutions either, they are IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) solutions.
In the sense that you are given access to infrastructure and resources and you use them to build web hosting solutions (shared or managed) that you can use for your website or even resell to end users.
All responsibilities rest with the customer.
These responsibilities represent the installation, configuration and administration of all services running on the server:
- operating system (Debian, Ubuntu, etc.)
- webserver (Nginx or Apache)
- database server (MySQL, Percona or MariaDB)
- the mail server
- antivirus protection, antispam
- firewall, brute-force attacks protection
- backup and disaster recovery
In addition, the customer is also responsible for the web applications it installs on the server (WordPress, for example), as well as for the updates of these applications, their maintenance and the publication of content.
Advantages of unmanaged web hosting
- low costs in money
- better performance (if set right)
- better uptime
- you can build powerful hosting solutions (if you know how)
Disadvantages of unmanaged web hosting
- no administration
- with great power comes great responsibility
- high risks (if you don’t know what you’re doing)
- you don’t spend money, but you invest time and effort in managing servers
At one point there was a craze with the cloud, everywhere you heard only this magic word. We’ve heard from customers questions like – Will my website be stored in the cloud? Will it never be down because it’s in the cloud? Will it be hosted on multiple servers in the cloud?
The concepts of CDN, high scalability and high availability are indeed possible on the cloud, but the cloud is not magic.
The cloud is a bucket of resources.
In a data centre, the provider can have 1000 servers, each with certain resources (CPU, RAM, storage space). The provider uses a software application that gathers all the resources of all its servers into a resource bucket.
From here on, the provider has several ways to sell hosting services.
If you want to sell shared hosting, you can create virtual servers onto which you install cPanel and create shared hosting subscriptions.
- DNS – $0.20 per zone
- SSD storage – $0.017 per GB per month
- CPU – $0.033 per vCPU per hour
- RAM – $0.004 per GB per hour
- Network traffic – $0.12 per GB
At the end of the month, the customer pays for how many resources they used that month.
That would be an explanation for cloud services and web hosting can be called “cloud hosting” if the provider uses the setup explained above.
Managed Web Hosting
The web hosting solutions presented above, especially the traditional ones with cPanel, are generic. It was only a matter of time before specialised solutions would appear.
These specialised web hosting solutions are called managed, but some are not entirely managed, just semi-managed.
Some focus on a specific platform, like WordPress or Magento, and are marketed as managed WordPress hosting or managed Magento hosting.
Despite the name of managed hosting, these solutions are also a kind of semi-managed web hosting. Not classic, with cPanel, but a modern version, based on containers or virtual machines using the public cloud infrastructure or even private clouds.
There are also managed web hosting solutions that are really managed. They are not built on top of existing open-source platforms but have built their own walled gardens, focusing on abstracting the technical part for customers (Squarespace, Shopify or Wix).
Who is managed hosting for?
Managed web hosting is for customers who are willing to invest more money to have a dedicated team behind them. These are generally people who don’t want to bother with the technical part, they just want to publish content and all the technical parts to simply work, even when they have high traffic peaks.
As mentioned above, there are managed hosting solutions where the customer is only responsible for adding content.
Everything that happens behind the scenes is managed by the hosting provider. The provider manages the servers and what is installed on the servers, from the operating system to the platform where you just add your content.
There are also managed WordPress solutions where the website owner can install plugins/themes and is also responsible for the code part (only the WordPress core is managed by the hosting provider, who makes the updates).
Advantages of managed web hosting
- very good loading times
- very good uptime
- specialised technical support
- it just works
Disadvantages of managed web hosting
- higher costs
- it’s a niche solution, it’s not all-in-one
- does not include email hosting
- does not include DNS hosting (depends on the provider)
These would be the types of web hosting currently available to website owners, especially those using WordPress.
Which web hosting should I choose?
In general, shared hosting is sufficient for most sites.
It includes everything you need: DNS, email, web application hosting, backup, support, and security.
It’s a best-effort solution (provided as-is), but shared web hosting solutions have evolved to surprising performance for the low price you pay; if you have a regular site, without special needs, this is the best web hosting solution in terms of quality-price ratio.
By special needs, I mean customizing PHP or MySQL settings, installing additional services (python, ruby, node.js), sending a large number of emails, performing heavier queries on the database (product imports, stock updates, prices) or other needs specific to your website.
For sites with special needs, there are two solutions:
- upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server
- separate services on specialised providers
I recommend the separation of services:
- for web hosting – a specialized web hosting solution for your application with specialized support: managed WordPress hosting for example.
- for email hosting – a specialised solution for email such as Google Workspace, Microsoft Exchange, etc.
- for DNS hosting – a solution like Cloudflare, Amazon Route53, DNSMadeEasy, etc
- for sending transactional emails from the website (order notifications, invoices, etc.) – a specialized solution such as Postmark, Sendgrid, Mailgun, etc.
- for sending marketing emails (newsletters, promotions, etc.) – a specialized solution such as Mailchimp, Drip, ConvertKit, etc.
- for SEO, online advertising (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.), marketing, content creation, etc. – a dedicated person on your team or a subscription to a specialised company.
- for web application security, web application maintenance and administration – a specialized security solution such as Sucuri, a technical person in the team or a subscription to maintenance service.
It’s in our nature to want to work with just one provider (or as few as possible) to make it easier for us, but there’s no single provider that can be the best at twenty things.
You can start low-cost on shared hosting with cPanel, but beyond a certain point, traditional all-in-one solutions can’t take you further in growing your online business.
The question you need to ask first is not “What’s the best web hosting” but “What problem am I trying to solve?”
What I want to emphasize with this exposition is that web hosting is not a silver bullet, it is not a magic pill that solves all your website problems, nor should it be viewed as such.