Uptime is the percentage of time that a server is operational. When you’re running a website, you want users to be able to access it at all times. When a server experiences downtime, your site would be unavailable, but ideally, this happens rarely. An industry-wide goal for how much uptime a server should have is “the five nines” – an uptime of 99.999%, meaning the system is highly reliable. However, 99.9% uptime is pretty standard and should more than suffice for the majority of hosting users.
Laura Bernheim has spent more than 12 years crafting engaging and award-winning articles that share the passion behind organizations' products, people, and innovations. As a freelance contributor to HostingAdvice, she combines a reputation for producing quality content with rich technical expertise to show experienced developers how to capitalize on emerging technologies and find better ways to work with established platforms. A professional journalist, Laura has contributed to The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, the Sun Sentinel, and the world's top hosting providers. In addition to conducting interviews with industry leaders, Laura drives internal writing and design teams to deliver stellar, timely content that clearly explains even the most difficult concepts.
There are many ways to build and manage a website – eCommerce platforms, such as Magento or PrestaShop; content management systems, such as Joomla or Drupal; and blogging software, like WordPress, being just a few examples. The web hosting market can accommodate a wide variety of platforms and methods for creating, publishing, and administering web content. Applications can be integrated directly into the web hosting environment, making it simpler to use the site management tool with a given web host.
Website hosting providers usually offer far more than just space on a server, many web hosts provide a full package to allow the website owner all the tools they require for their website. Most shared hosting plans come with a control panel which gives the user a simple to use interface to setup email address, add databases, FTP access to upload their website, backups, statistics, ecommerce shopping carts, and many scripts like WordPress blogging, or Joomla CMS. Many web hosting services also give you a free domain name, free advertising credits and a few other free bonuses so you choose their service.
On the plus side, SiteGround offers free automatic daily backups, access to the Cloudflare CDN, high-performance SSDs for all plans, unlimited email accounts and integration of the free LetsEncrypt SSL certificate into sites. The company does limit bandwidth and storage, but even those who claim to offer so-called unlimited bandwidth and storage really have some limits in its terms of service. 

Bluehost (established in 1996) is the most reliable beginner-friendly web hosting out there. The cheapest plan starts from just $2.75/mo (if you pay for 36-month in advance), renewals start at $7.99/mo. With the basic plan, you can host 1 website. The plan includes a free domain for 1 year, 50GB SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, free SSL and 24/7 live chat support.

Along with specialized uses for email, you should investigate how your users are emailing on a daily basis. Email has come a long way in 40 years and the way people use it has significantly evolved. That's important because it will impact the tools and features you need to look for in your hosted email provider's client software. Sure, Microsoft Outlook is still the most popular on-site email client, but a fast-increasing number of today's email users are opting for other email clients, such as Thunderbird, or all-web clients, such as Google's hugely popular Gmail. These clients can be very sophisticated and, depending on what your users are doing with email, they can have a big impact on your day-to-day business process.
Speed is a feature, and latency makes or breaks your web application’s user experience. Google’s private fiber network spans the globe with over 100 points of presence across 33 countries, meaning your app data reaches users with the lowest latency possible. Whether it’s raw application data or media-rich imagery and video, Google’s global network ensures your app data traverses our private network from our data centers to your users, anywhere in the world. 

If you're planning on selling a product, look for a web host that offers a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, because it encrypts the data between the customer's browser and web host to safeguard purchasing information. You're probably familiar with SSL; it's the green padlock that appears in your web browser's address bar as you visit an online financial institution or retail outlet. A few companies toss in a SSL certificate free of charge; others may charge you roughly $100 per year for that extra security layer.
Your next major concern will be compatibility. It's not a shock that most businesses run on Microsoft Windows and use some form of Microsoft Office. Being able to use common third-party clients such as Microsoft Outlook can often be a concern, and even today, compatibility with Microsoft Outlook isn't necessarily guaranteed. This is especially true when sending and receiving meeting invites. It only takes one garbled meeting invite to realize how frustrating this can be in the real world. Even if using Microsoft Outlook isn't a concern, portability is. If the service is entirely web-based, then is there a means for me to take my email offline and send email when I connect?
The 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee applies to new orders for Web Hosting and to existing customers who upgrade to Web Hosting from Domain only or standalone Business Mail accounts. Subject to the following limitations, you will receive a refund from of your Web Hosting fee (other than the domain registration charge), including any setup fees actually assessed, if you are not completely satisfied. Included in your Web Hosting fee may be a required yearly domain registration charge. Domain registration is arranged on your behalf with a third party following placement of your order and cannot be canceled by that third party (your domain can, however, be transferred to a new provider after 60 days). The associated domain registration charge is nonrefundable - even if you transfer to a new provider after 60 days. If the total Web Hosting fee paid by you is less than the non-refundable domain registration charge paid on your behalf, you will not be eligible for a refund under the 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee. The Satisfaction Guarantee period starts on the date your initial order is placed. Claims for a refund of Web Hosting fees must be made within 30 calendar days of your initial order. All refund requests must be made by calling 1-866-781-9246 and must be specifically requested at time of cancellation. Refunds will be made only to the name, address, and credit card account on file. Refund does not apply to any add-on services, such as additional bandwidth, additional email addresses, or Private Domain Registration. See the Terms of Service for additional terms and conditions, available by clicking the link at the bottom of every page on our website.
If you require a lot of functionality and versatility from your website, you’ll benefit from programs and applications that can help you build your site. Our Web hosting plans give you access to free, server-side applications that can be used to develop and customize your website, including popular Content Management System (CMS) applications like WordPress® and Joomla!®. You can even add a Dedicated IP if you plan to add an SSL Certificate later.

Many web hosting services offer a low "starting price," but require you to prepay for two or three years of service to get that price. After the promotional period, the renewal price for some web hosting services can be two, three, or even four times the initial promotional pricing. While the initial deal might be incredible, the cost of transferring your site (or paying the added fee) in a couple of years may be something to consider.
Website hosting providers usually offer far more than just space on a server, many web hosts provide a full package to allow the website owner all the tools they require for their website. Most shared hosting plans come with a control panel which gives the user a simple to use interface to setup email address, add databases, FTP access to upload their website, backups, statistics, ecommerce shopping carts, and many scripts like WordPress blogging, or Joomla CMS. Many web hosting services also give you a free domain name, free advertising credits and a few other free bonuses so you choose their service.
Alexandra Leslie’s interest in website administration was sparked in her teens, priming her for a fast-paced career in managing, building, and contributing to online brands, including HostingAdvice, Forbes, and the blogs of prominent hosting providers. She brings to the table firsthand experience in reviewing web hosts, perfecting website design, optimizing content, and walking site owners through the steps that add up to a successful online presence. Today, she combines her extensive writing experience with technical understanding to unpack some of the most complex topics that daunt novice website owners, as well as the subjects that excite veteran technologists within the HostingAdvice readership.
That’s why it’s critical for businesses to establish a strong online impression. Websites attract new customers from around the world, and choosing a reliable, reputable hosting provider is just as important as the website itself. Uptime and performance rates matter to online shoppers like me, and finding the right host for your business needs will help sales soar. Read on to see who we say are the 10 best web hosting services for small businesses in 2020!
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