Just because a web hosting company looks good in their feature list doesn’t mean they are. Read the reviews in our review section and see which companies are difficult to deal with and which ones are helpful. You will almost certainly run into problems at some point, so pay attention to reviews that recount experiences people have had with customer service.
Post initial setup, a primary concern will be the log-on issue. If your organization is fine with a separate log-on for your email provider, then this step will be quick. However, that's not typically what businesses want or users expect. In general, users expect to sign onto their desktops and have their email and file sharing sign-ons happen as part of that one-step process. Not surprisingly, this is called Single Sign-On (SSO) and it's enabled in one of three ways: through the use of a back-end directory service like Microsoft Active Directory (AD); an identity management service, like Okta (one of our Editors' Choice winners in that category); or several compatible web services that include SSO along with other apps and email services, like Google G Suite Business and Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium (two of the top providers reviewed here). Which method you choose depends on how your business is configured today and your long-term cloud services strategy. It's definitely a conversation you'll need to have either with your in-house IT staff or your outside IT consultant.
Shared hosting plans will meet the needs of most small businesses starting their own website. By sharing server space with other hosting customers, small business owners can save money as their company takes off. Once you start to see that growth, however, you’ll want hosting resources that can keep up with the increased demand. Cloud hosting, or hosting on virtual private servers, gives you more control over what is powering your website.
Web hosting services offer varying amounts of monthly data transfers, storage, email, and other features. Even how you pay (month-to-month payments vs. annual payments) can be radically different, too, so taking the time to plot exactly what your company needs for online success is essential. Many of these companies also offer reseller hosting services, which let you go into business for yourself, offering hosting to your own customers without requiring you to spin up your own servers.
That's a big difference, with "inbox zero" requiring an email client with great archiving that works over multiple device types. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, the personal information managers need something more like Microsoft Outlook, with excellent search capabilities as well as a good storage contract on the hosting side because these types of inboxes are often tens of gigabytes (GB) per user.
Things are probably more complicated than that, though. As a recent survey conducted by market research firm Statista clearly shows, email is one of the most popular apps for mobile devices across most organizations and even consumers. Given how many workflows, business processes, and just plain important communications take place over email, this is one area where you likely shouldn't skimp.
Managed web hosting brings a white-glove or concierge service to the hosting experience. The term “managed” means the hosting company takes care of the hands-on IT work required to keep the server running optimally. They handle the hardware while you maintain the software and your site databases, files, and media content. This type of web hosting carries the highest price tag, but many find the peace of mind and server administration assistance worthwhile.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that, like other web host providers, A2 Hosting's unlimited plans aren't actually unlimited. It expect you to use its service like "similarly situated customers." This is like being on a highway. If everyone is going a few miles above the speed limit, you're probably okay, but if you're barreling down the fast lane past everyone else, you're probably going to be asked to slow down.
The company doesn't list a virtual private server offering, but it bills its Elastic Sites service as a VPS alternative, offering the ease of use of a simple shared hosting plan and the performance and scalability of a VPS. GlowHost also offers a number of different cloud hosting plans, with special attention to providing enterprise-grade services.
The first thing that caught our eye about Complete Internet Hosting was a great answer to my biggest complaint about hosting providers. Most hosting providers will suck you in with a relatively aggressive starting price, but when it comes time to renew, the renewal price can be two or three times the original price. I've even found one company that renews at more than six times the original price.
That said, not all web hosts offer email. WP Engine, for example, does not. In such instances, you must email accounts from a company other than your web host. GoDaddy, for instance, sells email packages starting at $3.49 per user, per month. That might sound like a hassle, and just one more thing to keep track of, but there are actually some webmasters who feel that separating your email hosting and web hosting services is smart. That way, one provider going offline won't completely bork your business.
In 2007, WhoIsHostingThis.com launched the world's first tool to discover which web host a website uses. Since then, we have published 1+ million words of real-user reviews, 2+ million words of content from our experts and helped millions of webmasters around the world find their perfect web hosting provider, whether it is for a personal website, blog or small business. Read more...
What about the time you clicked on that PayPal link that wasn't really a PayPal link? "Phishing" is a term applied to either websites or emails that pretend to be something they're not in hopes of getting a user to click on something they should have ignored. This tactis is done in hopes of then getting users to provide confidential information they would have otherwise kept to themselves, typically like passwords, financial information, or other personal data. While there are security measure that fight this, the mechanics behind phishing are, unfortunately, also consistently becoming more sophisticated. Even some dedicated antivirus and business-class hosted endpoint protection suites are having trouble keeping up.
If you're not sure of the type of hosting your business needs, you might want to start small, with shared Web hosting. You can always graduate to a more robust, feature-rich package of, say, VPS hosting or even dedicated hosting in the future. Unfortunately, some hosts don't offer all hosting types. Consider how much you expect to grow your website, and how soon, before you commit to anything longer than a one-year plan. It's worth spending the time up front to make sure that the host you select with is able to provide the growth you envision for your site, as switching web hosting providers midstream is not a trivial undertaking.
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.