Even businesses with dedicated on-site IT staff have seen the wisdom of moving their email service. The advantages include per-person cost averages, cutting-edge security, cheap email storage, and simple ease of connectivity and deployment. While these advantages hold true for most organizations, there are not only exceptions but also hidden "gotchas" you should look for before selecting a cloud-hosted email provider.

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 builders bring a coding-free web design experience. Rather than beating your head against the keyboard as you attempt to understand HTML and CSS, you can point your mouse and click on various areas of your website within a web browser and drag site elements, such as images and text boxes, into place. The visual you see in your editing preview window mirrors what visitors will see on the frontend of your site.
Hosts make it a snap to put a website together — you don’t need to learn how to code to use the simple website builders that let you drag and drop your logo, images, text, and videos exactly where you want them displayed. From blogging to online stores, website builders make your online dreams happen with just a few clicks of the mouse. The top builders come with hundreds of customizable themes, letting you find just the right look to match your brand.
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.
One thing we learned in reviewing the services listed here (and many more) is that even though the packages are very similar, they are not identical. Some are more security-focused than others, offering anti-spam and anti-malware tools. Others offer a variety of email marketing tools. While most of the hosts we've reviewed have built-in e-commerce, you may want to consider using a more-robust third-party online shopping cart application like Shopify instead.

Investing in a virtual private server, or VPS hosting, can be a nice middle ground between shared and dedicated server hosting. As is the case with shared hosting, a VPS host hosts multiple sites per server, but fewer sites are on each server. This raises the cost, but it’s still less expensive than most managed web hosting services or renting your own dedicated server. 

Business owners can make their products and services available to a global audience by adding eCommerce functionality — an online storefront and shopping cart program — to their website. Adding these features to your site can be complicated for beginners, but many hosts offer easy, 1-click installations of the most popular tools — and the knowledgeable support staffs to help you implement them. Boost sales by offering customers the convenience of buying from anywhere.
Whatever your web mission, choosing a host is the first step toward setting up a site that will attract customers, engage readers, or catch the attention of potential employers. Plans can vary, and there are different types of web hosts to choose from. Knowing the options can help you make the best decision for your online project. Let’s compare, shall we?
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Hosting that is aimed at specific CMS platforms and tweaked optimally for them: e.g., WordPress hosting, Drupal hosting, Magento hosting, etc. In these cases, the best hosts do far more than just provide the minimal requirements for those platforms. They provide a rich, and fully managed environment so your site can perform like a well-tuned machine.
Hosting a website together with mailboxes requires strong security measures. A big set of rules and terms when purchasing a provider does not always limit you. In this case, it means the more protected servers. If your provider restricts adult content, does not tolerate spam and scam - there's less chance that you'll feel the negatives of hosting email on the same server.

An example here is the rapidly growing trend of "inbox zero." It's actually known by a variety of names, but it refers to the practice of keeping your email inbox count at zero stored emails. Essentially, it's dealing with every email as it comes in and then deleting or archiving each one so that your inbox is always empty. This boils down to a fundamental shift in how users are utilizing their email inboxes.


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.
We know you want free hosting, but the flexibility, support, and features included with even bare-bones shared hosting plans are well worth the minor investment. For $3 or less per month, hosts will give you all you need to make a successful website for your small business: a free domain, website builder, SEO tools, advertising credits, eCommerce capabilities, and around-the-clock support for prices that can’t be beat.

For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as Senior Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out web hosting, music, utilities, and video game copy, Jeffrey makes comic books, mentors, practices bass and Jeet Kune Do, and appears on the odd podcasts or convention panel. He also collects vinyl and greatly enjoys a craft brew. You can a find Jeffrey online at jeffreylwilson.net, or send him a tweet at @jeffreylwilson
HostGator gained points for uptime monitoring and regular backups, along with free cPanel or Plesk. We liked that SSH is available for the more technically inclined site operators and that dedicated IP addresses could be purchased. We did take points off because it's sometimes difficult to tell what the price is once promotional plans run their course. That said, with a generous 45-day money back guarantee, there's a hosting solution for almost everyone at HostGator.
Thriving businesses can outgrow cloud or VPS hosting plans, requiring more powerful computing resources to keep websites at peak performance. Upgrade to a dedicated server when your site receives high amounts of traffic. The price can be steep for the top level of hosting, but dedicated plans come with the utmost in support, infrastructure, uptime, and performance.
Migration or transfer services are often free or offered at a reasonable fee. These services help move your existing site to the new hosting provider. They can save a huge amount of hassle. Just remember that the migration process is often automated, and may fit in with the host's processes and needs rather than yours. Not everything may migrate, and you may find the organization of the newly migrated site makes for harder maintenance in the long run.
Shared web hosting is a good option for businesses looking to keep costs down. A shared web hosting provider will host multiple sites, owned by multiple customers, on one server. The site owners share the costs of operating the server, so pricing is much lower than VPS or dedicated hosting, usually less than $10 per month. However, site owners are also sharing the server’s ability to transfer data, which means your site’s performance can be slow if one or more of your hosting neighbors experience a traffic spike.
The biggest drawbacks: scrubbing your records is not fast enough because the emails are retained for 14 days, and system logs up to 180 days. Also, compared to Rackspace, Zoho and G Suite, Fastmail has less storage space for a basic plan: only 2 GB for $3/user/month. Still, we’re giving it the highest rating, 5 for Value, on account of the sheer number of supported features.
With customer relationships at stake, you don’t want to trust just anyone with your business communications. We appreciate a host that includes all sorts of secure, reliable, and easy-to-use email features with your hosting plan, such as unlimited accounts and a free domain. Keep an eye out for plans that include autoresponders, spam filters, forwarding, and webmail options, too.
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. 

For those unlucky enough to choose an email host that doesn't have built-in spam detection, it can often be an ordeal to route email correctly through a third-party filtering service. Some businesses actually prefer engaging with a third-party spam filterer, mostly for compliance or customization reasons. But, for the majority of SMBs, this is headache they would be best off trying to avoid.
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?
Tutanota has a highly secure, end-to-end encrypted email platform with a slogan, “Secure mail for everyone.” As a result, all your data including subjects and attachments remain private at all times. Even non-Tutanota users can be asked to verify their passwords before opening your emails. The web interface is spartan but does not lack in features and functionalities.
One great way to protect data is by using email encryption. This feature can do wonders for protecting your organization's privacy and that of your employees, but it demands some investigation when you're selecting your provider. Is it built-in or do you require a third-party tool? Does it use common standards that the recipient can process? What about Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates? Are they included or do they need to be purchased separately? The best-in-class tools will not only make encryption easy for anybody to configure and use, buy they'll also make it easy for you to understand pre-purchase.
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.

You can also host your website on WordPress.com, but that's different from the kind of hosting mentioned above. WordPress.com uses the same code from WordPress.org, but it hides the server code and handles the hosting for you. In that sense, it resembles entries in our online site builder roundup. It's a simpler but less flexible and customizable way to approach WordPress hosting. It's definitely easier, but if you want to tinker and adjust and optimize every aspect of your site, it might not be for you.
In housing terms, VPS hosting is like renting your own apartment in a larger building. You're much more isolated than in the roommate situation mentioned above; it's still possible that a neighboring apartment could causes annoyance for you, but far less likely. In web hosting terms, Site A's traffic surge won't have nearly as much impact on Site B or Site C. As you'd expect, VPS hosting costs more than shared hosting. You'll pay roughly $20 to $60 per month.
As with backups, SSL certificates are not a necessary feature your web host must offer, this is especially so since companies like Let’s Encrypt offer them for free. However, if you’re looking to streamline the process of getting your site fully equipped and online in no time, the extra convenience of getting this certificate from your web hosting provider is a nice add-on.
Our Website Backup automatically backs up your data – every day. And in worst-case scenarios, if disaster strikes, it’s ok – you can restore your data with a single “click.” So, get Website Backup and stop worrying about data loss. Get back to doing what you do best – running your business and making money. And speaking of money, here’s the best part – we’re offering it for only $2.99/mo.
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.
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