You gain the most web-building functionality if you create a self-hosted site. This typically involves transfering the free WordPress CMS to server or signing up for a web host's optimized WordPress plan. With an optimized plan, the host automatically handles backend stuff, so you don't have to worry about updating the plug-ins and CMS, and enabling automatic backups. In these instances, the WordPress environment typically comes pre-installed on the server.
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.
Our surprise find, Migadu is a little-known Swiss email hosting provider which delivers unbelievable price/performance value along with top-notch security. It lacks fancy features but does the job of email hosting with guaranteed privacy at the cheapest plan of $4/user/month. One may also go for Runbox and Amazon Work Mail, but it was outside the scope of this article.
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.
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.
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.
If you're a WordPress user, Bluehost is definitely a web hosting provider to consider. While its managed WordPress hosting is a little more pricey than basic shared hosting, the company has both specific WordPress and WooCommerce hosting plans available (along with management support). It also offers a site migration service for an additional fee.
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.
Ultimately, it boils down to a balance between cost, features, and risk. It's always tempting to simply jump on the lowest-cost solution, but the fact that email is ubiquitous keeps this from being the smart play. It's nearly impossible to escape using it, which means your users, your customers, and the guts of your business have all come to depend on it in different ways. You need to discover those ways, evaluate them, and then choose a service that either meets or improves on them. This takes time, discussion with your IT staff, and some investigation; these are steps you don't want to skip. Otherwise, you'll pay for it later.
A VPS also allows for more customization and control of data transfer and storage, and thus many business owners will opt to switch to a VPS as their sites grow. Several virtual private servers can be installed on a single physical server, and customers can take as much space as they need. Many hosts even offer daily billing in which you only pay for the resources you consume. VPS hosting essentially acts in a similar way as a dedicated server without actually being one.
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.
If you’re not online, many people won’t know you or your business exist, as 95% of consumers search for local businesses online. Business owners aren’t the only ones who benefit from a powerful online presence. Creatives can share their artistry. Writers find a platform from which to be heard. And computer science majors can flex their programming muscles.
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Email isn't going away any time soon. Despite a rise in adoption of collaboration-based communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, 86 percent of professionals prefer to use email for business purposes. How companies host, store, and distribute their email—that's the area that has undergone a massive transformation. Businesses are veering away from costly onsite email servers running products such as Microsoft Small Business Server and looking instead to the cloud with hosted email solutions. Businesses of all sizes have realized the wisdom of going with a scalable and secure hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution with guaranteed uptime that breaks down pricing into flexible, per-user charges.
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.
The company's entry-point pricing is extremely low, and while this will buy you up to three years of very low-cost hosting, do be aware that its post-promotion price will increase substantially, putting its subsequent year pricing more in line with the rest of its competitors. That said, we liked its 24/7 phone customer support, SSD support on some plans and 30-day money-back guarantee.
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.
Start from scratch or choose from over 500 designer-made templates to make your own website. With the world’s most innovative drag and drop website builder, you can customize or change anything. Make your site come to life with video backgrounds, scroll effects and animation. With the Wix Editor, you can create your own professional website that looks stunning.