Designing and running your own website, whether for business or pleasure, is now easier than ever thanks to myriad tools and services available. From WordPress to Squarespace and Wix, there are plenty of free or affordable services around for you to setup your own site.
There are limitations to the free elements of these services, for example with Wordpress you have to have a WordPress domain. But if that site grows, for example, you set up a small business or have compelling content that has more people than you expected directing their browsers at it, you might want to consider having your own dedicated site and domain.
In that case, unless you have a web server lying around, you’ll need to find a way to host your website and its content. This is where web hosting services come in to play.
Best web hosting services
There are a lot of options here, from having a server in a co-located data centre to using cloud resources with other sites to dynamically scale up your website’s resources if it encounters high amounts of traffic, or use a virtual private server (VPS) for a dedicated slice of that cloud power.
To help you get started we have a rundown of 10 web hosting service and their key features, all worth considering if you want to setup and run your own website.
If you’re looking for a quick an easy web hosting service you could do a lot worse than 1&1. As one of the larger web hosting firms, the services by 1&1 are numerous, robust and affordable. Monthly hosting for WordPress-based sites starts at £4.99 a month though there are offers that knock that price down to a minuscule 99p.
The Basic package offers hosting for one website with a database of 1GB SSD storage and one domain free for 12 months. More expensive plans build upon those features and offer boosted website performance, as well as dedicated servers. Packages also cover managed cloud options for more professional users with prices starting at £14.99 a month.
A good range of features is also provided for free, including SSL certificates, website creation tools, and 24/7 phone and email support. And there’s a 30-day money back guarantee if you find 1&1 isn’t the web host for you, though check the small print as new domain registrations are not included in the refund.
For a feature-packed service, InMotion Hosting is one to look at. With features such ecommerce tools, malware protection and spam filters in packages at no extra cost, InMotion is offering a fair bit for a little more than £2 to £4 per month. Cloud hosting sits around £21 per month and setting up a dedicated server will set website owners back some £72 per month.
While users only get hosting for two website databases on the basic packages, enough for a couple of content rich websites, InMotion still promises speedy performance, a clean user interface, and solid tech support.
A 90-day money back guarantee is lengthy for people not happy with lack of Windows-based servers or the overall service, which certainly tends to lean towards a preference for supporting WordPress websites.
One of the most recognisable names in the web hosting world, GoDaddy offers a service to match its reputation. For a starting price going as low as £2.99 a month users can get hosting for one website with unmetered bandwidth, 100GB of storage, and access to the world’s largest domain name registrar.
GoDaddy offers steadfast website uptime, 24/7 support, and Windows and Linux based servers. It also has a user-friendly website building tools, but you’ll need to pay extra to access them and setting up a WordPress site can be challenging for newcomers.
Things get more expensive when you opt for dedicated servers, with prices topping out at £278.99 for the Ultimate package, though that offers access to a server with a powerful Intel Xeon processor, 32GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage.
A 30-day refund is on offer but it has plenty of caveats and there are cheaper hosting services available. But GoDaddy still offers robust hosting with decent performance and plenty of flexible features.
Hostgator is the service for people willing to sign up to a longer hosting contracts in exchange for cheap prices. The simple-to-use service starts at the equivalent of a mere £2 a month, yet still offers plenty of features.
The basic plan allows for unlimited bandwidth, promised near unshakable website uptime and 24/7 support 365 days a year, though there’s no email-style ticket support. Customers also get unlimited hosting for sub domains, FTP accounts and email accounts, something other hosting services don’t all offer.
For people running businesses, there’s a package for just over £4 that offers features such as a dedicated IP address and a VoIP phone service. Cloud, VPS, WordPress and dedicated hosting options are also available at prices that undercut rival hosting services.
The best deals will require a 36-month commitment but there’s a 45-day money-back guarantee if you get cold feet at the eleventh hour.
If you need a robust hosting service with solid VPS packages, then Hostwinds is worth checking out. Prices for basic shared hosting start at £2.72 a month and offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space for a single domain.
But with 10 tiers of hosting, it’s with VPS that Hostwinds excels. A managed VPS package starts at £927 a month and offers access to 512MB of RAM, 20GB of disk space, unlimited monthly data transfers and email.
Opt for more performance and storage and the price climbs up hitting £463 per month for a VPS with serious amounts of power and disk space, though this is probably best kept for people running large or money-making sites.
For people looking at setting up servers for the popular building game Minecraft, Hostwinds also offers server hosting specifically for it. This is a nice feature that compensates for a lack of managed WordPress hosting.
A2 Web Hosting
A2 Web Hosting doesn't offer a great deal different from many of the other web hosting services in the market, but it does offer fast website hosting with rock-steady uptime for packages starting at £2.83 a month. Dedicated hosting starts at a well-priced £72.09, particularly for people running a business-focused website.
Plenty of features are on offer as well, from Windows-based server packages to unlimited storage, monthly data transfers and email address hosting. A2’s Guru Crew offers rapid and acclaimed customer service.
A2 Web Hosting isn’t the cheapest service around, but it’s suite of features and options as well as solid service delivery and an hassle-free refund policy, makes it a web hosting company worth considering alongside some of the biggest names in hosting.
For people who want access to a load of tools to get their website off the ground, SiteGround has you covered. It’s not the cheapest service around but you get plenty of standard features like unlimited bandwidth and email accounts, but also extras like daily backups and access to content delivery networks that other services charge extra for.
Basic starting prices go for £6.95 per month, though introductory offers knock that down to £2.75. With 10GB of web space the StartUp packages offers just about enough for fledgeling website owners to get started. Incremental rises in price per package offer more capabilities for reasonable fees.
Things expectedly get more expensive with dedicated server packages but even the Entry Server plan for £147 per month offers access to a quad-core Intel Xeon processor, 4GB of RAM and 500GB of storage. And there are four cloud hosting packages available with prices starting at £48 per month.
If you want windows server options then SiteGround isn't for you. But for people happy with Linux servers, SiteGround has web hosting packages neatly geared towards individuals and small businesses, while offering solid website security and customer service.
Liquid Web Hosting
Liquid Web Hosting is another service offering a high-level of VPS hosting plans, with access to decent amounts of speedy SSD storage space and a choice of Linux or Windows servers starting from £28.77 a month.
There’s no option for shared web hosting, so Liquid Web is better for people after a dedicated server, cloud or VPS hosting. Prices are far from cheap for a dedicated server and cloud hosting, but high-end servers and performance are on offer backed up by strong customer service.
Managed WordPress website hosting is also on offer for people looking to setup feature-heavy WordPress sites. And for its VPS hosting Liquid Web only charges users for the number of days per month they use the service, which adds a layer of flexibility and means that customers won’t pay for a whole month worth of service if they cancel their account.
Equipped with the tools for creating attractive and functional websites through an easy-to-use interface, Bluehost is another service for people keen to get started with their own site. While Bluehost lacks Windows-based servers, it makes up for that with a range of hosting options and solid uptime at prices as low as £2.88 per month.
A range of other hosting options are on offer from dedicated servers to VPS, Cloud and WordPress website hosting. Bluehost is particularly known for its strong WordPress support and is recommended by Wordpress.org as the hosting service to use.
WordPress hosting starts at £14.55 a month, which is more expensive than some WordPress supporting services, but it does provide users with capacity for 100 million monthly visits, 30GB of site storage and access to 24/7 support.
Security, access to SiteLock content delivery network and a free SSL certificate are thrown into the starting package for good measure.
For people looking to setup multiple websites, iPage could be the hosting service you’re looking for. Unlimited domains, databases and email addresses are offered through flexible packages that start as little as £1.50 per month through introductory offers, offering scope for hosting several sites or having space for a site to grow. And packages are assembled per the customer's needs, so there flexibility on what you opt for.
To get the best deals you’ll likely need to sign up for several years at a time, but iPage does offer a host of free tools and features, ranging from a drag-and-drop page building tool to daily malware scans and spam detection. There’s a chance that for beginners the number of features could be a tad disorientating.
Free domain registration for a year is also on offer, with 24/7 customer support and a 30-day money-back guarantee to help you get out of any problems you encounter.