If you’re looking for the best web hosting for small businesses, you’ve probably realized that there are countless services available — each with different levels of service.
And when trying to figure out which option is best for your business, you’ll inevitably stumble on tons of questions, such as:
- Do you need a hosted or self-hosted solution?
- What are the most important web hosting features to look for?
- What are shared hosting, dedicated hosting, and VPS hosting?
And if that’s not overwhelming enough, switching hosting providers is a time-consuming task, to say the least. So, it pays to choose the best website hosting for your small business the first time around.
No pressure then.
That’s why we’ve put together this no-nonsense guide on how to choose the best web hosting for small businesses in 2021.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a good understanding of what features to look for and the different types of hosting available to you. Plus, we’ll provide you with an introduction to some of the best web hosting services for small businesses.
(Disclosure: This website is a part of Shopify inc. media properties. Although we strive to publish objective, accurate, and factual content, this article may contain biased opinions.)
Which Is Better for Your Business: A Hosted or Self-Hosted Solution?
Before we check out some small business web hosting services, let’s address a fundamental question: Do you want a hosted or self-hosted solution?
This is a vital question to ask because whichever option you choose will greatly affect your business and maintenance requirements. And unfortunately, many people don’t realize the difference between hosted and self-hosted websites until they’ve already spent months building a website.
So, what’s the difference between hosted and self-hosted solutions?
Hosted Website Solutions
- Hosted website platforms are ‘all-in-one’ toolkits that provide everything you need to build and manage a business online. For example, you can sign up for Shopify in minutes and immediately gain:
- A business website builder with free themes to customize the appearance of your store.
- The ability to process credit card payments securely
- An inventory management system complete with order processing and shipping tools.
- A built-in point-of-sale system to sell in-person.
- Integrations that allow you to sell via other major sales channels, such as Facebook, eBay, and Amazon.
- Built-in security, analytics, etc.
There are also more than 6,000+ Shopify apps that enable you to customize your website’s functionality.
In short, hosted website services provide an optimized, managed platform so you can focus your time and money on growing your business. No technical skills or knowledge are necessary.
Hosted solutions typically charge a monthly fee — Shopify, for instance, charges just $29 per month.
Self-hosted solutions are more hands-on. This type of small business website hosting requires you to rent server space from a provider. You then need to install, configure, and manage a content management system.
Not only that, but you’ll also need to piece together your website’s functionality by integrating different tools and services. Here’s how it typically plays out:
- Purchase small business web hosting from a provider like BlueHost or SiteGround.
- Install a content management system (CMS) like WordPress.
- Purchase and customize a website theme from a marketplace like ThemeForest.
- Integrate a commerce tool like WooCommerce to be able to take payments and manage inventory.
- Install additional WordPress plugins for security, search engine optimization (SEO), image optimization, analytics, etc.
Normally, each of these services will charge a monthly fee — bringing your monthly bill to somewhere between $50-$300 per month.
All in all, self-hosted solutions provide an enormous amount of flexibility, as you can customize virtually every aspect of your website.
However, in the words of Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.” In other words, when using a self-hosted solution, you’re responsible for building, optimizing, managing, and updating every aspect of your website.
Which Should You Go With: Hosted or Self-Hosted?
So, which type of small business web hosting should you choose? Here’s the gist:
- If you’d prefer to leave the technical stuff to the experts and focus on growing your business, use a leading hosted website solution like Shopify.
- If you’re technically-minded and want granular control over your website’s backend, self-hosted solutions are the way to go.
Now, when most people talk about web hosting, they’re referring to self-hosted services. So, from here on out, we’ll dive deeper into self-hosted website solutions.
What Is The Best Web Hosting for Small Businesses? 3 Top Services to Consider
Before we explore how to choose a host, let’s take a quick look at 3 of the best website hosting services for small businesses.
Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosts for small businesses. It offers:
- Shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting
- 24/7 support via phone and chat
- Basic website builder
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Automatic backups
- Free domain for 1 year
- Free SSL certificate
- 99.98% uptime
That said, prices increase significantly after 1 year, and there are relatively few customization options.
Prices start at just $2.95 per month for shared hosting with 50 GB of SSD storage.
With more than 30 million customers, Hostinger is another one of the best web hosts for small businesses. It offers:
- 7 types of hosting: Shared, VPS, Cloud, WordPress, cPanel, Minecraft, and CyberPanel VPS.
- A huge knowledge base
- 24/7/365 chat support
- A website builder
- Free SSL certificate
- 100GB bandwidth on the cheapest shared hosting plan
- 1 email account on the cheapest shared hosting plan
- Free domains on premium plans
The single shared hosting plan is just $1.39 per month. However, you’ll need to choose a premium plan to access most features.
SiteGround offers web hosting services for small businesses. Although you can’t use the service to purchase a domain, SiteGround offers plenty of attractive features, such as:
- 4 types of hosting: shared, WordPress, WooCommerce, and Cloud hosting
- The ability to choose server locations
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Impressive performance
- Free encryption certificate
- Daily backups
- 24/7 customer support.
SiteGround is a little more expensive than some other small business web hosting services, starting at $3.95 per month. That being said, all the plans are well managed with great support. However, there’s no dedicated or VPS hosting, so it may not be the best choice for fast-growing businesses.
5 More Top Small Business Web Hosting Services
There are plenty of great web hosting services out there to consider — here are 5 more of our top picks:
To learn more about all the hosting providers featured in this article, check out our detailed review of the 9 best hosting providers in 2021.
5 Types of Web Hosting
Now, you can read in-depth reviews about hosting providers all day — but if you don’t understand the different types of hosting available and what to look for, you won’t be able to make an informed decision. So, let’s get familiar with the basics.
There are 5 main types of web hosting to choose from, and the one you should choose depends on your needs and goals. So, let’s take a closer look at each one.
1. Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is the best web hosting for small businesses on a budget. As the name implies, your website would be stored on a server alongside other websites.
Shared hosting often comes with limited bandwidth or disk space, and you’ll usually be charged or forced to upgrade if you use more than what’s allowed. As a result, share hosting is only ideal for websites with low traffic.
Now, if all goes according to plan with your business, you’ll quickly outgrow the shared hosting plan.
So, don’t be tempted to choose a hosting provider based on its low rates for shared hosting alone. Make sure to also consider the costs of more advanced plans in case you’re forced to upgrade sooner rather than later.
2. Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress hosting is exactly what it sounds like — specialist hosting for websites using WordPress.
For this reason, managed WordPress hosting is often faster and more secure than standard shared hosting. This also means it’s usually more expensive than shared hosting.
All in all, it’s a good choice if you plan to build a website from scratch with WordPress.
3. Dedicated Hosting
If your website gets a lot of traffic, you’ll be better off paying for a dedicated server to host your website.
With this web hosting option, you can ensure that you always have enough bandwidth and disk space for your needs. There’s also the bonus of better security than shared web hosting.
Naturally, it’s more expensive than shared hosting.
4. VPS Hosting
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting plans are basically secure dedicated hosting on a shared hosting server.
VPS hosting is typically less expensive than dedicated hosting but offers many of the same benefits.
Although, keep in mind that web hosting services for small businesses don’t allocate server resources for VPS effectively. So, do some in-depth research before choosing a VPS hosting provider.
5. Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting is when your website is hosted across a network of servers. Consequently, cloud hosting typically offers better uptimes and security than shared, dedicated, or VPS hosting.
Unsurprisingly, cloud hosting is usually the most expensive type of small business website hosting.
10 Things to Look for in a Hosting Provider
Now that you understand the different types of hosting, here are 10 things to consider when choosing which provider to use:
1. Ongoing Costs
Cost is often the first consideration when making any purchase. Still, as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for,” — so it pays to understand the drawbacks to choosing a cheap plan.
Many small business web hosting services offer cheap rates to hook in new customers. They’ll then hike the rates after a set period or force businesses to upgrade when they surpass the bandwidth and disk space limitations — which can happen quickly for some users.
Bottom line, choosing a super cheap hosting provider may cost you more money in the long run. So, it’s best to base your decision on the features you need to build a successful business.
2. Free Domains
Some small business website hosts provide a free domain for 1 year when you sign up for a hosting plan.
Again, although this can be a tempting offer, it’s important to consider the long-term. If you sign up for a plan with a free domain, make sure to check the renewal cost that will hit you in one year.
3. Built-In Website Building Tools
Some web hosting providers offer built-in website-building tools.
These tools are typically very limited when it comes to functionality. But if you’re looking to build a simple website for as little money as possible, choosing a hosting provider with a decent website builder may make sense.
4. Ease of Use
Some website hosts for small businesses have clunky interfaces full of ads designed to get you to upgrade. Others are easy to use and straightforward in design.
Before you make a decision, it’s worth checking out platform reviews and seeing what others think before committing.
Small business website hosting services can’t guarantee 100% uptime — at some point, something’s bound to go wrong, and your site will be down. However, it’s smart to choose a provider with a history of reliable uptime.
Some web hosts for small businesses charge additional fees for security features. For example, if you plan to take credit card payments through your website, you’ll need an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate.
Check if there are any additional security costs you need to take into account.
7. Customer Support
It’s worth choosing a host who offers your preferred method of support — whether phone, chat, or email. Also, some web hosts offer 24/7 support which can be handy if you have a website emergency.
The term bandwidth refers to the amount of data a website can transfer to users at any given time. So, the more website traffic you have, the more bandwidth you’ll need.
Bandwidth is usually sold by the gigabyte (GB). And many web hosting services offer “unlimited bandwidth.”
In reality, there’s no such thing as unlimited bandwidth — but hosts know it’s rare for small websites to exceed the bandwidth limits in place. Still, it’s worth finding out the limits because if your site exceeds them, your site can be shut down until you upgrade to a higher plan.
Make sure you select a plan with enough bandwidth for peak times, such as when running a flash sale during Black Friday.
9. Disk Space
Disk space is the amount of storage needed to hold your website’s files.
You’ll need plenty of disk space if you plan to upload lots of high-definition videos and photos on your website. On the other hand, you won’t need much at all if you plan to have a 1-page website detailing your freelance services.
If your business grows as planned, you’ll likely need to upgrade your web hosting. So, it’s a good idea to consider the prices and features of every plan on offer before committing to a host.
Summary: Choose the Best Web Hosting For Your Small Business
When looking for the best web hosting for small businesses, it’s important to decide whether you want to use a hosted solution like Shopify or a self-hosted solution such as BlueHost, Hostinger, or SiteGround.
If you decide to go with a self-hosted solution, start with a shared hosting plan if your business is new and then consider moving to VPS hosting or dedicated hosting as you grow.