Web Hosting For Your Online Business

Web Hosting For Your Online Business

Web Hosting For Your Online Business

Today, having a website is essential for your business. Even if it only mentions your services, opening hours and contact details, most of your customers will find you via online search engines.

You can no longer depend on word of mouth or traditional marketing to generate sales.

But for those with small budgets or who are not tech-savvy, deciding on the best website hosting platform, then creating a website, can be a stressful process.

This article will help you understand what web hosting is, how to pick a host and what the best web hosting sites are.

What Is Web Hosting?

Web hosting is a service that enables you to share your website with the public on the internet.

Websites are stored and accessed through servers; web hosts provide these servers.

To make themselves competitive, web hosts also offer additional services such as:

  • Personalized email accounts
  • Integrations with other software such as Calendly
  • Tech support
  • Online store
  • File storage

The best host for you will depend on the primary function of your business. For example, eCommerce hosting for small businesses will have different requirements from hosting for an online consultancy service that does not sell products.

What Are the Different Types of Web Hosting?

While the general idea of web hosting is simple, it can get complicated when looking at the different types of web hosting.

There are seven types of hosting:

1. WordPress Hosting

Best for: bloggers, beginners, online businesses

WordPress hosting is probably one of the most popular hosting types, especially among bloggers.

It uses the content management system from and is optimized for websites built using WordPress.com

Typically, the host will take care of updates and security, leaving you free to customize and manage your website content. You can also choose a cheaper but less managed hosting option.

As WordPress is so popular, there are endless amounts of templates and plug-ins for you to create the best site for your online business.

2. Cloud Hosting

Best for: eCommerce sites and high-growth websites

Cloud computing is becoming a popular storage option for online technologies as it depends on a network of servers working together rather than one single server.

Because the website data is spread over multiple servers, there are a couple of advantages of cloud hosting for websites:

  • It is reliable with near-constant uptime, as even if one server is having trouble the others can pick up the slack
  • More safeguards against cyber hacking

3. Shared Hosting

Best for: hobby bloggers and small self-hosted sites

Shared hosting is when you share a space with other clients from the host company.

The advantage is that you are sharing costs, which is great for small businesses not expecting large amounts of traffic.

Shared packages sometimes come with:

  • Free domain name and SSL certificate
  • Auto-backups
  • Security scans

But there are several disadvantages. If the site you share a server with has a lot of traffic or gets hacked, your site’s performance may also suffer or even get removed. Additionally, if your site draws a lot of traffic, you could get charged extra.

4. VPS

Best for: media-heavy websites

Virtual Private Server hosting is a form of shared web hosting.

VPS hosting mimics a dedicated server within a divided shared server. It has its own storage, operating system and RAM.

It is more expensive than typical shared hosting but more stable and efficient.

It sounds complicated, but a helpful analogy would be that VPS hosting is similar to renting an apartment in a fancy building. Shared hosting is like having a roommate.

In your VPS hosting apartment, your neighbors might annoy you, but more often than not, you will go undisturbed.

In your shared hosting apartment, your roommate will more than likely interfere at some point.

5. Colocation

Best for: businesses in regulated industries such as healthcare and finance

In colocation hosting, you purchase your own private server but have it stored with a host.

You have complete control over the server and can install any script you need.

It is a hosting method that significantly reduces costs for businesses that would otherwise need a large on-premise data center.

While not ideal for small businesses, it is a hosting type you should become familiar with for future growth.

6. Dedicated Server Hosting

Best for: high-traffic websites or businesses that handle sensitive data

For this type of hosting, you pay for your own dedicated server. Keeping with the property analogy, a dedicated server is like living in a detached house.

The server is fully customizable with increased security, resources and performance.

The negatives are that it is expensive and requires a lot of maintenance.

7. Managed Hosting

Best for: growing businesses without their own tech support

For this type of hosting, a managed service provider gives you access to infrastructure, a hosting plan and maintenance.

Larger businesses will turn to this option when they need:

  • To extend an on-premises data center
  • Expand data storage
  • Separate sensitive data storage
  • 24/7 customer support

In the absence of an IT department, small businesses can also benefit from managed hosting by receiving:

  • Regular maintenance and updates
  • Data backups
  • Security monitoring

What to Look For in a Web Hosting Service

When subscribing to a web host, you will have to choose from a selection of plans. They often come in tiers and the more you pay, the more features you will have access to.

Regardless of the subscription level you choose, there are several features that you should look for:

  • 24/7 customer service – Ideally, you want access to live chat or phone support. Additionally, the host should have a knowledge database and forum.

  • Email hosting – Some web hosts offer email services as part of their subscription. Others sell add-on email packages for $5 to $10. Having an email address that matches your business increases customer confidence. It also helps streamline departments and services when you have an address for each.

  • Performance and security – When hosting, the reliability of your website is dependent on the reliability of the host server. Look for a host with high uptimes and low downtimes. The host should also have anti-malware, anti-virus and top-level security features.

  • eCommerce tools – While not necessary for everyone, if you will use your website for selling, you need a web host with either built-in eCommerce or third-party integrations. Some may even provide email marketing tools. Assess which features your online store needs or may benefit from.

  • Pricing – Prices vary between web hosts, meaning there is a provider to suit each budget. There are also usually different pricing options on each host and a substantial discount if you opt for a longer subscription. For example, Bluehost monthly fees drop to below $3 when you commit to 36 months.

  • Storage space – For beginner businesses, this may not be your top priority. But if you are focused on growth, you want a host that can hold all your content and a large number of visitors.

Pros and Cons of Free Web Hosting

For start-ups with no budgets, or those testing out online spaces for the first time, there is the option of free web hosting.

The advantages of free hosting are:

The disadvantages are:

  • Limited features and customization
  • Often disk storage space is small, so you can’t upload large files
  • Can’t choose your own domain name, or have it appended to the host's, making your business look unprofessional (consider serious-business.webhostservice.com versus serious-business.com)
  • There are fewer security tools
  • Customer service can be unreliable

For businesses that only need minimal information on their websites, such as opening times and contact details, a free host could be a suitable option.

However, for online businesses, a free host can be very limiting.

Best Web Hosting For Your Online Business 2021
Best Web Hosting For Your Online Business 2021

1. Bluehost

Host type: WordPress
Price: Starting from $2.95 per month with a 36-month subscription
Best for: Inexpensive hosting and uptime

Features:

  • Free domain and SSL certificate
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Cloudfare security integration
  • Dedicated WooCommerce plan

Pros:

  • 99.99% uptime; incredibly reliable
  • Seamless WordPress integration
  • Lots of customization options

Cons:

  • No monthly plans
  • Limits on data transfers

Visit Bluehost

2. Hostinger

Host type: Shared, Cloud, VPS
Price: Starting from $2.59 per month
Best for: Beginners

Features:

  • 24/7 "Customer Success" team
  • Email accounts
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited websites with one account

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Extremely fast
  • Excellent customer service team with live chat

Cons:

  • Can sometimes be difficult to get hold of customer support
  • Monthly subscriptions are expensive
  • Add-ons can make subscriptions expensive

Visit Hostinger

3. Hostgator

Host type: Shared
Price: Starting from $2.75 per month
Best for: Shared hosting and online businesses needing eCommerce

Features:

  • Shopping carts and payment gateways
  • Unlimited file transfer, bandwidth and email
  • 24/7 server monitoring

Pros:

  • 24/7 support
  • 99.99% uptime
  • Large knowledge base

Cons:

  • No WooCommerce specific plans
  • Can be more costly compared to competitors

Visit Hostgator

4. Dreamhost

Host type: Cloud
Price: Starting from $2.59 per month
Best for: Beginners and online businesses planning for quick growth

Features:

  • 97-day money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited traffic on every plan
  • Free daily backups
  • Lots of eCommerce features

Pros:

  • If your business goes viral, you will not get charged for the extra traffic
  • Free domain and SSL for the first year
  • Excellent storage options

Cons:

  • No phone support
  • Business hours only live chat
  • Uptime is not as reliable as competitors

Visit Dreamhost

5. GreenGeeks

Host type: VPS
Price: Starting at $2.95 per month
Best for: Eco-conscious business owners

Features:

  • Partnered with US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Buys 3x the amount of renewable energy credits to account for the energy used to power GreenGeeks' websites
  • Unlimited file storage and bandwidth
  • Email accounts

Pros:

  • Environmentally conscious
  • 99.99% uptime
  • 24/7 live chat and email support

Cons:

  • Higher renewal fees
  • No phone support
  • The unlimited files storage only applies to active webpages
  • While bandwidth is unlimited, other aspects that affect visitors' speed of access to your website (such as the CPU or RAM of servers) can be

Visit GreenGeeks

6. WP Engine

Host type: Managed
Price: Starting from $30 a month
Best for: Businesses with a big budget

Features:

  • 24/7 support
  • Free daily backups
  • Free migration from previous hosts
  • Free access to Genesis framework

Pros:

  • Easy to use interface
  • 60-day money-back guarantee
  • Enterprise-grade security
  • Incredibly fast

Cons:

  • Expensive plans
  • No email accounts
  • Number of disallowed plug-ins

Visit WP Engine

7. SiteGround

Host type: Shared
Price: Starting from $3.95 per month
Best for: eCommerce businesses

Features:

  • 99.99% uptime
  • Daily auto backups
  • Dedicated GrowBig WooCommerce plan
  • Unlimited email accounts

Pros:

  • Exceptional customer support
  • Automatic WordPress updates
  • Auto-install eCommerce apps

Cons:

  • Low storage for basic plans
  • No automatic site setup

Visit SiteGround

Free Hosting

8. Wix

Features:

  • Subdomain (for example, serious-business.wix.com)
  • 500 MG of storage
  • 500 MG of bandwidth
  • Access to templates

Pros:

  • Good site speed
  • Excellent support team
  • Access to Wix App Market

Cons:

  • Adverts will be placed on your site
  • Need to pay for the upgrade to remove adverts
  • Free plans will use Wix branding
  • Site is not transferable

Visit Wix

9. Wordpress.com

Features:

  • Sub-domain (for example, serious-business.wordpress.com)
  • Free website template
  • 3 GB of storage

Pros:

Cons:

  • Will display adverts on your site
  • Need to upgrade to remove adverts, get a custom domain and unlock additional features

Visit Wordpress.com

10. Weebly

Features:

  • Subdomain (for example, serious-business.weebly.com)
  • Design flexibility
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Access to Weebly App Centre

Pros:

  • Site is transferable
  • Drag-and-drop design
  • Can make very professional-looking sites

Cons:

  • Limited blogging tools
  • Need to upgrade to a paid plan for more features
  • Their payment method, Square, is not accepted everywhere, limiting eCommerce businesses

Visit Weebly

11. Amazon Web Services

Features:

  • Wide array of always free and 12-months free trials on various features
  • Diverse selection of tools
  • Reliable encryption and security

Pros:

  • Great for students and beginner developers
  • Managed IT services available
  • Affordable plans

Cons:

  • Not easy for small businesses to use
  • Experiences regular Cloud glitches
  • Has limits on the number of instances allowed of AWS resources, dependent on the location accessing your website

Visit Amazon Web Services

Final Thoughts

If you are building your online businesses' website yourself, deciding on a host is your first obstacle as there are many to choose from.

The most popular is Bluehost. They have easy WordPress integration, are easy to use and have great prices.

For eCommerce businesses, SiteGround usually tops reviews because of their eCommerce plug-ins and integrations.

For small businesses, HostGator offers great value for money with unlimited storage and free back-ups.

While there are free options, they are not recommended for online businesses as they offer little integrations and customization and are more suited to beginners looking to extend their skills.

Before committing to a web host for your online business, take the time to:

  • Read as many reviews as you can
  • Ask advice from friends or other business owners that have built their own websites
  • Make a list of everything you want your website to do and see which host matches

Changing host later is possible, but it's best to get it right in the beginning to save your energy for growing your business.


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