The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your Web Host

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Read the full dislcaimer.

This post was last edited on March 2019 and may change as my experience with different web hosts grows.

Finding the perfect website hosting for your needs can seem impossible. There are so many choices and recommendations, different price points and options!

Over the years I’ve worked with a lot of different hosting companies on behalf of my clients and it didn’t take me long to figure out the good from the bad. So I’m going to try and keep it simple and easy for you to choose the right one for you and your needs.

Want to know the best picks?
Most Affordable: Namecheap
Best Choice: Siteground
Highest Quality: Kinsta

Shared vs Managed

While there are more types of hosting than these two, shared and managed are going to be the most common.

Shared hosting is the most available type of hosting and likely what most bloggers and website owners will choose. “Shared hosting” just means that you are sharing a web server with other customers.

While this means cheaper costs for you, it also means you’ll be sharing resources with other customers who are on the same server as you.

This is why it’s important to choose a high quality web host. A bad hosting company will cram a ton of people on the same server to pinch pennies while their customers have a bad experience with downtime and slow speeds.

Majority of shared hosting companies include a set amount of disk space and bandwidth along with a certain number of FTP users, databases, addon domains, email accounts, backups, etc.

Managed hosting is a bit more fancy and generally used by high traffic websites that consume a lot of resources.

Managed hosting typically comes with extra features like staging sites and developer tools but often lacks some simpler things like email accounts.

These hosts are usually more hands on and provide better support, keep your website up to date, monitor security and take daily backups. Managed hosts also tend to “ban” certain plugins that interfere with their processes, such as caching and security plugins.

Some hosts, like Siteground, have the best of both worlds – the affordability of shared but the perks of managed.

It’s up to you to decide what route to take but I recommend shared hosting for new websites and managed hosting for larger, popular sites.

What You Need From Your Host

After you decide if you want to go with a shared or managed host, you’ll need to decide what needs your website has so you can look for them in hosting plans.

Since most hosts offer about the same tech specifications you’ll mainly be looking at disk space and bandwidth.

Disk space is like the hard drive on your computer. Your web host will allot you a certain amount of disk space for your website and files.

If your website is just starting out or you don’t plan to have a lot of images and content then you can probably go for the lower tier plans.

But if your website is going to be very image heavy (like a food or fashion blog) you’ll quickly burn through your disk space. You can either choose a host or plan with more disk space or choose to use somewhere else to store your images (like Amazon S3).

Bandwidth correlates to how much traffic your website is receiving. The less hits your site gets the less bandwidth it will use.

Again, if your site is new and you don’t have much traffic yet you’ll be fine with the starter plans. But if your website is already getting a lot of traffic, you’ll need to make sure the bandwidth your host provides will cover that.

The Worst of the Worst

Let’s just get into the bad hosts. These are the companies I do not recommend under any circumstance as you’ll likely be dealing with sub par support, slow loading times, and random downtime.

Ready? Any Endurance International Group (EIG) owned hosting company is a bad choice. This is a large company that owns a ton of different smaller web hosting companies.

So you might think you’re moving hosts when you’re really just changing the name. Some of the most popular EIG companies are BlueHost, HostGator, A Small Orange, and FatCow.

But the list is actually pretty huge. And all of these hosting companies suffer from the same issues that make people want to run for the hills after they’ve paid for years of service.

Not included on the list is one of the hosting companies I loathe the most – GoDaddy.

Every time I have the displeasure of working on a GoDaddy hosted website, I’m shocked by how difficult some things are. Their control panel is a mess and you can’t get in touch with their support unless you get on the phone (news flash – I hate phone calls).

And if you find yourself already with one of these companies then it’s never too late to migrate.

Most Affordable: Namecheap

Let’s start with the most affordable web host on this list – Namecheap.

Namecheap is most known for their domain names but began offering hosting in the past few years. They’ve been my domain company for as long as I can remember and I’ve never had a problem.

So I bit the bullet and moved my website to their hosting in 2018. Before that my website was on Siteground and while I was very pleased over there I needed to cut back on my expenses, and Siteground’s renewal isn’t exactly cheap. So with a special promotion at Namecheap I was able to get a year of the Stellar Plus plan for less than $30.

Some of the things I like about Namecheap‘s hosting:

  • they aren’t skimpy with disk space, bandwidth, or things like email and ftp accounts
  • the cPanel is easy to use and you get Softactulous for quick WP installs
  • it’s incredibly affordable and you can pay by the month
  • an SSL certificate is included for the first year

There are a few problems I’ve had though… I’ve noticed sometimes my website is very slow to load or gets hung up. I’ve also had a few occasions where it doesn’t load at all and gives me an error, but refreshing the site fixes it.

In my opinion, you get what you pay for so I accept that’s the quality I’ll get for using a cheaper host. I still think it’s better than going the Bluehost or GoDaddy route as you’ll consistently have issues there rather than seldom.

Because my website is small, well optimized, and doesn’t get a ton of traffic I can get by without a high powered web host. But if I ran a popular blog or had a lot of different plugins running I probably would see more performance issues.

Namecheap also offers a “managed” solution called EasyWP that’s also very affordable (starting at $3.88 if you pay monthly) but it isn’t as advanced as true managed hosts like WP Engine. And you can only use it with a Namecheap domain.

It’s essentially easy mode for WordPress and doesn’t include Cpanel but it does offer some decent specs for the price. You’ll likely be on a less crowded, SSD drive compared to their shared hosting plans.

If you’re seeking other affordable hosts you might check out A2 Hosting. They have comparable prices and features to Namecheap and tend to have good reviews – even my aunt uses them!

Namecheap affordable shared web hosting

Try Namecheap and save 50% on your first year!

Best Choice: Siteground

Siteground is my number one hosting recommendation to pretty much anyone who asks and I even wrote an entire blog post about why I love them.

I used Siteground hosting for two years before migrating over to Namecheap, and I only did so to save on expenses. During that time I was never unhappy with their service and my site was always online and fairly speedy.

Since migrating I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my website performance (which you already know if you’ve read about Namecheap above).

The best things about Siteground are:

  • Incredible support and response time, they always solve my issues
  • Fast loading times and site speed, plus extra caching tools
  • “Managed” approach to shared hosting with daily backups and auto-updates
  • Free SSL certificates for all your websites

Siteground web hosting is perfect for small to medium sized blogs and websites but they do have their limitations. I’ve seen a lot of clients with popular shops or multiple websited outgrow what they offer.

Their top plan, the GoGeek Plan, tops out at 30GB of disk space and 100K visits. That should be sufficient for most sites but you might find yourself getting performance issues or even maxing out your resources.

Because it is a shared web host, Siteground restricts you from using an excessive amount of CPU and resources. If you exceed that amount they can (and will) shut down your site temporarily.

Don’t let this scare you though! Siteground is a perfect host for most bloggers and you can get started with their lowest plan for $3.95. You do have to pay for the entire year upfront however.

Siteground Tip: Purchase as many years as you can at the introductory rate! Because the renewal price is nearly 3x the promo rate.

If you’re new to Siteground and wondering how you can install WordPress easily (in under 5 minutes) then check out this guide.

Get Started with Siteground for only $3.95/mo

Highest Quality: Kinsta

If you decide to go the managed hosting route or just want the literal best of the best for your website I hands down recommend Kinsta Hosting.

I discovered Kinsta simply through their extensive WordPress knowledge and articles. My job requires a lot of Googling and learning about new WordPress or development changes and Kinsta was always coming up first.

Being so impressed with their level of tech knowledge I was quick to learn more about their web hosting packages. Kinsta Hosting is aimed at higher traffic sites who need more resources and the fastest speeds you can possibly imagine.

Previously, I recommended WP Engine as my favorite managed host. And while I still think they are a good choice if their packages fit you, Kinsta honestly blows them out of the water.

Recently a client (on WP Engine) was experiencing performance issues and odd CPU spikes even though his site was generally well optimized. We moved it over to Kinsta and the pages started loading instantly. No joke, you click on a link and the page was just there, no loading or hang ups or waiting.

Take a look at some of the features included with their hosting plans:

Kinsta managed hosting features

Kinsta starts at $30 a month or $300 for the year and is well worth the price if the best performance is your number one priority. They also offer a 30 day money-back guarantee, 24/7 support, free migrations, and even a staging area to work on your website.

You can tell that attention to detail is important at Kinsta. All of their control panels and pages are expertly designed and branded. You won’t get any cookie cutter corporate dashboards, just the easy to understand custom control panel for your website.

Kinsta managed web hosting for lightning fast websites

Try Kinsta Managed Hosting and get lightning fast speeds!


Here’s a quick comparison of each of these hosts’ starter plans:

NamecheapSitegroundKinsta
Starts at $2.88 a month
20GB SSD-accelerated disk space
Unlimited bandwidth
Up to 3 websites
30 email accounts
Backups twice a week
Migration from another cPanel host
30 day money-back guarantee
Starts at $3.95 a month ($11.95/mo after promo)
10 GB SSD storage
Bandwidth up to about 10K visits
Only 1 website
Unlimited email accounts
Backups daily
Professional migrations only on higher plans
30 day money-back guarantee
Starts at $30 a month
5GB SSD storage
Bandwidth up to about 20K visits
Only 1 website
No email service
Backups daily
At least one site migration
30 day money-back guarantee

And there you have it – my detailed analysis of the best web hosting companies for bloggers and business owners. Depending on your website needs and what you can afford, there is an option out there for everyone.

Who is your current web host? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your Web Host
Heya, I'm Shaylee!

Heya, I'm Shaylee!

When I'm not stuffing my face with sushi or being forced into dog pets I help bloggers and business owners tackle the tech and make WordPress less confusing.

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11 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your Web Host”

  1. Nice review 🙂 I have used a lot of hosts over the years too, I use one not mentioned here and love them. I concur stay away from EIG companies BlueHost and HostGator. My experience, when problems arise and they will….they are not capable or willing to help.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Toya! I’d love to know what hosting company you use. There are a ton of other options I left out and I’m always interested to hear about hosts people are happy with 🙂

      Reply
  2. Very nice review! I’ve heard a lot of good things about Site Ground. But I have been with Blue Host for the past 2 years and do not seem to have hardly any issues with them like some people do. My main reason for going with them was that I could get a plan with unlimited bandwidth for 2 sites. I had someone create my first e-commerce website and they didn’t bother to tell me that I was exceeding my bandwidth and so my site would be down for a week at a time sometimes. And they never mentioned that I could purchase extra bandwidth. So I dumped them after they refused to update anything and decided to build my own. Since Blue Host was so popular at the time I went with them. So I guess I will stay with them for now, but also good to know what options are out there.

    Reply
    • Glad to hear it, Debbie! I’ve certainly heard of happy customers from Bluehost and that’s always a good thing 🙂 I would certainly recommend giving Siteground a try if your plan is up for renewal soon though, the change in site speed is huge!

      Reply
  3. This is awesome info as I attempt to build my first website. I purchased the domain name from GoDaddy, does that mean they are my host? I have done zip, zilch, nada with my domain since I purchased (months ago) because I got lost in the terminology. My next questions are how does one determine how much space they might need when choosing a host and is it easy to upgrade if you find yourself outgrowing what you signed up for?

    Reply
    • Congrats on starting the journey to your first website 🙂 Your domain name company and your web host can be the same company or different. The benefit of keeping them separated is that you can easily change hosts and just point your domain name to where your website is at. A lot of people like to compare your domain name to your address and the webhost to the land your home sites on, if that makes sense. You can have your domain pretty much wherever you want but I find Namecheap domains to be affordable (I pay about $11 a year for mine).

      The smallest plan on any host should be enough for someone just building their first website. You don’t really start taking up a lot of space until you have years worth of images saved or you have several websites on the same account. Image files are the number one thing I find when someone is using a lot of their hosting space. If you do happen to get close to your limit you can easily upgrade your hosting plan, most of them will work with you and prorate the month.

      I hope that helped!

      Reply
  4. Very informative and new information. Couple questions please:
    Do you recommend purchasing your domain name separate from your hosting company? i.e. Domain name with Namecheap and your hosting with Siteground. I have heard that some people recommend purchasing domain name separate from the hosting company.
    If I went with Kinsta, what would I do about email accounts as Kinsta has no email service?
    Do you have a tutorial for setting up Kinsta? Do you have an affiliate link for Kinsta?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Kathy! Getting your domain and hosting separate is a good idea. This makes it a lot easier to change hosts if you ever need to and you can pretty much just keep your domain untouched. Domains can always be transferred between companies too.

      Since Kinsta doesn’t provide email, they recommend using G Suite. It’s a popular option and many people choose to use G Suite over their own host’s email. And a lot of people just use a free Gmail account.

      I don’t have a tutorial specific for Kinsta but they have a guide with screenshots available here: https://kinsta.com/knowledgebase/new-site/

      And here is my affiliate link if you’d like to sign up 🙂 https://www.shayleesmith.com/kinsta

      Hope this helped!

      Reply
  5. Thank you so much for all these tips! Blogging can be overwhelming sometimes, especially the technical side of it. Your blog comes exactly right! I just launched my first professional blog and im so ready to learn new things! Love to you!

    Reply
  6. I’ve heard good things about Flywheel, but that its more for bigger blogs/websites. I heard a lot of developers use them but don’t know much more than that. I’ve decided to go with Namecheap for now since you are happy with them. I just felt like I could start here and then after a year if I’ m not happy Ill switch to Siteground, Lyrical Host or Big Scoots. I’ve heard great things about all three.

    Reply
    • I’ve had a mixed experience with Flywheel. I found they were a bit slow to adapt to the latest technologies. They also weren’t keeping daily backups for one of my clients; luckily I noticed and they fixed it when I contacted Flywheel. They’re still a much better choice than most shared hosting options though! I’m also a big fan of Lyrical Hosting, I need to get them added to this post 🙂

      Reply

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