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Best Web Hosting Service for Small Businesses

cloud servers best web hosting for small business

If you run an online business, you’ll want your own website. To do this, you have some options. But, the option that makes the most long-term sense is to buy the domain name and then rent hosting space from the best web hosting service you can find for your budget.

In an earlier article, we covered the basics of web hosting and pointed out what to look for in a great hosting service. This article gives you our recommendation for the best web hosting for small businesses.

If you’re impatient and want the answer now, click here to jump to our pick of the best web hosting service for small businesses. But, if you want to know how we made our pick, start immediately below.

How We Found the Candidates for the Best Website Hosting Service

To pick the best web hosting service of 2021, we first surveyed other reviews. We looked through comparisons from the cheapest web hosting companies to website hosting services with the fastest server speed.

Then, we narrowed the candidates to the companies most often mentioned. Last, we whittled the list down to the following five well-known, reputable hosting companies:

We made detailed comparisons but ultimately left out these two fairly good website hosting companies:

We also left out one extremely well-known website hosting service: GoDaddy. Over the years, we’ve noticed GoDaddy tends to hide various add-on costs. At first blush, their deals all seem very good. But, once you add up all the details, they often cost a lot more than their competitors. Because of such sales tactics, we do not recommend them as a webhost. That’s why we exclude them from our comparison.

Understanding Introductory Price vs. Regular Price in Web Hosting

Most web hosting providers use the same marketing model to acquire new customers. They offer a severely discounted domain name registration of $1 or $0 and then offer a discounted monthly price for the initial contract term.

These two discounts deserve a little more explanation.

Introductory Pricing for Domain Names

Domain names are renewed every year. So, the $0/$1 introductory price would be increased to the regular price the second year.

The regular price tends to be $15-$20 per year for the most common extensions of .com, .net, and .org. The regular price offered by web hosting providers tends to be higher than the regular price offered by domain registrars. We compared only the regular domain registration prices in our search for the best website hosting for small businesses.

Introductory Pricing for Hosting Services

Web hosting companies usually offer a discounted monthly price for the initial contract term. You’ll have to pay for the entire term upfront, but you get to pick the length of the term. With some hosting services, this term can be up to four years.

We ordinarily don’t like to discuss discounted prices in our comparison articles. However, because of the length of the contract and the significant savings, we do take intro pricing into account in our search for the best website hosting for small businesses.

When you’re still building your business, the discounted price for multiple years can help a lot in controlling your operating costs. But, if you later decide you don’t like your web hosting company, you’d either have to forfeit your money to move to another hosting company or you’re stuck with a service you don’t like for the rest of your contract term.

Other Items We Considered to Make Our Comparison

To decide the best website hosting service of 2021, we made a table for easy, at-a-glance comparison of the various plans and features. We also kept in mind the four important characteristics in a web hosting service:

  • Server speed
  • Server uptime
  • Tech support
  • Reasonably priced hosting plans

Breaking these four guidelines down further, we looked for:

A Plan That Best Fits a Small Startup Business

All web hosting providers have multiple-tiered plans at multiple price points. We focused on plans most likely to fit the needs of a small but growing business.

Usually, this is not the least expensive, base plan. Those plans tend to offer limited flexibility for growth. We often chose one plan above the base plan.

A Server Speed That Can Accommodate Both the Startup Stage and the Growth Stage

On server speed, intro plans tend to be shared server plans. So, multiple websites are loaded onto one computer server. The hosting company uses software to manage each website’s computing use, so the server isn’t overloaded so that it slows down for everyone. As long as this is well-controlled, you should experience no noticeable slowdown in server speed.

When your website gets more traffic, you might wish to move to a more expensive server plan. Often, these are Virtual Private Server (VSP) plans. With VSP plans, your website’s load speed is not dependent on the traffic of the other websites also hosted on the same server.

Our comparison table shows pricing for both the shared server plans and upgraded VSP plans.

Bandwidth Throttling to Control Traffic Surges

We also looked into whether the web hosting service uses throttling to control sudden traffic surges. When a specific website experiences a sudden surge of users, some hosting services will throttle that website’s speed to maintain a minimum load speed for other websites on the same server.

Published Server Uptime

We looked up the server uptime listed by each of the web hosting providers. They’re all very good, but be aware that this might be the uptime for the entire company. If only a small number of servers go down, this statistic might not show up on the overall server uptime number.

Type of Customer Support and Customer Complaints

Each of the web hosting providers has 24/7 customer support. If you look through internet forums, you’ll find that they’re all hit-and-miss on customer satisfaction. We believe this is because web developers are a finicky bunch, so no web hosting provider will ever be perfect to them.

The Number of Free Business Email Accounts

Web hosting is usually bundled with business email, but the number of free email addresses varies. We’ve seen bundles that give one free email inbox to an unlimited number of free email inboxes. Given that you will have to set up at least your info/admin/contact email, your own business email, and maybe business emails for a few employees, the more free email addresses you get, the better.

We recommend having at least five to ten free email addresses per domain, but of course unlimited is best.

Other Miscellaneous Considerations

We don’t list in our comparison table every feature in each plan. We only list those features we believe are the most important. Here are some of the other important items we compared.

  • SSL certificates. The SSL certificate is related to website encryption. It’s the s in the https. You’ll need it if you plan to have an online store. Even if you just run a blog, Google won’t rank your site very high if you don’t have the certificate. The better plans come with multiple free SSL certificates.
  • Number of domains hosted. With web hosting, you’re basically renting computer server space. Following this logic, some web hosting providers allow you to host multiple domains under your account. The better plans will allow you to set up at least 50-100 websites in your rented computing space.
  • Years in business. We include the year the hosting company started to do business to show how stable they are—you don’t want to sign a multiple-year contract with a hosting company that might go out of business tomorrow.

Web Hosting Providers Comparison Chart

We compared five of the most often mentioned web hosting services in the table below.

Web Hosting Providers

InMotionBlueHostHostGatorA2 HostingHostinger
Name of PlanPowerPlusBabyDriveBusiness Shared Hosting
Number of Domains Hosted50UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited100
Domain Name Renewal Cost$15.99/yr and if you want privacy then add $12.99/yr/domain  $17.99/yr for .com and .org; $18.99 for .net; if you want privacy, add $15/yr/domain  $17.99 for basically all the popular TLDs  $14.95/year for .com, .net, .org  $8.99/year for .com. $.12.99/yr for .net; no disclosure for .org  
SSL CertificateFree for all hosted websitesFree for all hosted websitesFree for all hosted websitesFree for all hosted websitesFor 1 site only. Additional SSL certificates cost one-time fee of $11.99  
Email Accounts50UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited100
Hosting Type (Shared or dedicated)SharedSharedSharedSharedShared
Bandwidth and Processing SpeedUnlimited bandwidth, 4x performance and speed  standard; unmetered bandwidth  unmetered bandwidth  unlimited bandwidth; 2 Cores; 1GB   unlimited bandwidth and databases; 4X RAM of the lowest account  
Storage Space100 GBUnmeteredUnmeteredUnlimited SSD200 GB
ThrottlingYes if exceeds speed used in “regular course of business”UndisclosedYes if usage exceeds 25% of server resources for more than 90 secondsUndisclosedUndisclosed
Intro Price*$5.99/mo for 2 years  $4.95/mo/36 mo  $3.50/mo  $3.99/mo/3 yr  $3.99/mo
Regular Price*$14.99/mo/2 years  $13.99/12 mo; $12.99/24 mo; $11.99/36 mo  $11.95/mo/1 yr;$10.95/mo/2yr; $9.95/mo/3yr  $12.99/mo; $ 11.99/mo/1-3yr  $8.99/mo
Managed VPS Cloud Hosting Price (Comparing CPU cores)**2 CPU cores, 2 GB RAM, 45 GB of storage. Intro price at $31.99/mo/3yr. Regular price $47.99/mo/3yr  2 CPU cores, 4 GB RAM, 60 GB storage (Enhanced Plan). Intro price at $29.99/mo/3yr. Regular price $59.99/mo/3yr  2 CPU cores, 2 GB RAM, 120 GB storage. (Snappy 2000). Intro offer of $19.95/mo. Regular price $79.95/mo  2 CPU cores, 4 GB, 159 GB storage (Lift 4). Intro offer $29.99/mo/3yr. Regular price $69.99/mo/3yr.  2 CPU cores, 3 GB RAM, 200 GB storage (Cloud Hosting, Startup). Intro offer $9.99/mo. Regular price $18.99/mo
Tech Support24/7/365 chat, email, phone, knowledge base24/7/365 chat, phone, knowledge base24/7/365 chat, phone, knowledge base24/7/365 chat, phone, knowledge base24/7/365 chat, knowledge base. NO PHONE
In Business Since20012003200220012004
Best Web Hosting Service for Small Businesses Comparison Chart

*Pricing current as of July 2021. Hosting companies sometimes run specials or offer discount codes through various internet forums such as Reddit. For domain names, hosting companies typically have a $1 or $0 introduction plan. We show only the renewal costs.

**On cloud hosting, we show only managed hosting plans. Managed hosting means the hosting service takes care of backend technical issues. Unmanaged cloud hosting plans typically cost a lot less.

Best Website Hosting for Small Businesses: HostGator

We recommend HostGator’s Baby plan for hosting your startup business’s website.

Right now, HostGator happens to have the lowest introductory price among the web hosting providers. However, even their regular price is one of the lowest available, so their pricing fits well with startup businesses that typically need to conserve money until revenue comes in. You can buy up to a three-year term with the intro pricing.

Looking at faster plans that you can grow into, HostGator is one of the best choices. VPS plans can be difficult to compare, as different hosting services pair different CPU speeds, RAM usage, and storage space.

Comparing CPU speed, HostGator’s plan is priced a little high. But, if you look at storage space, HostGator’s plan is one of the lowest-priced plans available. Because VPS is software-managed and can be tweaked, sometimes, CPU and RAM might not the best indicators of server speed.

HostGator’s server uptime seems generally good. Our website is hosted by HostGator. Except for a hiccup earlier in 2021 where HostGator had issues with upgrading server-side software, we’ve experienced no server downtime.

From our experience, HostGator’s tech support is fair to good. They do try to be helpful and usually can fix the issue with one or two contacts. There was one person who refused to help and insisted that we should work through our website developer even after we told them multiple times that we don’t have a developer (we built this website ourselves). Eventually, even that person was able to help us fix the tech issue.

Other than this, our website seems to load pretty fast and we’ve had no issues with mobile loading speed.

For now, we’re satisfied with HostGator. We recommend them not only based on our selection criteria but also based on our personal experience.

Runner-Up Best Website Hosting for Small Business: Hostinger

Hostinger’s pricing is hard to beat, especially when you look at VPS pricing. While we’ve had no personal experience with Hostinger, they seem to have a good reputation among other reviewers.

Compared to HostGator, Hostinger provides a little bit less value for your money on a few items:

Number of Domains Hosted100Unlimited
Number of Emails100Unlimited
Number of SSL Certificates1 site only. A one-time fee of $11.99 for additional SSL certificatesUnlimited
Tech Support24/7/265 chat, knowledge base. NO PHONE24/7/365 chat, phone, knowledge base
Storage Space200 GBUnmetered
Control PanelProprietarycPanel
Hostinger vs. HostGator Comparison Table

For each of the above categories except one, the difference between what Hostinger and HostGator provide is very small. Realistically, very few people will host anywhere close to 100 websites on a shared hosting plan. Most small businesses probably won’t need more than 100 emails. Hostinger giving only one free SSL certificate is not optimal but paying a one-time fee of $11.99 probably won’t bankrupt most small businesses.

We do point out that Hostinger doesn’t provide phone-based tech support. Many people prefer chat over a call anyway, so this may or may not be an issue, depending on your personality.

The one big issue with using Hostinger is that it uses a proprietary control panel to manage your web hosting. This might be a problem if you wish to change to another hosting service in the future.

The industry-standard hosting management software is cPanel. Most web hosting companies offer free migration services to move your website from your old host to them. However, this service often assumes you use cPanel.

Since Hostinger doesn’t use cPanel, you might have difficulties transferring your website to another hosting company. Your migration might take a long time, and the transferred website might contain errors.

This is why, although we do recommend Hostinger, we do so with a caveat.

Other Considerations Before You Sign a Multi-Year Plan with a Web Hosting Provider

While we believe HostGator provides the best website hosting for small businesses, we do think that you should consider other options before signing a multi-year contract with HostGator.

If you plan to build a blog or just have a professional, resume-style website, there’s actually a way to do it for free. You might want to see if you can keep up with writing articles day in and day out before you commit several years of your life to build this type of business.

If you plan to build a webstore, don’t forget that you can sell products on marketplaces like Amazon,, Etsy, eBay, and similar.

If you plan to sell through your own online store, also consider one-stop service providers such as Shopify and Square. These providers can get you a domain name, a template website, credit card processing, reduced price shipping, inventory management software, and much more for one (sometimes expensive) monthly price.

You can start with any or all of the above and see how you do before you make a longer-term commitment with a web hosting provider. Don’t forget: you have options and you have time. Plan your online strategy carefully. Then pick your hosting service and go from there.

Interested in starting and running a small business? Here’s the beginning of our step-by-step guide: What to do right after getting that great business idea.

Questions? Comments?