Top Three Hosting Providers for Bloggers
One of the most critical points of having a successful blog is picking the right host. You may be able to create excellent content, but you’re not able to attract and sustain enough traffic for your content because there is a problem with your web host.
Because of this, many bloggers, particularly those who are just starting out, think that trying to pick the best hosting provider is very difficult. And expensive. One frequent conclusion they arrive at is that they have to spend top dollar in order to take advantage of the features of the best hosting provider. This can be quite a problem for many, since not all bloggers can afford to, or are willing to shell out a lot of money when they are starting their blog.
We will try to help out by looking at the top hosting providers suggested for bloggers today and comparing them on various key points. Hopefully, this will help you decide on the hosting service provider that fits you best.
WEB HOSTING OVERVIEW
Included in everyone’s list of blogging essentials or most important blogging tools are the right blogging platform, various hardware and software, backup facilities, and other devices such as cameras and accessories, notebooks, planners, and the like. One item that should never go missing from that list is a web host.
You can look at web hosting as the space on the internet that you are renting, where you can build your website and run it, for your readers or users to be able to view or access it. The web hosting provider is, in effect, your landlord, since he is the one providing that space on their servers. The web hosting company will own the servers where your website files will be stored for delivery to your users or readers.
Despite the fact that these hosting providers offer essentially the same service, they have variations when it comes to the types of hosting and the different features that come with them. This is where things get complicated for prospective bloggers.
Hosting providers differ on the type of web hosting services they offer, which includes the following:
- Shared hosting: This type of hosting is ideal for those who are fine with their hosting package being subjected to certain limitations, such as when it comes to data transfer and traffic. This also tends to be more affordable, so users who are not willing to spend too much on a web host will naturally go for this*.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting: Small businesses want a little bit more control than what they get from a shared hosting, but they also do not want to spend a lot of money on their website. That is why they usually opt for VPS hosting.
- Dedicated hosting: If you are a business eyeing very high daily traffic on your website, then you should be willing to spend more on it. A dedicated hosting is what you want; even if it is very expensive, you get to take advantage of its powerful hosting features.
- Managed WordPress hosting: WordPress and other similar content management systems have certainly made blogging so much easier, which is why many would still want to make use of WordPress CMS even when they avail of the services of a web hosting company. Many of these service providers now offer Managed WordPress hosting, which integrates this CMS with their hosting plans.
Unfortunately, not all hosting providers offer these four services, so that is another consideration you should look into when making your choice.
Why is it important to choose the right hosting provider?
- Reliability and performance: One of the problems that website owners – not just bloggers – dread is their website going down. There are hosting providers that often have these downtimes which results to lost traffic, lost customers and lost revenues. If users are unable to access a site or blog, they are not likely to visit it again.
- Speed: Put yourself in the shoes of your readers: would you want to visit a blog that has a very slow loading time? Search engines also rank blogs while taking the loading times into consideration, so if your hosting provider makes your blog sluggish, then you are losing readers, and it is time to look for a better, faster, one.
- Security: Many bloggers have lamented loss of hours and hours of work they have done on their blogs, only to lose all of it in a flash, due to cyber-attacks and similar forms of security breach problems. The reason? Their web hosting provider does not offer much in terms of data backup and security. And it is not just your content at risk here. There is also that probability that the personal information you provide the hosting company will be accessed by other parties. That is why you also have to look into how the company will be able to protect your information.
When choosing the right hosting provider for you, you have to do research – lots of it. Read up on the features and product offerings of the hosting providers you are considering. Take note of the recommendations by bloggers and experts. Ask around for opinions of those who have tried these hosting providers and take note of their input. It may be quite tedious and, if you’re not a fan of doing research, you might think you are wasting your time. But think of it as playing safe than being sorry later on. You do not want to spend your money on a hosting provider that ends up not giving you the exact hosting service that you need, do you?
CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT HOSTING PROVIDER
As much as we would like to go by gut feel alone, that is not really advisable, especially if you want to get your money’s worth. To help you along, let us take a look at the key factors that will aid in your determination of which hosting provider you should choose.
True, you can avail of free blog hosting by sites such as Blogger, WordPress.com and Tumblr, but you can only do so much with them. If you want to take your blogging to a serious level, then you have to be willing to invest some money on it. But, of course, spending indiscriminately is out of the question. You have to pick one that gives you the most bang for your buck.
Of course, being the cheapest does not mean that it is the best option, because that plan may have very limited offerings. Compare the hosting plans of the webhosting companies and see what features are covered. Do they come with tools, or do you have to purchase them separately?
It is also important to read the fine print regarding the coverage of the costs or fees that you will be charged with. Is the monthly fee you are presented with just an introductory price? How much will you be charged when you have to renew?
Some webhosting companies have servers for both Windows and Linux, while others are mostly Linux-based or Windows-based only.
“Uptime” refers to the length of time that the servers used by the web host are kept up and running, keeping your website available and accessible online. There are several monitoring sites showing a comparison of the uptime track record of hosting providers, so you should check those out. The companies themselves provide guarantees of their uptime, but you should not wholly take their word for it. A little research on your part will not hurt.
You should choose a hosting provider that takes active steps to ensure “maximum uptime”, so you will not have to worry about your blog going down.
Over time, your blog will grow. Your traffic will increase, and so will your blog’s requirements. Pick a hosting provider that will be able to accommodate these changes easily, so you do not have to go through the painful process of looking for another webhost that can accommodate your current needs and going through the whole cycle of migrating all over again.
Just how much customer and technical support will the web host provide? You will definitely want a web hosting company that will be available at all hours in order to provide technical assistance, especially in the early stages of your setting up a blog. This is particularly required by those who are not at all tech-savvy.
Is experience another deciding factor? Of course it is. The longer the hosting provider has been in business, it would indicate good business practices and quality products and services. Read reviews and testimonials from actual people and entities that are using the products and services of these companies. A simple background check will also help you narrow down the list.
TOP HOSTING PROVIDERS FOR BLOGGERS
There are hundreds of hosting providers today, but we will concentrate on the “cream of the crop”, so to speak. These three web hosting companies have been topping the list of top hosting providers for several years straight, and for good reason.
Founded in 2003, Bluehost* has consistently stayed in the top 15 largest web hosts in the world in recent years, hosting more than 2 million websites. We have prepared a very practical guide to how to start a blog. Check it out or watch our video explaining how to set up a blog using bluehost!
1. Shared hosting
There are three shared hosting packages to choose from:
- Basic, $3.95 per month*: Users can maintain one website, with a 50GB space and unmetered bandwidth available. Already included is 1 domain, with the option of 5 parked domains and 25 sub-domains. It also comes with 5 email accounts with each email having a 100 MB storage. This basic account is ideal for those who are just starting out.
- Plus, $5.49 per month: Users can maintain up to 10 websites with this account, since there are 150GB space available. Only 1 domain is included, but it has 20 parked domains and 50 sub-domains. Up to 100 email accounts may be maintained, with each account having storage space of 500 MB. Additional features include a Global CDN and 1 SpamExperts, as well as $150 worth of marketing offers.
- Business Pro, $13.95 per month: This is the ultimate package for business websites. It can host an unlimited number of websites, since it comes with an unmetered website space and bandwidth. Even the number of parked domains and sub-domains is unlimited, and you can have as many email accounts as you want. It also comes with extras such as $300 worth of marketing offers, 2 SpamExperts, 1 Dedicated IP and 1 Domain Privacy, plus the Site Backup Pro feature.
2. Cloud solutions
Bluehost allows users to build their sites on the Cloud, using their technology, for as low as $5.95 per month (the Starter account), or for $8.95 per month (the Performance account) or $15.95 per month (the Business Pro account). Bluehost guarantees increased reliability of sites, as well as faster performance and a simpler and easier-to-use interface.
3. WordPress hosting
WordPress users find Bluehost to be the most ideal web host to migrate to, since the latter offers optimized hosting for WordPress. For $12.49 on the first month, bloggers will be given 30GB storage and 30GB backup space on a 2GB RAM. Bloggers can manage up to 5 WordPress sites. The 1-Click WordPress install feature takes a lot of the hassle it usually takes to set up a blog on WordPress, even in other web hosts that offer managed WordPress hosting.
4. VPS hosting
Bluehost boasts highly reliable virtual private servers, guaranteeing more power and flexibility, as well as according users more control over their blogs. The plans are decidedly more expensive, but if you are willing to spend at least $15 per month, then it shouldn’t be a problem.
5. Dedicated hosting
If you want to have full control of your website, getting a dedicate Bluehost server is the best option. It’s the most expensive option, but you get to enjoy premium features, high security and advanced control over your site.
Bluehost also offers migration services for users who already have a website but would like to move from another web host. Beginners also have the option of getting their new website up and running with a one-on-one training and guidance by a Bluehost expert. All for a corresponding fee, of course ($149.99 for Migration services, and $79.99 for Quickstart service with a Bluehost expert).
When it comes to uptime, Bluehost is one of the best. You do not have to worry about your blog going down or becoming unstable, because Bluehost is one of the most stable hosts around.
Bluehost also wins when it comes to its interface, so even beginners can easily find their way around. That, coupled with its intuitive Weebly site-building software, enables even those who have no idea about coding and website design to create functional and attractive pages for their websites. WordPress heavily favor Bluehost because of its one-click WordPress installation facility.
If you want a web host that is flexible enough to offer various web hosting options, Bluehost is a great choice. You can also take advantage of expert support provided by the Bluehost team 24/7. Their 24-hour live char support gives users access to technical support at practically any time of the day.The experts know what they are talking about, and your issues are quickly acted upon.
Another great thing about Bluehost is its 30-day money back guarantee. In case you’re not happy with their services and offerings, then you can opt out before the 30-day period is over, and get your money back.
Unfortunately, Bluehost does not offer shared hosting plans that can be paid on a monthly basis. You either get a one-year, two-year or three-year plan. This is quite a long-term outlook and one that requires some commitment on your part. That is not really a bad thing, but it can’t be all that good, either, especially if you are strapped for cash, or you want to “test-drive” the web host for, say, a three-month or a six-month period. You’re either in for the long haul (at least 12 months) or you’re not. But it’s not entirely bad, since you are entitled to discounts the longer the term you choose.
If you are expecting to have practically all the tools handed to you by your web host, then you can look elsewhere, because Bluehost may not have them. Chances are you have to install these add-ons yourself, which can be very tedious and time-consuming, especially if you’re not up to the task.
Bluehost is partner to various marketers and companies, so you have to bear with the various offers and ads on add-ons and services that will be thrown your way. The upselling is quite on the aggressive side, so if you have no patience for that type of thing, you should stay away.
A close competitor of Bluehost is HostGator*, also a perennial favorite among bloggers, having received many awards and recognition since it was first launched in 2002.
1. Shared hosting
HostGator has something to offer for everyone. Just take a look at their web hosting plans:
- Baby plan, $6.96 per month: It is similar to the Hatchling plan, but you get to enjoy unlimited domains with this plan.
- Hatchling plan, $4.86 per month: This plan covers one domain, but already with unmetered bandwidth. It also already comes with a shared SSL certificate.
- Business plan, $10.46 per month: This plan is furnished with a private SSL certificate, IP address, and a toll-free number.
Users availing of any of the three plans above have the option of moving to Cloud Hosting, with an additional monthly fee ranging from $2 to $3.
2. Managed WordPress hosting
Starting at $5.97 per month, you can maintain 1 WordPress site with 1 GB automated daily database backups and file-level restore. Email accounts, storage space and parked domains are unlimited, whether you choose the Starter account, or you opt for the Standard ($8.77 per month) or the Business ($13.98 per month) accounts. The Starter account also allows you to migrate one site for free.
3. VPS hosting
HostGator offers VPS hosting at a slightly cheaper price than Bluehost, charging only $11.97 per month and $19.95 monthly thereafter in their basic VPS hosting plan, Snappy 500. Users have the option of choosing any of their five VPS hosting packages: Snappy 500, Snappy 1000, Snappy 2000, Snappy 4000 and Snappy 8000, depending on their needs.
4. Dedicated hosting
Both Windows and Linux users will be glad to know that HostGator has both Linux and Windows-based servers. They also let you choose from four Dedicated Server types: Basic, Standard, Elite and Pro.
HostGator is favored by many bloggers because of their hosting plans, which are some of the more reasonable around. They also let users choose sign up for month-to-month hosting, so this is a bit friendlier to the pockets. Having many plans available in their various services means users get to enjoy more flexibility, depending on their needs.
Site creation is highly facilitated in HostGator, because users are pretty much provided with all the tools that they need. No more having to install this and that just to get something working. HostGator also claims to have 99.9% uptime, and so far there have been no instances belying that claim.
While other web hosts offer 30-day money back guarantees, HostGator took it a step further, extending it to 45 days. This may not be much, but for serious bloggers who want to get the most value out of their money, this is good thing.
If you are setting up a WordPress blog and you are looking for a 1-click import for WordPress, then you will be disappointed, because there is no such thing in HostGator. But that is not such a huge issue, since it is still very easy to set up WordPress on HostGator.
The user interface also needs a little getting used to. Granted, it is still user-friendly; however, it might take a while before you can fully navigate it with ease. They also make sure to provide you with links to guides that will move you along, so you have to do your part and read up so you won’t be too confused when making your way around the interface.
Email security is also something that HostGator needs a bit more work on. There are no antispam features, so the email has vulnerabilities against spam, malware and viruses.
iPage* is a sister company of Bluehost, another webhosting service provider. Does this mean they offer the same services?
1. Essential hosting
The iPage web hosting plan – the “Essential Plan” – provides unlimited disk space as well as unlimited email addresses. It also comes with the site-building tools you need, whether you are choose to use Weebly or WordPress. If you choose the 3-year plan, you will only pay $1.99 per month. When you renew, you will be subjected to the regular price, which is around $10.99 per month.
2. WordPress hosting
There are two managed WordPress hosting plans: WP Starter (at $3.75 per month) and WP Essential (at $6.95 per month). Both are core hosting plans, with a customized control panel and pre-installed plugins and themes. However, the WP Essential boasts more speed and enhanced security features.
3. VPS hosting
iPage has three VPS hosting plans – Basic, Business and Optimum. Bloggers who will choose the Basic account will be charged with $19.99 per month and be given 1GB RAM, 40GB storage and 1TB bandwidth.
4. Dedicated hosting
Similarly, iPage also has three Dedicated hosting plans: Startup ($119.99 per month), Professional ($151.99 per month) and Enterprise ($191.99 per month). The Startup account will already give you 4GB RAM, 500GB storage and 5TB bandwidth.
The “unlimited hosting space” being offered by iPage is just one of the many good things about it. Aside from that, iPage offers both Windows-based and Linux-based web hosting services, and supports the intuitive Weeblysitebuilder for the creation of attractive pages. The tools you need for site creation are all provided, so that is one less thing to worry about.
The introductory price of iPage is one of the lowest, which is the reason why many are signing up with it. The renewal price, however, is a different story, since you will have to pay considerably more.
Bloggers who plan to make money off their blogs by selling products and services will also find the shared hosting by iPage to be very useful, since it comes with the facility to set up an online store, complete with selling tools that will help you along.
They only have the “Essential Plan” in their shared hosting, so users do not really get to have a lot to choose from. It’s only a matter of choosing added features that you want to purchase. Upselling is also aggressive on this one. The marketers will come at you with their long list of products and services. You will also have to choose from among a 1-year, 2-year and 3-year plan, because there are no month-to-month plans available.
Users prefer a user interface that is straightforward and easy to understand. iPage, however, has multiple dashboards, which can potentially make the whole management process of the blog complicated and tedious.
Disclosure: Some of the links (marked with *) in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.
One of the interviews we did during our Europe-trip was an interview with both co-founders …