There are many hosting providers out there, and as with many things on the internet it is difficult to gauge which provider is best for you and your website. However, there are a few that stand out from the crowd…
…so what do you recommend
The intention of this post is to do exactly that. I will give you my recommendation.
I could produce tables of comparisons between different hosting providers detailing what they offer compared to each other, but if you are just starting out I suspect that wouldn’t be a great help as you may not know what exactly you need.
My recommendations are: Siteground or Linode
The reason there are two recommendations is that it will depend on your abilities with computers that will ultimately decide which way you go. One is managed, the other is not (i.e. you setup the server yourself, which is not for everyone, but has its advantages).
When I originally wrote this article I was just starting out and the conclusion I came to was that I would either go with Bluehost or Hostgator. I eventually decided to go with Hostgator. After using their services for a while I found them more than lacking on various fronts, and switched. If you want more details on exactly what I didn’t like about Hostgator read my other article which gives all the detail you will likely need: Hostgator Article
So how do I pick between Siteground and Linode
It is actually relatively straightforward:
If you want standard hosting with a comprehensive cPanel dashboard for managing everything then Siteground is for you. If you need ultimate flexibility, for example if you want to use bespoke features or install your own software or interfaces on the server then Linode is the way to go (think website developer or app developer).
Most people will not need Linode, as Siteground cover most bases for the average website owner or developer. In essence you will already know if you need more than Siteground offers. It is just worth bearing in mind in case you need the flexibility later.
As an example, I started using Siteground, and was perfectly happy with it until I decided to start more in depth app development, at which point I wanted to design a REST framework for my Android app. On the shared hosting that I was using with Siteground I couldn’t achieve this, as I didn’t have the access to the server I needed. I could have upgraded to a VPS server on Siteground that would have allowed this, but it was prohibitively expensive at the time. Linode could provide everything I needed to achieve my goal at a fraction of the cost of even the shared hosting, but it required a reasonable effort from me to make it happen (i.e. learning how to setup a web server on my own).
One thing I would recommend if you decide to go with Linode is definitely activate their backup package as it has saved me numerous times already and is not a great addition in cost. My hosting comes to a grand total of roughly $7 a month with it included!
Are there any hosts you wouldn’t recommend?
In short, yes.
I wouldn’t touch GoDaddy or Hostgator.
I have used their hosting while working on a friends website, and it was a tedious and annoying experience.
GoDaddy has its own proprietary interface, which as far as I can tell is designed to make you upgrade as much, and as often, as possible, rather than help with your website hosting. This is even the case in the sign up process, which may well mean you end up with additional nonsense that you just don’t need.
The particular hosting account of my friend had limited size to the email inboxes, which is bad enough. However, trying to figure out how and where to create an inbox…and how much space you could assign was a nightmare I will never forget.
I do however have one good thing to say about GoDaddy. I once had to call tech support to help with a problem I was having with email integration into a website. I ended up talking to the nicest and most helpful guy you could imagine. He literally spent an hour (or more) trying to fix the problem over the phone, and when he couldn’t he was genuinely annoyed at his failure to help! I don’t know whether this guy was a one off, and I’m sorry I can’t remember his name, but we need more people like him.
You can get all the info you will need from this article I have written: Hostgator
Do you have any other hosting providers that you would recommend for a website or blog that is starting out? Let me know in the comments below.