Choosing the right web host is a really important decision because it affects your website speed, security and so much more. But the process is so unnecessarily difficult because the web hosting industry is so competitive and bombards consumers with confusing offers.
We’ve decided to publish this guide to simplify the decision because we found ourselves constantly helping our customers choose the best host for their needs. What follows is our picks of the web hosts with all the essential features that every modern website needs, organized into the best options for every budget.
My budget is:
ClickWP customers are hosted on many different web hosts. Our recommendations below are based on direct experience with these hosts and our observations over 5 years in business.
Disclaimer: Using the links below gives us a small commission. If you prefer not, use the direct link instead.
Most Affordable Web Hosts ($5–20)
While you may be able to find web hosts that cost as little as $2/mo, the better quality ones start at about $7/mo. These hosts typically discount your first year heavily, so be aware that the renewal price will cost double. Web hosts in this category also allow multiple sites per account at no extra cost (on their higher tiers) so they are even more affordable for multiple sites. Finally, be aware that you are in the bargain basement category and are getting a cheap, entry-level service.
Our top pick for this category is A2 Hosting. Their Swift plan is the one we recommend so you have the flexibility to host more than 1 site on your account. It costs $6.37/mo but will go down if you pay annually or biennially. If you can afford it, the Turbo and Performance Plus upgrades will give your site more horsepower, useful for online stores or high traffic sites.
Why you’ll love it: A2 Hosting puts a lot of emphasis on speed, and multiple hosting locations. Pro tip: choose a hosting location close to your visitors for minimum latency.
Drawbacks: A2 Hosting’s plans nickel and dime you with the upgrades, and that make the signup process confusing.
SiteGround’s $7.95/mo GrowBig plan is our 2nd pick in the budget category. Their plans come with lots of advanced features standard and are a very reliable host.
Why you’ll love it: 3 levels of caching for super speed, quick and knowledgeable support. Choose a server closer to you for lower latency (delay receiving data from your website).
Drawbacks: Renewal pricing often catches customers off guard because 2nd year onwards is full price (the 1st year is discounted heavily).
ClickWP provides a $5/mo hosting add-on to our Foundations plan customers that is on par with Flywheel and WP Engine. Learn more.
Intermediate Solutions ($25–50)
Moving a step up, we enter the realm of managed WordPress hosting. These hosts manage technical stuff like site performance (speed), security, software updates and more which means you’ll get better results overall. Unlike the cheaper shared hosting options, you don’t share resources on managed hosts and you’ll never get shut down if you go over the limits.
Flywheel is ClickWP’s favorite web host, offering speedy and rock-solid hosting with premium features from only $25/mo! They will also migrate your website for free and offer free SSL for all customers. You can try Flywheel by launching a demo site with a free account. Plus, they are just so fun.
Why you’ll love it: Flywheel gives you the biggest bang for the buck you can get from a managed WordPress hosting company. Excellent live support.
Drawbacks: Like other managed WordPress hosts, Flywheel doesn’t offer email services.
WP Engine is one of the pioneers of managed WordPress hosting and introduced 1-click staging sites which are now almost a standard feature in all managed WordPress hosts. Customers of WP Engine can expect the excellent support and an aggressive emphasis on speed. Target market is business customers. Price starts at $35/mo.
Why you’ll love it: Their live chat is available 24 hours a day and genuinely helpful. I’ve always been impressed by their support staff.
Drawbacks: WP Engine can be rather aggressive with their caching and content updates may not appear until several minutes later.
Top-tier Infrastructure (~$100)
Consider popular web services like Facebook or Gmail. These websites don’t operate from a single server, but from a global cloud network. That’s how the companies in this category host your WordPress website.
ClickWP has been hosted on Kinsta since early–2014 and we’ve been very happy with their service. Kinsta obsessively optimizes their platform for speedy sites so our website loads quickly even without much optimization. We only worry about our customers’ hosting, never about our own hosting.
Why you’ll love it: Super performance matched by super support. Their support team responds in minutes and is always able to resolve your issue.
Drawbacks: Low disk space on their plans.
Cloudways is a different type of web host because they don’t host your website directly. Instead they serve as a middleman that simplifies hosting your site on cloud hosting providers like Digital Ocean or Amazon Web Services. Cloudways also provides lots of useful features like SSL cerrificates, backups and staging sites.
Why you’ll love it: About half the price of many competitors
Drawbacks: You’ll need to be pretty hands-on with your hosting and need to be comfortable with servers, IP addresses, DNS, etc to get the most out of Cloudways
Essential Features To Look For
At the top of the article I mentioned that these web hosts have all the essential features a every website needs. We only have a list of essential features, but you’d be surprised at how many web hosts this rules out.
PHP7+. PHP versions 7 and higher are faster and more secure than older versions. WordPress also now recommends PHP7.2 or greater.
Free SSL. Your site must use the https:// protocol so that browsers identify it as secure. Many hosts now offer free SSL via Let’s Encrypt but some still make you pay for this essential feature.
SSD drives. If you have SSD hard drives in your personal computer you’ll know how fast it is compared to traditional drives. You’ll want the same from your web host.
Local datacenters. If your audience is in Australia but your site is hosted in the US (like with Bluehost) you introduce network latency that makes your website feel sluggish. Make sure your host has a datacenter close to your audience.
Domain Registration & Renewal
Most managed web hosts (and certainly the intermediate and top-tier options listed on this page) don’t offer domain registrations because they are focused completely on hosting. In those cases we recommend Hover.com for domain registrations. They are simple to use and have awesome customer service. Click here to get $2 off Hover.com (affiliate link).
What About VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting?
VPS hosting has been pretty much replaced by cloud hosting. Bare VPS gives you a really good price, but you need to be a sysadmin to manage them competently. On the other hand, managed VPS (sometimes also called cloud hosting) is just as expensive as the intermediate options above. Cloudways would be a much better way of running and managing your website’s cloud hosting.
If you do really need a general purpose hosting company that is more powerful than the most affordable options, consider Webfaction (read my personal review of Webfaction).
Now that you’ve decided on your new host, you’ll probably need to migrate your website. ClickWP can migrate your website for you at no cost. Contact us to find out more.
Did you know that ClickWP offers hosting too? Our hosting packages are add-ons to our Foundations plan so it’s a single affordable price for both website care and hosting. Learn more.
And finally if you found this guide useful, please share it with your friends. Thanks!