It's always interesting to learn about people's opinions of and expectations for their web host.
In May/June 2016, I started a survey and spent 1.5 months collecting users' hosting feedback. I also reached out to over 50 pro bloggers for feedback about their current web host. Below are the survey results, user feedback, and hosting advice from the pro bloggers, along with personal highlights.
Score Sheets and Quick Statistics
First, an overview of the survey. I asked three simple questions.
- Where do you host your blog/site currently?
- Are you satisfied with your current web host?
- Do you plan to switch web hosts in the next six months?
There were 200+ responses received. The number drops to 188 after taking off the unusable feedback.
The following are the results and statistics derived from participants' input.
Count of Web Hosting Brands Mentioned
60 web hosting companies (with 19 in my hosting review list) were mentioned in the survey:
1 & 1, A Small Orange, A2 Hosting, Abivia Inc, Access integrated, Arvixe, Bitnami, Big Scoots, Big Rock, BlogBing, Blogger (Google), BlueHost, BrainHost, BulwarkHost, Can Space, Creative On, Digital Ocean, Eco Web Hosting, Eye Host, Fast Comet, Fast URL, FatCow, Float Hosting, Flywheel, Free Hosting, Get Set Live, GlobeHost, GoDaddy, Home PL, Host Color, Hostgator, Hostinger, Hostinglah, Hostpapa, InMotion Hosting, Interserver, iPage, Jimdo, Liquid Web, Live Journal, Midphase, MxHost, Name Cheap, One.com, OVH, Pressidium, Proxgroup, pSek, SiteGround, Squarespace, Steady Clour, Strikingly, Super Hosting, TMD Hosting, Typepad, Wealthy Affiliate, Web Click Hosting, WebPanda, WordPress, and WP Engine.
Hostgator (30), InMotion Hosting (14), GoDaddy and BlueHost (each 13) are the most mentioned brands in this survey.
People who wish to (or not to) switch web host in the next 6 months
Web Host Ratings by 188 Respondents
In the survey (question #2), participants were asked to rate their host based on price, hosting features, server performance, user friendliness, and after sales support. They have three rating options – Disappointing, Reasonable, and Outstanding – for each aspect.
To quantify and to display the results efficiently, I use a 3-point system (1 being the worst, 3 the best). The following table offers a quick view on each hosting company's ratings. Full score sheet is shown in the original Hosting Survey page.
Bear in mind that my sample size is tiny and biased (I would say 90% of the participants are WHSR visitors).
|Web Host||No. of Responses||Average Score||Web Host||No. of Responses||Average Score|
|1 & 1||1||2.4||Hostgator||30||2.1|
|A Small Orange||2||2.5||Hostinger||1||1.6|
|Access integrated||1||1.0||InMotion Hosting||14||2.7|
|Big Rock||1||2.6||Liquid Web||1||2.2|
|Eco Web Hosting||1||2.0||pSek||1||1.8|
|Fast URL||1||1.2||Steady Clour||1||3.0|
|Float Hosting||1||3.0||Super Hosting||1||2.2|
|Get Set Live||1||2.8||Wealthy Affiliate||2||2.6|
|GlobeHost||1||2.0||Web Click Hosting||1||2.0|
|Host Color||2||2.1||WP Engine||3||2.2|
*Note: 3 = Best; 1 = Worst
Highlights / Web Hosting Advice
Below are some highlights and interesting lessons I learned from the hosting survey and the bloggers I spoke to.
1. Server speed matters, a lot!
I asked more than 50 bloggers about what they like/dislike about their web hosts. Almost EVERYONE mentioned site speed in their feedback. In case you were looking for a web host, make sure that server speed / performance is one of your consideration factors.
I wish my web host would integrate new technologies like Nginx, MariaDB, LXD, HTTP2 & PHP7 to ensure my site is at the cutting edge of load times because we know that if you increase website speed you also increase profits. However at the same time, making radical changes like that could have a negative effect so it is hard for a webhost to balance that across all of their customers sites as not every customer is the same. But, I would at least like the option to make that decision for myself. — Matthew Woodward, Matthew Woodward Blog
We currently use Digital Ocean on the volume drive framework. I love the speed, stability and scalability of the system, but because those are developer platforms, they come with no support and can be quite complex to manage when things go wrong. It can also get rather costly to fix issues due to that. Other than that, we’re golden. — Gael Breton, Authority Hacker
There are a bunch of things that I like about my current web host (Traffic Planet Hosting), but the main thing is speed. My site is on a shared server, but page load times are great and it copes well with traffic spikes. I've used dedicated servers in the past that loaded a lot slower. — Adam Connell, Blogging Wizard
Host: WebSynthesis Pro: Sites are always up and running at full speed Con: Additional costs for new WordPress installs/sites and database work — Zac Johnson, Blogging org
I'm using Traffic Planet. The thing I love about them is that their support is without a doubt the best I have ever experienced online or offline. Second of course is the improvement in site speed. You can learn about what happened when I switched here: http://www.rankxl.com/changing-hosting-to-traffic-planet/. 200% faster. I think they're the perfect option for internet marketers. The founder is an internet marketer himself so the price is just right and you get optimal features. — Chris Lee, Rank XL
Tip #1: You can use Bitcatcha to check your site speed from eight different locations and compare results with their benchmark data.
Tip #2: To learn more about NGINX (mentioned in Matthew's comment), read this NGINX vs Apache guide by Ryan Frankel.
Hosts with best server performance, as per our survey ratings
Based on my survey results, InMotion Hosting and Interserver are among the two with the highest scores in term of server performance.
|Web Host||Price||Features||Performance||User Friendly||Support||Review|
|InMotion Hosting||2.6||2.8||2.7||2.9||2.7||Read Review|
* Rating system explained: 1= worst, 3 = best. However, please note that I only compare hosting companies with more than three respondents in the survey.
A number of web hosts, including 1&1, Bitnami, FlyWheel, Float Hosting, Get Set Live, OVH, Pressidium, etc, were rated “Outstanding” (3.0) by their users; but can't be included in this list due to sample size limitation.
2. Change is hard
It's surprising to see so many respondents rated their host “Outstanding” (3) in terms of price and “Disappointing” (1) in terms of performance or customer support or user friendliness; and had no intention to switch.
Lesson learned: Some people would refuse to switch web hosts due to cost. Worse still, some rated their host below “Reasonable” (< 1.5). But when asked if they would be switching web hosts in the next 6 months, the answer is No or Maybe. I wish they could understand the importance of a reliable web host.
Switching hosts is simpler than you thought, make use of our host switching guide here.
3. Customer supports
A few of the bloggers I spoke to emphasize the importance of customer support.
I'm with WordPress Hosting by Synthesis, and what I love about them is that since switching my main sites to them in 2013, I've had minimal issues. Prior to them, I used cheap, shared hosting and had to deal with wide scale WordPress hacks at least 2 -3 times per year. Since the switch, I've had minimal issues. The few times my site has gone down, it's usually been a result of adding a bad plugin or updating to a bad plugin version. With a general web host, it would have been me having to figure out what plugin did it and how to fix it. With Synthesis, I just email support to let them know the site is down, and within an hour or two, they find the issue and fix it, whether it's their fault or not. Sure, they are more expensive than your run of the mill web hosting company, but when you factor in the cost of the security they provide, the off-site backups, the SEO tools they give you with your website, and the great support, it's 100% worth it. — Kristi Hines, Freelance Writer
I use Flywheel, and I love that I can rely on their support team for fast and friendly responses — on the rare occasion that I need them, of course! Their platform is reliable and easy to use, and as a web developer I recommend them to all my clients. — Lisa Butler, Elembee
I am using two hosting companies currently: Big Rock and Godaddy. I always use the GoDaddy for my clients and is one of the most reliable hosting providers I have ever used with 24*7 customer services. But my Own website is on BigRock's Shared Hosting, and sometimes I face problems with that, and secondly they provide services for 10 hours a day, from morning 9 to evening 8. And the thing that I dislike is that Big rock is not providing 24*7 customer support. Which sometimes turns into a loss for me whereas I like Godaddy because of their 24*7 customer support. — Robin Khokhar, Tricky Enough
Presently I am using Blue Host web host, and one thing I found best with them is their wonderful interaction, the quick response from its customer service team which is really praiseworthy. They did a wonderful service while migrating my content from my previous hosting platform. But I think that their pricing is a bit on a higher side comparing to others I suppose. — Philip Verghese Ariel, P V Ariel
Hosts with best after sales support, as per our survey ratings
So in case you're wondering, here are the top five hosts in terms of their support ratings, as per our survey result.
|Web Host||Price||Features||Performance||User Friendly||Support||WHSR Review|
|InMotion Hosting||2.6||2.8||2.7||2.9||2.7||Read Review|
|TMD Hosting||3||2||1.3||1.7||3||Read Review|
* Rating system explained: 1= worst, 3 = best. Again, note that I only show those with more than three survey responses. Some hosting companies might be missing in the list – not because they are no good, but rather it's because I don't have enough feedback.
4. Hostgator – still killing it?
If you read my Hostgator review, you can see that I am not particularly happy with Hostgator nowadays. And generally speaking, the respondents of this survey would agree with my opinion. The rating for Hostgator in every aspect is 2.1, which is just slightly above average.
Yet, many choose to stick with Hostgator.
Out of 188 survey responses, 30 are still hosting their primary sites (or blogs) at Hostgator. It's the most mentioned brand name on our list.
5. With Google, free is not good enough.
I did not expect so many to host their primary sites at Blogger/Google.
What's more – Four out of 12 were not 100% happy with the price ($0) at Blogger. One voted “Disappointing” in terms of price. I wonder what more can Google could do to please these users.
Google is very strict with their users' content quality and usage of affiliate links. However if monetization is not your main concern, they are a pretty good option (free hosting). You can use a custom domain (ie. yourblog.com) for your Blogger.com blog (learn how to do it here).
6. Pressidium – Good in everything but not the price?
I got three inputs for Pressidium (one of my 5-star hosts). The score sheets for all three inputs are exactly the same. The participants voted 3 (outstanding) in every aspect but a 2 (reasonable) in Price.
Pressidium User Review
I spoke to Ron Sela earlier and here's his feedback on Pressidium. For those who want more, our Pressidium hosting review and test results are published here.
So far, Pressidium is my favorite web host to date. They offer a plethora of service for one affordable price, and I never have to worry about running out of bandwidth, or having any issues converting or maintaining the CDN of my blog. With their personal plan package, you get unlimited bandwidth and expert support. It's hard to choose a good web host, and most of the time they cost a whole lot more. Pressidium has everything that I need, plus it offers a ton of excellent features that let me enjoy building my blog without feeling frustrated about unresponsive software, or software that isn't going to be compatible with my Wordpress blog. I was sold the first time I had to use their customer service, and I think you will be too. — Ron Sela, Ron Sela Blog
7. Pinterest hosting, anyone?
A handful of participants inserted Pinterest or Facebook as their web host. No idea if they were serious.
8. Good things come at reasonable prices, sometimes
I always stressed that a good web host doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg.
My statement is sort of proven in this survey. Many participants rated their host “Outstanding” (3) on both price and performance in the survey. Good things do come reasonable (or cheap) in hosting.
Hence, also check out the two web hosts that were not listed in this survey – Web Host Face and One.com. They are the two cheapest hosting services in my review list – entry plans start at $1.63/mo and $0.25/mo respectively.
9. Fun facts
United States is the country with the biggest number of hosted domains – 142,306,068 domains and 296,710 web hosts.
According to Host Advice's 2015 study, 84% of the world’s websites are hosted by a US-based provider.
Demand for the web hosting services industry in the United States grew substantially over the past five years due to high demand from companies hoping to expand their web presence. The annual growth rate has been 11.2% in the period from 2010 to 2015 and this trend is expected to continue in the five years to 2020.
That said, however, web hosting market is very local in nature. For example, in France, eight out of the top ten hosting websites are French, and similarly with Germany and German companies. In Italy, nine out of the top ten hosting sites are Italian and in smaller markets like the Czech Republic, ten out of the top ten hosting companies are local.
Wrapping Up / Credit
Before we end this post – I would like to thank everyone for taking part in the hosting survey and hosting tips roundup. It was interesting to learn what everyone thinks and expects from their hosting provider.
Last lesson: Better data processing skills needed
Processing the survey results took a lot more time and effort than I expected. If I had prepared some automated scripts (in Excel or Google Spreadsheet) that would be a huge help.