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The Best Web Host in 2021 (Real Experience & Performance Tests)
Updated: Oct 21, 2021 / Article by: Jerry Low
The best Web Hosting Service allows you to put up your website easily and grow without much headache in server capability and configuration.
We have tested and reviewed more than 60 web hosting companies. The selected hosting providers below are the most highly-rated in term of server performance and security, host features, user-friendliness, pricing, and company reputation.
Our Top Hosting Selections
Based on our past web hosting tests and experiences, the six best web hosting services are:
Hostinger– The cheapest hosting solution in town; comes with a powerful website builder (Zyro), absolutely best for beginners and website owners who want a simple website (more).
Cloudways – Managed cloud hosting, powered by Amazon AWS & Google (more).
A2 Hosting – Best hosting platform for developers & business owners (more)
Interserver – The most affordable VPS hosting choice (more).
ScalaHosting – The best option in VPS and Cloud hosting users (more).
Kinsta – The best managed WordPress Hosting (more).
While these six web hosting providers score highly overall, the truth is there is no definitive “Best Web Host”.
Different sites have different needs – what's best for me might not be right for you.
What types of web hosting packages (dedicated, VPS, shared, reseller hosting) are you looking for?
Do you require more options for future? Do you need a drag-and-drop website builder? How many domains you need to host in one account? How much disk space and bandwidth do you need? Do you need a built-in free SSL certificate management tool? Where do you want your server location to be?
The right web hosting for you depends on your website's specific needs.
We will review our top picks in this page and recommend different hosting plans for different use cases in this page.
Established 2004, Hostinger is a budget hosting company running on multiple data centers worldwide.
Started out as a personal company named “Hosting Media” in 2004, Hostinger went through a rampant growth and expansion. They achieve a huge milestone of having 1 million users, just 6 years from the day that they started. Today, the company manages over 29 million users and has established worldwide localized offices with 150 people working across 39 countries worldwide.
My Take on Hostinger's Low Cost Plan
Hostinger isn’t just one of the cheapest hosting providers around but it offers excellent bang-for-buck.
You’ll find what you pay for to be more than competitive; integrated caching even on shared plans and support for over 10,000 visits even on most entry-level. Top that up a little more and you get SSH and GIT access for higher tier shared plans.
This value-packed goodness is what makes it one of the most worthwhile platforms for newbie website owners. It’s simply the best launch point.
Excellent Bang-for-Buck Hosting
Notable features in their basic shared hosting package include:
Support PHP 8, HTTP/3, IPv6, LiteSpeed Caching by default – Great feature for better website speed, available in all shared plans
Zyro Website Builder – Website builder that helps design a website with built-in templates, available in all shared plans
WordPress Acceleration – Optimization for best WordPress performance, available in all shared plans
For those who don't mind paying more ($3.99/mo – Business Shared Hosting), you'll also get:
Github Integration – Convenient for web development and versioning
Free domain – Save cost (not much, but everyone loves freebies)
Unlimited Databases – Do more with your shared hosting account
Unlimited Cronjobs – For site automation and easy management
SSH access – For better security and easy website management
In short, Hostinger is worth a check if you want as many hosting features as possible without needing to blow out your budget.
Starting in 2011 in Malta, Cloudways is a provider of managed Cloud hosting solutions. It acts as a systems integrator, providing access to various services from Digital Ocean, Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, and more.
As far as web hosting companies go, Cloudways is considerably young. It entered the market in 2011 but since then has grown significantly. A large part of that growth is perhaps due to the relative niche market space it occupies, as a systems integrator providing convenience for a bump in price.
My Take on Cloudways
Cloudways is not a “budget” hosting provider. Hosting with them costs more than if you were to head directly to one of its partners like Linode. However, managing Cloud hosting isn’t something everyone can easily handle.
In this, Cloudways shines, and it provides enough value in extra features to make the premium prices worthwhile. There’s much to love about this one-stop shop, especially if you’re a business user that wants to focus on making money instead of tinkering with servers.
Regardless of which Cloud platform you select under the Cloudways umbrella, most benefits come across the board:
Powerful servers with HTTP/2 support, automated backups, team management, staging environments, and more.
Provision for almost any type of website with unlimited application installations and pay-as-you-go usage models.
Fast performance with advanced optimized caching on all plans.
Specialized Management Dashboard
Without a doubt, the highlight of Cloudways lies in the integrated dashboard it offers. I’ve been using it for my web properties for years, and it seriously cuts down management time. Why struggle with the tech when I can focus on the content?
Led by CEO Bryan Muthig, A2 Hosting was established back in 2001 in Ann Arbor, Michigan and was known as Iniquinet back then.
Since then, the Independently owned web hosting provider changed their name and went on to host thousands of prominent sites through their shared, reseller, VPS, and dedicated plans.
My Take on A2's Cheap Shared Plans
I first started off on A2 Hosting in 2013 with what was then known as the A2 Prime Plan. This would be the rough equivalent of what that's offered under A2's Drive Plan today.
After almost 10 years of hosting and testing with A2 – I remain as one of their happy customers today.
Reasonable pricing, excellent server performance, and powerful features – A2 check all the right boxes that are necessary for a stable and fast website. I do think A2 Hosting is a good choice for most users who are looking for a mid-range hosting solution.
Hosting Speed Performance
“Speed” is A2's top unique selling point. With a built-in caching tool called the A2 Optimized Tool, sites that are hosted on A2 Hosting has a much faster load time compare to others.
A2 Drive Plans offer full SSD storage along with a guaranteed 1GB RAM and 2 x 2.1 GHz CPU Cores. It also has pre-configured Cloudflare CDN – which helps load your webpage 200% faster. For higher shared hosting plans (Turbo & Turbo Max) – users get even better speed features with a powerful server with AMD EPYC CPU, NVMe storage, and LiteSpeed support.
Specialized Developer Environment
Also – A2 Hosting is one of the extremely rare service providers that offer some very specialized developer environments on their shared plans. Examples of this include node.js, a Java-based open source server environment.
Founded in 2008 by Hristo Rusev and Vlad G, ScalaHosting provides web hosting services that empower web professionals around the world.
Their hosting service is powered by their three data centers in United States and Bulgaria; and integrated data centers operated by Digital Ocean and Amazon AWS. Managing more than 700,000 websites from approximately 120 countries on their platforms, ScalaHosting is one of the fastest growing hosting companies in 2021.
My Take on ScalaHosting
ScalaHosting is a hosting provider that I can personally vouch for.
A few things that make Scala stand out is their excellent server performance, features-rich shared hosting plan including free SSL and security protection, as well as helpful 24×7 technical support.
Scala SPanel – Alternatives to cPanel
The strongest part of their offering though is that they offer users an opportunity to use their in-house built sPanel WHCP instead of cPanel. This comes at a very opportune time as:
Both Plesk and cPanel are now owned by the same parent organization, leading to a near monopoly on the web hosting control panel (WHCP) market; and
cPanel changed their pricing model and raised their licensing fees recently, impacting many users.
SPanel offers users an alternative that is excellent for many reasons. The key one being that it is fully compatible with cPanel. This means that cPanel users have an easy way out of the ecosystem should they wish to migrate to SPanel.
It also offers a much more cost-effective licensing structure compared to cPanel and is more agile and resource-friendly. Overall, SPanel was designed to be a one-stop control panel for users’ convenience.
That’s not all though. There are also increased benefits in security, website handling, guarantees in email delivery, and more.
Scala Start VPS (starts at $9.95/mo) is very affordable for users looking for an affordable VPS hosting solution. for users new to VPS hosting. For eCommerce and websites with larger traffic – we recommend Scala Business VPS ($61.95/mo) or AWS4GB ($41.95/mo).
Secaucus, N.J.-based hosting company, founded by Michael Lavrik and John Quaglieri in 1999.
Michael Lavrik and John Quaglieri founded InterServer back in 1999 when they were both high-school students. Their vision for the company was to provide data services at affordable prices while still maintaining a level of service and support.
The hosting provider currently owns two data centers that are located in Secaucus, NJ and Los Angeles, CA; and offers a wide range of hosting services such as shared, cloud, and dedicated hosting, among others.
My Take on Interserver
While not necessarily a mainstream name in the hosting industry, InterServer manages to grab our attention once I got to know the company better.
At this point of writing I have got multiple websites hosted at InterServer – and they have been all performing great. While most hosting sites shoot for a 99.9% uptime (and many fall short of that), InterServer managed to keep my site up 100% most of the time. The uptime history is published in my review – go check out.
No Lock-in VPS Hosting
InterServer is a rather unique choice in the VPS space since they have very cheap plans but don’t tie you down with extended contracts.
The normal modus operandi for hosting companies is to lure you into extended contracts with discounted prices then hit you with massive renewals. That is not the case with Interserver.
Despite the low prices, you get an interestingly broad range of choices here. For instance, in Operating System (OS) alone, InterServer has a stunning spread of 16 for you to choose between.
InterServer shared hosting is good for small businesses and individual bloggers who want a cheap hosting solution. Although InterServer does increase their price during renewal, the features they offer are a great bargain. InterServer VPS, on the other hand, is a great solution for advanced users who are not afraid of handling their own server.
L.A.-based managed WordPress hosting, established in 2013. .
Mark Gavalda, CEO and founder of Kinsta, established the company back in 2013 in Los Angeles, CA. While still relatively new, they have since grown rapidly with offices located in both London and Budapest.
Comprising of veteran WordPress developers, Kinsta is focused on providing a premium managed WordPress hosting services for all types of users, be it big companies or small-to-medium businesses.
My Take on Kinsta
One of the top names in managed WordPress hosting, Kinsta has gained tremendous success and recognition ever since the company began their journey in 2013.
What really sets Kinsta apart from other similar players in the managed WordPress hosting market is their ability to provide a super fast, super innovative, and slick user control panel. That, along with their innovative server technology (NGINX, latest version of PHP, HHVM) and solid server performance makes them a great choice for both businesses and individuals.
They have since gone on to host a number of global-recognized brands such as Ricoh, Ubisoft, General Electric, and ASOS.
For your information – our sister site HostScore is also hosted at Kinsta. Based on multiple speed tests in the past – our site is stable and always able to achieve fast load time is fast. you can find out more about its performance in my Kinsta review here.
Kinsta is Recommended for
Professional WordPress developers, web development and marketing agencies, and advanced WordPress users.
Choose by Use-Case: Hosting Service Best for…
Different websites have different needs in its hosting. In this section we will recommend the suitable hosting plans for different use cases.
If you are new – choosing a web hosting service that is affordable and easy to start with is most critical. Instant account activation, an easy-to-use control panel, comprehensive user guide, and helpful technical support that's always ready to help are important requirements.
Hosting providers usually limit the number of websites you can host in one account. For premium players like Kinsta / WP Engine – you'll need to pay expensive monthly fees to host multiple website – which is not cost-efficient for sites with little traffic.
If you own many smaller sites and wish to host them together – it's best to go with an affordable hosting solution that allows unlimited website – this put A2 and Hostinger in the strategic spot.
Other web hosts that offer similar plan like A2 or Hostinger (but not listed in this page) include BlueHost, HostPapa, and TMDHosting.
Most web hosting services don’t offer much in the way of developer tools for cheaper hosting packages. A2 Hosting and InterServer are the rare exceptions that do. For those looking towards VPS hosting, most environments are configurable.
WP Engine ($25/mo) – Cheaper alternative to Kinsta but does not offer white-glove site migration service.
Why these plans?
During your search, you might came across numerous managed WordPress (WP) hosting plans and found that in some cases, prices of these WP hosting plans is higher (some goes up to 30x pricier) than the average.
Such big price difference is mainly due to a number of WP-focused and advanced server features, including specialized caching mechanism, WordPress developer-friendly platform, SFTP and SSH access control, HTTP/2 HTTP/3 and NGINX Proxy server, and WordPress hosting expert supports. These features may be a necessity for users operating high-traffic WP sites, development / marketing agencies, or mid-size businesses.
For Different Hosting Range
ScalaHosting ($3.95/mo – $133.95/mo)– Highly scalable and suitable for wide range of usages. ScalaHosting offers shared and VPS hosting from their in-house data centers as well as cloud hosting powered by Digital Ocean and Amazon AWS infrastructure.
Why this plan?
Not all web hosting companies cater to the same market. Some web hosts focus on specific areas, while others may carry an entire range of products. Picking up the right one will depend on not just your current needs, but consideration for long-term scalability as well.
A great small business hosting should have stable uptime, fast loading speed, reasonable pricing, and features that help your business to grow.
Business websites usually need enhanced security requirements (dedicated SSL, 2FA logins, etc) and special eCommerce applications to support the business such as Magento, PrestaShop, and WooCommerce. Hence hosting with specialty support on those features would be a big plus.
For individuals building a simple website, choosing a web hosting provider that saves time is top priority.
Regardless of whether it's to publish your CV or promote your “personal brand” or to build a writing portfolio – An easy-to-use site builder (to put up and maintain a site quickly), webmail (to communicate with clients and publishers), and affordable pricing are your three most important requirements.
For Teachers and Students
A2 LMS Hosting ($2.99/mo) – A2 offers dedicated educational hosting plans at very affordable price; you can host Omeka, Chamilo, or Claroline eLearning platform for as low as $2.99/mo.
InMotion Hosting ($2.49/mo) – InMotion runs an EDU program to provide professional teachers with free hosting students with 50% discount.
Why these plans?
Given the significant surge in remote everything, it comes as no surprise that the education sector finds itself with some interesting solutions. There are many platforms specific to this sector now coming more brightly under the spotlight.
For example, even individual teachers can work to help their students by setting up a Learning Management System (LMS). Of course, it’d be better if it was done at the institution level, but hosting companies are making it simpler and more affordable for everyone.
A2 Hosting, for example, offers dedicated educational hosting plans that are custom-made for this purpose. They’re cheaply priced to reflect the use case while retaining that solid A2 Hosting quality.
Other web hosts have also joined the foray. InMotion runs an EDU program to provide teachers with free hosting and students with steep discounts (from $2.49/mo). Hostinger doesn’t have such plans but sponsors a college scholarship.
For Budget Finders
Hostinger Premium Shared – Reasonable long term hosting costs for hosting 100 sites; signup at $2.59/mo and renew at $5.99/mo.
TMD Hosting Business – Not in our “best” list but still a very good host. Cloud Package comes with 60 days free trial; signup at $4.95/mo and renewal at $7.95/mo.
Why these plans?
When searching for a cheap web host – it's important to be aware that your initial signup fees and free domain do not represent your long term hosting costs.
Some web hosting providers offer steep sign-on discounts which are hard to resist but jack up their prices significantly when it’s time to renew your plan. Keep this in mind when you are choosing and counting the potential cost of a web host. Make sure that you also check out your package renewal pricing before signup.
What's the Right Price to Pay?
My team looked at more than 1,000 hosting deals and published this hosting cost research recently. Generally speaking, expect to pay $3 – $10 per month for a reliable shared hosting plan, $30 – $55 per month for a mid-range VPS hosting.
Note that different types of hosting come with different price points and offering different features and options. You need to look beyond pricing (consider factors like performance, scalability, after sales support, etc) to choose one that fits your website needs.
ScalaHosting Managed VPS ($9.95/mo) – You get to run their website on in-house data centers in Dallas (US), New York (US), Sofia (Bg); OR integrated DigitalOcean and Amazon AWS data centers which cover all major cities around the world including Bangalore, London, Singapore, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Toronto, and more.
Why this plan?
To understand what makes a hosting provider best for a specific location – say England or Singapore or Brazil, we need to discuss about latency.
What is latency?
Latency is the time span of a server receiving and processing a user-made request.
Consider it like a flight – When an English visitor access a website hosted in the Australia, his requests fly from England – Middle East – Asia – Australia – Asia – Middle East – England to return a result. The flight time is the latency of that website.
If that particular website is hosted in England, the requests would have flown inside England only, minimizing the travel time.
To see how latency happens in real life, here's an example.
To monitor hosting performance, we host various test sites with hosting companies. The following image is the speed test results for one of our test sites hosted in United States (East Coast). The speed is tested from 10 locations using a free tool named Bitcatcha.
From the screenshot, you can see that the server response time differed from location to location. The site loaded quickly (24ms) for test node in United States and loaded slower for test nodes in Singapore, India and Australia (439ms, 224ms and 196ms).
The closer your audience location is to your server, the lower latency it is.
So how do you choose the right web host for an “international” website?
Short answer – pick a web host with data center that is close to your primary audience.
Latency is a certain part of your website loading time. By improving the latency (choosing to host closer to your audience), your website loading time will improve significantly.
In other words, if majority of your audience is located in the same country or region, it's best to host your website closer to them.
This explains why latency is an important factor when you are choosing a web host.
What Makes for a Great Website Hosting?
The Best Web Host for your website should be stable (server uptime >99.9% uptime), fast loading (site speed meets industry standards), reasonable priced (basic shared hosting < $10/mo; basic VPS < $30/mo) and comes with all the necessary features to run your website.
As we mentioned repeatedly in this article – different websites have different needs. Hence before signing up for a web host, it's important that you understand your own needs:
Is this your first time hosting a site?
How much is your budget?
What type of hosting platform you need?
Do you need a special development environment?
Are you using any special Content Management System (CMS)?
How big (or small) can your web traffic volume go?
Are you hosting video on site?
Are you processing users payment on site?
How many active users that may be on your website concurrently?
Will you be adding more domains in future?
If you are here to learn – here's how we rate and rank a web host.
How We Rate & Rank a Hosting Provider?
You can find a lot of web hosting review sites and directories on the Internet. But, not every one of them are like WHSR.
Our hosting reviews and web hosting recommendation are written based on our own usage experience, objective analysis, and actual server data. Over the years we have covered well-known web host companies like BlueHost, SiteGround, GoDaddy; as well as those that have a regional / niche focused such as HostPapa, Kinsta, GreenGeeks, and so on.
There are six main aspects we look into when we assess a web host:
After sales support
User friendliness / customer care policy
Company reputation / feedback from legit users
Price / Value for money
We setup test sites at different web hosts and ask questions from a user's point of view:
What is the average 30 days server uptime?
How quick / slow is the server loading?
Is the user control panel comprehensive and easy to use?
Is the pricing and refund policy fair?
What are the limitations written in ToS?
What other users are saying about the company?
Is the support staff friendly and knowledgeable?
Is the host value for money in *long term*?
There's no rocket science in finding a hosting service that matches your needs. You are more than welcomed to learn from our web host choosing guide and make your own call.
How Our Star Rating Works?
At WHSR, hosting companies are rated based on a 10-step, five-star-rating system – with the highest mark as 5-star and lowest 0.5-star.
The star-rating can be seen in every hosting review article we published and in the large table we built in our review index page.
To determine this score, we use a 80-point rating checklist to rate a web host and benchmark it against their long term (we use four years span) cost.
The idea is to compare hosting services with different price ranges on a leveled ground.
The simple mathematics behind this:
X = Hosting score at 80-point check list
Y = (monthly signup price x 24 + monthly renewal price x 24) / 48
For Y < $5/mo, Z = Z1
For Y = $5.01/mo - $25/mo, Z = Z2
For Y > $25.01, Z = Z3
Final star-rating = X * Z
We make money from our web host recommendations
When reading our hosting reviews, it's important to know that we make money from our web hosting recommendations. When you click on our link and purchase a web host, we may earn a referral commission.
Purchasing via our affiliate link does not cost you more. In some cases, our affiliate links can help you save money as some brands offer exclusive discounts to our users.
I explained the basics of hosting a website in this article but in case you were looking for some quick answers…
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is the service of providing resources such as storage space and network infrastructure for users to operate a website.
Why do I need a web hosting?
To run a website – you need storage space to store your web files and network infrastructure to let your users access your website. A web hosting company helps setup and manage these infrastructure so you can focus in developing and growing your website.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the human-friendly address of a website. It is typed into an Internet browser address bar by visitors to access a site.
What is the difference between web hosting and domain name?
A domain name gives you a location for a website, whereas web hosting is the service which handles how the site is delivered to visitors.
What's the difference between web hosting and a website builder?
A Website Builder offers one-stop solution to build and host your website in one place. Popular site builders like Weebly and Zyro offer users the ability to create and maintain a website without any coding experience.
Many larger web hosting companies will offer what?
Larger web hosting service providers will typically offer a full range of web-related services. This includes web hosting plans, sale of domain names, and reseller plans.
What is a web hosting reseller?
Some people will buy web hosting in bulk and sub-divide the resources to rent out. This is called reseller hosting.
What does a server look like?
There are two types of servers – consumer and commercial grade. Consumer grade servers look like normal desktop PC boxes while commercial servers look like large boxes with racks in them.
What do I need to host my own website?
To host a website, you need a domain name and web hosting. The domain name is the address which points to where your website files are stored.
What is a website?
Websites are collections of web pages offering a combination text, video, and images to visitors. Each website usually will have multiple pages housed under a single domain name.
Which web hosting is best?
Hostinger, Cloudways, A2 Hosting, ScalaHosting, Interserver, and Kinsta are the best hosting providers based on my research. However keep in mind that there are also thousands of other players in market and your objective as a consumer is to find a web host that is best for your website.
That's all for this article. If you are still unsatisfied, read:
Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.