Quick Guides to Choose Small Business Hosting Plans from Server Providers

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Does your small business have a website? If not, it's time to build one. Companies without an online presence face an incredibly difficult uphill climb because we live in a connected world where people discover products and services by searching on the internet—you don't want to miss that potentially lucrative boat. Sure, creating a business website may take months of painstaking planning, debating, and compromise, but setting up a decent website doesn't have to be painful, provided you have the proper tools. And the most important tool is the right web hosting service.


Photo: Shazida Khatun


The Small Business Hosting Basics

If you aren't familiar with web hosting, here's a simple explanation. A web host is a company that has servers that you'll use to store and deliver the audio, video, documents, and other files that make up your website and its content. These servers can be of the shared, dedicated, or virtual varieties. If you want to learn more about those hosting types, please visit the highlighted links that are sprinkled throughout this article for primers on each of them. And if you want to launch your own web hosting company without many of the associated hardware headaches, you should look into reseller hosting.


There are dozens upon dozens of web hosting services clamoring for your dollar, including super-popular services (such as GoDaddy) and the lesser-known offerings (such as SiteGround). Large businesses can spend hundreds and (sometimes thousands!) of dollars each year on dedicated hosting or virtual private server (VPS) hosting, the two categories we're focusing on for small businesses with website needs.


One thing we learned while reviewing web hosting services is that reading the fine print is a must, especially if you are concerned about keeping prices low. Many web hosts have several increasingly expensive tiers, with introductory features in starter packages and more robust offerings in higher-priced plans. We recommend a healthy course of comparison-shopping before pulling out a credit card; you'll want to sign up with a service that has the features that best align with your website-building goals.

Small Business Hosting Prices

If you're a small business owner, you're going to want to run with either dedicated or VPS hosting. A dedicated server will likely cost you more than $100 per month; it's definitely not cheap web hosting. The benefit? Your website lives on a server all by its lonesome, so it takes advantage of the server's full resources. You'll probably need to handle firewalls and maintenance yourself, however, unless you opt for a managed server, which costs even more money.

If you want to save some cash, VPS hosting is generally a sufficient—and more wallet-friendly—option. VPS hosting falls midway between shared and dedicated hosting. By building your website in a VPS environment, you won't share resources with the other sites that live on the same server, the way you would with shared hosting. In fact, your site lives in a partitioned server area that has its own operating system, storage, RAM, and monthly data transfers so you can expect smoother, more-stable site performance. You can get solid VPS hosting for approximately $20 to $30 per month.


Don't be swayed by the big fonts touting the monthly fee: Make sure that a particular pricing tier actually offers what you need. Some hosts charge extra for access to website builders that can help you design your site. Other hosts require you to commit to a three-year hosting agreement in order to get that low per-month price. Or the price is an introductory one, and after a month, you will revert to a higher price. Until you know what features you need and how quickly you plan to grow, you might not want to commit to annual plans.


The Features You Need

When you begin shopping for a site, it's good to have a list of the features you need. For example, you'll want a web host that offers unlimited monthly data transfers and email, a choice of solid-state or traditional hard drive storage, and 24/7 customer support. Even the server's operating system selection is important; Windows-based servers offer an environment to run scripts written in a Microsoft-centric framework, though Linux-based servers are also available (and more commonplace).

Please note that if you're planning on selling a product, look for a web host that offers a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, because it encrypts the data between the customer's browser and web host to safeguard purchasing information. You're probably familiar with SSL; it's the green padlock that appears in your web browser's address bar as you visit an online financial institution or retail outlet. A few companies toss in an SSL certificate free of charge; others may charge you $100 for that extra layer of security.

How do we decide if a web host is good? 

Do bandwidth and disk storage features still matter these days? Which type of hosting service should you go with? In this article, we will get these questions answered with the following walk-through and a 15-point checklist. 
How to choose a web hosting service?

In brief –
  1. Know your hosting needs.
  2. Investigate on host reliability and uptime guarantees.
  3. Study web host upgrading options.
  4. Check all hosting features (such as a number of addon domains allowed) based on your needs.
  5. Check prices for both sign up and renewal.
  6. Check hosting control panel.
  7. Read hosting company’s ToS to find out more about account suspension and server usage policy.
  8. Other supporting features (ie. site backup, environmental friendliness, etc)

Knowing Your Hosting Needs

You can never get the right web host without knowing what you need. So before you go any further – put everything aside (including this guide you are reading) and think thoroughly on your own needs.
  1. What kind of website are you building?
  2. Do you want something common (a WordPress blog, for example)?
  3. Do you need Windows applications?
  4. Do you need a special version of the software (ie. PHP)?
  5. Does your website need special software?
  6. How big (or small) can the web traffic volume go?

The Importance of Uptime

All the aforementioned features are valuable parts of the web hosting experience, but none matches the importance of site uptime. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services.
wpengine sept uptime - site has not down for 1757 hours

To test this important aspect of hosting, we include uptime monitoring as part of our review process, and the results show that most web hosts do an excellent job of keeping sites up and running. Sites with uptime problems aren't eligible for high scores. All services suffer ups and downs, sometimes for reasons beyond their control. Those sites that fail to quickly address the problem are penalized accordingly.

web hosting upgrades

Are You Ready to Get Started?

PBT understands that no two businesses have the same web hosting requirements, so we've rounded up our best-reviewed web hosting companies for small businesses and detailed their offerings in the table above so that you can get a jump-start on picking a service. If an offering catches your eye, make sure to click the appropriate link from the capsules below to read the in-depth review of the service in question. Whatever options you choose for your small business, a good web hosting provider will play a big part in your success. Whether through support, uptime, or a killer design template you found on their site builder, your web host will help you put your best online foot forward. As your company grows, you’ll want to expand your hosting plan. Cloud or VPS hosting gives you more power, reliability, and flexibility as your business starts to take over the market. When you’re ready to scale, check out our recommended business cloud hosting options.

auto installer


I am always surprise that some web hosts out there still do not offer these basic hosting features nowadays. You need Cron for day-in-day-out operations, Auto Script Installer (like Fantastico, Simple Scripts, Quick Installer, Softaculous, Installatron, and so on) for easy web apps installations and updates, .htaccess access for security/page redirects/etc purposes, Server Side Include (SSI) for easier site maintenance (especially when you are building a static site), and FTP access for easy file transfer.

Unless you are signing up on a specialty web host like WP Engine and Pressidium, else these basic features are must-have. You SHOULD NOT settle with hosting providers that do not supply them.
Ignore Disk Space and Data Transfer Capacity (for now)

Disk space and data transfers are hardly a meaningful comparison factor for shoppers – especially if you are new – these days.

One, if you check, almost all shared hosting providers are offering “unlimited” storage and data transfers. While the term “unlimited” is nothing but a marketing gimmick; web hosting users get more than enough capacity in storage and data transfer. (In most cases, it is RAM and processor power that limit the usage of an unlimited hosting account.)

Two, if you think about it, disk storage and bandwidth hardly matter to an average website owners these days. Images can be stored on Flickr; files and documents on Google Doc, videos on YouTube and Vimeo, large data files on cloud storage.

So in conclusion – you don’t need to care that much on your hosting storage or bandwidth for now.
 e-Commerce Features
  • Are you running an e-commerce website?
  • Are you using any specific shopping cart software?
  • Do you need to process business transactions on your website?
  • Do you need special technical support (ie. PrestaShop guide, or so on)?

If yes, then it is important for you to pick a web host with sufficient e-commerce features support. SSL certification, dedicated IP, and one-click shopping cart software installation are some of the essential features/supports you will need.
8. An Easy-to-use Hosting Control Panel

A user-friendly and functional hosting control panel is very, very important.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a cPanel or a Plesk or a third party control panels (like what we have at GoDaddy) – we are okay as long as it is user-friendly and come with all the necessary functions. Without an adequate control panel, you will be left at the mercy of the hosting tech support staff – even if all you need is some basic server changes.


Account Suspension: What are the limitations?

Here’s a money tip that most hosting review sites will not tell you: Hosting companies will pull the plug and suspend your account if you are using too much CPU power (yes, unlimited hosting is limited) or violating the rules. So before you sign up on a web host, it is important that you read the rules.

Sounds too simple? You bet.

Truth is – You do not need a lot of choices to make the right call. What you need instead, is a trustable source (that’s us!) to tell you which hosting company to go with (and which to ignore). Our hosting comparison table is built based on our real usage experience and it is one of the most useful guides available online.
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