Every business, even if it only has a single employee, needs a website. Seriously. A company without a online presence is leaving serious money on the table, because an attractive and informative site can draw a slew of potential clients or customers. That means choosing a Web hosting service and setting up your website.
Fortunately, the process is relatively simple and reasonably affordable. The first step is to find a Web hosting service, the company that will store your files on its servers. The tricky part? Web hosts are all different, offering varying amounts of monthly data transfers, storage capacity, email, and other features. Even how you pay (month-to-month payments vs. annual payments) can be radically different, too.
Web hosting services also offer different types of hosting, including shared hosting plans, virtual private server (VPS) hosting plans, dedicated hosting plans, and managed WordPress hosting plans. The chart above focuses on the Web hosting services that deliver the best all-around package. Many Web hosts offer limited features for the starter packages, and then expand the offerings (sometimes tremendously) for higher-tier plans. Read the small type to make sure the plan you are selecting offers what you need. If you need a site builder application to design your Website, make sure that the low-cost Web host you are picking actually comes with a site builder. Many of them require you to pay for the builder as a separate add-on.
You also want a Web host with 24/7 customer support—if not by phone, then at least by chat. Forums, knowledge bases, and help tickets are all well and good, but sometimes you just need that human to talk to (or chat with).
Some Web hosting services offer a choice of Linux or Windows hosting. If you have specific applications that require Windows, such as SQL Server or a custom application written in .NET, then you need to make sure your Web host has Windows hosting. But don’t let the idea of a Linux host intimidate you. Most Web hosts nowadays offer a graphical interface or a control panel to simplify server administrator and website management. Instead of typing at the command line, you’ll click easily identifiable icons.
One thing we learned in reviewing the services listed here (and many more!) is that even though the packages are very similar, they are not identical. Some are more security-minded than most, offering antispam and antimalware tools. Others offer a variety of email marketing tools. While most of the hosts have built-in e-commerce, you may want to consider using a robust e-commerce application like Shopify$29.00 at Shopify instead.
Some Web hosts give you plenty of room to grow even within the tier, and others require you to upgrade to a more expensive plan. Consider how much you expect to grow your website and how soon before you commit to anything longer than a one-year plan.
If you’re ready to select a great Web hosting service, click the links below to read our in-depth reviews of the biggest and best names in the space.
If you have a business—or plan on starting a business—you’ll need a Web presence so that potential customers can find your services online. That means you’ll need to choose a Web hosting service like GoDaddy$3.99 at GoDaddy – Shared to provide the foundation for your website. GoDaddy is good for personal service, but it really excels at business hosting, thanks to its many business-friendly tools, including Linux and Windows servers, virtual private servers (VPS), dedicated hosting, and surprisingly helpful customer service representatives who can be reached around the clock. GoDaddy’s all-around package lacks the depth found in Arvixe£2.56 at Arvixe UK and Dreamhost£3.81 at Dreamhost UK, the PCMag Editors’ Choice award winners for novice and advanced Web hosting services, respectively. Still, GoDaddy is more than capable of satisfying business and consumer needs.
Note: GoDaddy has a 45-day money-back guarantee; Dreamhost one-ups it with an impressive 97-day money-back guarantee.
Shared Web Hosting Packages
GoDaddy charges a monthly fee for its Linux- or Windows-based shared Web servers, but it reduces the price if you commit to a multi-month or annual package. Unfortunately, GoDaddy requires you to sign up for its pricier Deluxe or Ultimate plans (starting at $8.99 and $14.99, respectively) for the option to pay for Web hosting on a month-to-month basis (the basic Economy plan requires you to sign up for a minimum of three months). This may not have much (if any) impact on businesses, but a cash-strapped blogger may not appreciate GoDaddy’s lack of a single-month option in its Economy package. In that regard, Arvixe (starting at $7 per month) is a better option.
GoDaddy’s Economy basic shared hosting package includes a free domain name (in the form of yoursite.com) that you can keep as long as you use GoDaddy, 100GB of storage, the ability to host one website, unlimited monthly data transfers, and a skimpy 100 email addresses. The Deluxe plan (starting at $8.99 per month, or $4.49 per month with an annual commitment) builds upon the Economy package by adding unlimited storage, unlimited website hosting, and 500 email addresses. The Ultimate package (starting at $14.99 per month, or $7.49 per month with an annual commitment) adds a premium DNS management tool, 1,000 email addresses, and a one-year SSL Certificate.
GoDaddy has solid shared hosting plans, but HostGator£2.54 at HostGator UK still reigns as the PCMag Editors’ Choice for shared Web hosting services. Like GoDaddy, HostGator boasts unlimited domains, storage, monthly data transfers, and a choice of Linux- or Windows-based servers, but tops its rival by offering unlimited email.
Dedicated Server Plans
GoDaddy’s dedicated servers come in many configurations. The plans start at $129 per month, and you can outfit the servers with up to 32GB of RAM, 1.5TB of storage, and 20TB of data transfers per month. The 32GB RAM total is 16GB more than what HostGator—the PCMag Editors’ Choice for dedicated servers—offers, but GoDaddy loses points because email isn’t included in the plan. It’s a separate purchase. Plus, HostGator’s impressive 25GB of monthly data transfers bests GoDaddy’s offering, as well as those from Arvixe (10TB), Bluehost£2.56 at BlueHost UK (15TB), SiteGround£2.75 at SiteGround UK (5TB), and many other Web hosts.
Hostwinds$4.50 at Hostwinds – Shared may be the PCMag Editors’ Choice for VPS hosting, but that doesn’t mean that GoDaddy doesn’t have quality virtual private server packages. GoDaddy VPS plans (starting at $19.99 per month) offer Linux- or Windows-based servers, and unlimited domains and email. It’s good stuff.
So why does GoDaddy fall short of winning the Editors’ Choice award? Hostwinds offers unlimited monthly data transfers (with GoDaddy you’re limited to 8GB), superior website-building tools, and a simpler WordPress setup. Still, GoDaddy’s VPS is a capable option for people who want a Web hosting solution that’s more powerful than shared Web hosting, but don’t want to pay dedicated Web hosting’s relatively expensive cost.
Setting Up a GoDaddy-Hosted Site
GoDaddy’s flexible Website Builder is an excellent website-building tool. I found it incredibly easy to add forms, social media links, Google Maps, slideshows, and other items to my site (superfuntechgo.com) by dragging them around the template. GoDaddy’s Website Builder produced a far more attractive site than the competition.
Unfortunately, GoDaddy’s WebsiteBuilder isn’t free; you must shell out an extra $1 per month to use the tool. Granted, that’s not a lot of money, but it’s extra cash out of your pocket. Arvixe includes a site-building tool for free. GoDaddy has dozens of apps in its Installatron library that can be used to improve your website, including Homefinder, PayPal, and Yelp.
Setting Up a Managed WordPress Blog
GoDaddy also offers managed WordPress hosting starting at $3.99 per month. Signing up for it has its advantages; GoDaddy has thousands of themes and plug-ins, and offers nightly backups and automatic WordPress software updates. Like other managed WordPress hosts, GoDaddy doesn’t require you to install the CMS, as it comes preinstalled. Once you’re logged into WordPress, you can create posts, pages, and galleries as you would with any other self-hosted WordPress site.
Unlike WP Engine$29.00 at WP Engine, GoDaddy’s managed WordPress hosting comes with unlimited storage and monthly data transfers, so you don’t have to worry about hitting a cap. That said, GoDaddy has a limitation of its own—you have to purchase email. InMotion Hosting$3.49 at InMotion – Shared, the PCMag Editors’ Choice for managed WordPress hosting, lets you create an unlimited number of email address without making an additional purchase. I’ll dive into GoDaddy’s email offerings in just a bit.
Note: If you plan to set up a WordPress-powered site on a non-managed GoDaddy server, expect a challenge. GoDaddy required that I first delete a database before installing WordPress for some unexplained reason. It was simple to do, but I could imagine less skilled users being intimidated by this requirement. No other Web host that I’ve reviewed required such an action.
GoDaddy tosses in email accounts with each shared hosting plan but not with its dedicated hosting plans. If you want to purchase email, here’s the breakdown: Email Essentials (starting at $4.99 per month, or $3.99 per month with an annual commitment) gives you 5GB of email storage, cross-device calendar and contact syncing, and 2GB of Microsoft OneDrive for Business cloud storage. Business Essentials (starting at $9.99 per month, or $7.49 per month with a one-year commitment) ups the email storage capacity to 50GB, increases the OneDrive storage to 1TB, and adds unlimited Web conferencing and access to online Word and Excel. Productivity Plus (starting at $14.99 per month, or $7.49 per month with a 12-month commitment) tosses in Microsoft Office mobile apps.
It was a simple endeavor to set up my GoDaddy email, as the Web host prompts you to create one during the Web hosting sign-up process. I simply selected the domain to which the email address would be associated, email handle, and password.