I figure one question just about everyone has is, “What host should I go with?” This is so long and complicated (and something everyone has THE answer to–some people treat webhosts like a religion, I swear). In the end, it all depends on your personal preferences and needs.
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Since I started blogging in 2012, one thing has become very clear to me: self-hosting spoils you. It really does. There is so much you can do with your new blog–things that are just so very basic that you can’t imagine not doing them. But they’re only available if you self-host. Like plugins. Or, for crying out loud, changing your color scheme. Most themes in the free WordPress are not meant to be customized. Which is why, for months, I had a pink theme…even though I actually greatly dislike the color. C’est la vie.
We’ll talk more about self-hosting versus free hosting another day. In the meantime, how do you decide on a host? There are so many out there. So many that I haven’t even heard of half of them. Let’s discuss the four hosts I hear people talking about the most. Note: there are many great hosts out there that are not on this list. This is just a list of hosts I’ve been hearing a lot about recently. You are free to look into whatever host you feel is best for you. 🙂
I am constantly hearing great things about Web Hosting Hub. They’re affordable and easy to work with. In fact, their customer service is probably the best rated among any web host I’ve looked into. If you have any problems at all, they have an online chat that is available on the weekends. They’re polite, helpful, and always amicable no matter how stupid your question might seem. 😛 Their downtime is minimal (I wish the same could be said for most other web hosts). They also offer
- advice on how to optimize your website,
- unlimited space,
- unlimited bandwidth,
- free email accounts for every domain,
- unlimited domains,
- free domain transfers with no downtime,
and the list goes on! But I’ll stop there, since those are some of the most important features a blogger would want.
One perk many Americans might appreciate is that they are 100% operated in the USA, which means American jobs. So that’s nice! It’s apparently one of their biggest selling points and, what with the economy over the last ten years, I’m sure you can all understand why.
Many bloggers like to start a blog for free on WordPress or Blogger first, which is how I did it. In which case, you can take advantage of the previously mentioned free domain transfers with no downtime. They use a cPanel, which is easy to figure out. The learning curve is very small (and if you’re already familiar with WordPress, then you’ll be fine!).
Right now buying a domain with them only costs $4.99/month. So go ahead and check them out! If you don’t like them, they have a 90-day refund policy.
This is the host I currently use and I’m pretty happy with my service. However, I hear a lot of people complain about it, so they seem pretty hit or miss. The downtime, for me, has been minimal, though they do have outages a couple times a year. (ETA: Ellie from Creative Geekery informed me that Bluehost and HostGator have both experienced more downtime recently because they were bought by EIG. Just so everyone knows.)
- unlimited space,
- unlimited bandwidth,
- unlimited web hosting,
- free email accounts with every domain (also unlimited),
You get a reduced price on any domain added to your account after the initial one. I haven’t needed to use their customer service much, but the one time I did it was excellent. They have online customer support 24/7, even on holidays (not sure if that last part is good or bad). Their cPanel is simple and easy-to-use, just as with Web Hosting Hub
They are currently running at $4.95/month. So feel free to check that out! If you don’t like them, they have a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can still cancel at any time, though. After 30 days, they’ll send you a prorated refund per month left on your account.
DreamHost has been around for about 15 years now. They provide
- unlimited bandwidth,
- unlimited disk space,
- unlimited domains,
- unlimited email accounts, and
- 1 free domain registration for a full year.
They are the only host that guarantees no downtime ever. And from what I hear, they’re true to their word. They also offer 97 days to try out their service. If you don’t like it, you can get a free refund as long as you’re within that period.
One thing people didn’t like a couple years ago was that they were not offering free 24/7 customer support, which is weird because it’s something every host does. However, their website implies that this has changed. But they also have a comprehensive wiki so you can find the answers to your questions on your own instead of having to call them, which is really nice. Contacting customer service is always the last thing I want to do. Even if it is just a live chat (and calling? Forget it).
The interesting thing about DreamHost, besides no downtime, is the unlimited domain thing. This means you buy the account and then you add more domains for free. Which is really useful if you have multiple websites (as I do–between Zach and myself, we’re paying for three separate domains).
If you want to check out DreamHost, they are curently $8.95/month. This is actually an excellent price if you want to host multiple domains. However, if you want to host one blog and you’re on a budget, there are better prices out there. (As you’ve seen.)
This has been a huge name in web hosting for…as long as I can remember. However, they’ve been under a lot of fire over the last couple years for some…well…poor decisions.
- Their support of SOPA/PIPA, though they later retracted that statement and said they actually oppose SOPA/PIPA. They claimed it was because the legislation didn’t do what it was meant to (whatever that means), but I’m fairly sure it’s because so many customers (including Wikipedia) closed their GoDaddy accounts to transfer to someone who didn’t support the bill. (As for the other hosts’ stances on SOPA, they all openly denounced it from the start. Just in case you’re curious. 😉 In fact, there was a flurry of people switching from GoDaddy to Web Hosting Hub who cited GoDaddy’s stance on SOPA as the reason for switching.)
- Their CEO shooting elephants and then releasing a distasteful video of the event.
- Using sex in their advertisements, though they’ve promised to stop doing that.
- There were claims that GoDaddy was caught looking up domain names that people were searching for, buying those names, and then selling them for inflated prices. The person who originally posted this has since deleted his website, so those claims can’t be verified. For the record, GoDaddy says it was a lie. At this point it’s a “he said/she said” kind of deal, but not something that would shock me.
But if you like to go with a name you recognize, their service is starting to get better reviews. They give unlimited bandwidth, and their security is top-notch (so I hear).
However, among the cons previously listed, they make it hard to leave if you decide to switch to another host (they’re an enormous corporation, so go figure). They also limit your disk space and databases (by a lot), which other hosts don’t do.
The package advertised on their site at this moment is $1/month. For that, you get
- unlimited pages,
- 50 themes,
- 1 GB disk space, and
- 150 GB of bandwidth.
So nothing special, but it’s pretty good for the price as long as you don’t use a ton of space (if your blog is picture-heavy, I wouldn’t go with this plan). I’m not sure what they mean by “50 themes,” though, because one of the points of self-hosting is being able to choose and customize a theme.
For a package closer to what Bluehost and Web Hosting Hub offer (though, honestly, still inferior), it’s $4.99/month.
Again, if you want to go with a name you know, GoDaddy definitely exists. But it wouldn’t be my first choice…mostly because I’ve been at this and while and my pictures take up a lot of space now.
So how do you decide?
Well, the only way to really pick a host is to see who meets your needs and then check the price. Most bloggers probably want either Bluehost or Web Hosting Hub. Though if you don’t use a lot of space (if your blog isn’t going to be very image-heavy) and you want to save some money, GoDaddy would work. The only reason you would want Dreamhost is if you run or plan to run multiple blogs. If you decide to host multiple blogs later, though, you can always start them out as subdomains with Bluehost or WWH (which is what I did with this site), see how they do, and decide if it’s worth it to switch over the Dreamhost.
In the end, it’s totally your call!
Do you self-host? What host do you use? Are they any good? Leave your answers in the comments!