I’m not really one for writing reviews of web hosting companies.
However, I’ve been receiving a number of emails from some of you asking who I’m currently using for hosting Magnet4Blogging, as well as who I would also recommend using for beginners.
OK, since I’ve used quite a few hosting companies in my time online, I thought it would make sense to write about just 3 web hosting providers in the business.
And yes, I’ve obviously used all three of these providers.
Finding the right web host
Finding the right hosting provider for you is important, I know this.
Yes, I know there’s quite a few to choose from out there, which makes the task even more tedious.
If you’re new to building websites, web hosting in general, don’t be alarmed by it all as it’s really not that hard to pick a really good web host provider.
I wrote a detailed instructional post showing you how to setup a website with WordPress here if you need to learn. I’ve made this tutorial as simple as possible to follow.
OK, so when choosing the right web host for the job, you really need to remember three critical things.
- Credibility and reliability.
- Security of your website.
I’ve put ‘affordability’ as last, simply because I see so many folks starting online looking for the cheapest option available.
You’ve heard the phrase, you get what you pay for, right?
Well, sometimes it pays to pay a little more, especially if you want to get the best possible service for your website.
And the three most popular web host providers are right now?
HostGator and Bluehost are household names in the web hosting world. SiteGround is also now very popular.
Bluehost and SiteGround are currently WordPress’s top choice for PHP and MySQL web hosting.
What you need to know, however, is the answer to the following question:
Which web host to use???
Hopefully, after you’ve read my most‘ honest’ and ‘unbiassed’ comparison post here, much of it based on my own personal experiences with these three hosting companies, you’ll be able to make a better decision as to which one to use for your website.
Let’s get cracking.
Before we get started…
Before we get started, I want to explain the situation with Bluehost and HostGator quickly, which I think you should know about if you don’t already.
As I mentioned, HostGator and Bluehost are common household names in the world of shared web hosting.
Both of these companies are also divisions of a much larger corporation.
Bluehost and HostGator are owned by the EIG Group (Endurance International Group).
What does that have to do with anything? you might ask.
Well, for most people who have experienced any ‘below average service’ from an EIG owned hosting company, it can be an instant turn-off.
Because EIG also owns over sixty other hosting brands, some of them are good, most of them pretty bad.
And that’s not just my word either. Go ahead and do a quick search online and you’ll soon find an abundance of complaints made from customers using an EIG hosting brand.
Separate hosting companies
Whilst both Bluehost and HostGator are separate companies offering different levels of services and prices, they’re both owned by the same mother ship hosting company, so bare that in mind for the future.
What about SiteGround?
SiteGround, on the other hand, is an independent hosting company.
They haven’t been around for as long as the two above mentioned companies granted, but they are certainly a web host provider gaining a lot of traction, popularity, respect and authority, and certainly one of the best choices to consider.
OK, so now let’s dive deeper into these three popular WordPress web host providers.
I’ll talk about features, benefits and what each one has to offer for your hard earned cash.
#1 – WordPress hosting with Bluehost
Let me start with Bluehost, only because I’ve had over 5 years experience with using them.
I actually began my blogging venture with Bluehost way back in 2010.
It was one of the recommended hosting sites on the WordPress.org site, and it’s still is today.
Services Offered – Bluehost offers domains, shared hosting packages, cloud hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated hosting, WooCommerce hosting and WordPress hosting with one-click installation feature.
Reliability & Security – So this is the part you need to read about. When I began using Bluehost back in 2009, they were without a doubt incredibly reliable. Easily the best in the business I might add.
Uptime was really good too. The first couple of years I experienced only 1 downtime, and that was due to the company installing new upgrades and what not, but nothing much to complain about at the time.
From around 2013 and onwards, uptime and the general quality of the service I received from Bluehost became something of an issue.
In the final year of using the company for web hosting, myself including many other customers of Bluehost were experiencing very frequent and prolonged durations of downtimes.
On 1st April 2014 my website went down for 3 whole days, with no real explanation from Bluehost other than they knew about the problem.
Many other customers were experiencing the same downtime issue, and all Bluehost could say was that they trying to fix it.
That became the normal thing afterward, they were frequently trying to solve some kind of downtime problem.
I used this tool to calculate the uptime I was experiencing from Bluehost over a 12 month period, minus all the downtimes.
It turned out that my site was experiencing an uptime score of 99.20%.
Most people would argue, well, that’s not too bad surely. I beg to differ personally.
On April 16th, 2014 my website went down again with downtime, I sent out a tweet about it and mentioned @bluehost. As normal, they were working on it. That was the last straw for me.
Shortly after, I began looking for a web host company.
Asides from downtime, what else was wrong with Bluehost?
When it comes to security, Bluehost is still pretty solid in my opinion.
In my time using them, I’ve only experienced one occasion where an attempt was actually being made to hack into my site.
Luckily the Bluehost tech team were on the case before I could even bring it to their attention.
Uptime & page load response time
**View Bluehost page load speed and uptime for the last 8 months here.
Affordability – Bluehost is not the cheapest around, but still nevertheless reasonably affordable when you weigh up what you get (minus the poor uptime).
According to their website what you get is unmetered and unlimited everything.
Shared hosting starts from $7.99 per month ($2.99 with their current 2017 special offer) for a Basic plan, whilst their Prime plan will set you back $14.99 per month ($5.45 with their current special offer).
If you’re starting your first WordPress blog or website, you don’t really need to waste your money on paying $24.99 per month.
$7.99 will do just fine as that is the smallest package option they offer on shared hosting plan.
Customer service and technical support – On all the occasions that I’ve used Bluehost customer service, they have been very responsive, well mannered and ready to assist.
They answer chat requests fairly quickly and are pretty good at solving small issues and minor technical problems.
I found, however, that the more technical the issue was for Bluehost, they would struggle to resolve a problem.
On one occasion I remember, I was experiencing some problems with my site CPU throttling my hosting account.
The only option Bluehost had to offer me at the time was to upgrade and pay more money for a VPS plan. They insisted in fact.
I signed up to a VPS account paying a hefty $35 per month for almost 12 months…
I later learned when I migrated over to SiteGround that I didn’t actually need a VPS plan. All I had to do was optimize my site, delete a few plugins and clean up my database.
I thought that was pretty cheeky from Bluehost.
Bluehost offers 24/7 support via live chat, support ticket, and telephone. They also use Twitter to provide help and support.
Facts and stats about Bluehost – Here are some interesting things I found out about Bluehost.
- Bluehost hosts over 2% of all the domain names in use on the internet. – Source.
- Bluehost powers over 2 million websites worldwide.
- Bluehost has 73% positive user sentiment – Source.
Final words – Based entirely on my own personal experience with them, Bluehost, despite being one of the most popular names in shared web hosting, isn’t the best.
They’re not the worst either. I would recommend Bluehost to anyone starting out for the first time, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone upgrade to them from another host.
With a brand new website, you can’t really go wrong with Bluehost. If you have a much larger site or blog, however, I’d be reluctant to use them as a primary host provider.
I give Bluehost a respectable score of 3.8 out of 5.0. A bit more if it wasn’t for the frequent downtimes that I personally experienced.
If you want to give Bluehost a try for your WordPress website hosting, click here to get started. (Disclaimer below this post).
#2 – WordPress hosting with HostGator
OK, so I’ve not used HostGator for as long as I’ve used Bluehost, I want to get that off my chest first.
I started a second blog way back in 2011 called Online Income Journal, hosted on HostGator’s Hatchling Plan.
This was just a small personal blog project that really only lasted for about a year and a bit before I killed it off.
It didn’t have much in the way of traffic either, around 20 visits per day at most.
Services offered – HostGator offers shared hosting, cloud hosting, dedicated WordPress hosting, VPS and dedicated servers and domain names.
Reliability – Even though I was a customer of HostGator for only about 16 months, I was quite impressed with the reliability of their service.
I experienced zero downtime with my site during its short life, and so never really had the chance to use and experience their customer support properly.
The signup process was fairly straight forward with HostGator, and once you’re in you have a similar setup as with Bluehost, with cPanel access and smart web developing tools, and of course that one-click install feature for first-time WordPress users.
Uptime and page load response time
**View HostGator page load speed and uptime for the last 8 months here.
Affordability – HostGator is one of the most affordable web host providers around.
Their prices start from $3.95 per month for a Hatchling Plan for shared hosting on a 36-month plan.
There’s also a Baby Plan and a Business Plan as well, all with unmetered bandwidth.
In addition to already being cost effective, HostGator frequently hosts special offers throughout the year.
Customer service and technical support – As I said I’ve never had to contact customer support regarding their service or any issues with my personal blog.
That being said, HostGator offers support via Live Chat, phone or fax. You can also write to them directly using conventional mail should you wish.
Facts and stats about HostGator – Here are some interesting facts about HostGator.
- HostGator was given the Best Customer Service award in 2010. Source.
- HostGator was given the Best Small Business Hosting award in 2011. Source.
Final words – Just to be clear again, I haven’t been a customer of HostGator for long enough to really say yes they’re worth your time and money.
I’ve heard mixed feelings about the service they provide over the years from people I have connected with in my blog community.
However, from my short time with them, HostGator have been a great host and I would recommend them to anyone starting out with a small website or blog project.
I give HostGator a respectable 4.2 out of 5.0. Click here to learn more about HostGator and to signup.
#3 – WordPress hosting with SiteGround
So we come around to SiteGround.
SiteGround is the company which I’m currently using to host Magnet4Blogging with, and I have been since May of 2014. I switched from Bluehost as I mentioned earlier.
So this is how SiteGround got onto my radar, it’s really quite interesting.
SiteGround had noticed one of my Tweet’s about my frustration with Bluehost and downtimes, and they simply acted upon it.
After a quick chat with them, I ended up signing up for 12 months contract with SiteGround, and they even migrated my site over for me.
Services offered – SiteGround offers shared, cloud and reseller hosting, dedicated servers and domain names, website migration.
On their shared hosting plan they offer three tiers. StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek.
Currently, I’m on a GrowBig plan myself, but if you’re developing your blog or website from scratch, the StartUp plan will give you plenty enough resources.
Reliability – SiteGround claims to provide 99.9 percent server uptime on their website.
I’m happy to report, however, that in the last 3 years of using them, I’ve experienced nothing but 100 percent server uptime. So if you were to ask me “are they reliable?”
100% yes would be my answer. No pun intended there 🙂
As for performance and security, SiteGround thrives on the robustness and secureness of their service, with SDD, latest speed technologies, free SLL, autoupdates, firewall rules and monitoring with daily backup added to their service
Uptime and page load response time
**View SiteGround page load speed and uptime for the last 8 months here.
Affordability – SiteGround, again like Bluehost aren’t the cheapest web host providers on the web. But, what is affordable or cheap to one person is completely another thing for someone else, right?
Like I said, you’re either willing to pay peanuts for a poor service, or a higher premium for a more reliable service. And I know that sometimes you can pay MORE and expect a reliable service, but actually end up getting a crap service.
The Grow Big plan will set you back $14.95 per month, and the GoGeek plan will set you back $29.95 per month.
Customer service and technical support – SiteGround provides customer service and technical support through means of phone, chat or ticket.
I’ve only ever had to contact SiteGround technical support once, still to this day! And we’re now in 2017…
The reason for contacting them was regarding CPU throttling problems that I was experiencing on my account.
Unlike Bluehost, they didn’t tell me that I needed to upgrade my account or pay more money to get a better service, phew…
What they did was help me to identify where the problem was coming from, although they didn’t succeed in finding a solution.
I was later able to identify a simple setting in my theme which was causing the high CPU throttling.
I give SiteGround customer team and technical support a big thumbs up, simply for the fact that they were willing to help me out before telling me that I needed to pay more money for improved service.
With SiteGround you also have access to a host of resources, including tutorial videos, webinars and there’s even a setup wizard for new folks.
Facts and stats about SiteGround – Here’s some interesting stats about SiteGround.
- SiteGround have data centers in three Continents. USA, Europe, and Asia.
- From my own findings, I’ve managed to achieve 100% uptime from SiteGround in the last 36 months. Woop, woop!
Final words – I’ll remind you that SiteGround isn’t a cheap option, and if you join them at a discount rate, don’t expect that discount to continue when you renew your hosting service with them in a year’s time. I certainly noticed how my hosting bill went up by a whopping $80 in the second year.
That being said, I recommend them wholeheartedly!
If you don’t mind paying a little bit more for peace of mind web hosting, then get with SiteGround. Let them take care of hosting your site securely so that you can get on with what’s important, building your blog or online business.
I personally give SiteGround a respectable 4.7 out of 5.
Wrapping things up!
Whether you choose to use a house hold name web hosting company like Bluehost, or an independent company like SiteGround to host your WordPress website, there’s a few things you have to keep in mind as I’ve outlined in this post.
Don’t just go for the cheapest option and be done with it, don’t go for the most popular provider because that’s what everyone else is doing.
Consider your options carefully. Do your research carefully, hopefully, this post will have helped you a little bit.
Weigh out the facts and stats before finalizing on which host provider to use for your future website or blog project.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading through this web hosting comparison post, and that you’ve found it useful.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comment section below, or drop me an email here.
The best of luck 🙂
** Screen captures of test site page load and uptime reports. Test sites were set up using Pingdom by HostingFacts.com
Affiliate Disclaimer: Some of the links contained in this review post are affiliate links pointing to web hosts that I’ve used and therefore recommend. If you choose to use any of the affiliate links above to purchase web hosting, I will be paid a small commission in return, at no additional cost to you. I want to thank you in advance for your continued support.