We analyzed many shared hosting companies and selected those that offer a lot of value without a lot of hidden costs, provide options and features benefiting small businesses, offer a versatile control panel, and have user-friendly one-click installers.
Then we factored in expert and consumer ratings from our large database.
What Is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting is the most popular type of web hosting because it is typically the least expensive and often the easiest to use. This makes it extremely popular for individuals making personal websites as well as small businesses that need quality hosting at an affordable price.
Shared hosting is technically the least powerful type of hosting, but it’s more than adequate to run a small business website in the beginning, unless you need to run a very resource-intensive website. If you just want to set up a WordPress blog, shared hosting will provide everything you need.
In terms of functionality, shared hosting gives you some of the features of a more expensive hosting package, like the ability to install a range of different scripts. You’ll almost certainly be able to create email addresses and databases, as well as use the analytics tools your host provides to see how your website is performing.
How To Choose a Shared Hosting Provider
For small businesses, shared hosting offers the perfect balance of features, low pricing, and flexibility. Almost every hosting provider has put together multiple packages suitable for WordPress websites or small e-commerce stores. You can compare features and fine print between your shortlisted hosts to find the perfect plan for your small business website.
Operating systems: Most web hosts provide shared hosting on a Linux platform. Linux forms is the “L” in the “LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL [My structured query language], and PHP [hypertext preprocessor], Perl, or Python) stack,” which you’ll see in many hosts’ marketing literature. It’s generally very secure, provided it’s well-maintained, and most of the scripts that small businesses find useful are designed to run on Linux so you won’t run into any issues if you want to try them.
Windows, FreeBSD (Free Berkeley software distribution), and others: Windows shared hosting is less common and more expensive than Linux shared hosting, but many hosts do sell it. For some very specialized applications or languages, only Windows will do. But if you don’t have a particular reason to choose Windows shared hosting, we advise choosing Linux for greater flexibility and lower pricing.
Cost of shared hosting: Shared hosting is usuallythe least expensive type of hosting. Expect to pay a few dollars a month for a basic plan. Some specialized plans cost more. If you don’t have a clear reason for spending more or going for a niche plan, stick with the cheapest general-purpose package at first.
Server location: When you’re running a small business website, speed matters. If your server is located on the west coast of the United States and your customers are in London, the pages will load more slowly than they would if the server was in Europe. Those milliseconds add up fast.
Control panel: Control panels vary considerably in their features, complexity, and functionality. And the control panel that your host provides could be either a benefit or a massive limitation. When the host offers a rare or proprietary control panel, it becomes more difficult to migrate hosting settings, mailboxes, and databases. The most common control panel is called cPanel and is a great option for almost all situations.
Free domains: When you sign up for a new hosting plan, your host may bundle in a free domain name. Before you sign up, check the terms carefully. Your free domain will be registered along with your hosting. Some hosts will continue to renew annually if you stay with them, but others will expect you to pay after the first year.
One-click installers: One-click installers offer a useful shortcut, so you can get an application up and running quickly without having to learn to install things manually. Shared hosting customers can install any script permitted by their hosting company and compatible with their server hardware. However, this involves complicated installation procedures, so it is usually smart to stick with the options available with automatic installation.
Why it's best: Beginner-friendly shared hosting rate with reliable uptime
Hostinger has the one of the most affordable paid plans of the providers we reviewed. The Single shared web hosting plan comes with 50 GB (gigabytes) of SSD (solid-state drive) storage, 100 GB of bandwidth, a free SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate, 768 MB (megabytes) of RAM (random access memory), and a 3 GB database. Hostinger uses advanced technologies such as self-healing infrastructure and full SSD servers plus 24/7 customer support catering to all topics related to your domain and hosting package.
Pros and cons of Hostinger
Backup options aren’t great
What customers are saying about Hostinger
Hostinger is one of the best hosting companies for people who are starting out with a website and seeking low prices.
Bluehost is a well-known provider, especially among those who use WordPress. The company offers a wide array of web hosting options, with three different shared plans from which you can choose.
Pros and cons of BlueHost
New customer pricing is low
Backup options aren’t great
What customers are saying about Bluehost
Bluehost is a reputable provider offering shared and VPS hosting. The company is easy to use, affordable, and has great uptime. It is geared toward entrepreneurs and small online startups. Billing might be confusing, but they have solid customer service for any issues.
DreamHost offers everything you could possibly need for a website, including web hosting, domain name registration, productivity tools, security suites, and so on. The company offers a full range of web hosting products, and its shared plans are excellent for their ease of use. Furthermore, the company boasts top-notch customer service, so if you ever have any issues you won’t have problems getting help.
Pros and cons of DreamHost
Accessible customer support
Free website migration
Email hosting is not included
What customers are saying about DreamHost
A reliable and affordable hosting provider, Dreamhost offers great customer service and a variety of plans. It is easy to use, though there are some complaints that the speed and webmail could be improved.
SiteGround offers top-notch plans that would work well for pretty much any type of user, but it is important to note that all plans come with managed WordPress services by default. Furthermore, all plans come with premium offerings (such as enhanced performance due to up-to-date servers and SSD drives).
The company takes security seriously, is GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant, and offers great support to all its customers.
Pros and cons of SiteGround
High client satisfaction rate
Cost increases substantially after promo period
Limited data storage
What customers are saying about SiteGround
SiteGround is a reliable web hosting company with fast speeds, a user-friendly interface, and solid customer service. Some customers are not thrilled with the price increase and back-end support.
Why it's best: Plugin updates and WordPress-related performance optimizations
InMotion Hosting is very similar to the other companies listed in this section in that it offers a full range of web hosting options. However, what makes the company stand out are its managed hosting and premium support add-ons. These professional services can be useful, especially if you’re looking to outsource the maintenance and management involved.
Pros and cons of InMotion Hosting
Refunds available for a full 90 days
Slow page load speeds
What customers are saying about InMotion
InMotion Hosting’s high-performance hosting, support team, features, and customer service are well-liked. Prices are fair, but can fluctuate.
Site speed is critical when you’re setting up a business; you want your customers to enjoy browsing your site. It’s particularly important for e-commerce websites where customers will be hopping quickly between pages.
Does shared hosting offer support?
Not all of them are open 24/7. If they’re in a different time zone, they may not be available when you need help the most.
Can you easily move your data with shared hosting?
If a control panel is offered, it’s challenging to move data seamlessly from mismatched control panels. If in doubt, cPanel is the safest choice.
Does the host offer a money-back guarantee?
Some hosts will give you your money back anytime during your contract if you cancel. Others have no guarantee period whatsoever.
What are the other types of hosting?
The other types of hosting are VPS (virtual private server) hosting, dedicated hosting, WordPress hosting, and cloud hosting.
How does shared hosting benefit hosting companies?
Shared hosting offers a massive economy of scale for a web hosting provider. That’s because it’s a very efficient model; the host can place hundreds of customers on the same server with the same IP (internet protocol) address, so they don’t need lots of servers to get those customers online.