The best web hosting for a small business

Web hosting graphic

By Julia Watts | Content Manager

Everything needs a place to call home – even a website. In this case, that home happens to be a server – a physical computer that hosts and powers a website (or a number of websites).

These servers are set up, owned, and managed by companies – what we refer to as web hosting providers. When looking to set up a website, you’ll also need to find a web hosting provider that will give it a home on one of its servers.

Without getting into the technical nitty gritty, that’s pretty much the gist of web hosting. Simple, right? Well, finding the right hosting provider can actually be a tad complicated. The one that’s right for you will depend on the type of web hosting you’re looking for, the size and complexity of your website, how much traffic it tends to get, and more.

Not only that, but small businesses also need to be mindful of choosing a provider that’s affordable, reliable, and fantastic at customer support.

With all this in mind, we’ve decided to help you out by reviewing the UK’s best web hosting providers for small businesses, and noting which is the best solution for each different form of web hosting. We’ve also explained the different types of hosting, and defined a few key terms, so you can make the most informed decision possible.


What’s On This Page?


The different types of web hosting platforms

There are five different types of web hosting to be aware of. The one you choose to go for will depend on the size of your website, how many visitors it gets each month, and – of course – your budget.

The different types of web hosting platforms are:

Shared hosting

Shared hosting, as you might guess, involves sharing a server with a number of other websites. Think of it like staying in a hostel: it’s super cheap as you all share the cost of the space, but it also means sharing a bathroom, kitchen, and bits like soap and toothpaste. In the context of web hosting, it means sharing processing power.

Say another site is enjoying a traffic spike. As it sucks up bandwidth and other resources to cope, yours is left with less, making it slower. Much like when your bunkmate hogs the bathroom and ruins your morning routine.

Of course, if your site is fairly small and doesn’t yet get regular crowds of traffic, the problems associated with sharing resources are unlikely to affect you badly. Plus, shared hosting’s tiny price tag makes it an excellent starting point.

VPS (virtual private server) hosting

The next step up from shared hosting, VPS hosting still involves sharing a server with other websites. But the difference here is that these websites are housed across separate virtual machines, each running off their very own set of resources.

Now, this is more like staying in a hotel. You share the building with others, but you live in your own suite – with your own kettle, bathroom, and tiny branded shampoos.

While VPS hosting is more expensive than shared hosting, it’s what we’d recommend to the small businesses that can afford it. Even the cheapest VPS plans offer more reliability than the most expensive shared hosting.

Dedicated server hosting

If VPS hosting is like living in a hotel, dedicated server hosting is like living in your own house. Put simply: you have a server all to yourself. There’s no risk that you’ll need to share processing power, or face a security risk from another site.

And while the resources you can use up (like disk space and bandwidth) will still be capped at a certain amount, many providers will let you customise your plan and set these caps yourself.

Needless to say, though, dedicated server hosting is not cheap. Plus, there’s the additional concern that if your server hardware fails, your site will go down.

Cloud hosting

Similarly to VPS hosting, with cloud hosting, your site lives on a virtual machine – but instead of one single server, it feeds off a network of servers, from which it can pull the resources it needs as and when.

Unlike a traditional VPS, which can only be scaled to the extent of its hardware’s capacity, a cloud-based system is incredibly scalable because it combines the power of several computers.

A downside is that many cloud hosting providers charge with a combination of fixed prices and pay-as-you-go fees. So for example, if you experience a traffic spike, you’ll end up paying more than usual for the resources used.

WordPress hosting

Put simply, WordPress hosting uses servers that are performance-optimised for WordPress websites. It should be said that WordPress sites don’t have to use only WordPress hosting providers, but they’re certainly worth looking into for the benefits they can offer.

There are two different types of WordPress hosting:

  • Shared WordPress hosting – The WordPress-oriented version of traditional shared hosting.
  • Managed WordPress hosting – Hosting with premium WordPress support and better hardware specs. You’ll benefit from tighter security, faster loading speeds, more uptime, regular maintenance, and more.

Read more: What are the different types of website?


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The best web hosting for a small business

The best web hosting providers for small businesses are:

  • Best overall provider: HostGator
  • Best shared hosting provider: InMotion
  • Best VPS hosting provider: HostGator
  • Best dedicated server hosting provider: Bluehost
  • Best cloud hosting provider: 1&1 IONOS
  • Best WordPress hosting provider: Bluehost
  • Best for business growth services: GoDaddy

HostGator

Best overall web hosting provider

An incredible eight million domains are currently registered with HostGator – and we can see why! Promising 99.99% uptime, it’s the most reliable hosting provider on this list. And, if it fails on this front, it’ll refund you a month’s payment – just the kind of assurance growing businesses need! HostGator is affordable, with shared hosting plans starting at just $2.75 (roughly £2.08) a month, and its support team is available 24/7 via telephone or live chat. HostGator also offers a free website builder, and will happily transfer your site over from another hosting provider if needs be. All things considered, this provider certainly stands out as an excellent fit for the needs of a small business.

Pros:

  • Guarantees 99.99% uptime
  • Free website builder
  • Beginner-friendly
  • 24/7 support team available
  • 45-day money back guarantee

X Cons:

  • Servers are located in the US
  • Pricing information is only available in US dollars

HostGator pricing

Hosting typePrice
Shared hosting$2.75 – $5.95 per month
Cloud hosting$4.95 – $9.95 per month
VPS hosting$29.95 – $49.95 per month
Dedicated hosting$119 – $149 per month


InMotion

Best for shared hosting

While not the cheapest shared hosting provider on this list, InMotion’s shared packages have pretty much got it all. Unending bandwidth makes for a speedier website, while limitless disk space means it can be as big and content-heavy as it needs to be. Alongside this, InMotion will also provide free marketing tools – such as advertising credits and visitor stats – and look out for your site maintenance and security, with automatic backups and hack protection included.

Pros:

  • Unlimited disk space
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Free domain
  • Free backups
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Free website builder
  • Monthly visitor limit of 360,000
  • 24/7 customer support
  • 90-day money back guarantee

X Cons:

  • Slightly lower uptime of 99.97%
  • More expensive than some other shared hosting providers
  • Servers are located in the US
  • Pricing information only available in US dollars

InMotion’s shared hosting prices

PackagePrice
Launch$6.39 per month
Power$8.49 per month
Pro$14.71 per month


HostGator

Best for VPS hosting

While InMotion came in a very close second, HostGator has snapped up the title of best VPS hosting provider thanks to its incredible uptime and weighty storage allowance – starting at 120GB, even the cheapest plan comes with more disk space than any other provider we’ve reviewed. HostGator also provides advanced server features (including full root access, so you’re in control) and security considerations like firewalls. It’s not top of the list when it comes to bandwidth (1.5TB to 3TB) and CPU cores (two to four), but it’s certainly not at the bottom on these counts either.

Pros:

  • Guarantees 99.99% uptime
  • Cheapest plan comes with 120GB of disk space
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Unlimited domains allowed
  • Free backups
  • Free SSL certificates
  • 24/7 support team available
  • 45-day money back guarantee

X Cons:

  • Servers are located in the US
  • Less bandwidth than some other providers
  • Fewer CPU cores than some other providers
  • Less available RAM than some other providers
  • Doesn’t offer a free domain
  • Pricing information is only available in US dollars

HostGator’s VPS hosting prices

PackagePrice
Snappy 2000$29.95 per month
Snappy 4000$39.95 per month
Snappy 8000$49.95 per month


Bluehost

Best for dedicated server hosting

Bluehost’s dedicated server hosting plans may be some of the cheapest on the market, but its service is still top quality. It comes with a host of handy hosting features, including root access, real-time storage upgrades, and free backups – a rare benefit in the world of dedicated server hosting. Not to mention Bluehost’s impressive uptime performance (99.98%), and the fact that its customer support is some of the most friendly and efficient around. Add to this the fact that Bluehost is speedy – its team will build and deploy your server within 72 hours – and you’ve got a fantastic provider.

Pros:

  • High uptime of 99.98%
  • Cheaper than other dedicated hosting packages
  • More disk space than other providers (up to 1 TB), and you can add more if you need it
  • Free backups (once enabled)
  • Free SSL certificates
  • 24/7 customer support available
  • 30-day money back guarantee

X Cons:

  • Just one server (based in the US)
  • Less bandwidth than some other providers
  • Less RAM than some other providers
  • Shared plan enables fewer monthly site visitors than others (32,000)

Bluehost’s dedicated server hosting prices

PackagePrice
Standard£60.31 per month
Enhanced£75.39 per month
Premium£90.47 per month


1&1 IONOS

Best for cloud hosting

As you’ll see in the extra-lengthy pros list below, 1&1 IONOS’ cloud hosting service comes with a big range of quality features. And it’s these benefits – not to mention the affordable price range – that make this provider our top choice for small business cloud hosting. You’ll always get oodles of processing power with a 1&1 IONOS cloud hosting plan, but best of all, you’ll also get the option to customise it: 1&1 IONOS’ Flex package lets you pick how much RAM and storage you want, and how many CPU cores, based on your business’ needs. Definitely ideal!

Pros:

  • High uptime of 99.98%
  • You can customise your server to best fit your needs
  • High number of CPU cores (up to 16)
  • Lots of RAM (up to 128 GB)
  • Lots of storage (up to 500 GB)
  • Unmetered bandwidth
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Free domain
  • Free backups
  • Free SSL certificates
  • Offers Linux and Windows server hosting
  • 24/7 phone support
  • 30-day money back guarantee

X Cons:

  • Only allows one website, while other providers can host an unlimited number
  • Charges hourly
  • Doesn’t provide live chat support

PackagePrice
Cloud hosting M£15 per month
Cloud hosting L£25 per month
Cloud hosting XL£35 per month
Cloud hosting XXL£75 per month


Bluehost

Best for WordPress hosting

Impressively, our research found Bluehost to be the best solution for both shared and managed WordPress hosting. With a simple, clean interface that makes everything easy to manage, Bluehost’s shared plans come with automatic WordPress installation and updates, so you can get set up in minutes and rest assured that your software is always up to date. Meanwhile, its managed plans come with a host of benefits, such as marketing analytics, advanced security, and social media integration. As if that wasn’t enough, Bluehost is actually one of just three hosting providers that WordPress itself recommends.

Pros:

  • High uptime of 99.98%
  • Offers both shared and managed hosting plans
  • Unmetered bandwidth
  • Most plans can host unlimited websites
  • Free domain name
  • Free software updates
  • Free SSL certificates
  • 24/7 customer support
  • 30-day money back guarantee

X Cons:

  • Doesn’t provide plugin updates
  • Some shared plans don’t provide free backups

Bluehost’s shared WordPress hosting prices

PackagePrice
Basic£2.22 per month
Plus£4.49 per month
Choice Plus£4.49 per month

Bluehost’s managed WordPress hosting prices

PackagePrice
Build£15.04 per month
Grow£22.58 per month
Scale£37.66 per month


GoDaddy

Best for business growth services

If you want the full package when it comes to getting online, look no further than GoDaddy. Its hosting plans are pretty strong – depending on the hosting type, they can offer benefits like unlimited bandwidth, immense disk space, and free SSL certificates. But beyond this, we like GoDaddy because it’s a one stop shop for all things internet. Its range of valuable services can really help supercharge your business – think domain name registration, CRM software, SEO support, and website building (using GoDaddy’s own simple site builder). For a busy small business, the ease of getting all this from a single provider can’t be understated.

Pros:

  • Has servers located in Europe
  • Offers valuable additional services
  • Shared plans come with a free domain, free email accounts, SSL certificates for the first year, and potentially unlimited website allowance and disk space
  • VPS plans come with unlimited bandwidth and email accounts, plus 200 GB storage
  • Dedicated server hosting plans come with unmetered bandwidth and a potential 2 TB of disk space
  • 24/7 phone support

X Cons:

  • Slightly lower uptime of 99.97%
  • Doesn’t provide cloud hosting
  • Some plans have fewer CPU cores than other providers’
  • Doesn’t provide live chat or ticket support
  • No money back guarantee

GoDaddy’s web hosting prices

PackagePrice
Shared hosting£2.99 – £11.99 per month
Business hosting£14.99 – £37.00 per month
VPS hosting£17.99 – £39.99 per month
Dedicated server hosting£55.99 – £104.99 per month
Shared WordPress hosting£2.99 – £17.99 per month
Managed WordPress hosting£37.99 – £115.99 per month


Expert verdict

No one web hosting provider can be the right fit for every single small business. The one you choose will depend on your website’s needs.

HostGator is a fantastic all-rounder for small businesses, while InMotion’s shared hosting packages are great for new businesses with relatively small traffic. For larger, more popular websites that can’t afford to share resources, HostGator has proven a winner again for its VPS hosting, and for bigger websites still, Bluehost’s dedicated server hosting comes highly recommended.

Meanwhile, businesses looking for near-infinite scalability should look into cloud hosting – and 1&1 IONOS in particular. And if your website is built on WordPress, Bluehost’s WordPress hosting plans are top notch.

Of course, we’re also here to help you make the right choice. If you fill in the form at the top of this page with some details about your business, you’ll receive tailored quotes from leading hosting suppliers that can provide what you need. This process is free, fast and easy – why not give it a go?

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FAQs

What are CPU cores? And what do RAM, disk space, bandwidth and uptime mean?

We know – the world of hosting is filled with unfamiliar acronyms and puzzling jargon. Here’s our quick glossary:

Bandwidth: In the context of hosting, bandwidth determines the amount of data transfer your site is able to handle. The more data transfer that happens (e.g. the more traffic your site gets, or the larger and more complex your site becomes), the larger your bandwidth needs to be to accommodate it all.

CPU cores: CPU (central processing unit) cores are there to process incoming instructions on your site. The more CPU cores a server has, the quicker the site on it will respond to clicks, open new pages, load content, and more.

Disk space: Also referred to as storage, disk space is just that – the amount of data storage a hosting provider allots to your website. How much disk space you’ll need depends simply on how large your site is – with data like images, videos, text and web pages all contributing to its size.

RAM: Just like your personal laptop, a server has a certain amount of RAM (random access memory). RAM acts as a memory store that temporarily holds the data needed to run applications and programs.

Uptime: The amount of time you can expect your website to be successfully up and running (i.e. not experiencing downtime). If a hosting provider guarantees 99.98% uptime, you can expect your website to be in operation 99.98% of the time.


Why don’t any providers guarantee 100% uptime?

The simple answer is: they can’t. Promising 100% uptime would be promising that nothing will ever go wrong – the server hardware will never crash, your site will never attract more traffic than your bandwidth can handle, and so on. In the unpredictable online world, that just cannot be guaranteed.

It’d be like trying to claim that you’ll never, ever lose your keys, trip over a pavement, or drop your phone down the toilet. Even if these things seem unlikely to you, you just can’t say for certain that they’ll never happen.

Julia Watts Content Manager

Specialising in business energy, vehicle tracking and fuel cards, Julia’s here to help your company power up and get on the move. Having spent years working in the dynamic world of business and entrepreneurship, she loves creating content that might just help exciting ventures, big or small, to flourish.

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