The amount of bad information and reviews steering people in the wrong direction about these web hosting companies, is simply staggering. Most of these web hosts have horrible service, and unless you’re tech savvy, half the time you won’t even have a clue. (for instance, the small business owners I used to work with had no idea that their HostMonster account was costing them money because of how frequently their website was down!) If you’re a beginner blogger, or a small business owner, there are only two companies I’d recommend for you: Bluehost and Liquidweb. The reason why is the same for both: it’s because they have 24/7 phone support, with native english speaking support staff, and you’re rarely on hold for less than two minutes before any issue you may have is resolved.
So why do I do these comparisons and reviews? Because I’ve had so many frustrating experiences with web hosting companies, for myself and on behalf of past clients, that I want to make recommendations that will keep readers out of trouble/going through a lot of hassles. Sure I could have a vested interest in recommending one company over another as an affiliate, but I only recommend companies that I use myself. I’ve had plenty of experience over the years with several different web hosting companies, and can save you time, money, and aggravation by avoiding the problematic ones, that’s for sure!
The other reason I continue to write these posts, is because still to this day I get asked questions about which company vs that company, and yada yada yada. The more of these hosting comparisons I can put out, it’s a win win for those curious about the different companies, and gives me a quick link that I can shoot over to them if I’ve already covered it.
Arvixe vs Bluehost vs Dreamhost vs Hostgator vs Hostmonster vs Justhost
I wanted to use Arvixe in all my tutorials when I first started this blog, but unfortunately there were too many reports of service declines, and had to pull them from the list. This has continued to get worse, as you can see in my other post about the truth about Arvixe web hosting reviews. More and more affiliates that I know are moving away from promoting them as well now, since it would be poor taste to recommend a company that you know has already kicked the bucket.
Bluehost is still going strong, and my #1 recommended hosting company for beginners wanting to start a blog. It’s also an excellent option for anyone starting a business with a bootstrapped budget, since they give you access to their site builder and the phone support is still the best in the business. (in fact, I just called them the other day… still impressed) To read more reviews on Bluehost, check out this comparison post.
Dreamhost is still on my list of decent hosting companies, although I don’t currently have any accounts with them. I like the owners philosophy, and love how they mock EIG on the blog. I would use them again, although I don’t rank them as highly as say Liquidweb. (my fav hosting company bar none!)
I used to recommend Hostgator left and right, and they were my go to company for all tutorials. However, they recently raised their pricing last year, without improving any of the service quality. For me, this was a deal breaker when you can get just as good of hosting service at Bluehost, but with WAY better phone support. In addition to that, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about them forcing users to get Sitelock now, which isn’t really a necessary feature for most people and is a waste of money. That said, I no longer recommend them, even though I still have one account left there, and am still a current customer.
Hostmonster is exactly as the name sounds… monsterish. I wouldn’t use this company again if they paid me, and I hope no one ever calls me to help them migrate away from there ever again. Some of their hardware is so overloaded it’s not even funny, and response times can be over 24 seconds which is absolutely insane. No thanks.
Almost the same goes for Justhost, although they are a hair better in terms of performance. Same problem as the others though… You can get the a little better service for the same price, so why stick your neck out there? I wouldn’t, and would advise you to stay with the companies I recommend that have really good phone support unless you’re a systems administrator or developer.
Related reading: How Much Should Blog Hosting Cost Anyway?
This hosting company comparison is just a small fraction of the companies I’ve used or reviewed, and even more are in this list that I couldn’t fit in the title. (such as A Small Orange Web Hosting Review)
Other shared hosting that fall into this category companies I’d never recommend are:
The reason these were left out and didn’t make the cut at all for title position, is because I wouldn’t touch any of these with a ten foot pole. (I have before, I’ve worked on client’s websites in the past that used many of these hosts, and I’ve migrated other clients away FROM these hosting companies, and I wouldn’t do it again I can tell you that. It’s extremely frustrating to deal with some of these companies, especially when you’re stuck between a rock and hard place dealing with a small mom and pop service company that knows how to fix pipes, not get their domain released from some no name registrar and hosting company)
Related reading: What Is The Best Web Hosting For Beginners?
A lot of the more beginner oriented hosting companies implement modified backend structures that are not standard to make it easier for novice users to register domains, setup websites, upload files, create email accounts, and get access to one click cms installs. The trouble with this is very often there are little nuances they customize, everything from file structure to server scripts… so when you go to export these items and migrate/upload to a new server/hosting account elsewhere, you have to go through everything with a fine tooth comb to get it to work right… whether it’s changing files paths, bulk find and replace for code changes, completely different home directory references/structure, and on and on.
So while there might be people out there that have had Ipage or Ipower web hosting for many years for their small business websites, and have nothing but good things to say, most of the time they just haven’t been exposed to a situation where these things can be a problem yet. Nothing wrong with that, but if you can analyze the pros and cons of different services before you choose one, I’d recommend going with the option that will present the LEAST amount of headache down the road whenever possible. (confession: my opinion is a bit jaded as well, I’ve been in the web services business a long time, and have endured many many nightmare scenarios where clients lose access to their websites, accounts get hacked and there is no backup provided by the hosting company to restore from, websites built on a certain cms are no longer supported, web hosting companies allowing porn sites to be mixed in with local small businesses on the same ip (( YOU NEVER WANT THIS… this is what’s called being in or associated with a “bad neighborhood” in the web hosting world)).
Most of the companies on this list that are not recommended have been acquired by a large publicly traded corporation known as EIG. What you have is a large conglomerate buying up all the web hosting companies, and slowly over time, over selling them like gym memberships, scaling back on support, and so on and so forth to cut costs and raise profits. All we can do as customers is continue to keep tabs on these companies, and when they decline migrate to other hosting companies that provide valuable service.
Related reading: Low Cost Affordable WordPress Hosting In 2016
I’ve set up all my tutorials to refer to the companies I use, which change about every 3 years or so. The reason for this is every company does things just a hair bit differently, and I don’t want to have to go back and redo a bunch of work on my tutorials just because their service went to shit and it’s time to dump them. In addition to that, my friends and family use these tutorials, so if they’re missing a step or I make one wrong move, the damn phone starts ringing like mad! LOL (point being, I try to stay on top of these things and make them as user friendly as possible… both for you guys, and for myself)
No matter what though, technology is always changing, as with any industry. And sometimes, the companies we all love either get bought out or sold off, and new management may not have the same views on service if they’re a publicly traded company at that point. (we even see this with 800 providers) Their responsibility is to their shareholders, who expect a certain turnover each quarter. I would say it’s not good, bad, or cynical, it’s just the way it is and not that big of a deal as long as you know what to do. (I can help with that… I’m putting together some migration tutorials right now, so you know what to ask for from a new hosting company’s support staff, should you ever be in that position.)