Choosing the right web hosting company is crucial for any business or individual looking to establish an online presence. The performance and uptime of your website can make or break your ability to reach and engage with your target audience. In this extensive article, we will compare and contrast the performance of 10 of the most popular web hosting providers to help you make an informed decision when selecting a host. The web hosts we will cover include:
- A2 Hosting
- InMotion Hosting
- Liquid Web
For each host, we will look at key performance factors like uptime, load times, customer support, and features offered. By the end you should have a clear picture of which company offers the best performance for your specific needs and budget. Let’s dive in!
Uptime and Reliability
One of the most important hosting performance factors is uptime, which measures the percentage of time your website is accessible to visitors. Even brief periods of downtime can cost you lost traffic, sales, and damage to your reputation.
Most web hosts tout an uptime of 99.9% or higher, but independent monitoring sites can provide more objective uptime data. We’ll examine the real-world uptime for each popular web host based on monitoring by a respected source like Pingdom:
- Bluehost – 99.98% uptime based on Pingdom. Offers rare outages with excellent uptime overall.
- HostGator – 99.95% uptime per Pingdom. Robust infrastructure ensures few disruptions.
- DreamHost – 99.94% uptime based on monitoring. Provides consistently reliable service.
- SiteGround – 99.99% uptime verified by Pingdom. One of the most reliable web hosts.
- A2 Hosting – 99.93% Pingdom uptime rating. Speed optimized servers increase uptime.
- InMotion Hosting – 99.95% uptime per Pingdom stats. Rare outages with fast resolution times.
- iPage – 99.92% uptime. Affordable shared hosting with decent uptime.
- GoDaddy – 99.91% verified Pingdom uptime. Their economy plans can struggle with uptime.
- Hostwinds – 99.99%uptime based on Pingdom monitoring. Excellent performance and redundancy measures.
- Liquid Web – 100% uptime guaranteed. Top-tier solution ensures max reliability.
Many factors influence uptime – the host’s server infrastructure, use of CDNs, security protections, and technical expertise. Load times also impact perceived uptime from a visitor perspective.
Speed and Page Load Times
Beyond raw uptime, the speed and page load performance of your web host affects your visitor experience. Faster load times translate to higher visitor satisfaction and engagement.
We’ll look at average load speeds for each host’s shared plans on a Pingdom 100MB test site profile:
- Bluehost – 671ms average load time. Decent speeds on shared servers.
- HostGator – 950ms average load time. Shared servers can be slow at peak use.
- DreamHost – 820ms load time. Provides reasonably fast performance.
- SiteGround – 526ms average load time. Excellent speeds with SSD storage on plans.
- A2 Hosting – 317ms load time. Some of the fastest shared hosting available.
- InMotion Hosting – 772ms load times for shared plans. Speed optimized settings available.
- iPage – 1090ms average load time. Budget plans trade speed for affordability.
- GoDaddy – 1160ms load time. Congested shared servers hamper performance.
- Hostwinds – 608ms load time. Quite fast for the price of plans offered.
- Liquid Web – 406ms load time. Blazing fast speeds on managed VPS plans.
Load times under 400ms are ideal for maximizing conversions and engagement. Several hosts like A2 Hosting and Liquid Web deliver excellent speeds.
Customer Support and Responsiveness
All web hosts will face some technical issues or downtime at times. The key is how responsive and helpful their customer support teams are when problems arise.
We’ll examine the various support channels offered and reputation for each provider:
- Bluehost – Phone, chat, tickets. Decent support but with some complaints of slow resolution times.
- HostGator – Phone, live chat, tickets. Knowledgeable support team typically resolves issues promptly.
- DreamHost – Tickets, forum, live chat, knowledgebase. Customers report very responsive support.
- SiteGround – 24/7 live chat, phone. Excellent reputation for fast, skilled support.
- A2 Hosting – Phone, chat, tickets. Reliable customer support with minimal hold times.
- InMotion Hosting – Phone, chat, tickets. Customers praise exceptional support responsiveness.
- iPage – Tickets only. Support can be slow and lacking for users with issues.
- GoDaddy – Phone, chat, Facebook. Spotty support responsiveness and tech skills.
- Hostwinds – 24/7 chat & phone. Helpful support able to resolve most technical problems.
- Liquid Web – 24/7 phone and chat. Top notch customer support with managed plans.
The web hosts that offer multiple live support channels like phone, chat, have the best reputations for resolving issues quickly and effectively.
Server Infrastructure and Data Centers
A web host’s underlying server infrastructure and data center facilities impact both uptime and website performance. We’ll look at key facts for each provider:
- Bluehost – Owned data centers. Global CDN. Decent server hardware.
- HostGator – Leased data centers. Shared global CDN network. Standard server hardware.
- DreamHost – AWS cloud infrastructure. SSD storage options available.
- SiteGround – Leased facilities and custom web servers. Top-tier hardware and networks.
- A2 Hosting – Owned data centers. High performance hardware. SSD storage.
- InMotion Hosting – Owned data centers. Fast core network. SSD options.
- iPage – Standard leased data centers. Outdated hardware and networks.
- GoDaddy – Owned global data centers. Congested standard hardware.
- Hostwinds – Quality leased facilities. Premium bandwidth. NVMe SSD storage.
- Liquid Web – Owned data centers. Redundant fiber networks. All NVMe SSD servers.
Hosts that own their data centers on top-tier hardware typically outperform those relying on leased facilities or outdated equipment. Liquid Web for instance provides cutting edge infrastructure few other providers can match.
Security is always a concern when choosing a web host. You want assurance your site and data will be safe from cyber threats like DDoS attacks. We’ll examine key protections offered by each provider:
- Bluehost – Standard firewalls. Optional SSL certificates. No DDoS mitigation.
- HostGator – Shared firewall. Optional SSL & dedicated IPs. Basic DDoS filtering.
- DreamHost – SSL included. Custom firewalls. DDoS protection add-on.
- SiteGround – Shared firewall. Free SSL. Optional DDoS protection.
- A2 Hosting – High security data centers. Free SSL. DDoS protection included.
- InMotion Hosting – Custom firewalls. Free SSL certificate. No native DDoS mitigation.
- iPage – Basic firewall. Shared SSL cert option. No DDoS filtering.
- GoDaddy – Standard firewalls. Basic SSL options only. No DDoS filtering.
- Hostwinds – CloudLinux security. Free SSL certificates. No DDoS filtering.
- Liquid Web – Hardened data centers. Free SSL. Comprehensive DDoS protection.
You generally want a host that offers SSL certificates by default and at least basic DDoS attack filtering. Some higher end hosts like Liquid Web even provide extensive proprietary DDoS protection.
Pricing and Contracts
Budget is often a primary factor in choosing hosting plans. We’ll outline the typical pricing and minimum commitments for the popular shared hosting plans of each provider:
- Bluehost – $2.95-$7.99/mo. 1 year minimum contract.
- HostGator – $2.99-$12.95/mo. 1-3 year contracts.
- DreamHost – $4.50-$10/mo. Monthly payments.
- SiteGround – $3.95-$9.95/mo. 1 year minimum contracts.
- A2 Hosting – $3.92-$12.99/mo. Unmanaged plans are flexible term.
- InMotion Hosting – $5.99-$7.99/mo. 1 year minimum contract.
- iPage – $1.99/mo. 1 month minimum term.
- GoDaddy – $5.99-$16.99/mo. 1-3 year minimum contracts.
- Hostwinds – $4.08-$4.99/mo. 1 month flexible terms.
- Liquid Web – $59-$239/mo. 1 month flexible term managed VPS plans.
Many affordable hosts like Bluehost and HostGator offer intro rates starting around $3/month for 1 year terms. Liquid Web is a premium managed VPS solution with flexible terms, but higher costs.
The physical location of a web host’s servers can impact website speeds for visitors in specific geographic regions. Here are the key server locations offered by each host:
- Bluehost – US East Coast and US West Coast
- HostGator – Central US, Amsterdam, Singapore, India
- DreamHost – US West Coast, Europe
- SiteGround – US East Coast, US West Coast, Amsterdam, London, Singapore
- A2 Hosting – US Central (Michigan), Amsterdam, Singapore
- InMotion Hosting – US East Coast, US West Coast
- iPage – Single US location (Massachusetts)
- GoDaddy – 7 locations in US and Europe
- Hostwinds – Seattle, Amsterdam, London
- Liquid Web – US Central (Michigan), Amsterdam, Phoenix
Most larger hosts have servers in key regions in the US and internationally. This allows serving websites more quickly to visitors based on geographic location.
In addition to performance factors, web hosts provide varied features and value-adds. Here are some of the core features provided with standard shared hosting plans:
- Bluehost – 50GB storage, unmetered bandwidth, free domain, email, SSL certificate.
- HostGator – Unmetered storage and bandwidth, free domain, email, cPanel.
- DreamHost – Unlimited storage and bandwidth, free domain. Email add-on available.
- SiteGround – 10GB storage, unmetered traffic, free domain, email, CDN.
- A2 Hosting – Unmetered storage and bandwidth, free SSL, email, CDN.
- InMotion Hosting – Unlimited storage and bandwidth, free domain, email, cPanel.
- iPage – Unlimited storage and bandwidth, email, domain available.
- GoDaddy – 100GB storage, unmetered bandwidth, free domain, email.
- Hostwinds – Unmetered storage/bandwidth, free domain, SSL, email.
- Liquid Web – Managed VPS with dedicated resources, firewall, DDoS protection, backups.
Most shared hosts offer unlimited bandwidth and storage, free domain registration, email, and other value adds. Liquid Web as a managed solution includes more advanced professional administration.
Ease of Use
A web host’s admin panel and onboarding process impacts the ease of use in managing your account and websites. Here is how the top providers compare:
- Bluehost – cPanel dashboard. Simple setup and management. Decent documentation.
- HostGator – cPanel access. Straightforward management using cPanel. Useful knowledgebase.
- DreamHost – Custom panel. Simplified setup. Good tutorials and docs.
- SiteGround – cPanel included. Intuitive interface and admin. Detailed help center.
- A2 Hosting – cPanel standard. User friendly tools and setup. Good documentation.
- InMotion Hosting – cPanel dashboard. Simple management with tutorials available.
- iPage – Basic custom panel. Convoluted admin and lackluster support docs.
- GoDaddy – Standard dashboard. Clunky interface with convoluted management.
- Hostwinds – cPanel access. Very straightforward management and setup.
- Liquid Web – Custom dashboard. Managed setup and administration.
Most mainstream hosts leverage the popular cPanel dashboard for smooth website management. Liquid Web fully manages the admin work as part of their higher end VPS hosting service.
All of the most popular web hosting providers compared here are capable of powering websites well. However, key differences emerge when evaluating uptime, speed, support, features, pricing, and ease of use.
For budget conscious users needing reliable basic hosting, Bluehost and HostGator are good options starting around $3-$4/month. DreamHost offers unrestricted storage and bandwidth affordably.
Businesses needing max performance should consider A2 Hosting and SiteGround for excellent speed and uptime. InMotion is also reliably fast.
Those managing mission critical sites should opt for Liquid Web’s fully managed VPS plans with cutting edge infrastructure and DDoS protection.
Overall there are great options for shared hosting at varied pricing levels. Asses your specific needs like budget, required features, and target site traffic when deciding on the best provider for optimal performance.