Best web hosting for small businesses 2021
Find out the key points to consider when choosing a web hosting service and read our reviews of the best providers here
Your business website is the first point of contact for most of your customers. It needs to be accessible at all times.
Any website downtime is equivalent to having the front shutters of a brick and mortar store down on a busy shopping day.
And to avoid that, you need to choose the best web hosting provider for small business – one that’s going to offer you quality service and unrivalled reliability at an affordable price.
But with more than 330,000 web hosting companies in the world, how do you know which is the right one for you?
Don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you.
Tested on the five key metrics that matter most to our audience – disk space, help and support, uptime, pricing, features – below is our pick of the five top web hosting sites for small businesses.
Bluehost: Best overall hosting provider
Since it was founded in 2003, Bluehost has supported more than two million business websites.
It offers a comprehensive set of tools and a great range of web hosting packages to help its small business customers make the most of their online presence.
But Bluehost’s WordPress offering is where it really shines. A recommended partner since 2005, all of its affordable plans include automatic WordPress installation and updates, Microsoft Office 365, a free domain name for a year, and verification on Google My Business.
And, for those with more demanding needs, Bluehost’s WP Pro plans include unlimited websites, domains, and storage, as well as the SEO, analytics, and marketing tools you need to build and grow a WordPress website.
Need ecommerce functionality? Bluehost has partnered with WooCommerce to allow you to create an online store with shopping carts, inventory management, and PayPal processing.
However, Bluehost has no other ecommerce-specific plugin. This means you’ll have to choose a shared or VPS plan, sort out your own shopping cart functionality, and update the software yourself. Other providers that offer dedicated ecommerce packages will update your software automatically.
We named Bluehost as our best overall hosting provider as it scores highly across the board, and all for a very reasonable price.
£2.26 – £10.66/month
£2.26 – £4.17/month
£14.52 – £45.86/month
£61.14 – £91.72/month
InMotion: Best for shared and VPS hosting
Starting from £5.15/month and going right the way up to a staggering £424/month, InMotion is a little pricier than the previous two hosting providers we’ve covered.
So, what are you paying for?
Well, it comes with all the top-of-the-range features you’d expect from a top hosting provider, and it gives you unlimited disk space and bandwidth on even its basic plans. We were also impressed with its team of highly trained support staff – on hand 24/7 should anything go wrong.
But the provider’s main strengths are its speed and security. It uses industry leading tech to maintain a fast service from its two dedicated data centres, while security features include auto-updates on web apps, free SSL, hack protection, custom firewall, and DDoS protection.
Lending credence to InMotion’s claims is its 17-year tenure as a CNET certified company, and an A+ rating from consumer protection agency the Better Business Bureau. And if that’s not enough to give you peace of mind, the hosting provider offers a 90-day money-back guarantee.
The only area we marked it down for was uptime, ranking it fourth out of our top five providers. In the grand scheme of things, it still has industry leading reliability, but doesn’t quite match the likes of HostGator (no.1 for uptime) or Bluehost.
£4.59 – £11.49/month
£5.36 – £15.32/month
£22.98 – £64.37/month
£107.99 – £406.19/month
*VAT not included. Based on initial term of 24 months
HostGator: Best for customer service
Owned by Endurance International Group, which also owns Bluehost, HostGator is another long-running and widely-used hosting provider, supporting over 8 million domains worldwide.
Ease of use is a major selling point for HostGator. Its QuickInstall tool is available with all plans, allowing you to create any type of website – blog, forum, CMS, wiki, gallery, ecommerce – in “one click”, with thousands of compatible applications and software available.
HostGator’s WordPress offering is decent, with free migrations and advanced security available on all plans. What’s more, it claims to boost WordPress load times and website performance by 2.5x thanks to its “super charged cloud architecture”. It doesn’t quite have the depth of features as it’s nearest rivals, but we gave it full marks for help and support, making it our best provider for customer service.
Prices are comparable to Bluehost, and Hostgator offers a generous 45-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with its service. But, as our top rated provider for uptime (with a 99.99% guarantee), and the ability to easily scale up to a more sophisticated plan, that’s unlikely.
Hostinger: Best value for money
If you’re after simplicity and affordability, Hostinger is the hosting provider for you (and an astonishing 29 million other customers around the world).
Starting from just 99p, Hostinger prides itself on its cheap but speedy plans, and user-friendly system.
Obviously, you’re sacrificing the functionality you’d get with a more premium product, but if you just want to get up and running, then Hostinger is a great option. However, it was the only one of our top five providers not to score top marks for help and support, and its uptime isn’t as reliable as rivals.
True to form, it also offers the cheapest WordPress hosting on the market at £2.15/month for the first term, which includes 20GB of storage, unlimited bandwidth, and a free domain and SSL.
It’s also a nice surprise that, unlike with some other providers, those first-term prices don’t renew at an vastly increased rate – the Single plan increases to just £2.45/month. However, it’s important to note that all the prices listed are based on a four year term.
And if you don’t think Hostinger good value, it offers a 30 day money-back guarantee.
99p – £3.99/month
£7.99 – £36.99/month
£1.99 – £13.99/month
£3.95 – £29.95/month
*Based on initial term of 48 months
A2Hosting: Best for affordability
Don’t let its unappealing website put you off, A2Hosting is a premium provider that has been supporting business websites since 2003.
A2 promises that each hosting solution is automatically given the optimal configuration for your website, so you don’t need to worry about understanding all the jargon to know you’re getting the best setup. But, if you do need help, A2’s highly experienced “Guru Crew” are on hand 24/7.
In terms of bang for your buck, its WordPress offering is right up there, with automatic updates for software and plugins, free site migration, and a turbo server which A2 claims make your website 20x faster (we can’t independently verify this).
That said, compared to Bluehost and HostGator, A2’s plans are a little on the pricey side. And, unlike most other hosting providers, you don’t get a free domain and website builder, but it does offer one-click installs of essential content management systems like Drupal, Joomla, and WooCommerce for setting up an online shop.
What if you’re not satisfied with your A2 Hosting plan? Well, A2 comes with an unmatched anytime money back guarantee.
£2.35 – £11.80
£2.35 – £11.80
£3.94 – £39.35
£78.38 – £228.63
*Based on initial terms of 36 months
How did we evaluate these providers for small businesses?
In order to determine the best web hosting services for small business, we called upon the services of our top researchers, who put each provider through rigorous user testing.
The suppliers were scored on five key areas of investigation – types of hosting, help and support, features, value for money, and uptime – the average of which was used to give each an overall score out of five. These areas had different weightings depending on how important they were to users.
For example, value for money is key – anything that’s going to provide someone with guaranteed uptime at a competitive price is on to a winner.
The importance of help and support was also a surprise insight when speaking with users. They want to know that they can get in touch with someone if they encounter an issue. In fact, most users said they prized help and support more than the general hosting features offered by the provider.
Best web hosting UK: how to choose a provider for small business
As we mentioned earlier, there are more than 330,000 web hosting providers currently in operation .
Interestingly, the market is highly domestic, especially in Europe, where the top providers for each country are almost always local.
Our selection for the best web hosting providers for UK small businesses aren’t local – Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion, and A2Hosting are all US-based, and Hostinger is Lithuanian – but they are all among the most widely used and highly rated providers in the world.
We’ve narrowed it down to help you out, but what should you base your final decision on?
Our five key areas of investigation:
Types of hosting
There are five main types of hosting: shared, VPS, dedicated, cloud and WordPress. Quite simply, the more types of hosting offered by a provider, the higher the score we awarded them.
You can read an explanation between the different types of hosting below.
Help and support
This metric assesses whether a provider offers useful and regularly available help and support. In particular we look for: live chat (24/7), phone (24/7), email and ticketed support.
Beyond just the essentials, we look for those little extras that a brand offers its users. For example, free one year domain, free back up, and whether any of their shared plans support unmetered transfer.
Value for money
To assess whether a brand offers good value for money we look at the terms of its money back guarantee, and the average price of its shared, VPS and dedicated packages.
This is a measure of server reliability. Ideally, you want your provider to have 99.9% uptime. 100% is impossible
How much data storage and bandwidth do I need?
When a customer visits your website, they’re accessing the server that it’s stored on. The more visitors you have, or the larger the files that need to be transferred, the more bandwidth (data transfer capacity) you need.
Shared plans offer the least storage space, and dedicated plans offer the most.
A simple rule of thumb is: the more traffic you receive, or expect to receive, the more storage you need. Contact your provider to explore how much storage space you’re likely to need.
We would advise starting small, perhaps with a shared plan, and then scaling up to a larger VPS or dedicated plan as required.
There’s a fairly complex equation for working out how much bandwidth your website will need, but it’s not something that’s at all necessary to work out unless you’re fanatical about data usage. You can find a helpful explanation on webhostingsecretsrevealed.net.
What is a first term discount/intro offer?
Every single provider we’ve reviewed above offers a discounted ‘first term’ or introductory offer. This ‘first term’ could be anything from 12 months up to 36 months, after which your plan will renew at the regular rate.
For example, Bluehost’s Enhanced VPS plan starts off at £24.22/month for an initial term of 36 months. After that, you’ll be paying £48.45/month.
Most hosting providers are fairly transparent about this, but make sure you assess the value of each plan by comparing the length of the contract you’ll be tied into it, and the price on renewal.
Which is the right plan for me?
It’s important to note that within each hosting category (shared, WordPress, VPS, reseller, dedicated) for each provider are between three and six price plans offering varying functionality, storage, and support.
The box below explains the differences between each type of hosting:
Still unsure? Get in touch with one of the providers. You can tell them what functionality you require, how much traffic you’re likely to receive, and how much you’re willing to spend, and they can match you up with the most suitable plan.
What are the different payment plans?
All the prices featured are for payment on an annual or fixed term basis. Some providers offer 12 month contracts, some offer 36 month contracts.
If you want the freedom to change providers whenever you want, you can choose to pay monthly, but this will always be significantly more expensive.