How to host a website Find out how to choose a website hosting provider and a hosting plan that works for your business, and read our step by step guide to hosting your own website Written by Henry Williams Published on 2 January 2019 Our experts Startups was founded over 20 years ago by a serial entrepreneur. Today, our expert team of writers, researchers, and editors work to provide our 4 million readers with useful tips and information, as well as running award-winning campaigns. Our site is governed by the Startups editorial manifesto. Written and reviewed by: Henry Williams Content Manager Website hosting gives you much greater freedom, flexibility, and control over your own website than using a website builder.To host your own website, you’ll need to buy a domain name and choose a hosting provider such as Bluehost, and then, depending on the size and complexity of your website, choose either a shared, VPS, or dedicated hosting plan.But which are the best hosting providers for small businesses? Which type of hosting should you choose? And how do you actually start hosting?We’re going to talk you through how to choose a provider and a plan that will give you the best setup for your particular business website. In this article we will cover: Choose a hosting provider and register a domain name Choose a hosting plan Conclusion 1. Choose a hosting provider and register a domain nameA domain name is the online address of your website. Many hosting providers also offer domain name services, and many hosting plans include a free domain name for the first year of your plan.Although you might be able to hunt around for a cheaper one, for practical reasons, registering your domain name with your hosting provider is probably the easiest option.Domain name registrationYou can find out everything you need to know about buying and registering a domain name in our dedicated page – but in summary:Your domain name should match your business name as closely as possible to make it easy for your website to be discovered onlineChoose a domain extension that suits your business: ‘.com’ (a contraction of commercial) is the global standard, and will ensure your website is trusted by anyone. But .co.uk is also great for UK-based businesses that are targeting a domestic audience. After the first free year (or discounted introductory price), standard domain names with a .com or .co.uk extension usually cost between £7 – £12You can sign up for a Bluehost domain name here.Choosing a hosting providerThere are hundreds of thousands of web hosting providers in existence. It’s a highly competitive industry, and many offer very similarly priced plans and almost imperceptibly different products. So, how do you choose?The table below shows our pick of the best hosting providers for small businesses, based on extensive research and testing on five key areas: disk space, help and support, uptime, pricing, and features.Visit the suppliers’ websites to find out more and sign up for a plan. Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward BEST ALL ROUND Overall score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.6 Overall score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.5 Overall score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.5 Overall score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.0 Overall score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.0 Best Overall hosting provider Best For shared and VPS hosting Best For Up Time Performance Best Value for money Best For customer service Cost Starting from £2.33 per month Cost $9.49 $2.99/mo* Cost $11.95 per month Cost £2.59 Cost $1.59 – 2.59 per month Visit Try Bluehost Visit Try InMotion Visit Try HostGator Visit Hostinger Visit Try A2 Hosting While we’ve shown you five excellent hosting services for small businesses, there are still some things you should be mindful of before making a final decision:Hidden bandwidth chargesUndisclosed VAT/setup costsDomain name transfer feesDomain name ownership (make sure the domain name gets registered to you and not the company hosting your site)A lock-in contract (most companies offer a month by month rolling contract which will give you more freedom to leave should you wish)Technical support – the world of web hosting is a jargon minefield, if you’re not 100% confident in your tech knowledge, choose a host with good customer supportOnce you’ve found a suitable hosting provider such as Bluehost, it’s time to… 2. Choose a hosting planThe size and complexity of your website will determine which type of hosting is most appropriate for you.The larger the files that make up your website, the more storage you need on the server. The more visitors your website receives, the more bandwidth you need.There are five main types of hosting:Shared hosting £2-£12 per monthYour website shares space on a physical server with other websites. This makes it cheap, though your website will have less resources at its disposal and it can be less secure.Shared hosting is great for small, low-traffic websites and personal blogs.Check out our pick of the best shared hosting providers.WordPress hosting £2.20-£37 per monthA type of shared hosting configured to offer the best setup for WordPress websites, with specialised tools and services for WP sites only.Discover the best WordPress hosting for your business.Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting £14-£45 per monthYour website is stored on a virtual server that has been configured to act like a dedicated server. It’s more secure than shared hosting, and offers more flexibility for growing businesses.VPS hosting is best for growing websites with consistently high traffic.Want VPS hosting? Check out the best VPS providers here.Dedicated hosting £60-£400 per monthYour website has a single server to itself, granting you maximum performance, control, security and flexibility.Dedicated hosting is only suitable for large, complex websites with lots of media and lots of traffic.Cloud hosting £4-£45 per monthYour website data is spread across multiple servers that are connected through the cloud making it highly flexible, scalable and reliable.Great for smaller websites that want to spend a fraction more for peace of mind on reliability.Which type of hosting should I choose?We’d always advise starting small and upgrading your hosting plan as you grow. That way you won’t end up paying for storage, bandwidth and features you don’t need.There are even tiered pricing plans within each type of hosting, so you can find a setup that suits your exact requirements and then scale up or down as necessary.Signing up with a hosting providerSo, you’ve found a hosting provider, and you’ve decided which type of hosting is right for you at this stage of your business website journey. Now what?Signing up with your hosting provider is a pretty painless process. You’ll just need a few personal details to hand, a payment method, and ideally, to have decided on a domain name for your website.We’re going to use Bluehost, our best overall hosting provider for small businesses, as an example to guide you through the process.So you’ve decided that a Bluehost shared plan is right for your business. They have four different shared hosting plans. You opt for the Choice Plus plan. Like the others, it has unlimited storage, 24/7 customer support, WordPress integration, and a free domain for one year; but you think you’ll benefit from the added privacy and security features.You decide to go for the 12 month term, giving you the affordable introductory price of £4.05 per month (this will increase to £14.11 per month after the first year).You click select.Now you’re asked to set up your domain. You can either create a new one with Bluehost or add your existing one. If you don’t know what your domain name is yet, you can skip this step and set it up later.Finally, it’s time to create your account. Bluehost requires some personal details, including your name, business name, address, and email address, as well as your payment details.You’ll also be given the option to add some ‘Package Extras’ to your plan. Be aware that the advertised prices are introductory and represent a significant saving, which will auto renew at the actual price after the first year.All hosting providers offer some variation on the following services as added extras, so they’re worth a quick explanation.These are:Codeguard Basic (free)This is simply automated daily backups and one-click restore, which allows you revert back to a previous version of your website with, you guessed it, one click.Bluehost SEO Tools Start – £1.48 per month (billed annually at £17.75 per year)This is a dashboard that gives you everything you need to optimise your website for search engines. It also routinely analyses your site for SEO weaknesses and an opt-in monthly email report that updates you on your progress and suggests actions you can take to improve your Bluehost SEO Score. Unless you have SEO expertise We’d recommend getting this.Single Domain SSL – £2.48 per monthThis is essentially a certificate that shows visitors that their passwords, usernames, and credit card numbers are safe and secure on your website. You’ll see it as a little lock symbol in the search bar before the website address.SiteLock Security Essential – £ 2.22 per month (Billed annually at £26.67 per year)This is an automatic monitoring tool that detects malware and protects your website from malicious attacks, spammers, and hackers. Definitely worth it for peace of mind we’d say.Once you’ve checked or unchecked the boxes for the above extras, you just need to click submit. Your website will now have its very own space on Bluehost’s servers, and once launched, will be discoverable by all your potential customers.If you want to know more about how to host a website, check out this in depth video from Ray DelVecchio below. ConclusionHosting a website allows you to break free from the restrictive templates, plans, and features offered by website builders, and to build something truly bespoke and easily scalable.You just need to choose the hosting provider and a plan that’ll give your business website the best setup for success.If you’re just starting out with a small, personal website, you’ll find a shared hosting plan with Bluehost more than adequate. And as your website grows and requires more storage space and bandwidth, it’s possible to transfer to VPS or dedicated hosting.Why not check out the plans offered by the top hosting providers above and get your business website live today? Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Written by: Henry Williams Content Manager Henry has been writing for Startups.co.uk since 2015, covering everything from business finance and web builders to tax and red tape. He’s also acted as project lead on many of our industry-renowned annual indexes, including Startups 100 and Business Ideas, and created a number of the site’s popular how to guides.