It's sad, but most web hosting review sites are worthless to anyone actually trying to find the best web hosting company. Why are they worthless? Because they base their rankings and reviews on which company pays the highest commission -- not the overall value of their web hosting services.

Well, that's exactly why we designed this site: to provide unbiased web hosting reviews and information to anyone interested in running a web site.

Best Web Hosting Companies 2014

Below you'll find our ranking and reviews for the top web hosting services in the industry, which are based on their reliability, features, customer feedback, support, and overall value--not paid incentives.

Rank Web Hosting Provider Key Features  
1 HostGator
2 InMotion Hosting
$5.95/month
InMotion Hosting Review
3 Arvixe
  • Great Value
  • Friendly & Helpful Technical Support
  • Good Customer Reviews
  • Linux & Windows Hosting
$4/month
Arvixe Review
4 MyHosting
$4.95/month
MyHosting Review
5 FatCow
$3.67/month
FatCow Review

What type of web hosting plan do I need?

There are a few different types of web hosting plans, and if you're new to web hosting, you may be unsure about which type is right for you.

In the following sections, we'll go over all of the most common ones, such as shared, VPS, dedicated, and reseller hosting. When we're done, you should be able to make an informed decision as to which type you'll need.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting plan. In fact, many companies only offer this type of plan because it's cheap, low maintenance, and offers enough resources to meet most customers' needs. With shared hosting, you basically share the web server and its resources with multiple customers, which drastically lowers your overall cost.

If you'd like more information about shared hosting and its strengths and weaknesses, please read the following article: Strengths and Weaknesses of Shared Hosting. Or if you already think that shared hosting is right for you, take a look at our ranking and reviews of the Best Shared Hosting Services.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting is at the other end of the spectrum: you have the entire server to yourself, and it's geared toward large companies or web sites that require a lot of resources and performance.

Since you're not sharing the server with other customers, you have full access to all of the resources in the system. You're typically given administrative access to the system and can customize the software, security, or anything else as you see fit.

Sounds good, right? Well, of course, this all comes with a higher price tag than shared hosting, and you're typically responsible for managing the server yourself (unless you're using managed hosting).

To learn more about dedicated hosting, visit our Dedicated Hosting section.

VPS Hosting - Virtual Private Server

Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is relatively new and tries to give you most of the benefits of dedicated hosting--with a much more affordable price.

You basically share the server with other customers (like shared hosting), but each customer gets their own virtual operating system that they have full administrative access to. This gives you guaranteed resource availability, better reliability, and the same control over the system and security that you get with dedicated hosting.

To learn more about VPS hosting, visit our VPS Hosting section.

Reseller Hosting

Reseller hosting allows you to run your own web hosting company. You basically pay a flat fee for the amount of disk space, bandwidth, and features that you want. You're then able to sell web hosting accounts to customers--just like a regular web hosting provider would. And you can easily pay more to add more resources, which makes it easy to grow your business.

Most reseller plans provide you with your own:

  1. Management control panel.
  2. Custom DNS server, so your customers won't notice the reseller company you're working with.
  3. Billing system.

If you're interested in reseller hosting, HostGator has a really good reseller plan.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Shared Hosting

As mentioned earlier, shared hosting is a great option if you're just starting out and looking for a cheap, low maintenance web hosting solution. Just keep in mind that since you're sharing the server's resources with multiple customers, you don't really have unlimited use of the system (as you would with a dedicated server).

Benefits of Shared Hosting

Best cheap web hosting solution

With shared hosting, you share the resources of the web server, such as disk space, bandwidth, and processing power with other customers. And by sharing these resources, the web hosting provider is able to offer you a much lower price.

Low maintenance

Another advantage of shared hosting is the low maintenance that's required on your part. Since you're sharing the server with multiple customers, the web hosting company handles all of the routine maintenance for you, which usually includes security updates, hardware upgrades, and troubleshooting any problems.

Potential Drawbacks of Shared Hosting

Everything's not really unlimited

Most shared web hosting plans offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth. They also don't usually mention how much memory or computing resources you're allocated, so that might lead you to believe that everything's unlimited.

However, that's not really the case because you're sharing the system with lots of other customers, and if everyone got unlimited use of the server, some customers would likely use more than their fair share and slow the system down for everyone.

So, to ensure that this doesn't happen, hosting companies usually use indirect limits on resources. For example, instead of limiting how much disk space you can use, they usually limit how many files you can have. You'll also usually see in the fine print that you can only use up to a certain percentage of the processor during a short period of time.

These limits may seem a little deceptive (considering they're offering these features as unlimited), but that's just how things are advertised in the shared hosting industry (VPS and dedicated hosting plans don't usually use this tactic). Don't worry though. Good web hosting companies set reasonable limits that are enough for most sites.

However, if you do need more resources than shared hosting can offer VPS hosting and dedicated hosting are both great alternatives.

Limited control over the web server

With shared hosting, you're not given administrative privileges, so you're not able to install custom software or setup custom security measures, as you would with VPS or dedicated hosting.

However, technical support may be able to do some of this for you, so it's always worth it to ask if you need something that they don't have.

When is shared hosting the best choice?

Shared hosting is great if you're just building a personal web site, a web page for your small business, or just want something cheap until you get your site going. These types of sites usually don't require the resources of a dedicated server, so you can save a lot of money each month by starting off with a shared hosting plan.

And if you ever outgrow this type of plan, it's usually fairly easy to upgrade to another one--especially if you pick a web hosting provider that offers more than just shared hosting (such as VPS and dedicated hosting). HostGator and InMotion Hosting offer all three of these options, so they're great companies to go with if you want to give yourself room to grow.