Each company offers promotions to get you to sign on with it, but below are the features that are important to consider in the long run.
What Does 'Unlimited' Really Mean?
Web hosting companies throw around the term "unlimited" as if it's their slogan. However, unlimited does not mean infinite. The term technically means "not exceeding regular use," which every site spells out in the fine print.
While some companies claim that 99.5 percent of their customers will never have a throttling problem, if you store large amounts of media on your site, you still may get a warning from the hosting provider to reduce usage or you will be temporarily shut off. And because it's a shared server, you are at risk of taking other customers' allotted space. If you exceed bandwidth or disk space multiple times, you'll be required to upgrade your plan.
Every host provides different allotments for domains, subdomains and parked domains, despite calling that allotment "unlimited."
Technical problems can happen at any time. Each company on our list claims to have 99 percent uptime. In the event of a failure, meaning your site is inaccessible, a service can usually get it back up in no more than 20 minutes.
But that time could mean lost income or traffic, and there's not much you can do on your end, especially when you're running off a server in a remote location. Responsive tech support, therefore, is critical.
Investing in a reliable web host is a big decision, because it impacts how your site runs for the next year or two, or however many years you remain with the web host. If you have a concern with a host, there is no reason to stick with it just because you have a bundle. We looked for services that make it easy not only to migrate information but also to export site content.
Security is always lighter when using a shared server, but that doesn't mean your site should be left vulnerable. The best hosts use shared secure sockets layer (SSL) security protocol and secure shell (SSH). Should your site go down, many of the web hosts on our list back up and restore your site without charging you an additional fee. Some also protect your email accounts from spammers for free, while others offer advanced spam protection at a cost.
In case you plan to sell products or services online, several shared web hosts offer e-commerce solutions, such as shopping cart systems and the ability to accept credit cards. Nearly every web host we tested offers promotional advertising credits to jump-start your marketing efforts.