Web Hosting Review: So Just Who is the Best?

Web Hosting Review: So Just Who is the Best?

There are hundreds of thousands of web hosts out there and choosing just one is no easy task.

So to help you get your head around what’s out there, we posted comprehensive reviews of five of the most popular web hosts – Page.ly, Bluehost, Go Daddy, DreamHost and WP Engine – over the past two weeks. The reviews investigated each of the web host’s features, usability, speed and reliability, cost and support to help you decide which host would best suit you.

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To look back at the reviews in this series:

The reviews have certainly generated a lot of discussion in the comments on each review and on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to everyone who has left comments about their experiences with each host on each of the reviews. While I would loved to have reviewed each company over several months with a huge, resource-intensive site to really put the hosts through their paces, it just wasn’t possible. Comments and feedback, particularly from readers who have held accounts with the hosts for a long period of time, have given fellow readers better insight into what to expect when signing up with each host.

So without further ado, the final results!

Cost

Web hosting review price ratings

Winner: Bluehost

Loser: WP Engine

No surprises here. Bluehost’s plans are dirt cheap, but at the end of the day you get what you pay for.

Of all the hosts I reviewed, Bluehost’s Shared, Dedicated and VPS hosting plans were the least expensive, with Shared plans starting at just $4.95 a month. Go Daddy’s cheap as chips plans weren’t too far behind, though the company’s VPS and Dedicated Server plans were pricier.

At the other end of the scale, WP Engine was the most expensive at $29 a month for a basic Pesonal plan and just one WordPress install.

As hosting plans get cheaper and cheaper with supposedly unlimited features, it makes you wonder: how low can they go?

Features

Web hosting review feature

Winner: WP Engine

Loser: Page.ly

WP Engine easy beat its competitors for the top spot with its feature-rich plans, which include WordPress-specific support, hacks fixed for free, one-click backup and restore, staging area and bundled CDN.

The fact is, though, that you pay a pretty penny for the privilege of having these features.

Page.ly came in last. While the host does offer fantastic security through FireHost, automatic nightly backups and WordPress-specific support, I rated other hosts higher for maintaining their own hardware and security.

Usability

Web hosting review usabilty

Winner: Page.ly

Loser: Go Daddy

Page.ly hosting is super easy to use, from signing up for an account on the website to logging into the Atomic Core in your WordPress admin panel to checking your support tickets. The Atomic Core definitely wins brownie points for its convenience in the admin panel.

Also, the fact Page.ly is a managed host makes the company’s services all the more easy to use because there isn’t much you need to manage – Page.ly does it all for you.

Go Daddy lost points for asking for personal details – copies of passport and credit card – when signing up.

Customer Service

Web hosting review customer service

Winners: Page.ly and Go Daddy

Losers: Bluehost, DreamHost and WP Engine

With so many web hosts now offering cheap hosting plans with a decent range of features, support has become a make or break feature for many users who now expect 24/7 customer service.

While Page.ly has limited support hours during Pacific Standard Time, I found their support team fast, polite and detailed in their responses, ensuring my support tickets were resolved quickly and to my satisfaction.

Go Daddy was also quick to respond to my support requests. While many users have reported issues with the host’s customer service, I found their team informative and detailed in their replies to my emails.

Of the losers, I must admit WP Engine didn’t give me the run around like Bluehost and DreamHost. I was frustrated that WP Engine support tickets were closed so quickly, particularly as I’m based in a timezone outside the United States. In the WP Engine review, the company’s co-founder Ben Metcalfe commented that a new person is now being added to the support team each week, which should make support much faster.

Speed

Web hosting review speed

Winners: Page.ly and WP Engine

Loser: Bluehost

Page.ly led the charge with its blazingly fast response times, but WP Engine wasn’t far behind with its solid uptime results.

Load time is a major contributing factor to page abandonment. According to Kissmetrics, the average user doesn’t have the patience to stick around when a site is taking too long to load, meaning loading time can affect your bottom line. A total of 47 per cent of customers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. 40 per cent abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Even just a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7 per cent reduction in conversions. So for an e-commerce site making $100,000 a day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales each year.

Bluehost was the slowest of the bunch and my test site experienced unexplained outages. If you’re running an e-commerce site you might not want to register with Bluehost.

Overall Winner

Web hosting review overall ratings

And the winner is… Page.ly!

Page.ly offers a consistent managed hosting service that takes the hassle out of running a WordPress website.

Despite the company’s its teeny tiny support team of just two people and their limited opening hours, tickets are resolved quickly.

I was impressed with Page.ly’s speed and ease of use. Of all the hosts I reviewed, Page.ly was the the most pleasant hosting company I dealt with. It’s their personable and friendly approach that sets them apart from the hosting corporate giants that treat customers like numbers.

Bluehost goes home with the wooden spoon, scoring below par for each of our review criteria, other than price.

In the end it was a close race. While some hosts excelled in areas like speed and customer service, others offers better features or cheaper prices.

WordPress.org recommends three hosts – Bluehost, DreamHost and Laughing Squid – but it’s best to be mindful when signing up for plans with these companies that their listing is completely arbitrary and includes an interesting array of criteria: contributions to WordPress.org, size of customer base, ease of WordPress auto-install and auto-upgrades, bundling “sane” themes and plugins, avoiding GPL violations, design, tone, presence in forums, historical perception, using the correct logo, capitalizing WordPress correctly, not blaming WordPress.org for security issues and having up-to-date system software.

Summing up, there are many factors to consider when looking for a web host, such as cost, features, usability, customer service and speed,and while this review did pick a winner, it’s always best to decide what you need from a host before committing to a hosting plan. If you have multiple resource-intensive websites, you might not want to go for Bluehost. On the other hand, Go Daddy would do you just fine if you’ve got a popular blog with low traffic, of if you’re after a Managed WordPress solution then you might want to check out Page.ly or WP Engine.

Is Page.ly a deserving winner? Which web hosts do you hate/rate? Have your say in the comments below.