Best Web Hosting for Blogs and Small Businesses

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Web hosting service can make or break a blog or small business. I didn’t fully appreciate this when I started the Dough Roller more than four years ago. Since then, however, having built many websites and used several different web hosting services, it’s clear that picking the right web hosting for a site is critical.

So I thought I’d share my experience with three hosting services that I think are the best web hosting for a blog or small business: Blue Host, WP Engine, and DreamHost. Each serves a different but important niche, and it’s important that you pick the right one for your website.

In a nutshell:

Blue Host: Low cost and excellent telephone support. I used Blue Host when I started blogging in 2007, and I still have my account today. By far the best option if you are just starting out and don’t want to spend a lot of money.

WP Engine: Without question the best web hosting for WordPress blogs. You pay a bit more, but you get free backups, a second staging site to use as a test site, and excellent customer service. It’s the hosting service I use today for Dough Roller and several other blogs.

DreamHost: Low cost (although a little more expensive than BlueHost), excellent user interface, and the ability to expand as your site grows.

So with that, let’s take a look at each web hosting option in more detail.

Blue Host Web Hosting Service

There is one reason Blue Host is popular for new sites and blogs–cost. With a one year commitment, the cost comes in at just a few dollars a month.

Blue Host is also very easy to use, which was important to me because I knew absolutely NOTHING about how to start a blog or website when I launched the Dough Roller. I’ve written a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to set up a WordPress blog with Blue Host, if you need some guidance.

The other key feature Blue Host offers is free telephone support (it’s an extra cost with Dreamhost). When I was starting out, Blue Host’s telephone support was critical on several different occasions. Coupled with its low cost and ease of use, the telephone support is why Blue Host is great for new bloggers and website administrators.

You can check out Blue Host by clicking here.

WP Engine

Recently I moved this site and several other blogs over to WP Engine. This web hosting company is one of several fairly recent hosts that specialize in WordPress sites. WP Engine only hosts WordPress blogs. That’s it. And if you run a WordPress blog, WP Engine offers several unique benefits.

First, WP Engine’s servers are specifically configured to run WordPress sites very fast. The speed of my site increased significantly when I switched to WP Engine. Second, they backup your site for you, and they will restore your site if needed. Third, they create a staging site, which is a duplicate site you can use as a testing site. And finally, the let you know which plugins are ok to use, and which ones can actually hurt your site.

Here’s a quick list of the features you get with WP Engine:

  • Incredible Speed
  • Free Backups
  • A Test Version of your Site
  • Expert WordPress Specialists

If you want to check out WP Engine, click here.

DreamHost Web Hosting Service

dreamhost web hosting

Dreamhost is also a low cost web hosting service with an excellent user interface. While Dreamhost costs a bit more than Bluehost, it offers greater flexibility as your site grows. Dreamhost does this by offering what is called VPS, or a virtual private server. Rather than sharing server resources with other sites, you can obtain your own dedicated resources through VPS.

VPS is not necessary for most new sites with little traffic. As sites grow and start receiving thousands of visitors a day, however, VPS may become necessary. At Dreamhost, VPS adds at least $15 per month to the cost, and it can go up to an extra $400 per month depending on how much memory your site demands. This cost shouldn’t scare you away; only an extremely large site would ever need to spend $400 a month on VPS.

For shared hosting, Dreamhost costs $9.95 a month on a one year contract, or $8.95 a month for a two year contract. If you lock in for 10 years, the price drops to $5.95. These prices include one free domain registration.

Here’s a quick list of the features you get with Dreamhost:

  • Unlimited domains
  • Unlimited e-mail accounts
  • Unlimited disc storage
  • 1 free domain registration
  • PHP5 Support

You can check out Dreamhost at www.dreamhost.com.

If you are just starting out and no little or nothing about building websites or blogs, I’d recommend Bluehost. The free telephone support will come in handy and the cost can’t be beat. If you are more comfortable with building sites, Dreamhost is probably worth the small extra cost in exchange for the VPS option down the road. And if you know your site is going to need more than shared hosting right from the start, WP Engine can’t be beat.

If you have any questions or want some help getting started, just drop me a line.

Published or Updated: March 5, 2013
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. Craig says:

    I recently switched from GoDaddy to HostGator for a blog and have been happy with the results.

  2. DR says:

    I’ve heard good things about HostGator, and it’s a low cost option, too.

  3. machoman says:

    thank you! I really liked this post!

  4. Zeke2040 says:

    I’ve been using Bluehost for about a year now after reading one of your suggestions. It’s working out great!

  5. Brad says:

    I use Just Host right now and have had absolutely no problems with them.

    But I am about to open up a Web Design Company and am considering switching to Media Temple.

    Not sure what to do yet though.

  6. andy says:

    DR – I am planning to move my blog saving to invest to Media Temple and wanted to get your thoughts on which option is best – the $20 shared grid service or $50 Virtual. I know you picked virtual but you probably have a lot more traffic than my blog. I get on average 8K visitors a day (which can spike to $15K during tax season). Based on this is the dedicated option the best?

    • DR says:

      Andy, I suspect the shared grid could handle your traffic, however, keep in mind that site speed is now a ranking factor in Google. As a result, I would tend to go with the faster option. Of course, an extra $30 a month is a lot of money, so you have to factor that in. I’d suggest calling Media Temple and getting their view. You could always start with the shared grid option, and upgrade if you’re not happy with the performance.

  7. Marketeering says:

    I’ve been using Fusion Host for about a year now and they have been superb. Their customer service is fantastic and I have never had a problem with uptime.

    MediaTemple are good as well. I use them combined with Amazon AWS on my high traffic websites.

  8. Kimberley says:

    First determine your preferences and then see just what the companies you might have selected are offering.
    From there, you are able to move up for the professional plan,
    or a VPS or dedicated server plan. Sure many of us could
    do that if we have the time on our hands as well as the patience to try this
    but not most of us really do and sometimes it is wise to pick
    the hosting company that you want quickly so that you don’t change your mind and throw your personal computer out from the window through frustration.

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