Shared Hosting & Dedicated Servers
Most hosts offer a wide range of packages, from simple shared hosting, to dedicated servers (where you basically are given a computer and told to get on with it).
Dedicated servers, and unmanaged VPS, both require a certain level of technical know-how, so I don’t recommend you consider those unless you are technically capable.
For most people, shared hosting will be the best option because of the lower costs, especially for new sites. However, shared hosting is generally the most unreliable in terms of uptime and server response times ( how long the server takes to respond to a request to show your web page).
As you look for a host, if you know of a website that is hosted with a particular company, I suggest you sign up for a free ( or paid), account at Monitis.com and setup a ‘monitor’ to check the site every 5 minutes for response time. This will give you a good idea of how reliable that hosting company actually is.
Two of the most popular shared hosting companies are Hostgator and Bluehost. Of course I have tried both, and until recently, Hostgator was the one I would have recommended. However, they have since ‘upgraded’ the server I was on, and uptime and response time plummeted as a result. Here is a screenshot from Monitis showing the details from one of my Hostgator hosted websites.
Look at all those peaks (these indicate when the server took longer to respond), and the small circular dots on the basiline (where the server did not respond).
The top graph is the homepage of the site. Over a 24 hour period, the homepage was down for 58 minutes, and the server response time was over eight seconds! That means if took eight seconds on average (although there are a lot of peaks over 40 seconds), to connect to my server, and that’s even before the webpage started to download.
The lower graph is an internal page on the same site. This page gets less traffic so should have better response times – which it does – at around 2.5 seconds. However, that page was down for over two hours in the previous 24 hours.
I moved this site from HostGator to Bluehost, but I found Bluehost to be just as unreliable. I guess Hostgator and Bluehost ( being two of the most popular shared hosting companies). have suffered because of their own success.
I eventually found a host that I am happy with. They are called StableHost!
StableHost offers free CDN with their hosting (which basically means you site is served from a network of servers around the globe). My site is hosted on their “En-Basic” Enterprise hosting package, costing $19.95 per month at the time or writing. I have enabled CDN on the site ( which only mtakes two minutes to setup), and here is the data from Monitis for the last 24 hours.
As you can see by your self . That’s 100% uptime and a response time of around 1.5 seconds.
An inner page:
The inner page was down for one minute, and response time was 0.65 seconds.
You’ll notice that there were far fewer peaks in response times on StableHost, and when there were peaks, it was a maximum of around 6 seconds, compared to the 40+ second peaks on HostGator.
What all of this shows you, I hope , is that not all hosts are equal. If you want reliable hosting, go for the best that you can afford ( and remember price does not necassarily correlate with quality). My order of choice would be:
- WPEngine or WebSynthesis.
- Enterprise level hosting on StableHost using CDN
- Shared hosting, but buyer-beware!