How do I find the Best UK Web Hosting Company?
Right across the globe, there are literally hundreds of web hosting services that are all competing to get websites like yours and mine onto their servers. The question is, how do you choose the best UK web hosting provider?
As you can imagine, it would take me an insane amount of time to cover them all.
That said, as a professional working online, I have used more than my fair share of web hosts on my journey to find the one solution that was right for me.
When I first started out I was on a budget so I purely looked at cheap web hosting companies during my search, but it always amazes me that you can get hold of a hosting plan for just £1.50. Pretty good hey?
I know what you’re thinking, cheap web hosting companies probably aren’t very good.
I don’t blame you for thinking that, I did at first but I needed something quick. Once I’d put on my glasses and did some digging, I actually found that popular web hosts like Bluehost and Hostinger, who are known for their cheap hosting, provide damn good hosting!
When I decided that I was going to share my thoughts and experiences with small business owners, I knew that I needed a way to determine which sites to include and which ones to leave out.
Whilst there are some awesome web hosts out there, there are some really ugly ones too. Trust me, if you’d been what I’ve been through, you’d probably shudder at the word hosting.
I also looked closely at what features were included with each hosting company’s entry-level package and whittled these down to the ten companies which are featured above, along with in-depth independent web hosting reviews and uptime statistics.
It’s worth noting here that this isn’t a static table. Along with the ten web hosts you see, I continue to monitor and test around 10 – 20 more, and regularly update this website so that it features only the ten companies who are performing the best on any given week.
I’m a nice guy, right?
Is Price an Important Factor When Choosing a Hosting Provider?
You want the absolute best value for your money. Let’s be honest, that’s just good old-fashioned common sense. As a business owner, the last thing you need is to be paying out more than you need to for solid, reliable UK web hosting.
Yet here’s the thing, those introductory prices don’t last forever. In fact, you often hear stories of customers being billed for hundreds of pounds due to poor billing procedures (I can name a few companies that do this).
There will come a time during the life of your website that the special ‘first term’ rate runs out, and you’re faced with paying the company’s standard monthly or yearly rate. Don’t worry, with all but a few exceptions, this is fairly standard practice across the hosting industry.
What it does mean, however, is that the initial price of your hosting plan shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when choosing a site. Assuming you’re going to be running for at least a few years, it pays to consider the true long-term cost so that you can better plan out an ongoing budget.
Nor does the price alone offer any clear indication as to the quality of a web host. I’ve seen cheap web hosting companies offer absolutely rock bottom rates, only to discover that this is exactly what they were; cheap, unreliable, and barely fit for purpose.
In other words, you really do get what you pay for with web hosting. Whilst you no doubt want to keep an eye on the purse strings, factors like uptime and server response times are far more important when it comes to choosing the right package for your new site.
Take Hostinger for example, you can get web hosting from 99p per month. Yes, you read that right, less than £1! We’ve been monitoring them for a couple of years and in the last 30 days, my website has had 100% uptime.
It just goes to show price isn’t everything.
Shared hosting is perfect for most requirements from basic WordPress sites, to demanding eCommerce sites. Obviously, there are limits but in 99% of cases, it’s a perfect fit.
Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule, and I’ll discuss these in detail in the hosting reviews featured on this site.
How Do I Choose a UK Web Hosting Company?
1. Customer Support
Easily one of the most important factors to consider is customer service.
I’ve had terrible experiences of long waiting times and poor customer responses. Let’s be honest, having support that you have to wait for can really have a bad impact on your business and it’s a frustrating experience trying to get something fixed.
Most of the best web hosting companies I’ve dealt with have had amazing service (especially SiteGround). The only real way to test this is to contact your host’s customer support. If you’re not prepared to sign up to test this aspect, then you can fall back on me!
We consider customer support in every one of our hosting reviews. One of the factors I use to measure how good a host’s support is is taking into account the number of support options. Yes, it’s great to have live chat, but what if the agents aren’t available? Can you phone them?
There’s a lot to consider!
2. Server Response Times
Having a fast and responsive server has a huge influence on the customer experience and Google has now mentioned this as a ranking factor (which makes total sense).
Basically, the faster your site performs the more conversions you are likely to have. Whether that’s converting sales, or converting sign-ups.
Even a slight delay can have a huge impact.
When we test a web host’s server response time, we use a variety of tools. There’s no good relying on just one!
Anything below 400 ms is good enough. Optimising your site is something else to consider too, which you can do via various plugins such as W3 Cache and WP Optimize.
Having a reliable host is also critical.
If your hosting company has poor uptime then you’re losing business. It sounds harsh, but it’s really as simple as that.
You can use services to inform you (such as Pingdom) when your site goes down. Most hosting companies promise amazing uptimes of 99% etc, but the harsh reality is that it’s often far below this.
Thankfully, many good web hosts will offer some form of compensation if they don’t stick to their uptime SLAs. This is often in the form of free web hosting for the month your site experienced a certain amount of downtime.
It’s worth checking out your web host’s terms and conditions around uptime before you sign up to them. If they boast an uptime guarantee of at least 99.9% and offer compensation if they don’t keep to their promises, you’re pretty much good to go!
This kind of promise shows that a web host has confidence in their uptime.
What are the Different Types of Web Hosting?
When you’re looking at web hosting for the first time there are many different types and options that you can choose.
Trust me, I know it can be mind-boggling, but that’s what I’m here for.
These range from cheap hosting providers where you share a server with thousands of other sites, to dedicated options that cost hundreds per month.
In many respects, they all do the same job, but the performance and uptime can vary a lot.
I like to think of types of hosting as accommodation. Shared hosting is like an apartment block; if one apartment has a fire, it’s going to impact other people.
To put that into hosting terms, if another customer on your shared server exceeds their resources or opens their site up to vulnerabilities, your website could be affected.
I’ll explain each type so that you can get a better understanding of which is best suited to you.
This is by far the most popular type of hosting. It’s cheap and offers great performance in most cases. You’re sharing a server with other sites, which is why it’s often cheaper than dedicated options.
You also get all the functionality and features of the more expensive dedicated servers. Most providers sell this as “unlimited web hosting” but this is obviously never the complete truth!
This is another option for customers on a budget. However it still cost’s over x10 times the amount of shared hosting making it not as popular, but for traffic-heavy sites it is ideal.
You’re sharing a server, with fewer customers and you get similar performance as dedicated options.
This is perfect for demanding websites that need plenty of resources to be able to run. It’s an expensive option but if your site generates large traffic or consumes a lot of resources, it’s essential.
You’ll also need to ensure it’s managed unless you have previous server administration experience.
In recent years this has become a popular option for many business owners and it’s quite similar to VPS in some respects. Instead of it being hosted on a physical partition, it’s actually hosted on a virtual partition of the server.
This means you can easily scale up your business without adding additional hardware.
As the name suggests this is made for web hosting resellers and hosting companies. This means that all the daily management of the servers etc is done by the provider.
It’s popular because you can get better rates and scale as you grow your business by purchasing server resources in bulk. This type of hosting only applies if you wish to start your own hosting company as it’s for advanced users only.
What does it all mean?
I hope you’re still with me at this point. I know it’s a lot to take in!
Many people will probably just choose a web host and be done with it. That’s fair enough if you want to risk it, but if you’re serious about your website or business, you need to know the ins and outs, as boring as they might be.
Before we delve deeper into who the best hosting providers are for specific areas, we figured you’d probably want a few questions answered, which is understandable given the terminology that’s flying around when talking about the best web hosts.
There’s a lot to consider, and many companies to choose from, but getting the basics down to a tee is the best place to start.
Remember, if you take note of our guides and shop smartly, you’ll always get the best website hosting package around, you won’t be tied into contracts, and you can upgrade your web hosting plan as you or your business grows.
Answering your potential questions helps us to help you; if you know the basics, you’ll likely want to know more, and we can continue to provide you with the top 10 website hosting companies and review them on a regular basis.
How much storage space do I need for hosting?
The amount of storage space you need is dependant on the type of website you’re running, however, most websites do not exceed 1GB worth of storage space.
Storage space starts to get tighter with the more images, videos, and pages your website has on it. There are lots of useful tools you can use to reduce the size of your website by targeting things such as images that take up a lot of space.
TinyJPG allows you to upload as many as 20 images at a time, compressing the size of images without reducing quality; it will assess your images and optimise them, bringing the file size down whilst maintaining content and quality.
Although it may not seem like a big deal, the more images you have on your website, the slower the pages will take to load your images, thus resulting in possible users abandoning your website, as they don’t have the time or patience to wait more than 3 seconds to view your website.
Will I receive a domain name with my web hosting?
Not all web hosting providers have the ability to offer a domain name, others will charge you for one, whereas most will include a free domain name when you sign up for web hosting with them.
Fear not, if a domain name is not included in your web hosting, then you’ll have an option to purchase one with the chosen hosting company.
How do I transfer my website to another host?
It might seem like a daunting task, but switching your website from one web host to another is relatively simple.
- Select and purchase your new web hosting plan
- Download a copy of your existing website and upload it to your new web hosts’ server (usually through an FTP)
- Ensure that all the files you’ve copied over are showing on your new web hosts’ server
- Switch your name servers (your domain name) to point at your new web hosting provider
- Within 24 hours you should see your website live on your new web hosts’ server
- Remember to cancel your old web hosting so you don’t get charged
Some web hosting companies will even offer free migration, doing the work for you.
How do I choose the right web hosting provider?
Choosing a web hosting provider can be a large task of its own as there are so many factors to consider; who’s the cheapest, who will provide the best service, who will guarantee my websites’ uptime – all of these questions are completely valid, which is why we’ve created this website for you.
We take a look at the top 10 web hosts and review them for you – we’ve undertaken many tests and signed up to all of them to ensure your choice is informed and well-researched. We know that many of you will want to opt for a cheap web host, to begin with, and that’s absolutely fine!
Why Data Centers Are Important
Let’s move away from web hosting for a second to discuss the importance of data centers. A long time ago, many people were pretty content with what technologies existed.
Families were happy with the television channels available, sending letters through the post, and using their phones for basic SMS and calls.
With technological advances, the world has gone digital, and slow is no longer an option. A house with terrestrial TV would be considered “old school”, and someone without a smartphone is almost unheard of.
What Are Data Centers?
Data centers are locations where computing facilities and networks exist. Their purpose is to collect, store, process, and deliver large amounts of data 24/7.
Data centers are also responsible for backups and recovery. They host websites, manage emails, and even instant messaging. As well as all of this, data centers support cloud storage apps, eCommerce, and gaming communities to offer servers for people to play on.
Without data centers, end-users wouldn’t be able to obtain the information they do today. These centers are literally locations with mass amounts of equipment, either located in a room (yes, you can host your own server from your home), or in large compounds.
How Have Data Centers Evolved?
Data centers have actually existed since the early days of computers. Rather than slimline servers, computers were huge machines that would likely take up an entire room.
Of course, in this day and age, that wouldn’t be efficient. As technology has evolved, computers have shrunk and are now cheaper than ever before. However, data requests have grown exponentially in line with these advancements.
Rather than using one giant computer, data centers feature multiple servers to optimise websites and data, boosting power and speed to the end-user. Data centers run around the clock and consist of thousands of tiny servers.
How Important Are They?
Most businesses and large organisations like government offices require their own data centers. Instead of owning a compound, many choose to lease a data center. However, the option to build and manage their own servers in-house is of course available.
Some businesses choose to rent servers at colocation facilities, whereas others use public cloud servers. Cloud servers use multiple servers to make data available at all times; despite the word public, they are actually incredibly secure and fast.
Without data centers, businesses and facilities wouldn’t be able to operate, thus, they wouldn’t have any clients.
Due to the amount of data centers and servers required, cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular. What was once a practice of housing large computers and servers at home or the office is now distributed using professional applications and offshore storage.
How Does A Data Center Work?
Imagine two computers at your home connected via a local network. Data Centers use internet servers to broadcast information and data to web browsers via the network. This data is stored on a server in a data center and is distributed into packets before being sent via routers to the end-user.
Using a series of wired and wireless networks, data reaches the user’s ISP to arrive on your computer or web browser. When a URL is typed into a browser, the information is requested from a server.
Types of Data Centers
Because different businesses have different business models, there has to be a variety of data centers available. Let’s take a look at the types of data centers that exist.
- Colocation: Colocation data centers (or colo), is a company that rents space from a data center they don’t own. The data center offers infrastructure, bandwidth, and security. The company manages the day-to-day running of the servers including storage, firewalls, and components.
- Enterprise: Enterprise data centers are owned and managed by companies. They operate under an optimised service for their clients. Enterprise data centers can often be found in corporate compounds.
- Managed: Managed data centers are operated by third parties instead of a company. The company rents the equipment and infrastructure to minimise costs.
- Cloud: Cloud data centers are not located on-premises. The most common cloud hosting services that you will of heard of include AWS (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft (Azure), and IBM Cloud.
Reliability of Data Centers
To ensure the smooth operation of your website or business, data centers have been built to operate 24/7. However, the components required to maintain data centers require a large amount of infrastructure support.
There’s a lot to consider, including power systems, power supplies, ventilation, cooling systems, fire safety, and backup generators. If your website is hosted on a server and any of these things go wrong, your website wouldn’t exist.
Data Center Location
When choosing a web host, it’s recommended to choose a hosting provider that offers multiple data centers, or at least a data center that serves a location nearest your main website visitors.
If you’re a UK company and the majority of your clients are based in the UK, you’ll want to find a hosting provider that offers UK data centers.
SiteGround, for example, has 6 data centers located around the world, including London (UK). If you opted for a web host that didn’t offer a UK data center, you would have to consider the increased time it takes for the data center to receive the information sent to the server, then delivered to the end-user.
Whilst this may only be a matter of seconds, those seconds count. If a user has to wait longer than 2-3 seconds for a web page to load, the chances of them leaving your website are increased ten-fold.
SSD vs HDD Storage
In our hosting reviews, we often mention if a web host offers SSD storage. This is actually very important as it impacts the speed at which your data is stored and retrieved.
If you’ve bought a PC or laptop, you’ll probably notice that many of them now come with SSD storage. However, some machines like servers still use the traditional HDD storage as they are cheaper to purchase in large quantities, and tend to offer large storage space.
HDD and SSD Explained
HDDs are traditional spinning drives that provide the basis of storage on a computer. When you turn off a computer, the data doesn’t disappear, unlike data that’s stored in RAM (Random Access Memory).
A hard drive is basically a metal plate that has a magnetic coating. This stores your data; whether it’s website data, a collection of videos, or a game. A read/write head is located on an arm and accesses the data when the platters spin.
SSDs perform the same functions as an HDD, but data is stored on flash-memory chips, often referred to as NAND. SSDs tend to be more reliable and are much faster. Because of this, they are more expensive.
SSDs, similar to thumb drives (or USB), are much smaller than HDDs. They are more versatile when building a computer, taking place of traditional drives. They can also be mounted onto the motherboard of a computer which is known as M.2 SSD.
SSDs are much faster than HDDs. A computer with an SSD will boot faster and will transfer data at a much faster rate. They also allow apps to run quickly, and this is still true for servers who use applications like WordPress.
Consumer SSDs commonly don’t exceed 2TB, and those that do are incredibly expensive. Users who want to store large amounts of data or have big media systems are more likely to use HDDs due to the lower cost and higher capacities.
One web host could easily offer around 30GB SSD storage, but it will likely be more expensive than a host that can offer unlimited HDD storage. The more storage capacity available, the more data and files you can store.
However, many websites will never exceed 5GB of storage. So, if you’re a personal or small business user, you may want to consider choosing a web host like SiteGround that offers 10GB SSD storage on their StartUp package, versus another web host that offers unlimited HDD storage.
In terms of GBP per gigabyte, SSDs are more expensive than traditional HDDs. In personal computing terms, you can probably get a 1TB HDD for around £30, whereas an SSD could cost £50+.
However, when you compare the speed increase you get with an SSD, especially at large capacities, the additional speed easily outweighs the cost, especially when it comes to storing your website’s data.
Best Domain Hosting Companies
Domain hosting is the service that provides your domain name (www.top10-websitehosting.co.uk) so that it appears online for users to access. There is no reason to pay extortionate amounts for a domain name, however, looking for the best domain hosting provider is key to ensuring costs are kept down.
GoDaddy is the number one domain registrar and is extremely popular, with prices ranging from only £0.99 for a .com domain name, or £1.00 for a .co.uk domain name. Their control panel is easy to manage, assigning nameplates is painless, and their prices are extremely affordable.
Best Small Business Web Hosting
It’s not only large businesses or eCommerce websites that require web hosting, but small businesses will also likely spend more time choosing the best web host for them as it’s an important investment.
Small businesses usually require web hosting that offers an easy-to-maintain website, scalability that you get with cloud hosting, marketing and SEO tools, and guaranteed uptime to ensure customers can always access your website.
Web Hosting for Growing Businesses
For businesses that have the potential to grow, HostGator offers some great features to get your business started, including, an easy to use drag and drop website builder, one-click installs, unmetered bandwidth, and the option to upgrade to other cheap web hosting plans when your website starts to grow.
There is no contract, so if you don’t enjoy the experience, you’re not tied in – saving you every penny possible. HostGator are veterans of the shared hosting market and won’t be beaten on loading speeds.
Web Hosting with Best Customer Support
SiteGround is our number one choice for customer support, it goes without saying. Whenever we’ve contacted them, they’ve always responded effectively and efficiently without any fuss; no wonder they’ve won awards!
When you’re starting out a business, there’s a chance you may not be 100% to grips with everything, including your web hosting, so you’ll want the best customer support there is to offer.
If you’ve got burning questions, or something goes wrong, you’ll want to be reassured that there is someone there to help you, to make you feel like a customer, not a number, and to go the extra mile. SiteGround is a solid choice for small business web hosting.
Which is the Best Cloud Web Hosting?
Starting at only £2.25 per month, BlueHost offers some of the best cloud web hosting with decent storage, RAM, and bandwidth to get you started on your cloud hosting journey. If you’re ready to move on to bigger things, Bluehost offers an unmetered package for £8.95 per month, so you can upgrade at an affordable cost.
If you get a lot of traffic to your website, it’s wise to consider a cloud hosting option. Essentially, you can manage peak loads without encountering any bandwidth issues. If any of the cloud servers fail, there will always be another server available that kicks in, ensuring your website won’t go down and the data won’t be lost.
Best Web Hosts that include a Website Builder
Building a website is no longer a minefield; you don’t need a degree or qualification in web design or development, nor do you require technical knowledge.
Website builders are becoming increasingly popular, handing control over to the user to design and create their perfect website, with a few drag and drop functionalities.
Simply upload photos, edit text, or choose templates that already have it set out for you; it really is that easy.
Some of the best web hosts now include the use of website builders as part of their package.
1&1 not only offers dedicated web hosting and excellent customer support, but they also offer 1&1 My Website which contains all of the tools you need to build your own website for only £0.99 per month.
They present you with an easy-to-use website builder, over 20 million images to use, and some really professional templates.
Best Cheap UK Web Hosting Companies
Cheap web hosting can be a grey area; often the cheapest is not the best, instead, you want to look at affordable web hosting that offers a great price, with great value for money.
All of our web hosting reviews provide an in-depth view of each of our chosen web hosts, including their pricing plans, features, and performance metrics.
Free website hosting and cheap hosting from non-reputable companies are best avoided; spending an extra few pence even can sway the choice from bad service, unreliable uptime, and poor features, to quality hosting at its best with a reputable web host like SiteGround.
Best Email Hosting
Having an email address associated with your website’s domain can pack a powerful punch. If you’re running a business, small or large, your customers will want to be able to contact you via email – a business email address is much more effective and professional.
Having an email address is a great start, however, you’ll also need to consider how many emails you’ll likely receive in order to assess the required storage space. Ensuring you have a reliable spam filter and virus protection are also top of the list when making your choice.
WordPress Hosting FAQs
WordPress is the most popular CMS. It’s open-source, so it’s pretty much a free for all in terms of development. There are thousands of plugins and themes you can use to your advantage, but for beginners, WordPress can be a little overwhelming. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we receive about WordPress.
Do I need WordPress hosting?
If you’ve built a WordPress website via WordPress.org, you’ll need web hosting. However, you don’t have to specifically choose a WordPress hosting plan, although it’s recommended. WordPress hosting offers more in terms of WordPress optimised resources, and is more often than not, a managed service.
This means your WordPress website will receive automatic updates to eliminate any security vulnerabilities. Some web hosts like SiteGround and Hostinger offer optimised servers specifically for WordPress-built websites.
Can I get free WordPress hosting?
Yes, there are lots of free WordPress web hosting services available. However, if you’re serious about your website, I suggest finding a paid web hosting service. Hostinger is a great WordPress host and you can get hosting from less than £1 per month.
Free hosting tends to come with many limitations, lack of customer support, and often your website will be plastered with advertising – doesn’t look very professional does it?
How much does a WordPress website cost?
If you’re having a WordPress website built for you, the price really depends on your requirements. This can be anything from £100 to £25,000! Although WordPress does have a higher learning curve than other website builders, it’s worth investing some time into it.
If you can master WordPress, you can easily combine free plugins with a premium WordPress theme. This keeps your WordPress website costs below £100.
Can I have an eCommerce WordPress website?
Yes! WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin designed specifically for eCommerce sites. If you’re building an eCommerce site, make sure your web host offers you a free SSL certificate. Some web hosts even offer WooCommerce hosting, so if you’re serious about building an eCommerce site through WordPress, you should check out Bluehost.
Bluehost is recommended by WordPress and offers affordable WooCommerce pricing plans. We rate them really high due to their reliable uptime and server speeds.
Should my domain and WordPress hosting come from the same provider?
No, you don’t have to have the same domain name provider as your WordPress hosting. For example, you could purchase your domain name from somewhere like NameCheap and get your hosting from Bluehost.
If you want to keep things simple, it’s easier to keep your domain and hosting with the same provider. You can transfer your domain to your hosting provider if you want to. Remember, lots of web hosts offer a free domain name when you sign up for their hosting. However, if you already have a domain name, you don’t have to claim this offer.
How can I secure my WordPress hosting account?
Your web hosting account is where all of your website’s data and files are stored. It’s essential that you secure your account by using a strong password. It’s also recommended not to log in to your account from public locations unless you’re using a VPN.
Can I switch my WordPress hosting provider?
You can switch your WordPress hosting provider at any point if you’re not happy with them. Most companies offer free WordPress migration, like SiteGround. However, you should check with your hosting provider before you decide to move as some hosts do charge for this.
Which Hosting is Best for WordPress?
One of the most popular blogging platforms on the market is, of course, WordPress. Not only is it easy to create free blogs, but you can also create beautiful websites too.
When looking at web hosts who provide hosting for WordPress websites, you’ll want to keep your eye out for 1-click installs. With a simple click of a button, WordPress will be installed onto your web host’s control panel. From here you can easily access your WordPress website or blog.
Can I Leave My Own Web Hosting Review?
In fact, we welcome unbiased web hosting reviews and feel that this is a great way to add to the community. It helps other users make better-informed decisions.
Include as much detail as possible such as feedback on the customer service and features.
We use reviews as a measurement of how good a web hosting service is. Therefore it helps us to rate the best web hosting company of 2022 that much easier.