RED's Recommended Website Hosting in 2021

Website hosting is a fundamental element of your website project.

It’s important to choose the right website hosting for your project so your website is available and fast for your visitors.

Choosing a good website host for your WordPress site can be a daunting proposition. There are many web hosting companies out there, and just as many price points and different offerings to compare. RED’s recommended website hosting is based on our experiences with many different hosting companies on behalf of our clients since 2001.

As all companies do, hosting companies change over time. A host that used to be good may no longer be good, or a host that used to be poorly rated may make positive changes and improve their service. So it’s important to make sure the website hosting recommendations you’re looking at are up to date.

Different organizations require different types of hosting plans. Read on for our website hosting recommendations, and see which is the best fit for your organization.

Using recommended website hosting makes your site fast for your visitorsQualities we look for in a website host:

  • Good server speed.
    Visitors want to be able to see your site as quickly as possible and not wait a long time for pages to load.
  • Up time.
    A host should take measures to keep your site online as close to 100% of the time as possible.
  • Reachable, responsive and knowledgeable support when issues arise.
  • Reasonable prices.
  • Up to date, secure versions of PHP.
    Access to a secure programming language helps keep your website secure.
  • Secure hosting set-up.
    The web host's own security is an integral part of a secure website.
  • Flexibility in configuring the hosting account with a good control panel.
    This makes it easier for us to make any and every kind of update to your website and do any custom programming you may require.

Extras that are great to have:

  • Free SSL certificates for websites who don’t need extended validation.
  • Offer email and support for email.There are arguments for keeping email separate, but depending on your needs, it may be helpful to have email on the same host.
  • Free CDN or caching support.This allows your website to be loaded more quickly.
  • Ability to set up staging sites easily for testing new features or updates.
  • Automated backups.We have our own solution for this, so it’s not a requirement, but backup redundancy is never a bad thing.
  • Carbon neutrality.RED is interested in making a difference in the world, and one way we do that is by using carbon-neutral or “green” web hosting.

Our recommended website hosting companies in 2021

*Please note that the links below are affiliate links, so we may receive compensation if you sign up using one of these links. However, we only recommend hosts we find reliable.

Recommended for: Almost everyone. SiteGround is a strong competitor in the hosting market, offering plans that are a good fit for most websites, whether large or small, and it is eco-friendly.

With plans ranging from $11.95 – $34.95 a month, SiteGround provides speedy hosting at a reasonable price. In February 2020, SiteGround shifted much of its infrastructure to Google Cloud, meaning it is an eco-friendly host.

What we like about SiteGround:
SiteGround is fast. Your website can put its best foot forward with fast loading speeds on SiteGround thanks to its built-in caching. It’s also reasonably priced for the kind of speed it provides. Siteground includes email with your hosting account, a free Let’s Encrypt SSL to show your visitors you are serious about security, and makes up to date PHP versions available rapidly.

The downsides:
SiteGround has a staging site set-up, but it can really only be used for testing updates or changes before making the updates or changes on the live site. It can’t be used as a draft site with a completely different theme, for example. If you need to redesign your website, create a second site as a draft instead.

Check out SiteGround now.

Recommended for: Small organizations on a tight budget.

At the low price of only $3.95 – $5.95 a month, Bluehost is definitely one of the most affordable hosts.

What we like about Bluehost:
Even at this low price, Bluehost includes a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate with their hosting packages. Bluehost offers managed hosting – but not over-managed. Unlike some other managed hosts, Bluehost leaves you and your web developer complete flexibility and freedom on the back end, along with database access, so you get the best of both worlds. Its interface is user-friendly. They provide up to date PHP versions on a reasonable schedule so your website can stay secure.

The downsides:
Support is hit or miss. Sometimes Bluehost technicians are responsive and other times it takes time to get proper assistance. The more complex the issue, the more difficult it is to get knowledgeable support.

Check out Bluehost now.

Recommended for: Organizations looking for a green host to match their values.

DreamHost has been around since 1996. But DreamHost has evolved with the times, works on providing new features to clients, and offers a decent shared website hosting service at a reasonable price.

What we like about DreamHost:
DreamHost offers free hosting for 501(c)3 non-profit organizations. This is great news for many of our non-profit clients, meaning they can funnel more of their donors’ gifts straight into their mission. It also provides a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, and is carbon-neutral, so is great for those who are ecologically-minded. DreamHost also provides a free domain name with a hosting package, and email. VPSes are available for those who need a heavier-duty hosting plan.

The downsides:
Note that we recommend DreamHost’s normal hosting package, not their DreamPress offering for WordPress. DreamPress doesn’t include cPanel or offer sufficient flexibility in configuration. DreamHost strictly limits resources, so if your website has a lot of visitors, this may not be the right fit for you.

Check out DreamHost now.

Recommended for: Small to medium-sized organizations looking for a carbon-neutral host.

GreenGeeks pricing is moderate, and they are eco-friendly.

What we like about GreenGeeks:
GreenGeeks provides carbon neutral web hosting, which is a great plus for clients looking to reduce their carbon footprint and host with an ecologically sound host.

The downsides:
The resources GreenGeeks provides may be insufficient for some websites, leading to site slowdowns or unavailability.

Check out GreenGeeks now.

Hosts to avoid:

A slow or difficult to work with host will add frustrations and hours to your project. To save the headache and to save money, here are the hosts we strongly recommend you avoid as of this writing.

GoDaddy

GoDaddy sells a lot of hosting plans, but they tend to overload their servers and sites often run slow or time out. Their interface isn’t all that user-friendly. FTP connections tend to randomly time out for no reason. Support is often not knowledgeable or helpful and wait times for support may be quite long.

Media Temple

Media Temple has gone downhill since Godaddy bought the company in 2013. As of this writing, all of the versions of PHP they offer on their servers have reached end-of-life, meaning they no longer receive any security updates. Media Temple also fails to provide good security policies: on managed WordPress accounts, you are unable to update some of the passwords associated with an account from within the hosting control panel.

Network Solutions

Network Solutions has slow and often unreliable server speeds. That alone is reason enough to avoid them. Your website needs to be fast so your visitors are able to access it easily. Standard solutions for things that should be simple, like forcing a domain to use SSL, don’t work on their servers. It can take hours on the phone with tech support to sort out what should be straightforward issues like setting up SSL certificates.

Site 5

After Endurance International Group bought Site 5 in 2015, Site 5’s support became less easily available and lower quality. There is no phone number to reach them, and their live chat technicians are not knowledgeable enough to help with issues that may arise. Site5 is slow to reply to support tickets if they reply at all and a resolution is not guaranteed. Your website is important, and you need to be able to reach your host, and your host should be responsive. Website speed suffers as well.

Before you choose your host, make sure you have chosen a domain registrar. Check out RED’s recommended registrars.

Still not sure which website hosting company or website hosting plan is the best fit for your organization?