The Truth About Shared Hosting & Our Top 5 Recommendations

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I understand it can be a real headache trying to find a decent shared host. I have learnt the hard way that there are plenty of crappy hosting companies out there and the sheer number of options make it tempting to simply choose the most well known only to regret it later. If you do decide to spend some time researching it can be very easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis.

To make matters worse if you start looking for shared hosting reviews you are likely to come across tons of fake reviews masquerading as honest impartial reviews. This is because the web hosting industry is heavily promoted by affiliates who make a commission on each referral they make. This results in many hosting review articles and ‘top 10 shared hosting’ tables being biased towards the hosts that pay the best referral fees rather the ones offering the best service, support, reliability and value.

There is nothing wrong with affiliate links from a legal and ethical standpoint – we use affiliate links ourselves on this site and within this article. The point is that  the majority of these websites do not disclose the fact their reviews contain affiliate links and they may be compensated for referrals which they are obliged to do (see FTC guidelines here).

Unless you see this disclosure in a prominent and obvious location (either within the review itself or footer) it is very likely the hosting reviews you are reading are not honest and designed to rank according to referral payout and not host quality. To be honest, having this disclosure is not a guarantee of 100% impartial reviews but you are more likely to be looking at an honest site when you see it.

With that being said, this is web hosting review article with affiliate links and all reviews and ratings are based on my personal experience, research, knowledge and analysis of hundreds of independent user reviews.

Who Should Use Shared Hosting

If you are just starting out or have website with less than 1000 visitors a day then shared hosting is most likely to be suitable for you. This type of hosting will be fine for about 95% of websites.

This is the cheapest type of hosting available because the hosting company will put hundreds of websites onto the same server. This normally works out fine unless the hosting company puts too many sites on one sever or one or more of the websites suddenly starts taking up too much bandwidth or processing power. In either case all the sites on the server will slow down. Thankfully this is rare but one of the reasons why you need to choose a good company – the speed and reliability of a bad host will cause you many headaches so please don’t just choose the cheapest or the most well known.

Why Website Load Times Are Important

The load time of a website has a big impact on user experience and bounce rates with most users now expecting websites to load within 2 seconds. If it still has not loaded within 3 seconds the majority of visitors will click ‘back’. If you are running a commercial website the implications of a slow site are even more serious. In research released by Amazon in 2009, it was found that if their pages loaded just one millisecond quicker they increased their revenue by 1%! AOL also found out that users with the top 10% load speeds (i.e. those that loaded their webpages the fastest) viewed about 50% more pages than visitors in the bottom 10%.

The second reason why it is so important is that website load times are one important factor in google ranking algorithm as confirmed by Matt Cutts. If you concerned about ranking your site highly in google, you need to pay attention to load time. You can use websites like tools.pingdom.com to test the load times of your site and be notified of opportunities to speed it up.

Unfortunately it is impossible to predict how fast your site will load if you use a particular web host. The load times of your site will vary from one shared host to another due to:

  • Location of the servers
  • RAM and hard drive of the server
  • Bandwidth
  • Number of domains on the server
  • Traffic patterns of other sites on the server
  • RAM sucking resources (i.e. scripts) on other sites on the server

The Perfect Shared Host Myth

The truth is that there is not a ‘perfect’ shared host that you will be able to identify by doing days of research. No matter with company you choose, there is always a chance you will have a bad experience and end up on a forum telling everyone how much the company sucks.

However, what you can do is put the odds in your favour and have a high chance of having a fast and reliable web host with great support if you stick to the ones that have been recommended in the table below. Yes there is a chance you may be unluncky and you get a crap service from the host you choose, and yes there are some negative reviews of these particular web hosts, but overall they have a higher proportion of positive vs negative reviews online within forums, social media and impartial review sites than any other web hosts I analysed. Less relevant is that I have also had good experiences with them but a sample size of one should not sway you too much.

How Have We Reviewed & Rated The Hosts?

Our ratings have been determined by my own personal experience, analysing independent 3rd party uptime monitoring sites like netcraft.com, reviewing sentiment analysis sites like reviewsignal.com and aggregating hundreds of impartial user reviews from web hosting forums and hosting ratings websites.

This mixture of personal experience and user reviews have been used to come up with our overall ratings because whilst first hand experience is valuable, and I give it when I can, incorporating the wisdom of crowds will increase the accuracy of the ratings. The experiences of hundreds of impartial users using each web host is likely to give a far more accurate impression of a host’s quality than the experience of just one reviewer, no matter how expert the reviewer is.

How can you be sure that I am not biased towards those paying the most referral fees? In short, you can’t. However, if you try them all out and also spend the time putting together your own spreadsheet with all the independent user ratings you can find for each host, I am confident you will come to very similar recommendations.

So let’s get into the crux of my shared host recommendations and reviews. I have looked at dozens of hosts and come up with 5 that I believe are all very likely to give you a very good if not great shared hosting service at a good price.

I have kept this list to only 5 hosts to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed with choice. There are slight differences in these hosts but I don’t believe you will go far wrong with any as they have been shortlisted from a long list.