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Web Hosts We Recommend

When your HTML code moves from adding italic and bold to text in blog comments to the full-on design of websites, you’ll eventually need a web host. If you don’t know what a web host is, check out the post, What Is A Sever? to clarify.

It turns out, not everyone on the Internet has your best interest at heart. (Shocking, right?) Not all web hosts are equal. Many of them offer terrible customer support so that they can funnel their users into their paid support team. It’s important to us that you get signed up with a reputable web host because if they purposely make it difficult to find what you need, you’ll never take the next step to getting your site set up, and you’ll not be able to build a website from scratch.

Thus, it advances our mission statement of helping people learn HTML to make sure you get a high-quality web host.

Here are the web hosts we endorse:

Laughing Squid

Geek Storage

Stable Host (40% discount if you use the coupon code “learnhtmlwithsong”)

Liquid Web

A Small Orange

It’s important to let you know that the links above are affiliate links (except for Laughing Squid, who doesn’t have an affiliate program). That means that if you buy your web hosting by clicking on those links, we’ll get a small referral bonus. We’d appreciate it if you are ready to get your web host if you use the links provided, to help pay for the considerable cost of the Learn HTML With Song project.

Please know that there are hundreds of web hosts with affiliate programs, and we’ve taken considerable time, expense and care to pinpoint reliable web hosts that we think you’ll be happy with. That being said, you should take care when reading reviews of web hosts online, as many sites exist just to put up a bunch of fake reviews, so people will click on their provided affiliate links. Always consider the source. As this site is not about web hosting, we hope you can trust that our motives are pure.

For more details, read on.

How to Choose a Web Host

There are several important considerations to help you choose which web host to go with, out of the hundreds available. First, don’t simply sign up for the web host that is promoted by the company where you bought your domain. Often these big companies offer the worst customer support and dodgiest practices (in fact hundreds of the best-known web hosts are owned by the same company, EIG). This doesn’t mean that a web host recommended by a domain seller is inherently bad, but don’t simply trust that their recommendation is “good enough.” Moreover, sometimes when a company runs both the domain and acts as the web host, they make it harder to move to a new host. Do your homework, at the very least reading the tips below.

How is The Web Host’s Customer Support?

To answer this question, look not to their website but to people talking about their company on other sites. When you run a search for their name and “customer support” are the search results filled with reasonable people making complaints? Or conversely are they filled with people saying nice things, or timely, helpful posts from the support staff itself (e.g. Twitter updates answering questions that have come in through Twitter)?

What is the Web Host’s Policy When You Exceed Your Allotted Bandwidth?

When you exceed your allotted bandwidth, most companies will take your site down. Usually this happens when your site has become super-popular for some reason, such as the Colbert Bump, the /. effect or landing on page one of Reddit. It would be terrible if your site ceased to exist at the moment it was at its most popular. Some cool web hosts will send you an email if they notice your bandwidth spiking, so you can prevent your site from going down.

Another way of thinking of this is, how do they handle customer support beyond replying to problems and complaints?

Do They Give You Unfettered Access to FTP?

Some web hosts have their own internal set up for accessing FTP through their site. Using this web-based FTP makes users depend on their web host, in that inexperienced users become accustomed to their web host’s interface and never learn to use FTP outside of the web host’s site. I’ve even heard of some web hosts that only allow you to use their web-based FTP program. (That should be a deal-breaker!) It’s not like these web-based versions of FTP are easier to use, in fact the ones I’ve used have been cumbersome and awkwardly designed. So there’s really no reason to use one, when external FTP programs are ubiquitous. If you are going to be coding HTML and building websites you should be using, and familiar with, an external FTP program.

The same goes for the other fancy features provided by the web host: website builders, shopping carts, customizable error pages, etc. As a web designer, you will most likely want to build your own error pages, rather than using their interface. If you want to implement a more advanced feature (e.g. shopping carts), you’re better off finding the one that’s best for the site you’re building, rather than relying on what feature your web host happens to have tacked on. Even if the feature they provide is a well-designed, becoming dependent on it can make it hard to switch web hosts in the future.

Downtime: Your Web Host Doesn’t Have It

Do people complain that their web host goes down often? You would think that the big companies with thousands of servers would never suffer from downtime, but it happens because they oversell. Essentially, knowing that most sites seldom use all their bandwidth, they overbook, just like airlines overbook flights knowing a few people will miss theirs. Avoid web hosts that have a reputation for sites going down too often. After all, keeping your site running all the time is their primary job.

Read the TOS

Sure, it’s no fun to read the terms of service, but the web host’s terms of service may provide important information. One web host we considered recommending will take down any site that doesn’t meet their moral guidelines, even going so far as taking a whole site down just for using the word “poker.” If your web host is going to take down your site for use of a cursory curse word or a blog post about a trip to Vegas, that is something you need to know.

Pricing

At the end of the day, this is the primary concern for most people. And because your web host is a monthly payment, the cost difference does add up. But it can be tricky, as each web host is offering a different amount of bandwidth for the price. And it’s difficult to guess how much bandwidth your site will use. Moreover, as the site grows more popular your bandwidth usage will increase, so you can’t even use the first month’s bandwidth usage as an indicator of your usage down the line.

According to the forum WebHostingTalk, most websites use under 100 MB a month. Because this site is for beginning coders, we’re providing info on shared hosting, which is the simplest and cheapest option, usually suitable for beginners.

Be Cautious About “Unlimited” Plans

There are no true web hosts offering unlimited bandwidth. Bandwidth is expensive, and web hosts can’t afford to run a business on that model. When companies say they offer unlimited bandwidth, this means that rather than shutting your site down when you go over, they make site users wait in turn to access your site. If you’re getting too much traffic, these unlimited plans lead to a virtual traffic jam, where users wait and wait as your page takes forever to load. This process is called throttling.

This doesn’t mean that an unlimited plan is bad, but it is an example of something that’s a little too good to be true.

We’d encourage you to consider the factors above, and then use price to help you decide only among the web hosts you’ve already determined offer good customer support and reliable service.

Prices of Recommended Web Hosts

Phew! All that being said, here are some web hosts that have a good reputation.

Because hosting companies change ownership and policies often, and because there are so many to choose from, we’re going to leave the comments open on this page. Please chime in to share your experiences with various web hosts, the ones you love and the ones you hate.

This list was last updated June 2014, of course these prices are subject to change.

GeekStorage

In our research, we find that GeekStorage is diligent about customer service. They’re a small company, so response times to complaint tickets sometimes take a little longer (they claim their average is four hours), but replies are thorough and personal.

  • 5 GB Storage
  • 100 GB Bandwidth
  • 2 Add-on Domains
  • cPanel Control Panel (demo)
  • Dedicated IP Available
  • SSL Certificate Available
  • Domains Available ($12.95 per year)
  • $7.99/month – 1 month
  • $6.99/month – 12 months
  • $4.99/month – 24 months

A Small Orange

A Small Orange is a Texas-based company that has gotten nothing but rave reviews for their personalized customer service. They guarantee 99.9% uptime on your site. The only caveat with A Small Orange is that they were recently purchased by EIG, which may lead their web hosting to deteriorate in the future, as has been the complaint with other companies they acquired (e.g. HostGator, BlueHost, JustHost, FatCow, etc.).

They have five shared hosting plans:

Tiny

  • $35 / year  “a great way to start your first website or blog.”
  • 250 MB storage
  • 5 GB bandwidth
  • 24/7 Email + Live Chat Support

Small

  •  $5 / month “for small websites with room to grow.”
  • 1 GB storage
  • 20 GB bandwidth
  • 24/7 Email + Live Chat Support

 Medium

  • $10 / month “for websites and blogs that are gaining popularity.”
  • 5 GB storage
  • 100 GB bandwidth
  • 24/7 Email + Live Chat Support

Large

  • $20 / month “for websites and blogs that need additional resources.”
  • 15 GB storage
  • 300 GB bandwidth
  • 24/7 Email + Live Chat Support

Super

  • $30 / month “The best value in the industry for popular websites and blogs.”
  • 25 GB storage
  • 500 GB bandwidth
  • 24/7 Email + Live Chat Support

Liquid Web

Pricier but oft-recommended. Liquid Web is known for their customer service, promising that phone calls to their support team will be answered in less than one minute. They guarantee 99.9% uptime on your site. This is one web host often chosen by professionals.

Their four shared hosting plans all include:

  •     Unlimited E-Mail Accounts
  •     Perl, PHP5, C++, Python
  •     Unlimited MySQL Databases
  •     Full CGI Access
  •     Unlimited Mailing Lists
  •     Free SSL (Professional Plan Only)
  •     Detailed Website Statistics
  •     SSH Secure Shell Access
  •     Add-on Domains
  •     Redundant Nightly Backups
  •     Virtual FTP Accounts

Breakdown of all four of Liquid Web’s shared web hosting pricing plans:

Liquid Web Standard Web Hosting

“Start a blog, forum, or build a website on our Standard Plan, which comes with Liquid Web’s signature Heroic Support® to assist you 24/7/365.”

  • Great Value
  •  5GB SSD Disk Space
  • 120GB Transfer Bandwidth
  • 2 Free Domain Names
  • Fully Managed with “Heroic Support”
  • $14.95/month

Liquid Web Webmaster Web Hosting

“Host multiple sites with the Webmaster package, which comes with three free domain names and ample storage to house multiple websites.”

  • 20GB SSD Disk Space
  • 200GB Transfer Bandwidth
  • 3 Free Domain Names
  • Fully Managed with “Heroic Support”
  • $19.95/month

Liquid Web Professional Web Hosting

“Our Professional plan comes with a dedicated IP address, an abundance of disk space and the most bandwidth of any Expert Web Hosting package we offer.”

  • Fully Loaded with Dedicated IP
  • 40GB SSD Disk Space
  • 320GB Transfer Bandwidth
  • 5 Free Domain Names
  • Fully Managed with “Heroic Support”
  • Dedicated IP Address (available upon request)
  • $24.95/month

Semi-Dedicated Web Hosting

“This plan offers a premium experience by providing guaranteed ample CPU and RAM resources as well as the most bandwidth available in Shared Hosting.”

  • Guaranteed Resources
  •  Guaranteed 1 CPU Core & 2GB RAM
  • Burstable to 2 CPU Cores & 3GB RAM
  • 40GB SSD Disk Space
  • 320GB Transfer Bandwidth
  • Fully Managed with “Heroic Support”
  • Dedicated IP Address*
  • $40/month

Stable Host

Use the coupon code learnhtmlwithsong to get a 40% discount off the Stable Host list price.

We chose to endorse StableHost because they have received many positive reviews from web hosting forums. These reviews are from users who have lots of experience with a variety of web hosts and have a better understanding of what constitutes good customer support.

StableHost has three basic packages, that are differentiated only by price and gigabytes:

StableHost’s Basic plan:

  • Perfect for small businesses with low-traffic websites.”
  • $3.95/month
  • 1 GB Disk Space

StableHosts’s Stable plan:

  • “Perfect for small businesses with low-traffic websites.”
  • $5.95/month
  • 7 GB Disk Space

StableHost’s Plus plan:

  • “Ideal for large websites that will have a lot of visitors.”
  • $9.95/month
  • 20 GB Disk Space

Additionally, all StableHost shared web hosting includes:

  • “Unlimted” bandwidth (see caveat on this above)
  • Unlimted domains allowed
  • Unlimted e-mail accounts
  • SSD hard drives
  • 24/7 Technical support

control panel

  •     Unlimited Add-On Domains
  •     Unlimited Sub Domains
  •     Unlimited Parked Domains
  •     Unlimited MySQL Databases
  •     Unlimited FTP Accounts
  •     Webalizer, Analog & Awstats Stats
  •     RVSiteBuilder Pro
  •     Softaculous (1-Click Script Installs)
  •     R1Soft Daily Backups

email

  •    Unlimited E-Mail Accounts
  •     Unlimited Forwards
  •     Unlimited Auto Responders
  •     Unlimited Mailing Lists
  •     Virus / Spam Filtering
  •     IMAP and POP3
  •     Port 25/26 SMTP
  •     Online WebMail
  •     SSL POP3, IMAP & SMTP Available

server

  •     SSH Access (Additional fee)
  •     24/7 Server Monitoring
  •     Starting at 24GB of RAM
  •     Unlimited Bandwidth
  •     Anycast Clustered DNS
  •     SSD Drives
  •     Litespeed Web Server
  •     Phoenix and Amsterdam Datacenters

developer

  •     PHP 5.2.x, 5.3.x and 5.4.x Support
  •     Percona / MySQL 5.5
  •     Perl 5.8.8
  •     Server Side Includes
  •     Free Perl Module Installation

Sign up for web hosting with Stable Host and get 40% off the list price. Be sure to use the coupon code “learnhtmlwithsong” to get the discount.

Laughing Squid

Laughing Squid is a blog and events list based out of San Francisco, CA. They started web hosting because many of the artists in their network couldn’t find a good web host, so they decided to fill the need. Laughing Squid doesn’t have an affiliate program, but we love them so we decided to include them anyway.

They say, “Laughing Squid offers reliable, scalable and secure cloud hosting services using Rackspace’s state-of-the-art Cloud Sites hosting platform. Our hosting plans include control panel access, full-featured email services (POP, IMAP & webmail), PHP 5.3, MySQL 5.1 and many other great features.”

Laughing Squid has only two plans:

Micro Squid

  • 1 GB disk space / 25 GB bandwidth
  • $6 / month

Mega Squid

  • 2 GB disk space / 50 GB bandwidth
  • $8 / month

We have tried to make this web hosting guide as concise and clear as possible. If you have something to add, shout it out in the comments or drop us an email.

The Easiest Way to Learn HTML and CSS
Hi! I'm Diane. I'm an experienced web design teacher in San Francisco. I produce music videos to help new coders learn HTML. I'm dedicated to helping you learn to code, with tons of songs, videos, tutorials and activities. All our tutorials are free and we're adding new lessons every day. Subscribe to get the latest post in your inbox.
  • http://futureisfiction.com/blog Daretoeatapeach

    Just a quick update: Laughing Squid has stopped offering their web hosting service.

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