Best Domain Registrars
The Definitive Guide [2020]

Best Domain Registrars Featured Image

Ready to get your website’s domain name? Here are the best registrars to buy from!


Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Nov. 8, 2019


Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this action-packed, step-by-step guide, you’ll learn about the Best Domain Registrars. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
  • Time To Complete:
    30 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    Working Knowledge

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

Every badass website needs an equally badass domain name.

Coming up with that can be quite the challenge, but once you’ve figured out what your website/business will be called, it’s time to register that bad boy.

Over the course of our collective website building experience here at Create a Pro Website, we’ve bought hundreds of domain names; to us, the process is as easy as reordering protein powder on Amazon.

If you’re new to the game, though, we know it’s not quite so easy (yet!).

There are literally thousands of domain name registrars (the companies you “register” your domain name with) and from the outside, most look pretty much the same.

But, like each and every one of us, it’s what’s on the inside that counts (twinkly eyes).

And on the inside, there are some big differences worth knowing about.

Never. Fear. As. Usual. Fam.

We’ve got your back with here with our list of reviews of the best domain registrars.

Let’s get jumpin.

best domain registrars

4.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 5/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 4/5
  • checkmark Support: 4.5/5
Google Domains Logo


Google Domains


4.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 5/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 5/5
  • checkmark Support: 4.5/5
BlueHost Logo




4 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 3/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 4.5/5
  • checkmark Support: 4.5/5
1and1 IONOS Hosting Logo




4 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 4/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 4/5
  • checkmark Support: 4/5
HostGator Logo




3.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 3/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 3.5/5
  • checkmark Support: 5/5 Logo


3.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 3/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 4/5
  • checkmark Support: 4.5/5 Logo


3.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 2/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 3/5
  • checkmark Support: 2.5/5

The 7 best domain registrars



4.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 5/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 4/5
  • checkmark Support: 4.5/5

Pricing Details

Initial price for a .com + privacy: $9.06 | Renewal price for a .com + privacy: $13.16

Pros & Cons


  • One of the cheapest in the industry
  • Domain privacy included!
  • Fully loaded domain management portal


  • Upsells, that’s really most of what brought them down
  • No phone support; chat is top notch so not a huge deal but we like to see it
Try Namecheap Now

Pricing: 5/5

namecheap domain pricing

Namecheap gets a full 5/5 on price because it’s one of the cheapest around!

The only domain registrar that offers a cheaper first-year price is 1and1 with their basically unbeatable $1 offer.

BUT 1and1 jumps to $15 after that, which is fine but higher than Namecheap’s $13 and some change.

Domain privacy is always free which we love because that’s a gotta have.

One of the weird things we saw was that Namecheap adds an “ICANN fee,” which we assume other registrars just include in their price since Namecheap was the only one to explicitly charge for this.

But, it’s only $0.18 cents so not a big deal there, they’re still uber cheap.

Unlike a lot of the other registrars we found, which typically only offer a discount on your first year of registration whether you sign up for multiple years or not, Namecheap seems to offer discounts for getting multiple years at once.

If you register your domain for multiple years on your first checkout, you don’t get the lowest $8.88 price for all the years you sign up for, but it looks like you do get a lower discount than if you renew after your initial purchase.

When you renew, it’s $13.16 for one year, but you’ll get a discount if you renew for more years, as low as $12.76 with a 5-year renewal.

Finally, transferring your domain to another registrar is free (as was the case with every registrar we reviewed).

Transferring a domain from another registrar to Namecheap will cost you one year’s registration, but that will extend your current registration (so if you have 3 months left when you transfer into Namecheap, you’ll be good to go for 15 months after you pay the transfer fee/get your domain moved over).

Ease of Use: 4/5

namecheap domain hosting portal

Let’s look at Namecheap’s ease of use from a few angles:

Domain Search

Searching for domains is fast and easy, and they’ll offer a plethora of different TLDs for your domain in case the .com is taken.

They also offer a “Beast Mode” that lets you bulk enter up to 5,000 domain ideas or keywords (if you’re really getting after it lol), check multiple TLDs, and get variations on your initial domain ideas (eg if you search for “” they’ll suggest “”).

Purchase Process

There were upsells on both the initial search page (when you add a domain to your cart), and on the first page of the checkout process.

That, combined with the 5-steps needed to complete your checkout (which is more than average), cost Namecheap some points here.

Look and Feel

The main Namecheap site looks great, when you get inside the domain hosting portal it looks good enough but there were a few rough edges (blurry graphics, 2008 style buttons).

They also stick to their upselling guns, with tabs for managing your products (hey, you should buy more than just your domains here), and upgrades like “Premium DNS” (probably not worth it for most of us).

Other than that, you’ve got all the domain management controls you’d want, plus a few extras like:

  • You can add years to your registration ahead of time.
  • You can easily setup email forwarding and domain redirects (instead of having to update DNS records yourself, though you can do that with Namecheap too).
  • You can add “domain managers” which is handy if you want to have other people like virtual assistants manage this stuff for you in the future
  • You can get a transfer code online, no need to call in support if you want to move your domain
  • You can enable DNSSEC (adds some extra protection to your domain)
  • You can also sell your domain through Namecheap too, might not be something you’ll do but nice to have, we didn’t see that feature with any other registrar.
  • And they have DNS templates for Shopify, Weebly, and Wix – so all the DNS records you need to change to get your domain working with those website builders is done automatically for you!

Finally, definitely make sure Autorenew is turned on – they didn’t automatically do that for us which is nice from a “not trying to automatically keep charging you” perspective but you won’t want your domain to expire.

Expiration Policy

If you do let your domain expire accidentally (because you’ve just got solid procrastination skills), they “may offer” a grace period of up to 42 days, but if you renew during that they’ll charge you an extra $88.88 on top of the usual renewal fee.

Support: 4.5/5

namecheap domain hosting portal

On the support front, Namecheap’s knowledge base is easy to navigate and looks great, with an extensive list of articles that are as thorough as they need to be.

We’ve seen some knowledge bases that have videos too which is nice but not needed (Namecheap doesn’t have them).

But they also have nice touches like article ratings (so you can let them know if they need to up their game), stats like number of views (so you don’t feel so dumb for not knowing the answer lol), as well as when the article was last updated (so you know it’s fresh).

AND they have comments on each article, so you can ask clarifying questions and get help from other Namecheap users.

If you’ve got a problem that needs some human help, you’ve got 24/7 live chat and tickets available.

When we chatted with their support we were connected to someone super fast, they responded with knowledgeable answers fast (top notch in our book).

Nice little notes were the ping noise when there was a response (because we like to do other website work instead of staring at chat boxes while we’re getting after it), and you can print or email a transcript of your chat incase you get into a sticky situation (“that’s not what Robert said at 3:45 pm on Friday, October 13th).

Try Namecheap Now

Google Domains

Google Domains Logo

Google Domains

4.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 5/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 5/5
  • checkmark Support: 4.5/5

Pricing Details

Initial price for a .com + privacy: $12.00 | Renewal price for a .com + privacy: $12.00

Pros & Cons


  • Consistent pricing: always $12, free domain privacy
  • From checkout to managing domains – the whole process is easy and looks fantastic
  • Zero upsells!


  • Google will know that much more about you; not good for the privacy conscious website creator
  • Chat support wasn’t 100, but we’d feel confident working with them to solve pretty much any problem
Try Google Domains Now

Pricing: 5/5

google domains pricing

Google’s not the cheapest domain registrar for the first year…

But they are the cheapest to renew with, and their pricing is simple and straightforward: $12 a year, every year, domain privacy included.

No fees to transfer your domain out to another registrar, the same $12 one year registration fee to transfer in and that gets added on to any time you have left on your current registration.

Bottom line: 5/5.

Ease of Use: 5/5

google domains hosting portal

Look, it’s Google, so we figured Google Domains would look amazing and be easy to use.

And we were right!

Domain Search

Fast and clean, Google’s domain search offers related suggestions (variations on your initial domain name idea), as well as a ton of TLD extensions.

And you can filter that list by relevance, name A-Z, price, only see options for certain TLDs, only see available names, and set price limits.

Oh and you can favorite domains for later.


Purchase Process

Zero upsells, just two pages: enter your details, confirm your order.


Look and Feel

It’s GOOGLE, of course it looks awesome.

And their domain hosting portal is easy to navigate and understand, with all the features you’ll need like changing DNS records, nameservers, etc.

You can also share your domain so others can help you manage it, add additional years to your registration if you want, enable DNSSEC, get a transfer code online, and there’s easy email and domain forwarding.

Expiration Policy

IF you happen to ignore our constant advice to turn on auto-renew, Google’s got a straightforward expiration policy:

  • 30 day grace period: you can renew at no additional cost.
  • From 30-60 days, you might be able to renew but it’ll cost you extra.
  • After day 61, your domain will be deleted and anyone can buy it.

Support: 4.5/5

google domains support

knowledge base… it’s f-ing Google (translation: it’s top notch best in the biz you will find answers to just about anything).

If you’ve gotta get some other humans in on the problem-solving action, you’ve got 24/7 chat, call, and email.

One nice note on the calls: to talk on the phone, you just request a call back (they’ll let you know the estimated wait time) – no waiting on hold!

When we talked to their support, we got the answers we were looking for but there was a bit of confusion.

We asked about the fee for transferring a domain out of Google, our support gal said there was one, but it turns out that she meant there was a fee for transferring in.

Understandable so not many points off, but other support folks got our meaning the first time.

Try Google Domains Now


BlueHost Logo


4 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 3/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 4.5/5
  • checkmark Support: 4.5/5

Pricing Details

Initial price for a .com + privacy: $23.87 | Renewal price for a .com + privacy: $32.87

Pros & Cons


  • Super clean and easy to understand interface
  • Free domain for a year when you get hosting through them


  • Privacy is extra
  • Renewal costs are a bit high
  • Support could be a bit friendlier
Try Bluehost Now

Pricing: 3/5

bluehost domain pricing

Bluehost is in on the higher end of pricing, but not in the realm of outrageous.

They don’t advertise that the first year of both your domain registration and domain privacy is discounted, which is nice from a “not pushing too hard” standpoint.

Registration itself isn’t too bad at $11.99, but privacy isn’t free – you’ll have to drop an extra $11.88 for that.

After that, you’ll pay $17.99 for renewal and $14.88 for privacy, which starts to get towards the high end of costs and there’s no option to register for multiple years the first time to get a discount for longer.

Also worth noting, if you get your hosting from Bluehost, you’ll get your first year for free!

Transfers out are free as usual, and you’ll pay the renewal cost to transfer your domain into Bluehost.

On that last part, Bluehost support told us that transferring in resets your registration date, meaning if you have 3 months left on your registration, you’ll lose that when you transfer in (so you’ll have 12 months left after transferring instead of 15).

Based on how the other hosts handle that (the registration fee you pay to transfer a domain in extends your registration by a year), we’re not sure that’s true, but that’s what we were told…

Ease of Use: 4.5/5 

bluehost domain hosting portal

Bluehost as a company operates at a pretty high level, let’s see how that translates to buying and managing domain names with them:

Domain Search

Searching for domain names with Bluehost is fast, though it could look a little better.

And they do offer some other TLDs and domain name ideas, but the amount is more limited than with other registrars.

Purchase Process

Once you’ve found your domain, it’s automatically added to your cart (along with domain name privacy) and there’s a big obvious “buy now” button to get the checkout train rolling.

That button takes you to the one upsell page (offering Microsoft Office email), then it’s just one more page to enter your info and your set.


Look and Feel

Once you’re inside, Bluehost’s domain hosting portal is super clean and fresh.

You could even say it’s “so fresh and so clean” if you want to reminisce the mid-2000s, though you’ll have to do that from your own memories because Bluehost looks very late-2010s (it’s for the best).

Transfers and managing your renewal settings are both easy to find, understand, and adjust, as are managing redirects, parked domains (ones you don’t have tied to a website), and adding subdomains.

We did have to dig a bit to find the pages where you can update your nameservers and DNS records, not super smooth but they were findable.

Expiration Policy

Digging through Bluehost’s domain name registration terms of service, here’s what we found:

  • They might get rid of your domain name anytime after it expires.
  • At 31 days, it’ll be available to be purchased buy someone else
  • At 44 days, it’ll enter a 30-day redemption grace period – if it wasn’t already bought by someone else, you can re-register but you’ll likely be charged a $70 fee on top of regular renewal costs.

Support: 4.5/5

bluehost cheap domain names support

Bluehost has been at the top of the hosting game for a while, so as expected their knowledge base is extensive, easy to search, and has tons of helpful articles – some of which include videos!! [heart eyes]

24/7 call, chat, and ticket to get a human. Solid.

When we reached out to chat support, they joined fast and checked to verify our ownership of the account (a nice extra bit of security not all domain registrars had).

When getting into the chat, though, we wanted more.

Responses started to feel like they were coming slower – there wasn’t a terribly long wait, but we felt it.

The conversation started off friendly enough but took a bit of a turn; there wasn’t a point where they felt out and out rude and we so appreciate that being a customer support person can mean some tough days, but we like to feel like we’re not a bother to help out even if we’re asking tougher questions.

Try Bluehost Now


HostGator Logo


3.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 3/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 3.5/5
  • checkmark Support: 5/5

Pricing Details

Initial price for a .com + privacy: $27.90 | Renewal price for a .com + privacy: $32.94

Pros & Cons


  • Support was super helpful
  • Free domain name when you sign up for hosting


  • Have to use Cpanel to manage more advanced things like DNS records
  • Prices are reasonable but on the high end
Try HostGator Now

Pricing: 3/5

hostgator domain pricing

HostGator’s domain pricing is toward the higher end like Bluehost, but not at insane levels.

You’ll get your first year for $12.95 plus $14.95 for domain privacy.

After that, privacy renews at the same cost but domain registration jumps a bit to $17.99 per year.

You can register for multiple years at checkout, but you’ll only get the discount for the first year.

And like a lot of domain registrars that also offer hosting, you’ll get a year’s registration free when you sign up for hosting.

Transfer fees were interesting compared to the other domain name registrars.

There’s no fee to transfer out as always, to transfer in you’ll pay $7.95.

That’s a lower cost to transfer than other registrars that charge the cost of registration renewal which is a plus, but that doesn’t cover any registration renewal – if your domain expires in 11 months, it’ll still expire in 11 months; if it expires in 3, it’ll still expire in 3.

Ease of Use: 3.5/5

hostgator domain hosting portal

Let’s dig into HostGator’s ease of use:

Domain Search

Searching for a domain name was pretty fast and the page where you start looks pretty slick. The page where it takes you, though… 

Kind of 2007.

On top of not looking the greatest, which is forgivable, it wasn’t that easy to use too.

It offered TLDs besides the “.com” we searched for, but they were in a slider at the top of the page and that wasn’t easy to scan through.

The “Other ideas” only showed variations on the domain name, but all .com (eg “” in a search for “”).

Useable for sure but some points off here.

Purchase Process

Simple three step process with no upsells is a plus, but we had to create an account before checking out (whereas other registrars handle that after the checkout process to keep things super easy).

Look and Feel

Their domain management platform looks super slick and it’s easy to use.

Here you’ll be able to update your contact info, domain name privacy, and manage your auto-renew settings.

BUT in order to do more advanced things like make changes to your DNS records (which you’d need to do in order to use things like CDNs, setup a professional email address through Gmail using your domain with your domain name, forward your domain name or email, etc. 

Cpanel’s a bit more complex to use for beginners…

And you won’t get access to it if you don’t have hosting with them, meaning you’ll have to contact support to get them to update your DNS records if you just get a domain name through them. Extra hassle for sure.

Also, you have to contact them for a transfer code if you want to move your domain to another registrar which isn’t ideal.

Expiration Policy

We dug through their terms of service to find some mention of this and didn’t find anything clear, only that you might get charged an extra fee to renew after expiration.

Not the most confidence inspiring, sure, but you should have auto-renew turned on anyway!

Support: 5/5

hostgator domain support

HostGator’s knowledge base is extensive and super helpful – including video explanations (which we know yall love).

24/7 phone and live chat, good to go on the “talk to a human” front.

When we reached out via chat, the support guy offered a couple of knowledge base articles related to our question before we got into it which was nice; sometimes people don’t search the knowledge base first (which we may or may not be guilty of sometimes).

We didn’t get connected right away and when we did the responses felt a bit slow.

BUT our man was very helpful and friendly, he even added extra info for context around how domain transfers work on top of answering the question directly – which is super valuable if you’re trying to learn everything you can about the pro website making game!

Try HostGator Now


1and1 IONOS Hosting Logo


4 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 4/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 4/5
  • checkmark Support: 4/5

Pricing Details

Initial price for a .com + privacy: $1.00 | Renewal price for a .com + privacy: $15.00

Pros & Cons


  • The cheapest domain name registration (for the first year, not too bad after that)
  • Free domain privacy
  • One of the easiest to use


  • More upselling than most of the other best domain registrars
  • Knowledge base could be easier to search, chat support wasn’t the smoothest
Try 1&1 Now

Pricing: 4/5

1and1 ionos domain pricing

When it comes to the first year cost, 1&1 cannot be beat: it’s free if you also get hosting, even if you don’t, you’re only out a buck.

And that includes free domain name privacy!

After that, it’ll be $15 a year, privacy is still free, which is not as cheap as a couple of other registrars but still pretty cheap.

Transfers-wise, it’s another case of free to transfer out and just pay the cost of renewal to transfer in (and extend your existing registration).

Ease of Use: 4/5 

1and1 ionos domain hosting portal

On the ease of use front:

Domain Search

Simple enough to describe: fast, clean, solid amount of domain name suggestions.

Purchase Process

Here’s where the points were lost in this category – 1 and 1 takes the “upsell king” crown.

The checkout process was 5 steps because they had not one page dedicated to upsells, plus more/different upsells when confirming your cart.

Then you have to create an account before you can register.

Not so hot.

Look and Feel

Their website and domain hosting portal are all clean; they don’t feel quite as fresh as Bluehost or Google but they’re close enough that we’ll call them good to go there.

Once you’re inside the domain management portal, though, it’s pretty smooth sailing – all the registration info, DNS record changes, and email forwarding features you’ll want are included and easy to get to.

Expiration Policy

If you let one go only to realize you love her, here’s what to expect (we’re talking about domain names just to be clear):

  • For the first 30 days, you can renew at the normal price.
  • On day 31, they can sell your domain or cancel it.
  • On day 45, you can get your domain back for an additional fee if it’s not be sold to someone else.

Support: 4/5

1and1 ionos cheap domains support

1&1’s knowledge base is extensive and the articles are helpful, though some were a bit hard to find.

If you want a human you’ve got one with 24/7 chat and phone support.

Nice bonuses – you can schedule a call if you don’t want to wait on hold, and you can get a “personal consultant” (which we haven’t tried but seems like a dedicated support person so you’ve got one guy/gal to go to when you need help).

For our test chat, we were connected right away which is nice.

And the support person offered to start the transfer process (we were asking about how transferes worked), which is nice to know is an option if you don’t want to do something like that yourself.

But it felt like we had to wait a bit for responses and that our support person had some trouble understanding the questions we asked; it got figured out so not terrible but could have been smoother.

Try 1&1 Now Logo


2.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 2/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 3/5
  • checkmark Support: 2.5/5

Pricing Details

Initial price for a .com + privacy: $16.00 | Renewal price for a .com + privacy: $52.00

Pros & Cons


  • You can buy a domain name from them


  • Insane renewal cost ($52/year including privacy)
  • Support is lackluster
  • Domain management portal isn’t easy to use. And there are ads.
DONT’T Try Now

Pricing: 2/5 domains pricing

Ooof. Pricing was not so fun with

It started when looking at the domain search results page, where you usually see how much you’ll pay to register your domain name.

Nothing, just add to cart buttons.

A bit weird, but then you get into the checkout process and see it’s just $5 to register your domain.

Oh, awesome!

But domain privacy is an extra $11.

Oh, okay, still not too bad, that’s on the cheaper end.

Where you’d run into trouble, if we didn’t have your backs, if we didn’t get our hands dirty digging into the details of the best, most popular domain registrars around, is renewal.

Domain privacy, add an extra $3 to renew ($14 total).

Not great, okay.

But to renew your domain…


Holy sh*t!

That’s more than any other registrar around; to renew your domain and privacy with you’ll get set back $52 a year.

That’s… That’s just not okay.

As far as transfers go, we couldn’t find a cost.

Normally we’d ask support…

See below for more on that.

Ease of Use: 3/5 domain hosting portal

Is there any hope for on the ease of use front?

Domain Search

When you search for your initial domain idea, sometimes it’s taken.

Which is why all domain registrars offer a few other options; maybe one of them is better anyway. does this, but there weren’t many alternatives suggested.

They do have a bulk tool where you can enter up to 50 domain names into, so if you come up with a bunch of domain name ideas off the top of your head you can check them all at once.

Purchase Process

It’s just a 3 step process to sign up…

Plus 4 upsell pages.

7 pages to register. Not good.

Look and Feel

The checkout pages and domain hosting portal look 2008 (insert Black Eyed Peas joke here).

It took us a couple of clicks to find the page where we can manage our domain settings, but they were on point with making it super easy to renew for $52 freaking dollars with a big button right on the homepage.

And there are ads in the dashboard. Come on y’all.

You can change nameservers and get a transfer code online (because you’ll want to transfer your domain out pretty fast) – relatively easy.

It’s technically possible to change your DNS records but figuring out how to do that was more confusing than other domain registrars.

Icing on this not so tasty cake: you have to email them to disable auto-renew.


Expiration Policy

Nothing clear from reading their TOS.

They do offer “Domain Expiration Protection” for $9.96.

This doesn’t renew your domain automatically but “secures” it for a year if it expires.

So it seems like you won’t be able to use a domain that is protected but expires on a live website, but at under $10 it won’t go to someone else for a lower cost than just renewing at another registrar.

Probably not worth the hassle to save a couple of bucks though (and risk getting charged $52 by

Support: 2.5/5 domain support

On the knowledge base front, there are tours and tutorials.

Those might be helpful but they require flash to play and, like most people, we don’t have flash anymore because this isn’t 2009 (what up OG Youtube!).

And their knowledge base is on – they’re owned by the same company, but that’s weird/confusing.

And when we were looking for domain help there were references to “network solutions” – another company owned by the parent company that owns and

Definitely weird/confusing.

If you want human help, you can email them whenever.

But you can only call 9 am – 12 am Monday through Friday, 9 am – 10 pm Saturday and Sunday.

That’s most of the hours in 24/7, sure.

But no live chat, which is kind of a deal breaker.

You might miss that if you’re just glancing through the site, though, because there is a “chat” button.

But it just lets you search through the knowledge base.

It’s not a way to talk to a person.

It’s not even a bot.


DONT’T Try Now Logo

3.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Price: 3/5
  • checkmark Ease of Use: 4/5
  • checkmark Support: 4.5/5

Pricing Details

Initial price for a .com + privacy: $18.98 | Renewal price for a .com + privacy: $22.98

Pros & Cons


  • Solid knowledge base articles
  • Domain hosting portal is pretty easy to use


  • Domain Privacy isn’t free
Try Now

Pricing: 3/5 domains pricing

Pricing’s pretty find and straightforward with, not the most expensive, not the cheapest domain registration.

$9.99 for your first year, $13.99 after that, privacy is extra at a stead $8.99/year.

There’s no fee to transfer from to another registrar, it’s $13.99 (the registration renewal fee) to transfer in.

Interestingly, there’s also no fee when you transfer to one of their “sister companies” (as the support guy called them) – meaning those companies won’t charge you to transfer to them from

That list includes,,, and more.

Ease of Use: 4/5 domain hosting portal is easy enough to use!

Domain Search

Search is fast and easy and provides a good few extra options if choice numero uno isn’t available.

Purchase Process

Just 2 steps, which includes one upsell page.

Look and Feel

The site looks just a bit dated but overall pretty solid.

Edit DNS Records/Nameservers, renew, transfers (done online), add subdomains – all the usual stuff is there and easy to get to in their domain hosting portal.

Worth noting there’s no email forwarding option (some of the best registrars have it, others don’t) but you can do that with DNS records.

They do offer easy domain redirects including stealth redirects which is nice.

What that means is this: say you have “” and you want to redirect anyone who visits that domain to “”

With a stealth redirect, anyone who goes to “” will still see that in their browser’s address bar, even though they’re technically on “”

This is a fancy feature you probably don’t need but cool to have it.

Expiration Policy

No extra grace periods or anything – if you let your domain expire, she’s out in the wild.

Support: 4.5/5 support’s knowledge base is solid – looks good, well organized, easy to search, and their articles have helpful images in addition to their detailed explanations.

Phone and live chat 24/7 – good to go there.

In looking at the live chat, they offer some “what are you looking for” options before connecting you with a support hombre.

Sometimes that’s helpful for getting the right support person but none of the options felt right for our questions about transfer fees so we just guessed.

When we were getting connected, the chat window said it’d be a 5-minute wait to connect.

Nice that there was some expectation setting there, also nice that it didn’t take anywhere near that long (we were chatting in less than a minute).

The support guy we got connected with seemed knowledgeable on the details, but had some trouble understanding our questions; kind of understandable because we were talking about transfers in, transfers out, transfers to their “sister companies,” – we can see how it’d get a bit confusing but other registrars figured it out easily enough.

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What is a domain name?

Guessing you know the low down here but just as a quick refresher because we know URLs, websites, hosting, domain names – it can all get a bit confusing.

Domain names are (ideally) easy to remember words or phrases ending in things like .com, .net, .org, .co, etc. that make it easy for people to find and go to websites.

If you think of the internet as a series of streets that go around the world, your website is your house, your domain name is the address that people use to Google maps it over to you to join the party.

If you want to know more/get a bigger refresher, we’ve got a big ol’ guide covering the “what is a domain name” question here.

And if you just want to jump to the finding/buying a domain part of the process, check out our free domain name generator!

What is a domain name registrar?

what is a registrar old school book registry

It’s pretty simple really, at least at a high level (which is all you really need to know).

A domain name registrar is a company that lets you purchase and register domain names.

All domain name records are stored in a centralized database called a registry, which is managed by the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

For a domain name to be recognized and usable, it needs to be added to this database which is way too much work for people like us to do.

Plus ICANN doesn’t want the hassle of doing all that work to register domain names themselves.

So they authorize domain name registrars to register domain names and make changes to the registry for us.

These companies then provide tools to make registering and making changes easy, and compete with each other to win our business (which means better service and better prices for us!).

How to buy a domain name (what to look for)

best domain registrars what to look for

So how the heck do you know what to look for when you’re ready to buy a domain name from a registrar?

Well, starting with this guide was definitely the right step 1 for 2 reasons:

  1. We’ve narrowed down the list to some of the best and most popular domain name registrars
  2. We’re about to tell you a few things you should have in mind when you’re making your choice.

Because there’s so much competition in the domain registration space, you’ll come across all sorts of different offers and features.

Price is definitely a factor…

But there’s more to life (and domain name registration) than money friends!

(Steps down from soapbox).

Some of this info can be a bit hard to track down…

Luckily we did the dirty work for you in our reviews, but just for your edification:

Does the registrar have the Top-level domain you’re looking for?

Without going all the way into the deep dive, the top-level domain is the part that comes after the “.” at the end of your domain name.

Some of the most popular TLDs include:

  1. .com
  2. .net
  3. .org
  4. .info
  5. .co
  6. .io
  7. .me
  8. .us
  9. .xyz
  10. .biz
  11. .tv
  12. .club

You basically always want the .com if you can get it.

But everyone knows that so a lot of people have snapped up a lot of .com domains, either because they think they’ll use it someday or they think you’ll pay them a lot of money (like hundreds or thousands of dollars) to buy it off of them.

Probably don’t do that.

In most cases, we’d recommend nabbing the .co if the .com is taken, or the .net, maybe the .biz or .me.

In these cases, pretty much all of the best domain registrars will let you buy/register them, so you’re probably fine here.

But if you want one of the super fancy new TLDs like .xyz or .club, you’ll need to do a quick search to see if the domain registrar you’re looking to use can register it for you.

How much is this domain name going to cost you?

Once you know a domain registrar has you on the TLD front, it’s time to see how many $$ it’s gonna cost you to nab.

First, it’s important to note: registrars are middlemen between you and the ICANN domain registry that holds the information about your domain (that you own it, a few other things).

The people who maintain the registry set a certain price for that service, and every registrar pays them and charges you extra on top.

But it’s all the same product – as long as the registrar itself is reputable (isn’t a fly by night money grab that will shutdown as soon as you blink), they’re all offering the same basic thing in registration.

There are a few differences in the service (which we’ll talk about more below), but one registration isn’t “better” than the next.

So when you’re looking at prices, if one domain name registrar charges more but doesn’t offer an easier user experience or better support, all you’re doing working with them is spending more money.

Now when it comes to price, most domain registrars will offer a lower price for the first year of your registration than following years.

You’ll be able to register your domain name for a minimum of a year, some registrars will let you register for up to 10 years.

When you’re buying a new domain, we recommend registering it for just the one year.

In most cases we’ve seen, you don’t get a discount for registering multiple years in advance, and if you really get into the website game you’re definitely going to buy a lot of domains that you won’t actually need a year or two later ( seemed like such a great idea once upon a time).

In general, domain names are pretty cheap when it comes to stuff you’ll spend money on to build your website.

Sometimes you’ll find .com domains for as little as $1-2 a year, sometimes they’re free when you buy hosting as well.

Usually you’ll spend somewhere between $10-15 for a .com, other niche TLDs like .co or .biz can cost more.

Sometimes you’ll see domain names for hundreds or thousands of dollars.

What’s happened here is someone else thought a body like you might want to have that domain name someday, so they bought it in advance thinking they’d sell it to you for a proverbial mint.

Don’t buy these. Just come up with another name, for real, unless your at least 98.67% sure you’ve found the perfect business opportunity that absolutely needs that $10,000 domain to succeed.

Final note: because of the way the registration process works, you won’t be able to get a refund for your domain name purchase.

BUT you can transfer from one registrar to another (more on that below).

Watch out for hidden fees and price jumps

A lot of domain registrars do business like cable companies – you get a nice juicy discount when you sign up, then after that you “renew” at the “regular” price.

It’s not always the case, but fairly common so put it in the “sort of sketchy but not really” category.

The key thing is that you know about the price jumps and what they are before you sign up to avoid a very unpleasant surprise.

We looked into this for you in our reviews below (spoiler: one of the domain registrars that made our “best” list because of its popularity had a jaw dropping price jump).

On top of the after-the-initial-discount price jump, it’s important to watch out for hidden or additional.

The most common additional fee we saw was for WHOIS privacy protection (more on that below).

Other than that, most registrars we reviewed didn’t charge anything more than the price they listed on their main search page.

BUT a lot of them offered add-on services we didn’t need; none of the ones that made our best list tried to automatically sign us up for these additional costs, but some less honest domain registrars might.

Figuring out the renewal cost is a bit trickier (we checked for you in our reviews below, after we bought domain names from each registrar; you might be able to ask customer support about this before you buy for other registrars).

But getting the scoop on additional fees is relatively easy.

For most registrars, you’ll search for your domain name, add it to your cart, then go through the checkout process like anything else you buy online.

At some point during this, they’ll have to show you the full and final price – just make sure that lines up with what you were expecting before smashing that “purchase” button.

Remember to turn on automatic renewal

Re: register your domain for one year at a time, every registrar will have an auto-renewal setting that will automatically… renew… your domain name when it expires.

Most will automatically turn this on, we’ve found one or two that didn’t, so just double check once you buy your domain to make sure you don’t accidentally lose it.

But also double check the renewal cost (re: price jumps) to make sure you want to stick with that registrar; if not you’ll want to transfer your domain to another registrar before it expires.

Whether you turn auto-renewal on or off, every registrar will send you reminder emails and confirmations as the date of your domain’s expiration approaches (they’re required to do this by ICANN).

And if you forget to both turn on auto-renew and miss those emails, some registrars have “grace periods” where you can get your domain back for the cost of renewal plus a fee.

We looked into these for our domain name registrar reviews and…

Just turn on auto-renew. It gets way too complicated (and expensive) if you don’t.

From purchasing to managing, the process should be easy

The best domain registrars get the easier they make your life, the more likely you’ll register your domain through them (and keep it there).

Some registrars don’t quite get this.

Compared to something like hosting, there won’t be too many things you’ll need to do to manage your domain name once everything’s setup.

But to set it up, and sometimes when you’re making changes to your site, you’ll need to do things like update nameservers (where internet servers/web browsers look to find the IP address your domain name is associated with), change DNS records, and you might want to transfer your domain name at some point.

All of this should be easy to do through your registrar’s domain hosting portal.

This stuff isn’t really possible to figure out until you’ve purchased a domain name from a registrar…

But we’ve got your back for the domain registrars we reviewed for our best of list!

On top of that, when you’re buying your domain name, well that process should be easy and beginner friendly too.

Every registrar will have a domain name search tool – that should be easy and helpful for finding related names in case your first idea was taken.

And their checkout process should be easy too, without a lot of hassle trying to dig through upsells.

Customer Support should be solid

We’ve pretty much never had to contact our domain registrar’s support in our collective experience here at Create a Pro Website.

Maybe once or twice when we had to contact them to do a transfer.

But, also, we’ve been doing this a while and figured a lot of it out through reading posts like this.

Maybe you don’t want to spend hours digging through the interwebs trying to figure out what every DNS record means though.

And sometimes in the website world, you actually can’t find the answers to your problems on the internet (shocking, we know, we’re trying to combat that here).

Whether you just want a fast answer from someone who knows what they’re talking about and can look at your specific account or problem, or you’re facing some spectacularly unique can’t find the answer on Google challenge, you’ll want solid support.

First step is their knowledge base – it should be easy to search through and offer helpful answers.

Beyond that, most of the best domain registrars will at least offer live chat 24/7.

Phone support is nice to have too, in case it’s pretty complicated to explain what you need via text.

And a lot of times the support folks can do things for you, so you’ll want them to be tech savvy so they can both understand/figure out your problem but also fix it without breaking things further.

For some domain registrars, you might be able to test out their tech support ahead of time by asking a few questions you have, some you might not

We talked to support for our reviews to give you our impression of those that made our list.

Add-on Services

While you might only need a domain name, many of the best domain name registrars offer other products/services as well.

These might include:

  • Domain privacy (this one basically always)
  • Web hosting (a lot do, not always)
  • Professional Email (a lot do, not always)
  • SSL Certificates
  • Website builders
  • Ecommerce tools
  • SEO services
  • Email marketing

TBH besides web hosting and email, we don’t usually care about these things and you probably shouldn’t either – often times there are better options from companies that are dedicated to making awesome products/services in those categories and the ones your domain registrar offers aren’t that useful.

Whether you decide to get any addons or not, be sure to make sure none of those addons are automatically added to your cart “for you” during checkout.

Except for domain privacy/WHOIS protection (more on that below).

Also on hosting…

You might want to keep your domain name and hosting separate

Basically every web hosting service (including the ones on our list of best web hosting providers) will let you buy a domain name from them.

Some of the domain registrars on our list below are actually mostly known for their hosting!

For sure, it’s easier to get your domain setup with your web hosting if you get them at the same time from the same company.

A few will also offer free domains for a year when you buy hosting and we do love a deal that’s “free.”


  1. A lot of times if it’s free the first year, the host is going to charge you a lot more to renew your registration after that (more than free obviously, but also more than other domain registrars will charge you to renew).
  2. If the domain isn’t free for the first year, you might be able to get it cheaper from another registrar than the company you’re getting hosting from.
  3. It’s a bit more secure: if one account gets hacked, all of your website building eggs aren’t in one basket.
  4. Though it’s a bit more technically complicated to set up hosting and a domain that are each with separate companies, it’s not that hard and you’ll probably only have to do it once.

Ultimately, though, it’s up to you. If you want to take the easier route here, we don’t blame you.

And if you do decide to get that free domain name (because we probably would want it too), you can always transfer your domain name out of your hosting account later.

Which leads us nicely into…

Domain Transfers

Domains can actually be transferred between registrars!

A couple of things to note here.

Firstly, you won’t be able to do that during the first 60 days after a new registration, after that, transfer as much as you want.

Most registrars won’t charge you to transfer your domain out to another registrar, pretty much all of them will charge you a fee to transfer a domain in (usually the cost of one year of registration though they vary – see our domain registrar reviews below for info on their transfer fees).

Most of the best registrars also make it easy to transfer your domain out should you choose to leave them in the proverbial dust – there’s just a couple of steps that you can do through their domain hosting portal to get it all done.

Always opt into domain privacy

ICANN requires some sort of contact information to be connected with your domain name as part of the registration process.

By default, this information is yours and it’s publically available using a “WHOIS Lookup” tool (Google “whois lookup [insert your favorite website here]” to see what we mean).

That information includes:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address

The problem: while most people don’t care enough to do this for your site or any site, spammers do.

And we’ve gotten the emails and phone calls to prove it.

That’s where Domain Privacy/Whois Privacy comes in.

With this, your domain registrar will include their contact details instead of yours.

They eat the spam, so you don’t have to.

Definitely get this. It’s the one “addon” that’s always worth it.

Some of the best domain registrars will include this for free, the rest will typically charge about $12/year for it.

Our domain name registrar review process

review process graphic

On the face of it, most domain registration companies are pretty similar.

But we go beyond the face, we take our scalpels to the face and dig into the meaty goodness beneath (yum).

Cannibalism jokes aside, we covered the general things for you to be aware of when buying a domain name above, which we looked at as well.

But, for the sake of transparency and to give you a bit of further insight into what you’ll want to look at and how we got to our ratings, here are the categories we used to rate each registar and what we looked at for each.


Like we mentioned multiple times now (including with a juicy, gory analogy), domain registrars are all pretty similar.

So while in the grand scheme of things you won’t be spending a ton on domain registration and for the most part the prices aren’t too different, this is still a key decision factor for choosing the best domain name registrar for you.

But we didn’t just look at the publically available pricing tables on each registrar’s website. You can do that on your own because you’re a smart cookie.

We dug deeper, so you don’t have to.

To rate each registrar based on price we looked at not only the first year price but the first year price INCLUDING domain privacy.

Because you really need that.

And we also bought domains with each registrar and looked at the renewal price for both the domain and privacy, because those do change and that’s not something you can easily find out before you buy.

We then gave each domain registrar a 1-5 rating based on both the initial price + privacy and the renewal price + privacy.

Ease of Use

You can start to get a sense of ease of use just by looking at a domain name registrar’s website and their domain name search and checkout process.


We bought a domain name with each registrar so we could take a look at the backend too, then we gave them each an “ease of use” rating based on:

  • How easy/useful their domain name search is (is it fast, do they give you a lot of good options if your first choice is taken?)
  • How easy their checkout process is (not a ton of steps/form fields)
  • How many upsells they throw into their checkout process (because we don’t want those)
  • How their domain hosting/management portal looks (because looking good = feeling good)
  • How easy it was to change settings you might need like DNS records, nameservers, and making transfers (you might only need to do this once, but it shouldn’t take you 5 years to figure out how to do it; that’s longer than your domain name’s registered for!)


Finally, we rated each domain registrar based on how solid their support is.

You probably won’t need it, but if you do you’ll want it to be fast and tasty (“helpful” for the non-cannibals out there; okay this joke is definitely played out).

Three things we looked for:

  • Knowledge base quality (is it easy to find answers to questions, are the help articles actually helpful)
  • Support channels available (phone, email, live chat; are they open 24/7 for those 1am website building sessions)
  • Support helpfulness (we asked a couple of questions via live chat to see how fast/friendly/smart their tech support people are)

Best Web Hosting Services
The Definitive Guide [2020]

Best Web Hosting Services Featured Image

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Nov. 8, 2019


Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this fully-packed, step-by-step guide, you’ll learn what the Best Website Builders are. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
  • Time To Complete:
    45 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    Working Knowledge

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

If your gonna have a pro website, your gonna need pro hosting. Here’s how to find the best.

Looking for the best web hosting services to get your pro website game on?

We’ve got your back fam!

In this here monster post, we cover everything you need to know about the what, why, and how of web hosting so you can pick the best one for you – without spending a million hours sorting through feature lists and taking advantage of moneyback guarantees to try a bunch out.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover so let’s jump in, starting a list of our favorite web hosting providers.

best web hosting services

The best website hosting services and companies


4.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 4/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 4.5/5
  • checkmark Support: 5/5
  • checkmark Price: 5/5
Hostgator Logo




4.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 4/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 5/5
  • checkmark Support: 4/5
  • checkmark Price: 4/5




4 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 4/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 4.5/5
  • checkmark Support: 3.5/5
  • checkmark Price: 4/5
1&1 IONOS Logo


1&1 Ionos


4 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 3.5/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 3.5/5
  • checkmark Support: 4/5
  • checkmark Price: 5/5
InMotion Hosting Logo




4 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 3/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 5/5
  • checkmark Support: 4.5/5
  • checkmark Price: 4/5
SiteGround Hosting Logo




3.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 4/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 3.5/5
  • checkmark Support: 4/5
  • checkmark Price: 3/5

The 6 best web hosting sites and companies


Best All-Around for Beginners





4.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 4/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 4.5/5
  • checkmark Support: 5/5
  • checkmark Price: 5/5

Checklist Items


Domains: 6 (1 free) | Number of Sites: 1 | Email Accounts: 0 | Bandwidth: Unlimited | Storage: 50 GB | SSL: Free | Money-Back Guarantee: 30 Days | WordPress: One-Click Install and Hosting | Price for Cheapest Plan (One Year): $5.95/month</strong<>

Pros & Cons


  • Speed and uptime are solid
  • Both knowledge base and chat support rock
  • Best hosting management interface in the game


  • An uptime guarantee would be nice
  • No email included

Bottom Line

Solid speed, solid support, solid hosting management interface. The only reasons not to use Bluehost are if you want to have email included in your plan or you’re looking for the cheapest web hosting possible.

Try Bluehost Now

Speed/Uptime: 4.5/5

bluehost hosting speed uptime

With the second-fastest speed (663 ms) and 100% uptime in our early testing, Bluehost is looking pretty solid on this front.

A couple things to note, though:

  1. They have no Uptime guarantee. This isn’t great but we wouldn’t give them a red flag for it because most guarantees are either hard to get credit from and/or the amount of account credit you’ll get because a web hosting provider failed to meet their guaranteed isn’t very much (like cents back, maybe a dollar or two per occurrence).
  2. They specifically mention that, while bandwidth is unlimited, if you use an excessive amount they’ll give you a 48-hour notice to reduce your usage. Almost certainly not going to be an issue for you if you’re not using your hosting to store/share files (which you’re not allowed to do anyway) or something sketchy (find another host for your black market quilt trading site lol).

Support: 5/5

bluehost hosting support

As we were expecting (Bluehost has been at the top of the game for a while), their knowledge base is extensive, easy to search, and a lot of articles have helpful videos (yall know we love that)!

24/7 call and chat access to support people of course, when we reached out to see how they do our gal was super helpful – we asked how to update our WordPress database and she not only told us what to do, but offered to do it for us!

Features: 4/5

bluehost hosting management interface

Bluehost’s hosting management interface is definitely the slickest and most beginner-friendly in the game.

But it doesn’t compromise on functionality – everything you’ll want/need to do from DNS changes to database management can be done through it.

Biggest disappointment here was that email is not included.

You can buy Office 365 or G Suite email accounts, but we’d rather not pay for this service that’s pretty standard for hosting providers.

Extra features they offer:

  • Free
    • $100 Google/Microsoft Adwords credits
    • Resource protection – automatically isolates sites hogging resources on your shared server to save yours from slowing down
  • Paid
    • Sitelock Security ($1.99/month) extra protection monitoring, and fixing malware
    • Codeguard Daily Backups ($2.99/month)
    • SEO tools ($1.99/month)
    • Domain Privacy ($11.88/year)
    • G Suite ($6/month per email)
    • Office 365 ($4.99/month per email)
    • Blue Sky WordPress support ($29/month) – their experts provide fixes and guidance for building, probably better to get WordPress hosting and have access to people like this included.
    • Lots of additional extras in their marketplace

Price: 4/5

bluehost hosting pricing

While you’ll only get Bluehost’s best price of $3.95 when you sign up for 3 years, they’re right in the middle of the pack at $5.95 for your first year and the cost doesn’t get ridiculous after that.

  • Best Discount: $3.95, 36 months
  • One Year Discount: $5.95
  • Every Year After That: $7.99

Try Bluehost Now


Fastest Web Hosting





4.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 4/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 5/5
  • checkmark Support: 4.5/5
  • checkmark Price: 4/5

Checklist Items

Domains: 1 (free) | Number of Sites: 1 | Email Accounts: Unlimited | Bandwidth: Unlimited | Storage: Unlimited | SSL: Free | Money-Back Guarantee: 45 Days | WordPress: One-Click Install and Hosting | Price for Cheapest Plan (One Year): $5.95/month</strong<>

Pros & Cons


  • Fastest hosting we’ve tested
  • Unlimited storage, bandwidth, email accounts
  • Solid support and better than average money-back guarantee


  • Hosting management interface isn’t the most beginner-friendly

Bottom Line

If you want the fastest web hosting around without sacrificing uptime and reliability, HostGator’s got you. If you need the cheapest hosting or the most beginner-friendly experience, there are a couple of better options but we’d use HostGator any and every day (which we do!).

Try HostGator Now

Speed & Uptime: 5/5

hostgator hosting speed uptime

Fastest speed we tested (403 ms), 100% uptime with a 99.9% guarantee, no hidden bandwidth restrictions.

HostGator for the win!

Support: 4.5/5

hostgator hosting support

24/7 phone, live chat, email – yep.

The knowledgebase is extensive and super helpful (including video explanations) – check.

Support is fast, technically savvy, and pretty helpful – affirmative.

The first answer we got from them when asking our WordPress database question was a bit sideways – ya girl mentioned “temporary URLs” which is part of what we’d need to do what we were asking but not a direct answer.

But, we got the impression that we’d get it sorted out if we kept asking questions, we just ended the chat because we knew what to do and her answer was on the right track.

Just a smidge of a point off for that bit of confusion.

Features: 4/5

hostgator hosting management interface

HostGator’s hosting management interface is sleek and modern, but simpler than other hosts.

Which means you’ll have to use cPanel to get more advanced things done. That’s fine, cPanel is an industry-standard, but other hosts have it all integrated which we’d prefer if we were beginners.

Other features worth noting:

  • Free
    • Site transfers
    • $100 Add credit
    • Weekly backups (only 20GB though)
    • Constant Contact Integration
    • Weebly and Gator Builder Integration
  • Paid
    • Sitelock monitoring ($1.67/month)
    • G Suite ($6/month per email)
    • Codeguard daily backups ($2/month)
    • SEO tools ($2.95/month)
    • Domain name privacy ($15/year)

Price: 4/5

hostgator hosting pricing

If we just looked at the pricing page, HostGator’s definitely the cheapest web hosting provider…

But we go deeper than that for you friends, because you shouldn’t have to get hosting for 3 years when you don’t know if you’ll want to stick with the first host you choose!

Initial one-year cost is in the middle with Bluehost, after that, you’ll pay a dollar more per month with HostGator.

  • Best Discount: $2.75, 36 months
  • One Year Discount: $5.95
  • Every Year After That: $8.95

Try HostGator Now


Us: Want features? SiteGround: Yes

Siteground Logo




3.5 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 4/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 4/5
  • checkmark Support: 3.5/5
  • checkmark Price: 3/5

Checklist Items

Domains: Unlimited (0 free) | Number of Sites: 1 | Email Accounts: Unlimited | Bandwidth: Unlimited | Storage: 10 GB | SSL: Free | Money-Back Guarantee: 30 Days | WordPress: One-Click Install and Hosting | Price for Cheapest Plan (One Year): $3.95/month</strong<>

Pros & Cons


  • Most powerful yet easy to use hosting management interface
  • Awesome tutorials on how to use their services, do hosting stuff
  • Loads of free extras


  • Storage is low – probably fine but we like more breathing room
  • After the initial discount, they’re the most expensive hosting
  • Support helped but we want more

Bottom Line

SiteGround feels really premium – from the feel and functionality of their interface, to their loaded with extras plans, to their price. That last point, combined with support that’s not so impressive and good but not great speeds (at least without any extra technical work) leave us feeling like they’re a good option if you’re a more skilled website maker who can take full advantage of all they have to offer.

Try SiteGround Now

Speed & Uptime: 4/5

siteground hosting speed uptime

Speed’s solid but not the fastest (873 ms), uptime we solid but not the best (99.97%) – overall, good.

Nothing funky hidden in the TOS bandwidth-wise, you get “unlimited” as promised.

Uptime guarantee is 99.9% (at least at this point, looks like they owe us some credit!), with one of the better compensation plans:

  • If your uptime is 99.9% – 99.00%, you’ll get one month of free hosting.
  • For every 1% below 99.00, you’ll get another free month.

Since those months cost $11.95 (undiscounted), that’s actually meaningful money and we appreciate it.

Support: 3.5/5

siteground hosting support 1

siteground hosting support 2

Knowledgebase is well organized (one of the easiest to find answers in) and thorough, but their articles could be a bit more detailed and helpful.

That being said, they have some bomb ass dank ass tutorials (we’d know).

Naturally, 24/7 phone, chat, ticket support, though we were underwhelmed by our girl Diana, maybe it was just a stressful day.

We got connected with her fast but she was slow to respond and didn’t answer our question about WordPress databases directly at first.

Eventually, though, we got the right answer so we’d say good enough; maybe the way we asked our question was confusing.

Features: 4/5

siteground hosting management interface

That hosting management interface though…

Sleek, sexy, loaded with features, if we were a web app we’d put a ring on it.

Only thing keeping our pals SiteGround from a 5/5 here is the storage limit (one of the lowest we found), you can only have one site with their cheapest hosting plan, and a domain name isn’t included for free.

The long list of extras:

  • Free
    • Drag & Drop Builder
    • 4 Data centers, USA, Europe, Asia Pacific – loads faster, more reliable
    • CDN & Caching
    • $60 credit to, expert WordPress development
    • 20% off Elementor plugin – WordPress drag/drop page builder
    • 30% off WP forms – fancy
    • 15% off WeWork coworking space
    • Referral program to get free hosting when friends sign up
    • Daily backups (hell yeah!)
  • Paid
    • Site scanning ($19.80/year)
    • Domain name privacy ($12/year to start, $24 on renewal – way too expensive)
    • Domain name: $15.95 – expensive

Price: 3/5

siteground hosting pricing

The extra features are great but you’ll pay for them. We appreciate that they offer their lowest price even when you sign up for just one year.

But, with the non-discounted cost, we’d probably want to get it for the full 3 years we could – once we were damn sure SiteGround was the host for us.

  • Best Discount: $3.95, 12-36 months
  • One Year Discount: $3.95
  • Every Year After That: $11.95

Try SiteGround Now


Cheapest Web Hosting

1&1 One Logo


1&1 Ionos


4 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 4/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 3.5/5
  • checkmark Support: 3.5/5
  • checkmark Price: 5/5

Checklist Items

Domains: Unlimited (1 free) | Number of Sites: Unlimited | Email Accounts: 10 | Bandwidth: 6GB | Storage: 10 GB | SSL: Free | Money-Back Guarantee: 30 Days | WordPress: One-Click Install and Hosting | Price for Cheapest Plan (One Year): $4/month</strong<>

Pros & Cons


  • Cheapest web hosting (when you don’t count the discounts that you only get when you pay for 3-year plans at other hosts)
  • Free domain and domain name privacy!


  • Support wasn’t the best, was a hassle to get to the right person (though he was helpful af)
  • Bandwidth limit includes email and backend downloads/uploads (eg adding images to your site)

Bottom Line

The cheapest web hosting is what you’ll find with 1&1 IONOS and if that’s what you’re after, they’re your boys (and girls). In our (admittedly limited) testing, uptime and speed could be better but were okay, and at least in our case getting support was… an adventure.

But once you figure out how to get to the right support person, they’re great, so don’t let that keep you from choosing this hosting provider!

Try 1&1 Now

Speed & Uptime: 3.5/5

1&1 IONOS hosting speed uptime

Third fastest speed (754 ms) is great, uptime was the lowest in our admittedly short testing period (99.81%), which cost them some points.

They also lost with us when it comes to bandwidth: they say “unlimited traffic” – meaning they won’t keep visitors from coming to your site if you get more than x amount/month.

Good, but no web host does that (because counting visitors is complicated plus that’d just be slimy).

Look through the fine print, though, and you’ll find that their general terms limit your bandwidth to 6GB a month.

Which would be fine for 99% of websites…

But it also includes your email accounts and any uploading/downloading of files to your website on your end (have a lot of photos on your site? You could eat that up).

We have to imagine that for their higher-tier plans that say they’re good for up to 50 sites wouldn’t have this limit.

Then again, their general TOS talks about fees for additional bandwidth, so maybe not.

The uptime guarantee is a solid figure, though, 99.99%.

You can submit your own proof of downtime (other hosts will only accept their own stats), though it’s naturally “at their discretion” so YMMV on this.

If they do admit to excess downtime, you get account credit for the amount of downtime below their guarantee, which is reasonable.

But for $4/month, if you have, say, an hour of downtime, you’ll be owed half a cent.

So basically, you’re getting cheap hosting, the uptime you get is the uptime you get.

Support: 3.5/5

1&1 IONOS hosting support 1

1&1 IONOS hosting support 2

The knowledgebase at 1&1 is extensive and articles are helpful enough, though it wasn’t easy to search through.

They do have community guides and forums which is a huge plus because sometimes it’s more helpful to talk to other people using the hosting service to get the best answers (they just know your pain that much more intimately).

1&1 also offers a “personal consultant” – one person to talk to for your support needs and for “personalized advice” which might be helpful, but we’d bet that means “advice on how to spend more money with us.”

24/7 live chat and phone for sure – also included scheduling a call back so you don’t have to wait if you want to talk on the phone because nobody got time for that.

For our testing, though, we’re just tryinta slide into those online chat DMs…

Worst experience we had though.

First, getting to a chat took a lot of clicks and they try to funnel you to a support person with the right skills/knowledge (for account stuff, security, WordPress, their different products, etc).

Which we get from a business standpoint, but other hosts do this without making us work as hard.

When we first got to a chat where we thought we’d be talking to the right person, it took a while to get a response – and there wasn’t any indication of how long we’d have to wait (other hosts show that).

After that wait, though, no joy.

Turns out, we’d clicked the wrong option and the support person we got didn’t know how to help and couldn’t connect us to someone who would (they told us to call or they could submit an email ticket – we appreciate the problem solving but weren’t trying to wait for emails or talk on the phone).

So back to the “which kind of person do you need” selection, took another guess, this one was right.

We got connected fast and the response was the most thorough we got to our WordPress database question – not only did they tell us what needed to be changed, but how to make that change.

So when you get the right person, support is awesome.

It might be a bit of an adventure to get to that point, though.

Features: 4/5

1&1 hosting management interface

1&1’s hosting manager is likable – not as slick as Bluehost’s, not as powerful as SiteGround’s, but very useable and better for beginners than cPanel.


  • Free
    • Domain name privacy (every other host makes you pay, this is very much appreciated)
    • Website Checker (some suggestions for how to make your site more polished and SEO basics, kind of a way to get you to buy more services but a bit helpful).
    • Favicon Generator
    • Logo creator
    • Bing Ad Credit $100
    • DDoS protection
    • Multiple data centers
    • Daily backups of just your website files – sometimes this helps, with WordPress, you’ll need your database backed up too so limited use and you’ll have to manually restore files.
  • Paid
    • 100gb Cloud Storage ($1/month – cheaper than Dropbox/Google)
    • Sitelock security ($5/month)
    • Local Listing Tool ($10/month for the first year, $20 after that – automatically lists your local business in 25 directories, manage info in one place)
    • Managed WordPress ($3/month, 30-day free trial – Automatic updates and access to some premium themes and plugins)
    • rankingCoach SEO tools ($10/month, 30-day free trial –  step by step guides on how to improve your rankings)
    • CDN ($5/month, 30-day trial)
    • Codeguard daily backups ($2/month)

Price: 5/5

1&1 IONOS hosting pricing

Hey, it’s $4 per month all day, every day. Cheapest around if you don’t buy into the rock-bottom-but-you’ll-have-to-pay-for-3-years-to-get-it prices a couple other hosts offer.

  • Best Discount: $4
  • One Year Discount: $4
  • Every Year After That: $4

Try 1&1 Now

Inmotion Hosting

Solid Hosting + Great Support

InMotion Hosting Logo


InMotion Hosting


4 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 4.5/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 3/5
  • checkmark Support: 5/5
  • checkmark Price: 4/5

Checklist Items

Domains: 8 (1 free) | Number of Sites: 2 | Email Accounts: Unlimited | Bandwidth: Unlimited | Storage: Unlimited | SSL: Free | Money-Back Guarantee: 90 Days | WordPress: One-Click Install and Hosting | Price for Cheapest Plan (One Year): $7.46/month</strong<>

Pros & Cons


  • The most tech-savvy support we found
  • Very thorough knowledge base and helpful tutorials
  • The best money-back guarantee


  • Speed and uptime were not so great in our testing (we need to do more)
  • The interface looks old, isn’t the easiest to navigate

Bottom Line

If you can get past the outdated interface, Inmotion is a solid host. Speed/uptime wasn’t great in our test but we need to give that more time (our fault).

Our hero David W. was eyepopingly good on the support front which goes a long way when it comes to hosts. If you want to go beyond “just having hosting” and learn how to fully use everything a good host has to offer to make awesome websites, we’d go with Inmotion.

Try InMotion Now

Speed & Uptime: 3/5

inmotion hosting speed uptime

Inmotion was the slowest in our speed tests at 1,787 ms. In their defense, we need to run this for longer – they might have just had a bad couple of days.

And they’re still very much under the 3 second limit (re: people will leave before getting to your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load).

Which also applies to their 99.90% uptime (second-lowest, needs more testing).

TOS particulars, they don’t offer any uptime guarantees unless you get a pro plan or higher (so, just not with their cheapest plan).

And bandwidth is unlimited, though they’ll meter you or charge you extra if you use a lot more than normal (which you almost certainly won’t).

Support: 5/5

inmotion hosting support 1

inmotion hosting support 2

Support is definitely top-notch with Inmotion – you’re not going to have a problem you can’t solve with their help!

The knowledge base looks outdated (like most of their site) and could be easier to find answers in, but their guides are super thorough and each article has a comments section – so you can ask specific questions and get specific answers which we like.

Support is 24/7 phone, live chat, email… yes of course but also US-based which makes the conversation just a bit more fluid.

When we reached out we got a lightning speed response and their support guy was the most tech-savvy one we encountered with any web hosting company.

He actually taught us about a WordPress command line tool that makes updating the database fast/easy/thorough.

Shoutout to our boy David W.!

Features: 4.5/5

inmotion hosting management interface

The hosting management interface is fine, has everything you need.

But it’s outdated looking and not set up to make things easy for beginners.

But with unlimited storage, bandwidth, emails, multiple sites and domain names, combined with the best money-back guarantee, we let it slide.

Extras you’ll find:

  • Free
    • Malware scanning, patching, and guaranteeing
    • Multiple Datacenters
    • $150 ad credit to Yahoo and bing
    • Free Yellow pages listing
    • Free Boldgrid website builder (proprietary but built on WordPress)
    • DDoS Protection
    • WordPress Install as you checkout – saves some time trying to figure that out afterward
  • Paid
    • Domain name privacy ($13/year)
    • Backups ($2/month for first 10gb, $1 for each additional 10GB)
    • Dedicated IP ($4/month) Some security benefit, not needed for most
    • Managed hosting (starts at $40/month) – expert help making some serious technical changes/upgrades – could be helpful for making your site faster/more secure
    • Professional Website Design ($99 for their QuickStart, depends on what you want after that) – if you have the cash might be worth the quick start, their designs didn’t impress us though so probably not worth it for a more expensive package

Price: 4/5

inmotion hosting pricing

They’re not the cheapest, they’re not the most expensive, the price is right.

And we appreciate that the price doesn’t jump a ton after the initial discount.

  • Best Discount: $6.39, 24 months
  • One Year Discount: $7.46
  • Every Year After That: $7.99

Try InMotion Now


An up and comer we’d use

Hostwinds Logo




4 out of 5

  • checkmark Features: 3.5/5
  • checkmark Speed/Uptime: 4/5
  • checkmark Support: 4.5/5
  • checkmark Price: 4/5

Checklist Items

Domains: 1 (free) | Number of Sites: 1 | Email Accounts: Unlimited | Bandwidth: Unlimited | Storage: Unlimited | SSL: Free | Money-Back Guarantee: 30 Days (prorated) | WordPress: One-Click Install and Hosting | Price for Cheapest Plan (One Year): $3.29/month</strong<>

Pros & Cons


  • Chat support was awesome – lightning-fast and immediately helpful
  • If you only consider the initial discount for a one year plan, they’re the cheapest
  • Best uptime guarantee in the industry


  • Hosting management interface not easy to use as others
  • Knowledgebase needs more articles
  • No 100% money-back guarantee

Bottom Line

Hostwinds is one of the newest web hosting companies to the game and we for sure appreciate that they’re looking to find their edge in providing a better customer experience than the big boys.

Their fundamentals are solid, though the knowledge base needs more content, their hosting interface could be easier to use, and they don’t offer a full refund guarantee.

That being said, if you want to support the little guy, Hostwinds is a team that won’t let you down.

Try Hostwinds Now

Speed & Uptime: 4/5

hostwinds hosting speed uptime

Speed was the second slowest at 1,272 ms, though uptime was a perfect 100%.

Which we’d expect since they have the best uptime guarantee in the industry – 99.999%.

Meaning they’re promising your site won’t be down for more than 25 seconds per month.


Plus, they put their money where their mouth is – if you can prove to them your site was down beyond their guarantee, they’ll give you credit for the entire day that downtime occurred (not just the time your site was down).

Bandwidth-wise, nothing sneaky in their TOS.

They do say if you use a higher than normal amount (which, again, you probably won’t), they’ll ask you to upgrade and if you don’t they’ll suspend you.

But they made it clear they wouldn’t ever terminate your account for using too much bandwidth.

Which seems fair/right, we wonder if other hosts would terminate you.

We didn’t find any that said as much in their Terms, but if some do, that’s no bueno fo sho.

Support: 4.5/5

hostwinds support

Hostwinds’ knowledge base could be easier to search through and feels like it needs more guides and articles, but the ones they have are detailed and helpful.

That being said, their support was super easy to access (there’s a live chat tab on every page of their site) and blazing fast to both respond and provide a solution – they literally answered our question in the first response (others asked 1-2 follow up questions or we had to clarify something with them).

And yes, that chat, along with phone and ticket support is 24/7.

Features: 3.5/5

hostwinds hosting management interface

Their hosting interface looked good and was relatively easy to use, though we had a harder time finding the WordPress one click install than with other hosts.

And you have to use cPanel to do most of your hosting management work – fine, but not the best for beginners.

One of the biggest areas they lost points here was their moneyback guarantee.

It’s not all your money back, it’s prorated – you get the cost of your plan minus however many days you used it.

So basically it’s a paid trial.

At just 3.95/month for your first year, it’ll only cost you a coffee if you try them for a month then cancel; still, we’d like it all back please.

Hostwinds also doesn’t have many included extras or paid extras for that matter.

That being said, we feel like a lot of the paid extras most hosts offer are kind of useless, so we don’t so much mind that, but we know you might want easier access to some of those things (we can set up things like caching and CDN without our host’s help, but it’s easier if you have it).

Their extras:

  • Free
    • Website Transfers
    • Weebly Website Builder
    • 3 data centers (two US, one Europe)
  • Paid
    • Domain name privacy ($5/year – the cheapest of any host except 1&1)
    • Website monitoring ($24/year)
    • Daily Cloud Backups ($36/year)

Price: 4/5

hostwinds hosting pricing

Hostwinds has the cheapest one year plan price at just $3.29/month – which scores big points with us.

Especially since that’s the price they advertise on their site (see the screencap above)…

Because it’s actually even cheaper when you get a 3-year plan.

We love that they’re not trying to rope you in!

We don’t give them the “cheapest web hosting” honor, though, because the price goes up to a more normal rate after that discount (while 1&1 just holds steady at only 4 bucks).

  • Best Discount: $2.35, 36 months
  • One Year Discount: $3.29
  • Every Year After That: $8.99

Try Hostwinds Now

What is web hosting?

We’ve already got a pretty badass post covering answering this question in-depth (which you can check out here).

But for the sake of convenience, here’s a video, followed by a quick rundown:

Web hosting services make your website’s code and content available on the internet – so you don’t have to mess with any of the technical details of running servers, making sure you’ve got a solid, fast connection to the web at all times, etc.

The analogy we like to use is this:

If your website is your house, your domain name is your address and web hosting is the land your house is built on.

Hosting companies will usually let you buy a domain name through them to make that part easy.

Unlike website builders, though, you’ll have to handle setting up your website yourself (not too difficult when you use a content management system like WordPress).

In exchange for some of the extra support website builders provide, you’ll ultimately pay less for web hosting than you will for a builder, and you have much more complete control over your site’s design and functionality.

Do you need web hosting?

If you’re not using a website builder, the answer is yes.

Unless you want to host your site on a server you set up and manage yourself.

That’s physically possible, but for 99% of us, it’s just not practical.

You’ve got to be super tech-savvy to do it and even then you probably won’t do it as well as a web hosting company that has hundreds or thousands of people making that magic happen for a living.

Plus, web hosting can be pretty darn cheap (like a few bucks a month) depending on the type of hosting you use.

How to choose the best hosting service for you

choose best hosting service kid candy

Alright, now that we’re up to speed on the basics of hosting, let’s jump into how you can choose the best web hosting service for you!

First up…

Which type of web hosting should you get

We hinted at this in our “types of web hosting” section above, but to make it super clear, when you’re starting out there are really only two options you should focus on:

  1. Shared hosting
  2. WordPress hosting


Well for a few reasons:

  • Cloud hosting is basically shared hosting and you won’t really notice the differences until you get a serious amount of traffic to your seriously large site (which will take some time, might as well keep it simple and save some cash in the meantime).
  • VPS and Dedicated hosting are a lot more work and only for really large or complicated sites that you probably won’t be building; even as your site scales a shared or dedicated WordPress hosting plan will likely be all that you need.
  • As a rule of thumb, shared hosting is fine if not fantastic for sites that get less than 50,000 visitors a month.
  • In the hosting world, upgrading your hosting or migrating to a different type is totally doable (more on that below)

So how do you decide between WordPress and shared hosting?

This really comes down to two things:

  1. How much do you want to spend?
  2. How tech-savvy are you?

To the first point, WordPress hosting is more expensive.

We’re not talking a lot more – think $10-20 a month instead of $5-10 – but it’s enough that it’s worth considering when you’re just getting started, there are a million other things you can put that extra cash toward to build your site and business.

Which brings us to the second point.

WordPress hosting is optimized for sites built on WordPress, so there are potentially some speed and stability improvements to be had there, but that’s really going to depend on the host and the plan you get.

The more important difference when you’re getting started is how confident you are in your tech skills/how much time you’re willing to spend figuring it out and fixing some small stuff yourself.

If you build a website on WordPress – whether it’s shared hosting or WordPress hosting – a lot of the hard work is done for you; there’s no code to write or server configuration to do to get setup.

But, things break and sometimes that’ll mean you’ll have to know a bit more about how things like MySQL databases, LAMP stacks, and DNS settings work, or get help from someone who does.

With WordPress hosting, you’re a bit less likely to have challenges like that because the web hosting provider is working harder in the background to prevent them from happening.

And if you do face those kinds of problems, their tech support will have trained WordPress experts to help you out.

Not something you’re guaranteed with shared hosting (though, because WordPress is so popular, some web hosting services will have support staff that knows this stuff).

Bottom line:

  1. If you want to get cheap web hosting and are okay with learning a bit more about the technical side of things, go Shared.
  2. If you’re okay with spending a bit more to have fewer problems, go WordPress (and check out our rundown of the best WordPress hosting sites).

Should I use free web hosting?

Hey, no shame in admitting we all like free.

Which is why it’s no surprise that free web hosting services are super popular.

If you’re going to build a pro-level website, this ain’t it chief.

While the “freemium” model works for a lot of things like phone apps or software services, pretty much every free hosting service is just too limited to really be worth it – especially when shared plans are so cheap.

If you’re looking to save money on your website building endeavors, you’ve already started by looking for hosting as opposed to website builders (which have their advantages but almost always cost more than hosting + always free WordPress).

Beyond that, you can stick to free plugins and themes for your WordPress site so really all you’re spending on is hosting and a domain name (which can be as little as $75 a year if you make the right moves).

Some other things to keep in mind

We look at a few specific things when considering hosts and in reviewing them for this big ol’ post – we’ll get to those below.

First, a couple of other things you’ll want to know about when you’re searching for a web hosting service.


One of the technical parts of hosting that might actually matter to you is storage and bandwidth.

Storage is how much data for your website you’re allowed to have under your plan – which basically translates to how many pages and photos you can have on your site.

Bandwidth is how much data you’re allowed to transfer – which basically translates into how many people can come to your site.

Even with the cheapest web hosting plans, a lot of times you’ll get unlimited amounts of each.

Sometimes companies will say it’s unlimited but have specific terms of service that place some limits if you want to do crazy double backflip things with your site (we looked into that to get you the skinny in our reviews below).

But for those that don’t offer unlimited, here’s a bit of perspective to give you a sense of what you’ll need.

At the time of publishing, this very site, with all our fancy graphics and custom code and images and thousands of visitors, uses the following:

  • Storage: 431.11 MB
  • Bandwidth: 3.17 GB

We also asked our friends over at Create and Go (which is a much older and bigger site) what they use:

  • Storage: 1.5 GB
  • Bandwidth: 184.84 GB

What does that mean?

Unless you’re going all out with tons of pictures and videos, any plan that has storage limits of 10 GB or more will be fine.

Bandwidth-wise if you’ve got at least 50GB you’re the proverbial good to go!

The price will jump after the promo period

Across the board, 99.9% of the time, web hosting companies will offer lower prices when you first sign up than they’ll normally charge you once you renew.

It’s not particularly shady, it’s a tried and true way for companies to get new customers.

We just want to make sure you’ve got the full facts because that’s how we do.

How long does that promo period last?

Well, usually it’s for your first purchase, and you can usually buy hosting for anywhere from one month to 3 years.

Sometimes companies will also offer their best rates when you buy 3 years at a time – know that when you see one price on the “pricing” page and another in your checkout cart.

We usually recommend starting with one year because:

  1. That’s how long you’ll have to buy a domain name for anyway.
  2. That’ll give you a solid discount without locking you in for a crazy long amount of time

Starting small is fine

  • It’s relatively easy to upgrade your hosting package to suit your needs

Other posts you’ve probably found in your “best web hosting services” search probably explain all the types of hosting and then say “well, if you want to build a big site get VPS…”

No no no friends. It’s not that complicated.

Start small, learn what works, what you like and need to build awesome websites, then scale your hosting as your sites get bigger and you can actually take advantage of the higher rates.

Shared or WordPress hosting are more than enough for starting out.

“Oh, but you see, I’m going to build this big giant awesome site, gather a whole team that does all this custom coding work, publish tons of video, get hundreds of thousands of visitors a month – this shared stuff just won’t do!” you say?

Hey, we’re for it, yes, get after it.

BUT you’re not there yet. No need to go through the headaches of figuring out the more complicated hosting wizardry now, no need to shell out the extra cash.

Particularly because upgrading or changing your hosting is pretty easy.

If you decide to stick with your current host and keep a shared or WordPress plan for a while, you can just upgrade your plan to a higher tier one and instantly get more speed, storage, bandwidth, etc.

If you do want to switch over to another type of hosting or another hosting provider, you’ve got two things to help:

  1. That provider will offer migration services to handle moving everything over for you, they might even be free.
  2. If you’re using WordPress (which you should), there’s a really awesome plugin called All-in-One WP Migration that literally makes migrating a WordPress site take a couple of clicks; just install the plugin on your old site, install WordPress on your new hosting with the plugin, click download on your old site, click restore on your new site. Done!

So start with the smallest plan you can get by with (usually the cheapest, maybe the second cheapest if you need more than one site or a bit more storage), and upgrade from there.

Have you considered page builders?

We’re betting you have if you’ve gotten to this point in your web building journey, but just in case they’re worth mentioning.

With web hosting you have to manage the setup of your site and sometimes do some ongoing maintenance to get WordPress installed and running smoothly (there are other options but please, for all our sakes, just use WordPress).

Also, WordPress takes a bit of learning (or knowing about the right plugins) in order to make an awesome website.

It’s a bit more work, but still pretty easy and definitely cheaper.

And you can get drag and drop page builder themes like Divi or plugins like Elementor to make amazing websites pretty fast and easy and fairly cheap.

But if you’re willing to pay a bit more to not have to mess with as much technical stuff and have an easy to use drag and drop web creation experience, builders are worth considering.

Check out our list of best website builders to learn more about those!

Some specifics

General things to know/look for out of the way, the 4 main things you’ll want to consider when choosing the best website hosting service for you are:

  1. Speed/Uptime
  2. Support
  3. Features
  4. Price

It just so happens, that’s what we looked at for our web hosting reviews!

Let’s take a look at how we did that so you can get a sense of what you’re looking for/how to choose which you want to use.

Our website hosting review process

review process graphic

Here’s the basic process we use to test web hosts for our reviews:

  1. We sign up for the cheapest web hosting plan because they’re all fine for getting started.
  2. Then we set up a basic WordPress site on each, test how fast it loads with a tool, and set it up to monitor uptime.
  3. We then send a few not-so-common questions to their support team to see how fast they respond and how helpful they are.
  4. Finally, we look for extra features, check for any hidden costs or tricky terms of service, then compile all that data into a rating in each of our 4 categories as well as an overall score.

When you’re looking for web hosting, you can go ahead and start with our reviews as far as speed/uptime, features, support and price goes.

If you’re still not sure, check out some of the extra features each offers for yourself.

All of the hosts on our list have moneyback guarantees so if you’re torn from there go ahead and sign up for 1-3 accounts, get WordPress installed, try out their support and you should have your winner (cancel and get your money back from the other hosts)!

Here’s what we look for (and what you should, too) in each of our main evaluation categories.


Beyond simply having a space for your website on the internet, the real key things you need from a host are:

  1. For your site to load quickly so people don’t click away out of frustration (aka speed)
  2. For your site to load at all so people can actually see what you’ve got going on (aka uptime)

When you’re getting started, “fast enough” is fine, and fast enough means (according to Google) under 3 seconds.

As you grow, your search engine rankings and beating the competition means you’ll want to go for blazing fast, as fast as possible, Superman around the world a million times a minute fast.

To start, under 3 is good.

To test speed we just loaded a simple WordPress site (meaning we literally just installed WordPress) and tested it with Pingdom.

Which means none of the sites in our test come anywhere close to 3 seconds – there’s just not that much work the hosts’ web servers have to do to make the site load.

But this did give us a general sense of how each host does speed wise – the fastest host in our test will likely be the fastest for the actual sites you build.

Like speed, when you’re getting started pretty much any host will be fine uptime-wise – even the worst hosts are up 90% of the time, most are 98%+.

While that’s mostly fine, though, you want your site to be accessible 24/7/365.

Stuff happens, it will go down, but the less often that happens the better.

We also measured uptime using Pingdom to compare them, though to get a good read on this takes at least a year of monitoring (we didn’t want to wait that long to get this post out to you, so we just watched each for a few days as a starting point).

So we also took a look at each host’s uptime guarantee to see how you’ll be compensated if there is any downtime.

Important to note on those guarantees though – they don’t necessarily mean your site will absolutely, positively be online for that percentage of time.

There’s a lot of fine print about what does or doesn’t count (often hosts won’t consider uptime stats you report to them), and “guarantee” just means you get a discount on your bill when they fail to meet their guarantee.


Beyond having a site that loads fast – or loads at all – support is really the #2 most important thing to consider when choosing a web host.

In the website building world, a million things can go wrong any minute.

Most minutes none of them do.

Some minutes, one or two of them do.

Sometimes those one or two mean your site’s real broken.

When that happens, you’ll want some expert help to get things back up and running asap.

As you learn more about building websites and doing the web hosting dance, you’ll learn how to fix a lot of things on your own.

But there will be times when a problem is beyond your knowledge or beyond your control (because the web hosting company doesn’t give you access to the thing that needs to be fixed).

For those times when you do need to call in some good old fashioned support, you’ll want them to respond quickly, courteously, and knowledgeably.

For our web hosting reviews, we took a look at each company’s knowledge base to see how much you could figure out through a quick search and read of a help article.

We also reached out to support with a few technical questions, aiming to go beyond the basics to get a sense of how tech-savvy they are and how quickly they’ll be able to respond when you need them.


Once the essentials are covered with speed/uptime and support, we also take a look at the extra features, the nice to haves that make some hosts just a bit more awesome.

You’ll often get more of these when you buy higher-tier plans, for our web hosting reviews we mostly looked at what you get with the cheapest plan with some consideration of what extras you can get if you do pay more (either with a higher plan or as add ons).

Some of what we looked for here:

  • How many domains/sites you can have and if they include a free domain name
  • How many email accounts you can have
  • How much bandwidth/storage you get (and if there are any sneaky terms of service around them)
  • If website backups are included
  • If SSL (aka “https”) is included
  • How long their moneyback guarantee is
  • If they offer any extra security features beyond the basics
  • If they offer CDN/caching (makes your site load faster around the world)
  • Freebies like Google Adwords credits

We also took a look at each hosts “hosting management interface” – the portal through which you manage the different features and functions of your hosting.

Since you’ll be spending some time here setting things up and fixing things, the easier (and more fun) it is to use, the better.


Most web hosting plans, especially when looking at the entry-level/cheapest ones, are pretty similarly priced – so we wouldn’t necessarily choose a host just based on price.

But, it’s definitely a factor, so we took a and gave each host a rating based on:

  • The cost of their cheapest plan for one year of service (we don’t recommend you get hosting for 3 years when starting out so we don’t count those prices even if there’s a better discount)
  • How much the cost increases after the discount period is over
  • Whether you have to pay extra for important things like backups, SSL, or domain name privacy (which keeps your contact info hidden so you don’t get bombarded by sales calls from companies that scrape WHOIS info).

Types of website hosting – explained!

types of web hosting servers

When it comes to choosing the right hosting plan for you, there are a ton of features and options that’ll get thrown at you.

No worries – we’ll cover what’s important as far as all of that goes below.

The first step to figuring out what moves you should make in the hosting game though is to understand the main types of hosting options.

These are:

  • Shared Hosting
  • Cloud Hosting
  • Virtual Private Server Hosting (VPS)
  • WordPress Hosting

All of these will act as a main hub for your website – storing all your website code and data and making it accessible to the world via the internets – each offers different levels of storage capacity, speed, control, and reliability.

Let’s jam on the what and why of each for a minute.

Shared Hosting

With shared web hosting, your site will be stored and accessed from a web server alongside a bunch of other sites that all share the server’s storage, CPU, and RAM resources.

In our housing analogy, this is like renting in an apartment complex – your website gets a room with a bunch of other people who all share hallways, power, water, etc.

This is by far the most popular setup (and the one we recommend for pro website beginners like you) because it’s absolutely the cheapest hosting you’ll find and it’s super easy to use.

Plans start around $5-10 a month, there’s almost no technical knowledge required to set up a site, and no maintenance (at least that you’ll have to do).

Though there are limitations on speed and storage capacity, for almost any site you’re looking to build this won’t be a problem when you’re getting started.

And if and when it does become a headache, you’ve got options – either upgrade your shared plan or migrate to another option.

Cloud Hosting

For what we’re talking about here, cloud hosting is basically a catchy marketing term.

There is a level of website game where IT guys at big companies make some super complex setups using things like Hadoop and Amazon Web Services…

But for our website game – making awesome, pro websites for ourselves and other companies that look awesome and help sell products and services – we’re not messing with that.

In that world, “cloud hosting” means the web hosting service we use (HostGator, Bluehost, etc) does that fancy work for us – then what we get basically looks and functions just like shared hosting.

There are some potential speed, performance, and security benefits to hosting that uses a cloud setup vs. some of the older ways of setting up shared hosting servers.

Not enough to worry about, though; if you find cloud hosting that’s basically as cheap as shared hosting and you really want to go for it, by all means.

Don’t spend hours trying to figure out if it’s that much better though.

Virtual Private Server Hosting (VPS)

If shared hosting is like living in an apartment complex, VPS hosting is like living in a duplex – your website will still share some resources with other people’s sites, but there’s a bit more separation.

It’s solid separation, too, as in you won’t be kept up by your neighbor Jerry blasting headbanging death metal at 2am.

Technically, this means your website is still on a server that’s shared by other sites, but it’s inside its own “virtual server” where you get a specific, dedicated amount of the server’s resources, almost completely isolated from everyone else.

This means there’s more backend customization you can do to manage how your site uses server resources, so you can have more complex code and handle higher traffic.

But it costs more (we’re talking $20-60 a month) and we guarantee that you’ll never need this if you’re building WordPress sites. It’s really for super custom sites for bigger companies that have complex web applications.

Dedicated Server Hosting

This kind of hosting lets you have your own server, no sharing involved; basically you’re buying a piece of land in the countryside.

A couple flavors exist.

Managed means you get a super savvy tech support team to do the extra setup and maintenance required, unmanaged means you’ve got to do this yourself or hire someone on your end. Someone’s got to water the garden, fix the broken pipes, and dig out that hole for the giant pool with a waterfall feature.

Long and short: it’s expensive as hell ($100+ a month) and is only necessary for the largest of the large websites (we’re talking online casino and Fortune 500 types).

WordPress Hosting

As the name might suggest, this is hosting specifically setup for WordPress websites.

Depending on the host, they might have you in a shared, VPS, or cloud setup on the backend.

What makes this different from those is WordPress hosting has servers optimized for WordPress specifically, they’ll likely include some specific plugins and maybe some premium themes, you’ll get tech support for WordPress (vs. general support that just helps with the hosting side in other plans), and they might manage keeping your plugins and such up to date for you.

Sounds great, right?

It is, but…

Shared hosting is fine, it’s what most WordPress site creators use.

And WordPress hosting will cost you more (Typically $10-20 a month) and they are probably restrictions on the plugins you can use (the hosts want to make sure they stay blazing fast).

Bottom line: start with shared unless you know for a fact you’re WordPress site is going to get a ton of traffic and you don’t want to mess with updates and fixing things that break; even then, you’ll be able to migrate your WordPress site to a WordPress hosting plan when you get to that point!

Best website hosting FAQ

Can I trust your reviews are honest?

Glad you asked!

We’ve worked hard to make our reviews as legit and honest as possible.

We’ve worked hard to make our reviews as legit and honest as possible.

As possible? So you did slant things!?

Nope, not as much as we can help.

The reality is we have a lot of experience with website hosting in making a ton of sites over the years.

So, like any human being, we have our opinions and preferences based on that experience.

But we knew going into this thing we needed to try to combat that as much as possible so we could deliver you the real, the helpful, the most objective info possible for you to make the best decision.

That’s why we worked in some objective measurements like speed tests using a trustworthy 3rd party tool (Pingdom).

For our Support rating, there was some instinct involved, but we asked the same questions of each host and included how fast they respond as part of our rating to try to ensure that was unbiased.

For features, we mostly used a checklist of things like Free SSL, Unlimited bandwidth/storage, etc – they got points for having those or not.

And for pricing we used some fancy spreadsheet work to rate them based on how much their plans cost before and after the initial discount, as well as any additional costs for essential things like domain names and domain name privacy.

In short: we worked hard to make our ratings as objective as possible.

Now if you’re a bit more savvy about how the online business game works (or just read our disclosure above), you’ll know we included affiliate links for most of the hosts – so if you purchase a plan through our link, we’ll get a bit of a commission.

This doesn’t cost you anything (in some cases, you’ll even get an extra discount for using our link).

And we did not change our ratings to make the hosts that pay more rank better.

We have our preferences in which hosts we like to use, some hosts pay us more, but we put that aside to make sure this definitive guide was the most helpful it could be for our most important customer: you, the reader.

If you have any questions about our website hosting reviews and process, feel free to contact us and we’ll happily share more details!

How much does web hosting cost?

For the shared plans we recommend, anywhere from $5-10 a month for shared, or $10-20 for WordPress.

After the initial discounts, you’re looking at about the same.

What is the difference between shared, cloud, VPS, dedicated, and WordPress hosting and which do I need?


  • Shared: cheapest, lowest performance but still enough for most sites
  • Cloud: basically just shared, maybe a bit more performance
  • VPS: better performance than shared but costs more and requires more technical setup; not needed for most sites
  • Dedicated: the best performance, the most expensive and complicated setup; not needed for almost any site
  • WordPress hosting: optimized for WordPress sites, in general better performance, stability, and support but costs a bit more than shared

To start:

  • Go with WordPress hosting if you want the least amount of problems and are okay with paying a bit more
  • Go with shared if you want the cheapest website hosting and are okay with needing to put a bit more time into fixing the occasional technical issue.

What is the cheapest web hosting?

1&1 IONOS offers the cheap web hosting when you buy a package for a year – just $4 a month for their cheapest , forever (no pesky increases after the initial discount!

If you really want to go after it with up to a 36-month plan (which we don’t recommend in case you change your mind after you learn more about the hosting game, Hostwinds offers the absolute cheapest web hosting at the lowest price at just $2.35 a month.

How often do you have to pay for web hosting?

Web hosting can be purchased for as little as one month up to 36 months (that’s 3 years) at a time.

Paying for more will get you discounts (both when you first sign up and when you renew), though obviously you get more locked into using a particular host.

We recommend paying for a year upfront to get the best balance of discount and flexibility.

And you can always take advantage of a web hosting company’s money-back guarantee if you decide you don’t want to stick with them.

Should I get Windows or Linux hosting?

Don’t worry about this. The hosting provider will choose it for you for the plans we recommend and it only matters for really big, complicated websites and businesses.

Will my new host help me to transfer my data?

Pretty much any host will help you do this, some hosts do this for free.

If you’ve built your site on WordPress, though, you don’t even need them.

Just use the All-in-One WP Migration.

With that, all you have to do is install WordPress on your new host then the plugin will transfer everything over in just a few clicks!

What is cPanel?

cPanel is a “web hosting control panel” that most hosts use to let you manage the technical side of your website hosting.

For context:

  • Your host will probably offer some sort of account management portal, where you can buy domain names, change your contact info, update your hosting plan and billing info, etc.
  • cPanel is where you’ll be able to do things like add email accounts, connect domains to your websites, change files on your web server, etc.
  • WordPress’ Dashboard is where you’ll spend most of your time – that’s where all the changes and updates to your WordPress website happen.

Will hosting come with email?

Yep, pretty much every web hosting company includes email as part of your account, some might only let you have a limited number of accounts.

They’ll also likely offer you third party email services like Google G Suite or Microsoft Outlook.

BUT before you buy that, if you want to use your website’s domain to send and receive email in Gmail, we show you how to do that for free in our free professional email address post.

Is data center location important?

Yes and no.

Data centers are where web hosts set up the servers that hold your website and everyone else’s, usually if they have more than one they’ll have some overlap in case one data center goes down because of a serious power outage, hurricane, etc.

So there’s an uptime factor to that.

Also, the closer your website is to the person trying to get to it, the faster your site will load (in general), because the data being transferred doesn’t have to go as far.

However, CDNs (content distribution networks) are built to make that happen anyway – they load your website on servers around the world so your site loads faster… around the world.

It takes a bit of extra setup work, but you can get a CDN for your site for free through Cloudflare.

What is an uptime guarantee?

Uptime guarantees are promises hosting companies make to you about how much of the time your website will be live and accessible on the internet.

For example, if a web host has a 99% uptime guarantee, they’ll credit your account if they’re not up for that percentage of time in a given period.

But, these can be a bit tricky.

A 99% guarantee allows for over 7 hours of downtime a month, which can be a lot if you’re website’s hoppin with traffic.

And it’s up to your host to monitor and credit you honestly – they won’t accept reports you get from third-party tools as proof of downtime.

All that being said, we wouldn’t worry about this too much when getting started.

But if you really want to consider it, look at the terms of service to see how the host measures downtime (by month or by year) and how they’ll compensate you.

What is hosting bandwidth and storage?

Storage is how much data in the form of code, text, videos, and images you can have with your account, and bandwidth is how much data can be transferred between the server that holds your site and visitors to your page.

Some web hosting companies will put caps on these for their lower-level plans, but most are still more than enough to get started.

For context, at the time of publishing, this very site, with all our fancy graphics and custom code and images and thousands of visitors, uses the following:

  • Storage: 431.11 MB
  • Bandwidth: 3.17 GB

We also asked our friends over at Create and Go (which is a much older and bigger site) what they use:

  • Storage: 1.5 GB
  • Bandwidth: 184.84 GB

Best WordPress Hosting Sites
Rated and Reviewed

Best WordPress Hosting Sites Featured Image

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

May 20, 2019

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this simple, step-by-step guide, we’ll compare web hosting plans so you can find the perfect host for your website. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
  • Time To Complete:
    20 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    Working Knowledge

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS) and for good reason: the software is flexible, easy to learn, and free to use.

With a huge library of free and premium themes and plugins, WordPress powers millions of websites around the world; if you’ve been thinking about creating your first professional website, it’s a solid place to start!

If you’re confused about web hosting in general, we have a video guide for this available on our YouTube Channel and below:

If you liked the video and want more tutorials on creating a professional website you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

But while WordPress itself is free to use, you’ll need some place to house all your images, blog posts, and data to make it easy to reach over the internet.

That’s where WordPress hosting comes in.

In case you missed our What is Web Hosting guide, hosting is basically a service that provides servers or “land” on which your website or “house” is built on the internet.

But a quick Google search will show you there are a ton of WordPress hosting sites out there.

Which is great, we love options.

Until it’s time to make a decision about which offers the best WordPress hosting for you!

Figuring that out is exactly what this beginner’s guide is for.

Table of Contents

  • What is WordPress Hosting?
  • How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting
  • Top WordPress Hosting Sites

What is WordPress Hosting?

While web hosting can be used to build websites using a ton of different web technologies and platforms, the popularity of WordPress has inspired a lot of providers to offer WordPress specific features and services.

But when it comes to WordPress web hosting, there are basically two options: Managed and Unmanaged.

Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress web hosting is built specifically for websites created with the CMS. It’s optimized for speed and ease of use.

With managed hosting, WordPress comes pre-installed so you don’t have to mess with installation, and most web hosts will offer other site-friendly features like automatic backups, caching, and updates.

And when you need help, managed hosting plans will have customer support teams that are super-knowledgeable in all things WordPress so you won’t have to worry about digging into your site’s backend (the code and server stuff) to fix a problem yourself.

These awesome benefits usually come with two downsides: managed WordPress hosting tends to be more expensive than unmanaged, and you’ll be more restricted in the plugins you can use (as the web hosting provider wants to make sure they can maintain top speed and performance for all their customers).

Unmanaged WordPress Hosting

The other option here is “unmanaged” WordPress hosting.

We’ve covered the different types of web hosting before, but here’s a quick rundown of those:

Shared WordPress Hosting

  • What it is: Your website is placed on one server with a bunch of other sites – from a few hundred to thousands of other sites.
  • Pros: Low cost, good for beginners
  • Cons: You’ll run into trouble as your traffic grows

VPS WordPress Hosting

  • What it is: Uses technology to digitally divide one server into multiple “virtual” servers.
  • Pros: Offers more customization and scalability than shared hosting.
  • Cons: Costs more than shared hosting and requires some technical know-how to set up.

Dedicated WordPress Hosting

  • What it is: You’re website runs on an exclusive server, no other websites will be hosted on it.
  • Pros: Maximum customization and scaling.
  • Cons: Expensive.

When you’re just getting started, Shared Hosting is definitely your best bet as it’ll keep things simple and cost-effective to run.

How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting

It’s important to consider what you really need when choosing a WordPress web host as you want to find a balance between what you’ll need to get started, what you’ll need to grow, and how much you spend while building your site up.

WordPress hosting prices are all over the place, with the cheapest entry-level plans starting at as little as $0.99 a month (we’ll tell you more about that tastiness below), while higher-tier plans can cost upwards of $60 a month.

So what matters when you’re looking for the best WordPress hosting site?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re looking:

  • Cost: Obviously. Compare prices from different hosting providers to see how much each will set you back. Also be sure to figure out the difference between “getting started” offers and how much the regular price is (usually you’ll get a discount for the first year or so). Most web hosts also offer discounts for multi-year contracts.
  • Domains: Does the hosting package offer a free domain? (Don’t know what that is? Check out our guide: What is A Domain Name)
  • Number of Sites: Can you build and run more than one website with that package? (This might not seem so important when you’re starting out, but a lot of successful online entrepreneurs fail with their first blog).
  • Speed: How fast your website loads is an important factor in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and creating an overall positive experience for your website visitors. Most plans will be fine when you’re starting out but this can make a big difference as you grow.
  • Bandwidth: This is how much traffic your hosting plan can handle per month. Just like speed, you’ll be fine with just about any plan to start but this will have an impact later on. Be aware that plans with “unlimited” bandwidth often have certain terms and conditions.
  • Storage Space: How much data you can store on your website’s server (for images, pages, videos, email, etc.).
  • Uptime: This is the percentage of time your WordPress hosting provider promises to have your website live on the internet. Stuff happens, technology fails, so this will never be 100% of the time but it should be 99%+
  • SSL: This stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and it keeps traffic to your website secure (when you see the “https://” in your search bar that website uses SSL). In addition to protecting your website from hackers, having SSL is now an important part of SEO. Some hosting providers will offer this for free, others will charge you as much as $100 per year.
  • Customer Support: Especially when you’re starting out, you’ll want to make sure your WordPress hosting comes with solid support so you can get problems sorted out fast (because trust us, you will run into problems). Customer support that specializes in WordPress is a plus here.
  • Email: Having a custom email to go with your pro website is good for branding – some providers will include this, some will charge you for it (you can also use your custom domain to get a professional email address with Gmail).
  • Marketing Bonuses: Finally, some hosting packages will include things like free Google Adwords or Facebook Ad credits which can be handy for starting your website out with some ad traffic.

Top WordPress Hosting Sites

Now that we’ve covered your options and how to choose a WordPress hosting plan, let’s jump into a few of the top WordPress hosting providers.

To come up with this list, we used a combination of our personal experience in creating dozens of websites, as well as some stellar hands on research from our friends over at Hosting Facts and codeinwp.

Cheap WordPress Hosting: 1&1

1&1 also made it into our list of best web hosting companies and for good reason: they’re starting plan is CHEAP – at just $0.99 cents a month for their basic package, they can’t be beaten.

For our purposes here, they also offer cheap WordPress hosting at the same price ($0.99 the first year, $7.99 after that).

And in 1&1’s case, the low cost doesn’t mean you’re missing out on important features – there’s no setup fee, 50GB of storage is included (plenty for getting started), there aren’t any bandwidth or visitor limits, you can set up as many email accounts as you want, and they throw in a free domain name and SSL too (to be honest it’s worth it for that alone – most domain names will cost you $13 a year anyway)!

And all that’s on top of the managed WordPress hosting features you’d expect like easy WordPress setup, automatic updates, and 24/7 WordPress expert support (including by phone).

If you’re a WordPress/website beginner, it’s probably worth signing up with 1&1 for the first year to get that free domain name and learn how to build a website.

Then after that, if you want you can keep using them or take your existing website and knowledge to a new hosting provider with a better hosting plan for your needs.

Fastest WordPress Hosting: GoDaddy

Most WordPress web hosting plans are straightforward and easy to use, but GoDaddy stands out from the rest by making the whole process of setting up and building a WordPress site incredibly easy.

On top of offering the usual automatic setup and updates, they also offer pre-built websites and a drag and drop builder with access to a library of thousands of high-quality images – even in their basic plan (which is just $3.99 for the first year – not bad)!

Plus they also include one of those handy free domain names, unlimited email accounts, and award winning customer support.

And on top of all of that awesomeness, GoDaddy proved to be the fastest WordPress hosting site we found in multiple tests, making them a solid choice for hosting your first website.

Most Reliable WordPress Hosting: HostGator

HostGator is home to more than 10 million websites (including this one) for good reason – the offer an all around amazing web hosting service and experience.

Sure, they make it easy to install WordPress in one click, offer all the support and monitoring you need, and make sure your website is alway backed up.

But where they really stand out when it comes to WordPress web hosting is their reliability.

HostGator’s WordPress hosting uses a Content Delivery Network to make your website load super fast across the world.

They also use cloud hosting to make scaling your website’s performance just a click away for when you create that viral content that sends a huge spike of traffic to your website.

On top of that, they offer free automatic malware removal, $100 in Google Adwords credit, and free site migration with even their basic “Hatchling” plan (which starts at $3.95 a month for one website).

Plus, based on an average uptime of 99.96% and an average load time of 462 ms, you’ll be able to trust your WordPress website is fast loading and online when your audience wants to find you.

Best WordPress Hosting as Rated by Users: SiteGround

Rounding out our list of WordPress web hosting sites is SiteGround.

They’ve become hugely popular in the WordPress community due to the strength of their hosting platform (which includes servers optimized just for WordPress) – they’re one of the few hosts recommended by

They offer good uptime, speed, some of the best WordPress support, free SSL and backups, the list goes on.

And they offer some of the best managed WordPress hosting prices around (starting at $3.95, you really won’t find managed hosting cheaper than this; at least we didn’t).

Get Out There and Start Creating!

We hope you found this guide to the best WordPress hosting sites helpful!

If you’re itching to get started building your own site, be sure to check out our how to create a website guide and get going in less than 30 minutes!

What is Web Hosting and How Does It Work?
A Beginner's Guide To Understanding Web Hosting

what is web hosting featured image

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Jun. 20, 2018

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this simple, step-by-step guide, I’ll explain what web hosting is, why it’s important, and how to set it up. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
  • Time To Complete:
    20 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    Working Knowledge

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

What’s up, Internet!? Today we’re going to be answering the question of what is web hosting and going over a little bit about how it works.

As always, we have a video guide for this available on our YouTube Channel and below:

If you liked the video and want more tutorials on creating a professional website you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

We’ll let you know about some great places to sign up for web hosting in case you’re looking to start a website for your blog, portfolio, business, or whatever else you’re dreaming up.

Let’s hop into the article…

What is Web Hosting?

To help you understand what web hosting is, let’s walk through an example.

Imagine you just came up with a new business idea, say to sell blue widgets, and you want to open up a store somewhere in your town.

You can register store’s name, get a logo, even make a few widgets.

But none of that will matter unless you rent a physical space to set up your shop, and that’s what web hosting is all about.

Web hosting is just a service where you’re able to rent space on the internet, fill it with all your files and media (your digital “goods”), then open your doors by publishing your website live to the world.

When you start a website, all your text, videos, photos, buttons, etc. have to be stored physically somewhere on a web server – basically a commercial grade computer that’s connected to the internet 99.9% of the time (unlike your laptop, for example).

Web hosting companies have buildings filled with these servers and people to keep them running,

They’ll even provide you with design platforms, customer support, security, and all sorts of useful tools to make creating and sharing your website easy.

When learning about what it takes to start a website, be careful not to confuse buying web hosting with buying a domain name.

Basically, a domain name is just an address where your shop/website will be set up.

Web hosting is like the land and infrastructure that lets you set up that shop and make it accessible to anyone in the world.

And your website is like your actual shop, with all the goods you sell inside.

So if you get a domain name without hosting, you’ll just see a page that says “parked” – all you have is an address, but it doesn’t lead anywhere.

And if you buy hosting without a domain name, then you’ll have a place for people to go, but they won’t be able to find it.

We wrote a whole post that goes in-depth on domain names, how they work, and how to pick a good one for your website – if you’re interested check that out here.

Types of Web Hosting

When it comes to building websites, there are a few different types of web hosting you’ll see, based on the kinds of web servers used and what your skills/needs/budget are.

  • Shared Hosting
  • VPS Hosting
  • Cloud Hosting
  • WordPress Hosting
  • Dedicated Hosting

While all these types of servers will act as a storage center for your website – holding all your website code and data while letting the world access it – each offers a different amount of storage capacity, control, speed, and reliability.

When you’re starting out, you want to stick with shared hosting as it’s the lowest cost option and has everything a small starter site needs.

But as you grow, you’ll want to look into other types of hosting to be able to support increases in traffic, so let’s take a look at the different types of web hosting so you’ll know a bit about the benefits of each.

Shared Hosting

With shared hosting, your website is placed on one server with a bunch of other sites – from a few hundred to thousands of other sites.

All of these websites share the server’s resources, including memory and processing power, which leads to cost savings that the hosting company then passes on to you.

The disadvantage of this is that the server will struggle to keep websites that run a lot of code or get a lot of traffic online.

But as we said, when you’re starting out this won’t be an issue and the ease of setup and low cost are more than worth the tradeoffs.

Shared Hosting Pros

  • Lowest cost (best place to start)
  • Fairly simple to use (need to learn a few things but no super-advanced tech knowledge needed)
  • No messing with server options (you can tweak a few things you might need but most of the server-side of things is set up for you)
  • Built-in control panel (so you can make technical changes with buttons/form fills not command lines and code)
  • Server maintenance is taken care of for you

Shared Hosting Cons

  • Very little control over server configuration (you have complete control of your website, just not some very technical parts of how your website’s server operates)
  • Not able to handle large volumes of traffic

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting

Virtual private server hosting (VPS) uses technology to digitally divide one server into multiple “virtual” servers.

In this setup, your website code runs as if it’s on a separate physical server from any other website, though in reality, it’s actually sharing the physical resources (memory, processing power) with a few other websites (much fewer than shared hosting).

The benefit of this is that you can customize your website backend a lot more to better handle complex code and higher traffic.

But, taking advantage of this requires technical expertise and you’ll pay more for this.

As your website grows and you can afford to pay someone to help you with the coding stuff, this can be a helpful upgrade to maintain a great experience for your visitors (fast loading times, smooth functioning).

VPS Hosting Pros

  • Root access to your server (do whatever you want with it)
  • Dedicated server space – no one else to share with
  • Traffic surges on other people’s sites won’t affect yours
  • Very scaleable to meet more traffic to your site

VPS Hosting Cons

  • More expensive than shared hosting
  • You have to know how to do technical server management tasks

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is sort of a variation on VPS and Shared hosting.

Instead of having your site on one physical server along with a bunch of other sites, your site is run form a “cluster” of servers that make up a “cloud,” along with a bunch of other websites that also share some resources on that server cluster.

The benefit is that if one of the physical servers that your website is on has a problem or gets overloaded, your website traffic is automatically sent to another server in the cluster.

This gives you some of the benefits of VPS hosting in that you’re not as limited by what other people’s websites are doing or just one servers’ resources.


  • Server failures don’t affect your website
  • Little downtime
  • Resources are allocated to your site where and as needed to keep it running smoothly
  • Can more easily scale to handle more traffic than other hosting


  • More expensive than shared hosting
  • You don’t have full control over the server setup

WordPress Hosting

WordPress hosting is a kind of shared hosting built specifically for WordPress websites (imagine that!).

These servers are specifically configured for making WordPress sites perform like a dream and you often get technical support that can also help you with WordPress problems (whereas with other hosting, they can help you with server/other hosting problems but if something is broken in your WordPress site they’ll often leave you at “good luck”).


  • Low cost
  • Good performance for WordPress sites
  • WordPress customer support


  • Only good for WordPress sites
  • Usually more expensive than simple Shared hosting

Dedicated Server Hosting

Dedicated server hosting offers maximum control over the server your website is stored on and run from – you’re exclusively renting an entire server, no other websites will be hosted on it.

This provides you maximum ability to optimize your website’s performance and handle a lot of traffic, but you’ll pay for it.


  • Complete control over your server
  • Highly reliable and secure


  • This is the most expensive type of hosting (usually it’s only used by large businesses)
  • You have to have advanced technical knowledge of server setup/maintenance

Website Hosting Costs

Web hosting is one of the many costs of starting a website.

Typically you’ll pay a monthly fee, with discounts for paying months in advance (sometimes up to 3 years).

Prices vary from host to host but here’s what you can typically expect to spend:

  • Shared Hosting: As little as $3.95/month to $10/month
  • Virtual Private Server: $20-60/month plus customization costs (assuming you pay someone to do that for you)
  • Dedicated Server: $80+/month including hosting and customization/maintenance costs.

As we mentioned above, shared hosting is more than enough to get started; as your website gets more traffic and holds more files, photos, etc. you’ll want to consider upgrading (but should be making more than enough money from the site to cover the additional costs).

Bonus Tip: You can actually host a simple website for free on Dropbox or Google Drive (this is mostly for fun, definitely not the way to create a pro website).

Web Hosting features to look for

We’ve got a really in-depth look at what to look for in web hosting in our best web hosting services post.

Definitely go check that out if you want the full low down!

Here are a few bullet points for a brief overview:

  • Speed/Uptime – how fast will your hosting be able to load your website and how often will it be unavailable (if at all)?
  • Traffic/Bandwidth – are there any limitations on how much data your host will share/how much traffic your site can receive?
  • Support – how good and available is their technical support?
  • Features – email accounts, FTP access, hosting for multiple sites, an easy to use control panel – do these things come included?
  • Cost – obviously; does the amount hosting costs makes sense for what you can spend?

Best Web Hosting Companies

So now that you know the basics of web hosting and how much it costs, how do you choose the right hosting company for your website?

There are dozens of factors to consider when choosing the perfect web hosting company.

When you’re just starting out most of that will be confusing to figure out and the reality is most hosts will be fine for what you need.

If you really want to get into the details, check out our Definitive Guide to the Best Web Hosting Services!

If you don’t want to spend too much time on this (so you can get to building your website faster), here are a few of our favorite web hosts.


hostgator website hosting page

While 1&1 and Bluehost are great, HostGator is definitely our favorite hosting service.

HostGator hosts over 8 million other domains and is a solid company for beginner websites with everything you need to get set up fast, including a one-click WordPress installer.

And with a 99.9% uptime guarantee and an industry-leading 45-day money back guarantee, you can trust you’ll be happy with their hosting service.

You can use our free tutorial to get started with HostGator!


bluehost website hosting page

With over 2 million websites built on Bluehost, they’re a great company to work with for your first website. Bluehost sets itself apart in a few ways, including a free domain name when you sign up and daily backups of your site (even on their lowest-priced plans).

With great support and a solid track record, you’ll be just fine by choosing Bluehost as your first hosting provider. They also provide you with a free domain name and SSL certificate.


hostwinds what is website hosting service

Hostwinds is a newer company to the web hosting game, and we appreciate that.

Especially because they’re looking to find their edge by providing better customer support than the bigger companies you’ll find (many are fine, some of their support is notoriously bad though).

They nail all the web hosting fundamentals you’ll need in a reliable service – solid uptime, good speeds, all the basic features.

Their user interface could be better but if you’re the type who likes to support the little guy (which we do in a lot of cases), you’ll want to give them a look!

What is web hosting FAQs

How are domain names and hosting related to each other?

Domain names and web hosting are technically separate, but they work together and most web hosts also offer domain name purchasing/hosting.

Basically, the “domain name system” is a gigantic address book that translates domain names humans use (“”) into IP addresses that web servers/browsers use (

Without a domain name, people basically can’t find your site; without hosting, your site won’t be available for people to reach over the internet.

Do I need a domain name and hosting to build my website?

For sure!

Buying a domain name gives you the right to use it for as long as you keep paying the renewal fees – but it doesn’t give you any way to create/store/change website files and make them available over the internet.

Hosting does all that.

BUT with just hosting, people would have a complicated time reaching your site (they’d have to remember the IP address, access the right domain name servers… it’s basically not possible except for a few technical wizards and even for them that’s a waste of time).

You can get your domain name on its own from one of the best domain name registrars, then get hosting from one of the best web hosts.

Or you can just get your domain name from your web host when you sign up with a host like HostGator (sometimes they offer a free domain name for one year, then it’s usually more expensive to renew your domain with them compared to the domain name registrars).

Can I move my website to another web hosting service without changing my domain?

If you don’t like your first choice for web hosting for whatever reason, you can definitely change hosts with a bit of time, knowledge, and elbow grease.

Without getting into the full details of how to migrate a website (that’s a post in and of itself), basically you can copy your website files from your old web host to your new web host to take care of that end of things.

Then, you can either transfer your domain name to your new web host, or (if you got your domain name from a domain name registrar separate from your hosting), you can just “point” your domain name from your old hosting servers to your new ones.

There’s More to Creating a Pro Website than Hosting…

Hosting is an essential part of building a website and after reading this post you’ve got the basics under your belt.

But there’s still a lot more to learn!

So if you found this post valuable, go check out our best web hosting companies post to learn more!

What is a Domain Name? | Complete Guide [2020]
A Beginners Guide to How Domain Names Work

what is a domain name featured image

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Jun. 11, 2018

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this simple, step-by-step guide, you’ll learn what a domain name is, why it’s important, and how to register one. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
  • Time To Complete:
    20 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    Working Knowledge

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

What’s up, Internet!? Thinking about creating your own website? If so, you’ve probably wondered “what is a domain name?” at some point during this journey.

As always, we have a video guide for this available on our YouTube Channel and below:

If you liked the video and want more tutorials on creating a professional website you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Pressing onward…

Many beginner users confuse domain names with URLs, websites, hosting, and other services.

So today, we’ve got a beginner’s guide to help you figure out what a domain name is, how domain names work, how to choose the right domain name for your website, and how to buy a domain name once you’ve found one.

Let’s get into the content…

What is a Domain Name?

Domain names are (ideally) easy to remember words that are used to find and go to websites. In simple terms, a domain name is like an address for your website.

You can think of the internet as a series of intersecting streets that go all around the world. On this world map, your website is your house. In order for anyone to find their way to your house, they’ll need an address. That address is your domain name – the thing people type in their web browser’s URL bar to find you on the streets of the internet.

How Do Domain Names Work?

To get a little more technical (not too much we promise), the computers on the internet, from that laptop your reader is using to the servers that host your website has an IP address, which is a series of 4-12 numbers separated by dots (.) that let’s computers identify and find each other.

For example, here’s the IP address for Create a Pro Website:

And if you’re looking for a few seconds of amusement, you can find your computer’s IP address by going to Google here.

While these numbers are great for machines, it’d be hard to remember 12 digits for every website you want to go to. That’s where domain names come in.

With a domain name, you can visit a website by typing in an easy to remember word or phrase, like

What happens when you enter a domain name into your browser?

how domain names work infographic

When you enter a domain name into your browser to find a website, your computer sends a “lookup request” to a global network of servers called the Domain Name System (DNS).

The DNS is a massive database of millions of registered domain names, each associated with a particular website’s nameserver and IP address.

When the DNS gets your lookup request, it finds the nameserver associated with the domain name you’re using; this is usually managed by your hosting company.

For example, if you use HostGator to host your website (like we do), your nameservers will look like this:

When the nameservers get your lookup request, they look up the IP address for the website you’re looking for then forward you/your computer to it.

It seems complicated, sure, but thanks to the hard work of a lot of really smart people, all of this takes place in less than a millisecond after you hit enter.

Go technology!

Parts and Types of Domain Names

Domain names are read from right to left, just like normal text (if you speak English).

To the right, you’ll find a general description of the domain name, this is the “Top Level Domain.” And to the left, you’ll find a specific description of the domain name, the “Second Level Domain.

Think of it like a person’s name – their family name to the right/at the end, their personal name to the left/first.

TLD: Top Level Domains

There are over a thousand TLDs available, but the most common you’ll see are .com (which make up over 50% of the internet), .org, .net, .edu, and more recently .io and .co.

The official list of TLDs is maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) – which includes gTLDs and ccTLDs.

gTLD: Generic Top Level Domains

gTLDs are the one’s you’re used to seeing – .com, .co, .net, .org, etc.

They can be used by anyone, anywhere in the world (technically so can ccTLDs but it doesn’t make much sense to use a country-specific TLD if you’re not in that country).

In most cases, there aren’t any restrictions on using gTLDs for any kind of site, but generally there’s some intent behind each; .com is meant for “commercial” sites, .org for non-profits, .edu for educational institutions.

A couple gTLDs are restricted – don’t try to create a .mil (“military”) or .gov (“government”) site yourself – if you can even find a way you’ll probably have a couple of men in black knocking on your door ASAP.

And some gTLDs will cost more than others; for example, depending on your domain registrar, a .com domain will cost you anywhere from $8-15 bucks a year, while a .co is usually $20-25.

ccTLD: Country Code Top Level Domains

ccTLDs use two letters based on international country codes to identify sites in specific countries, like .uk for the United Kingdom and .jp for Japan.

They’re generally used for companies looking to do business in those specific countries to let people know where they are, since everyone can use gTLDs like .com and .org anywhere in the world.

Other types of domain names

Second Level Domain

A second level domain (SLD or 2LD) is the part to the left of the dot that usually refers to the specific business or organization who owns the website you’re going to.

In our case, our SLD is “createaprowebsite.”


Subdomains let you have some separation between different parts of your site without having to buy a whole new domain name; eg in “” “example” is a subdomain of our website (not real, you won’t find anything there lol).

For the most part, you won’t need to mess with these.

Sometimes it makes a bit of logical sense to have that separation, eg “” will take you to their knowledge base for people who develop apps using Facebook’s API.

But Google treats subdomains as entirely separate websites – meaning you have to work to get your main domain ranking AND your subdomain ranking if you want both to show up in search engines.

So it’s usually better to just use pages and internal linking to keep different parts of your site separate.

Free domains

You can get free domain names from website builders like, Squarespace, Wix, etc.

They’re similar to subdomains since they use a special prefix (“example.”) in front of a standard second level/TLD that the builder uses for all their sites (eg “” in Wix’s case).

These can be handy if you want to do some of your website setup before paying for a premium website builder plan, but it’s definitely not a pro look.

Domain Name Examples


Domain Name vs URL

When talking about domain names you might also hear about “URLs”

What is a URL?

What’s the difference between a URL and a domain name?

A domain name is usually part of a larger internet address called a URL.

The URL goes into much more detail than a domain name – adding information about the specific location on a website and how you interact with it.

What is a URL?

A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is the full address of a website or other online resource (things like photos or downloadable PDFs).

Using the URL of this post as an example, the three basic parts of a URL are the protocol identifier, the domain name, and the path:

what is a url structure

Protocol Identifiers

To continue our house/roads metaphor, the protocol identifier describes the way you’ll get to the house/website – a car or bus for a house, “http” or “ftp” for a website.

The most common protocol identifier you’ll see is “http://” or “https://” (which is a secured version of http). Those are how web browsers usually reach the various parts of a website.

As you get deeper into your pro website experience, you’ll also learn about other protocols like “ftp://” – which is used for securely uploading and downloading files for your website.

And you probably use SMTP every day – that’s how emails are sent!


The path is the specific folder or page on the website you’re going to.

If your domain name is your house’s address, the path is the specific room in the house you want to go to.

URL Examples (Domain Name Bold)


Domain vs Website

A website is a collection of web pages grouped together under one name: the domain name.

So a website is like your house and (again) the domain name is its address. Domain names get associated with a website through a registration process; you’ll need to register a domain name before anyone can use it to get to your site.

Anyone can register a website with a company called a domain name registrar.

Our recommended hosting company, HostGator, is also a domain name registrar because you can purchase your domain name through them at the same time that you purchase a hosting package.

While you can buy and register a domain name without a website, you can’t have a website without a domain name.

As you dig into your website building journey, you might find yourself doing this; we’ve thought of tons of great domain names over the years and bought them just to have in case we want to use them in the future.

Domain vs Hosting

If your domain is the address, and your website is your house, then web hosting is the plot of land on which your house is built.

Websites are hosted on computers called web servers, which run special software (Apache and Nginx are two popular examples) that lets them find the website’s data and send it to your web browser when you try to visit the site.

These web servers and all the power chords, ethernet cables, and other stuff that makes them run are usually owned and managed by a web hosting company that takes care of the technical stuff for you.

Basically, all of THIS:

what is a domain web servers cables image

You can buy web hosting and register domain names separately (from different companies), but most hosting companies offer domain registration to make things easier for you.

If you buy your domain name from one company and your hosting from another, you’ll have to take some extra steps to set up your nameservers to get things working correctly; this isn’t too difficult but it’s another thing to do which is why we recommend getting your hosting and registering your domain name at the same time from the same place!

How to Choose a Domain Name

So now that you know a bit more about what a domain name is and how domain names work, you’re probably wondering how you can come up with a good one for your website idea?

This could be a whole post in itself, but here are a few tips for choosing a great domain name:

Use Keywords

Keywords are how people search for things online and how search engines like Google figure out whether your site has the information people are looking for.

Using keywords that describe your website in your domain name is not only good for letting people know what your site is about, but it will also help you get to the top of the search results (which means more visitor traffic and potential revenue for you).

For example, our website is all about creating amazing, professional level websites (even if you’re a beginner) – so we chose the domain name “” because it lets people know what we do and has some nice keywords that help us bring in traffic.

Make It Easy to Remember

Making it easy to remember how to get to a website is what GOOD domain names are all about.

If you make your domain name easy to remember, you’ll get more people coming back to your website again and again. And it’s easier for those people to tell their friends about you!

To help make your domain name easy to remember, try to come up with a catchy name that describes what you do.


Keep It Short

Domain names should ideally be less than 10 characters (we know, we broke the rule) or about 2-4 words long.

The shorter, the better as it’s easier to remember and say a short domain name, but these days it’s really hard to get a great short name (don’t even think about any one-word domains… unless you want to spend 10s if not 100s of thousands of dollars to get one).

The main point is you don’t want to end up with something like “

It’s confusing, hard to say, and it will get typed incorrectly into the browser.

Make it Easy to Type

To that last point, make sure people know how to quickly type your domain name.

This is good for when they want to go to your website directly or they’re trying to remember you and type it into Google.

The biggest point on this, besides keeping things short, is to not use words that can easily be misspelled, misread, or mispronounced (in case they hear the name from someone else).

More bad domain name examples (all real):


Sometimes the perfect domain name is already taken.

If so, try a hyphenated version (but make sure it’s not too long if you do).

For example, if “” is taken (which it is), you could try “” (also taken).

Hyphens aren’t ideal but they can work.

Get the .Com

Ideally, you’ll want to snag a .com as this is the most widely used top level domain in the US; people will automatically assume that’s what you use if they only sort of remember you.

But a lot of these are taken, so in a pinch .net, .org or some of the newer TLDs like .co and .io can work.

Avoid Legal Hassles

Depending on what you want to do with your website, this might not be a huge issue, but it’s worth spending a bit of time searching around to see if anyone else is using a similar name for their domain or website before you buy a domain name and set up your site.

A quick side note on this, sometimes a website name and your domain name aren’t quite the same.

For example, CloudApp is a great tool for capturing and sharing screenshots and recordings.

But when they went to start their site, that domain name was taken, so while their app and website name is “CloudApp,” their domain name is “”

How to Find a Domain Name

As you’re thinking about potential domain names for your website, you’ll want to check to see if they’re available.

There are a couple of tools we recommend for this.

Our Free Domain Name Generator

As part of our mission to do everything we possibly can to help make starting your pro website easy, we’ve put some elbow grease into creating our own FREE tool for you to find the perfect name for your new site.

Check out our free domain name generator here!

Shopify’s Domain Name Generator

If you hate us that much, Shopify also has a cool domain name generator you can use to see if a domain name is available and get ideas.

Just plug in a keyword or two and they’ll show you what’s available using those keywords, as well as a few variations.

Check out the generator here!

Namechk has been around for years as a web and iOS app.

It’s a handy tool to check the availability of not only a domain name (across a few dozen top level domains), but also on a ton of popular social media sites as well.

In a few seconds, you’ll be able to tell if your name is ready and open for you to use anywhere you might need it to build and promote your blog or business.

How to Buy a Domain Name

Did you come up with the perfect domain name for your website?

Great! Have you found out it’s available on a good TLD and all the major social networks?

Awesome! Now you’re ready to buy and register your domain name!

How much will that domain name cost you?

It varies from company to company, but you can generally expect to pay about $14.99 a year for most top level domains, with some specialty ones (like .co and .io) going for as much as $50 a year.

There are a ton of companies out there that offer domain name registration services.

However, as we mentioned above, you’ll also need to get a hosting service to set up your website – a domain name isn’t enough.

For that, we recommend HostGator, because you can get your domain name and web hosting all at once!

We’ve used them for years to create dozens of websites for ourselves and our friends and their service has always been reliable, they’ve helped answer any questions we have, and they make it super easy to set up websites using WordPress (a popular Content Management System or CMS used to make setting up websites and adding content to them simple).

And when you use our special link (right here), you can get started for as low as $2.75/month, depending on which plan you choose!

You can also check out our FREE website getting started guide/WordPress tutorial! It’s a step-by-step tutorial that will walk you through the entire process in 30 minutes or less!

What is a domain name FAQ

1. How much does domain name registration cost?

It depends specifically on the domain name registrar, host, or website builder you buy from AND what TLD you go with, but generally a .com will cost you $8-15 per year.

Some hosts/builders will offer a free domain name for a year when you sign up for a year or more of hosting – definitely take advantage of that.

BUT many of them charge more for renewal than domain registrars, so be sure to figure out how much renewal will cost and consider transferring your domain name out before you have to pay a hefty fee (the worst example we found charges $50/year for domain name renewal – absolutely insane!).

You’ll also find that sometimes domain names can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.

This is because someone has bought the domain name because they think it’s popular and would be worth a lot more than the usual amount.

If you’re hoping to launch your fitness blog on something like “” (assuming it wasn’t already taken), be prepared to shell out hella cheddar (so much it’s worth just finding something else unless you’re already ballin lol).

2. Can I buy more than one domain name?

Yup yup, no restrictions other than your wallet here!

3. Can I cancel my domain name registration?

Some domain name registrars will let you cancel your domain registration at any time, which lets someone else buy and register it.

Some will say tough luck and make you just let it expire.

In pretty much every case, though, you actually won’t be able to get a refund either way.

That’s why we recommend just getting 1 year domain name registrations to start; when you get deeper in the game and have been running your site for years and know you’ll be around a while, go for something longer.

When you’re just getting started, you might find it’s your 4th website idea that really takes off, no need to hold onto those first 3 domain names.

That being said, most of us in the web building world make buying and holding onto domain names we like a little bit of a hobby.

Kinda like 21st century coin or stamp collecting and definitely just as nerdy.

4. Can I move my website to a different domain name after setting it up?

You sure can!

The details of how to do this are beyond the scope of what we’re covering here, but if you use a website builder or WordPress you can change your website’s URL in the back end.

5. Can I sell my domain names?

Yes indeed!

Some people make a whole income and business out of this – finding domain names they think someone else will want and pay more than the usual $8-15 for because the name is particularly brandable.

Millions are made every year doing this through marketplaces like GoDaddy and Sedo.

6. Can I transfer my domain name to a different website builder/host/domain registrar?


Domain name registrars usually enable a “transfer lock” on domains you buy so someone else can snag them from you without your permission (eg you want to sell them the domain name).

But, as long as you’re the paid-in-full registered owner of the name, you can unlock any name for transfer, get a security code to confirm it’s being transferred to the right person (or to yourself if you’re just moving hosts/registrars), and move ‘er on over.

It usually takes somewhere between a day and a week for the transfer to complete and the DNS system to finish propagating the change.

Why would you want to transfer?

If you switch website builders or from a builder like Wix to WordPress (or the other way around), it can be handier to just have your domain name registered and managed from the same place your website hosting/files are.

Also, a lot of hosts (like Hostgator) offer free domain names for a year when you sign up for a year of hosting.

BUT some of them charge more than the usual $8-15 renewal fee (sometimes a lot more – we found one that charges an insane $50/year for domain renewal), so you might just want to get that free domain when you can then transfer it to a registrar that doesn’t charge as much as your builder/host.

7. Should I purchase my domain name through a domain registrar or a web host/website builder?

Pros and cons.

Pros of buying your domain through your host/builder

  • You can usually get a free domain for a year when you sign up for a year of hosting.
  • It’s usually easier to connect your domain name to your website when you do this (a bit more automated than if they’re in separate places).

Cons of buying your domain through your host/builder

  • Hosts/builders often charge more than the $8-15 you’ll pay at dedicated domain name registrars after that first free year.
  • If you switch hosts/builders, you’ll need to transfer your domain to that new host/builder (not super complicated, but it’s extra work and you’ll have to wait 1-7 days for the transfer to finish).

Pros of buying your domain through a dedicated domain name registrar

  • If you change hosts/builders, you can keep your domain name right where it is and just change 2 lines of text (updating your “nameservers”) to have the domain point to your new host/builder.
  • Renewal fees tend to be a few bucks cheaper at dedicated registrars.

Cons of buying your domain through a dedicated domain name registrar

  • You’ll have to do a bit more technical setup to get your domain properly connected to your web hosting/builder and website files.

8. What is domain privacy and do I need it?

ICANN requires anyone registering a domain name to provide an email, physical address, and phone number (kind of like your credit card – they want to tie that info to the domain for ownership verification purposes).

And if you DON’T have domain name privacy, anyone in the world can do a “whois lookup” and get that info (try it yourself, Google “whois [any domain name]” and you’ll see this info).

Domain name privacy is an add-on that some registrars like Namecheap) offer this for free, others will charge you $10-20 for.

When you grab it, they’ll keep track of your info for ICANN, but the public record will show their generic info so randos can’t see it.

Do you need it? Not technically. Do you want it? Absolutely.

We’ve made the mistake of not getting it before and immediately started getting spam calls about how our website was under attack and for just 5 easy payments of $99.99 we could fix the issue.

9. Are domain names with .com always the best?

.com is the most common TLD on the planet (about 50% of websites use it) and unless you’re building a non-profit site or one that’s for a business that just operates in a country (like Canada), it’s generally the preferred choice.

That being said, sometimes you come up with a really awesome website name and the .com is taken, but the .co, .org, or .net is not.

In this case, if there’s not a website on the .com; you don’t want to compete with another website that has it as they’ll get people who want to go to your site but forget it’s not a .com, don’t worry too much about it – .co is definitely becoming more common and it’s fine.

Probably best to stay away from some of the more obscure TLDs like .biz and .tv for two reasons, though:

  1. Some of them cost more for annual registration (like $25-100 a year at any registrar).
  2. Some seem kind of spammy to your visitors (we’re going for “pro” websites here).