Before we launch into our buying guide, you should know the three different categories on offer: shared web hosting (a good basic option if you're on a budget), VPS hosting (more flexible) and dedicated servers (for those running a bigger operation and in need of something more capable). If you're not sure which is the best level for you, you’ll find a detailed explanation of the different tiers at the bottom of this guide. It's also worth bearing in mind that you need to pick something that's going to be able to grow and scale up with you.
A Content Distribution Network (CDN) is a network of servers distributed geographically. The purpose of a CDN is to deliver content on the internet much faster. If a user in Toronto is trying to access your website, the closest server to them will take care of this. But someone coming to your website from Sydney, Australia, will be catered to by a server closest to them. The main host server holds your website content, and all the other servers have a cached version each.
That said, not all web hosts offer email. WP Engine, for example, does not. In such instances, you must email accounts from a company other than your web host. GoDaddy, for instance, sells email packages starting at $3.49 per user, per month. That might sound like a hassle, and just one more thing to keep track of, but there are actually some webmasters who feel that separating your email hosting and web hosting services is smart. That way, one provider going offline won't completely bork your business.
As longtime website owners and hosting nerds, we've been asked often: "Which web host is your personal favorite?" We recently decided to take this question seriously — exhaustively testing accounts with all the best web hosting services to analyze their uptime, features, pricing, support, and more. So who do we believe offers the best web hosting? See below for our top reviews of 2020, conveniently broken out by category: