Shared Web Hosting Plan Comparison, With a Clear Winner [2019]

After running a web design agency for 12 years, I have tried and tested out many shared web hosting options for WordPress websites. I understand the frustration that comes with poor support and hosting plans with limits.

If you’re a web company looking for the best option to host your customer’ website, this is a great place to start. I’ll dive into the pros and cons of each of the plans I have tried over the years so you can determine what option is best for you. Although your needs may be different than mine, after trying out as many plans as I have, one shared hosting plan stands out above the rest.

I’d like to iterate the point again that I’ll only be comparing shared hosting plans. As a web design agency, shared hosting plans are the most affordable way to get started with hosting for your customers. The cost is lower and setup is often quite easy. There are dedicated WordPress hosting plans that offer better options, but these will not be reviewed in this article.

What is Shared Hosting

A shared web hosting plan is one where you can host multiple websites on one plan. The top benefits include:

  • Low cost, often starting at less than $5/month
  • Unlimited sites
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Free email plans

Every year technology evolves and plans change. The first shared hosting plan I ever used is Dreamhost, so let’s start our list with them.

Dreamhost

DreamHost LogoThis was the first shared hosting plan we used for our WordPress websites. Now, we didn’t go on a hunt for a WordPress host and compare a bunch of plans, we actually just inherited this account from another business we acquired. It seemed to work well so we continued with it.

The first couple years of using Dreamhost went fairly smooth. They had a one-click install option for WordPress, domains were easy to setup, and their free email accounts worked well.

A few years into using Dreamhost though, things stopped working as well. All of a sudden our websites were hitting memory limits causing WP updates to fail, websites started to get hacked, and support was taking more than 24 hrs to get back to us with each response. We needed to find a new solution.

Our Evaluation

Pros:

  • You can host a lot of websites on one plan. 25+ with no issues.
  • Quick setup of new sites with 1-click WP Installs
  • Free basic emails

Cons

  • Memory limits: Even super simple WP sites hit unknown memory usage issues
  • Poor security – sites always getting hacked
  • Unable to view usage reports and reports on what sites were causing problems
  • Long wait times for customer support

Speed – Average

Resources – Poor

Customer Support – Poor

cPanel – No. Custom dashboard

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a simple to use interface to setup a few basic websites and don’t have high technical expectations, this shared plan would work for you. Biggest downside for Dreamhost is their support. Most agencies don’t have time to wait a day to get an answer to why a website is down or how to fix an issue.

View Dreamhost Plans

Bluehost

bluehost logoI started using Bluehost after I start experiencing issues with Dreamhost. The cost was about the same, and online marketers like Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income was recommending them, so we gave Bluehost a try.

Again, at first my experience was good. As time went on we began to hit resource limits that were unstated anywhere when we first setup the account. Customer support also seemed poor and front line support were never able to solve the issues we ran into. The last straw was when our shared server went down unexpectedly for a period of over 24 hours.

Our Evaluation

Pros:

  • You can host a lot of basic websites on one plan
  • A cPanel which allows ability to modify certain server variables

Cons:

  • Usage limits
  • Long wait times for customer support
  • Unexpected down times

Speed – Average

Resources – Average

Customer Support – Poor

cPanel – Yes, but customized slightly for them

Conclusion

My thoughts about Bluehost would be similar to Dreamhost. It would work ok for you if your needs are basic and you aren’t hosting large, high traffic websites. If you’re going to go with Bluehost, make sure to check out usage limits. They now post info on inode, memory and other usage limits.

View Bluehost Plans

Siteground

Siteground HostingAt my wits end with Bluehost and Dreamhost, I was again on the search for another host. WordPress.org had just released an updated list of recommended hosts, and one of them was Siteground, so I began my research into this plan.

Most reviews appeared to be favorable, and I couldn’t find any reasons not to give them a try, so I setup an account. My initial reaction was wow. The WP website we setup was loading lightning fast, and there was no wait times for their online chat support. After a few interactions with support, I also found out their front line support team we super technical and there wasn’t anything they couldn’t help me with right away.

Our Evaluation

Pros:

  • Speed
  • Caching
  • Security

Cons:

  • Inode & CPU second resource limits

Speed – Excellent

Resources – Average

Customer Support – Excellent

cPanel – Yes

Conclusion

After 12 years of running a web design agency, Siteground is the only shared hosting plan I would actually recommend to use. Yes, each shared hosting account comes with inode and CPU second limitations, but our agency is still able to host 20 – 25 websites on one plan without worrying about server limitations. Site speed is excellent and best of all, they have the best support team in the business.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve read through this article, this is less a comparison article than it is a plug for Siteground. There really is no comparison between the three, and if you’re just getting started in the web design world you might as well not have to learn the things I have had to.

I have used other shared hosting plans, such as Hostgator and Godaddy as well, but not to the extent I used the ones above. In both these cases I have had my struggles with their support teams and complicated interfaces.

Let me know if you’ve had similar experiences, or if you use another host that you’d recommend and why.

Stay tuned for a future article about dedicated hosting plans for WordPress websites.

(*Note: I use affiliate links in this article as part of my effort to make passive website income)

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