Who Has the Fastest, Most Reliable Shared Hosting?
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There are many things to look for in a web host. Great support comes to mind. But the one thing that a host has to have is fast, stable servers.
We've been studying the web hosting industry for more than a decade. And we've collected a lot of data in that time. In this article, we're going to look at the data on web page response times and uptimes to determine the fastest and most stable hosts for your website.
Why Speed and Stability Matter
There are good reasons why you need fast, stable web hosting. Google has found that people click away from mobile sites if they don't load quickly.
You probably know this from your own experience. In addition to all of us simply being impatient, slow page load speeds imply that the site isn't professional.
Google (and presumably other search engines) provide a search ranking boost to websites that are fast.
And just as a slow server will hurt your site, so will one that is frequently down. It doesn't take long for users to stop even trying.
How We Tested the Hosts
We used our collection of shared hosting accounts. In many cases, we have years worth of data. But in order to include newer web hosting companies and to have the most up-to-date data, we used only our data from May 2019. We looked at:
- Response time.
Each of these was tested every minute and then averaged for the whole month. Then we averaged the data for 3 months.
We sorted the results in descending order of response time, but don't forget to pay attention to the uptime either. Aside from GreenGeeks, all hosts had average uptimes above 99.9% over the past 6 months, which is pretty good going.
Update: WordPress Installs
In early January 2020, we made a change to our testing. Instead of using a small static page, we put identical WordPress installs on all of our websites. In most cases, this increased the page load times - sometimes substantially.
We only have one complete month of data with these new installations, but we are providing it because we believe that they represent the best data. We will, of course, update this page as time goes on. But one month of data is still significant and we believe it provides a good indication of the performance of the hosts.
Note, however, the WordPress installs did not change the uptimes we've recorded in any notable way, so we are not updating that information at this time.
Fastest, Most Reliable Shared Hosting
We present the top 9 shared hosts based on their combined speed and stability ratings. Our reason for choosing this number is that there was a distinct difference between this group and the hosts below them.
Note that these are just the shared hosts. We got some great results with cloud, VPS, and even website builder hosting. We'll go over the best ones below.
The following measurements show the average speed and uptime for the hosts. The first two data columns are for the last 3 months of 2019. The last column is for February 2020, after we installed WordPress.
|Host||Speed (ms)||Uptime (%)||WP Speed (ms)|
|Web Hosting Pad||325||99.94||854|
Some hosts were let down by below-average response times, but have been exceptionally reliable over the past year. We compiled all of our available uptime data from the last 3 months of 2019 to give you an overview of our top providers' reliability:
- A2 Hosting - 100.00%
- Bluehost - 99.99%
- Domain.com - 99.95%
- DreamHost - 100.00%
- FatCow - 99.99%
- GoDaddy - 100.00%
- GreenGeeks - 99.86%
- HostGator - 99.99%
- Hostinger - 99.99%
- HostPapa - 99.89%
- Inmotion Hosting - 99.94%
- Interserver - 99.96%
- iPage - 99.89%
- JustHost - 100.00%
- MDD Hosting - 100.00%
- Namecheap - 99.91%
- SiteGround - 99.99%
- Web Hosting Pad - 99.94%
- Web Hosting Hub - 100.00%
- Yahoo Web Hosting - 100.00%
Details About the Fastest, Most Stable Shared Hosts
As much as possible, we made sure that none of the hosts were on this list just because they had a particularly good month. But this doesn't mean you should simply go by this table. It distorts the facts a little bit.
The table makes some hosts look worse and others better than they are. So read on to get the details.
- Pro: Cheap shared hosting
- Pro: Huge range of domain TLDs
- Con: No dedicated servers
Domain.com scaled up from being a simple domain registrar to a fully-fledged hosting provider. They have a variety of hosting, including three separate shared hosting packages.
Domain.com's 3-month average response time from the end of 2019 was 277 ms. But this number jumped to 851 ms with WordPress installed. They maintain an excellent uptime of 99.96%, well within their uptime guarantee.
- Pro: Environmentally friendly
- Pro: Scalable
- Con: Slightly pricy renewal rates
GreenGeeks is known for being an environmentally friendly hosting provider - buying three-times their energy use in carbon offsets. But they're also one of the best hosts regardless of their social conscience.
They offer great introductory prices - including a barebones plan for just $2.95 per month. The downside of this is that the renewal price (after three years at the introductory price) is relatively high: $9.95 per month. That isn't that high, however, and the other plans don't jump as much. But this could be a deal-breaker for some.
GreenGeeks' average uptime during the last three months of 2019 was low for them, 99.86% - indicating a monthly downtime of slightly more than hour. Their page load speeds during that time were quite good: 286 ms. With WordPress installed, this value shot up to 632 ms.
- Pro: Inexpensive cloud plans
- Pro: Cheap domains
- Con: No phone support
Hostinger is a people's favorite with consistent 4+ star user reviews. They offer a range of affordable shared, VPS, and cloud hosting plans with the cheapest plan starting at just $0.80/month!
Hostinger has had some problems with uptime in the past, but recently, they've been great. Their uptime over the last three months of 2019 was 99.99%.
The average load time of web pages during this period was 290 ms. With WordPress installed, this number went up slightly to 346 ms.
- Pro: Flexibility
- Pro: Developer-friendly
- Con: Complexity
A2 Hosting is particularly good for experienced developers and webmasters. But even for newbies, A2 Hosting is good to consider. In addition to being a top host, they provide some of the best support in the industry.
A2 Hosting also offers good prices. And they not only offer great introductory rates but their renewal rates are reasonable - in the middle of the industry's range. So you won't be forced to change hosts after your contract is up.
The average for response times over the last three months of 2019 came in at 292 ms. With WordPress installed, the page load speed rose modestly to a still excellent 369 ms.
A2 Hosting's uptime for this period was 100.00%. This is typical since we started testing them back in 2017.
- Pro: Price-lock guarantee
- Pro: Excellent support
- Con: Can be hard to use
InterServer can be a hard host to get started with. But there are many things that newbies will find appealing. One is that they have a base shared hosting plan: feature-rich for just $5 per month (less if you pay for a year or more at a time). Plus there are no surprises; renewal is the same price.
Additionally, InterServer offers excellent support so you won't be left struggling by yourself.
Our tests over the last three months of 2019 indicate that they had an average uptime of 99.96%. Their response times actually went down when we installed WordPress: from 321 ms to an exceptional 261 ms.
You may see better uptimes from InterServer than we have. And their downtime only amounts to about 16 minutes per month. But it often comes in less frequent but longer periods. This is something you should consider before signing up.
Web Hosting Pad
- Pro: One-click installs
- Pro: Automatic malware scans
- Con: No enterprise plans
Web Hosting Pad offers cheap hosting plans with plenty of freebies to get started (SSL certificates, domain, one-click-installs), though they do have dedicated servers and cloud hosting plans.
Overall, this provider had a very good 3-month period at the end of 2019 with and average page load speed of 325 ms. But with WordPress installed, they went up substantially to 854 ms. Their average uptime was 99.94%.
- Pro: Great support
- Pro: Official WordPress host
- Con: Expensive especially for renewals
SiteGround is our top-rated host. When it comes to shared hosting, they have everything: features, performance, and unmatched support.
The downside is that they are a tad more expensive than competing shared hosts. The bigger concern is their renewal pricing, which may scare away some customers.
Over the last three months of 2019, SiteGround an average page load time of 405 ms. It's WordPress load time rose to 608 ms.
But it's server stability where SiteGround really shines. Over the 3 month period, SiteGround had just two outages: one 2-minute and one 3-minute. They hold an average uptime of 99.99%.
- Pro: Great for WordPress hosting
- Pro: Low prices
- Con: Substantially higher renewal rates
Bluehost was the first hosting company to be officially recommended as a host for WordPress. It remains an obvious choice for anyone looking for WordPress hosting.
Though Bluehost performed well in this test, it's an even better host than the numbers would indicate. The average uptime over the last 3 months of 2019 came to 99.99% - indicating less than 5 minutes of downtime per month.
Bluehost's response times over this period was 446 ms. With WordPress installed, this number went down to 787 ms.
Other Fast Web Hosting
We only looked at traditional shared hosting plans above. When it comes to other kinds of hosting, there are some great choices for fast web hosting. These numbers are for the month of February 2020.
|Host||Speed (ms)||Uptime (%)||Type|
VPS Hosting: Flywheel
- Pro: Fast servers
- Pro: Inexpensive
- Con: Lack of control
Flywheel offers advanced hosting aimed at web designers for both their work and their clients. They are a relative newcomer to the hosting industry. Thus far, we have only received a couple of reviews of them and they have been negative - mostly highlighting a lack of fine control over hosting.
However, their performance numbers since we started testing them over 9 months ago have been shockingly good. They have maintained a consistent 100.00% uptime with average page load speeds right around 110 ms.
Website Builder Hosting: Wix
- Pro: Great-looking website builder
- Pro: All PCI compliant
- Con: Limited customization
Wix offers a very easy way to get a website up and running. And with some of the best templates in the industry, the site will look good. Just the same, Wix doesn't allow you to customize your site as much as you might like to. But they offer a free plan so there's nothing to lose if you want to try it out.
During our testing period, the average uptime was 100.00%. And the response time has been equally impressive at 305 ms.
WordPress Hosting: WP Engine
- Pro: Great support
- Pro: WordPress optimized
- Con: No email
WP Engine invented the managed WordPress hosting industry. And they are still the top host in that field. Their entire infrastructure is tuned to host WordPress at its fastest and most stable.
WP Engine's uptime during February 2020 was 100.00%. Their response times have also been better with an average of 235 ms.
Cloud Hosting: Liquid Web
- Pro: High-performance, powerful plans
- Pro: 100% uptime guarantee
- Con: Expensive
Liquid Web has been in the hosting business since the 1990s. They focus on high-end hosting: cloud (VPS), dedicated, and managed WordPress hosting with advanced features. If you need high-performance hosting, Liquid Web is a good choice.
Liquid Web offers a 100% uptime guarantee, which is technically impossible in the long-term. But the vast majority of the time they meet it as in February when they didn't experience a single outage.
Their response times have been slower in previous months than we've experienced in the past. February was typical of their current performance with an average response time of 522 ms.
Beyond Speed and Stability
It is certainly best to have super fast hosting that never goes down. But there's more to hosting than this.
- Support: we already talked about this, but it's critical to select a host that can support you when something goes wrong. That doesn't mean you have to have phone support. But it has to meet your needs.
- SSD: solid-state drives (SSDs) have become important in web hosting because they are faster and more reliable than mechanical drives. Most of the shared hosting providers use SSDs.
- CDN: a content delivery network will speed up your site no matter where your visitors come from. It's usually at least a good idea to have a CDN for your website and if it is included with hosting, so much the better.
- Control Panel: shared hosting doesn't usually come with shell access so you will administer it through a control panel. Popular ones like cPanel and Plesk make moving hosts easier.
- Backups: automatic backups make your website safer. When something goes wrong, you don't need to worry if you have your most recent data.
- Domain Names: most web hosting services also offer domain names. Some even include free domain names for the first year (and in rare cases more). Be sure to check the renewal price, however; they can be high.
- Money-Back Guarantee: regardless of the host, there are times when they just aren't right for a particular customer. Most hosts offer a money-back guarantee on shared hosting, but you should make sure.
Starting your search with the fastest web hosting services isn't a bad approach. But it isn't the only one either. There are many hosts that didn't make it into our top tier that are still good choices:
Or check out the thousands of expert and user reviews of hundreds of the top web hosting providers. What are you waiting for? Get started now!