Best website and email hosting for small business uk

We no longer live in a time where a business can thrive without a good hosting plan.

Survive? Sure. But every business – however small – will struggle to reach their full potential without a reliable web host behind it. Let alone a hosting plan which offers an adequate number of email addresses, automated backups or room for growth.

More often than not small business owners will Google something similar to ‘how to build a website’ and trust the first recognisable name on the list.

It’s not a terrible idea in theory – many web hosts have built their reputations on ease of use and affordability – but there is no one-stop shop for any digital product and no single hosting plan will suit everyone’s needs. Especially the varying and important needs of a business.

What is web hosting?

It’s best to think of web hosting as the control centre for your business. Generally your website, email and general digital footprint are all run through your web host.

In its simplest explanation, it is your dot-com space (though your actual dot-com/co/etc – also known as your domain name – is typically purchased for an additional fee through your web host).

Best web hosting UK: how to choose a provider for small business

As we mentioned earlier, there are more than 330,000 web hosting providers currently in operation .

Interestingly, the market is highly domestic, especially in Europe, where the top providers for each country are almost always local.

Our selection for the best web hosting providers for UK small businesses aren’t local – Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion, and A2Hosting are all US-based, and Hostinger is Lithuanian – but they are all among the most widely used and highly rated providers in the world.

We’ve narrowed it down to help you out, but what should you base your final decision on?

Our five key areas of investigation:

Types of hosting

There are five main types of hosting: shared, VPS, dedicated, cloud and WordPress. Quite simply, the more types of hosting offered by a provider, the higher the score we awarded them.

You can read an explanation between the different types of hosting below.

Help and support

This metric assesses whether a provider offers useful and regularly available help and support. In particular we look for:  live chat (24/7), phone (24/7), email and ticketed support.

Features

Beyond just the essentials, we look for those little extras that a brand offers its users. For example, free one year domain, free back up, and whether any of their shared plans support unmetered transfer.

Value for money

To assess whether a brand offers good value for money we look at the terms of its money back guarantee, and the average price of its shared, VPS and dedicated packages.

Uptime

This is a measure of server reliability. Ideally, you want your provider to have 99.9% uptime. 100% is impossible

How much data storage and bandwidth do I need?

When a customer visits your website, they’re accessing the server that it’s stored on. The more visitors you have, or the larger the files that need to be transferred, the more bandwidth (data transfer capacity) you need.

Shared plans offer the least storage space, and dedicated plans offer the most.

A simple rule of thumb is: the more traffic you receive, or expect to receive, the more storage you need. Contact your provider to explore how much storage space you’re likely to need.

We would advise starting small, perhaps with a shared plan, and then scaling up to a larger VPS or dedicated plan as required.

There’s a fairly complex equation for working out how much bandwidth your website will need, but it’s not something that’s at all necessary to work out unless you’re fanatical about data usage. You can find a helpful explanation on webhostingsecretsrevealed.net.

Every small business needs a website, but finding the right web hosting (opens in new tab) package isn’t always easy. Many plans are targeted primarily at home users, and don’t have the power that businesses need.

Take email, for instance. We’ve seen web hosting plans offer as few as five email addresses for a website, and with inboxes limited to a few hundred megabytes, that’s potentially a major issue for any business. Be sure to check out the email specs of any hosting plan before you sign up.

An SSL certificate (opens in new tab) is a must-have these days for any professional or business website, but these aren’t included with every plan. Fortunately, they don’t have to be expensive. Many hosts now offer free SSL certificates from the Internet Security Research Group’s Let’s Encrypt project, and although web stores might need something more, these are perfectly adequate for standard sites.

Small business websites can’t afford to fail – ever – so reliability is key. Choose a Virtual Private Server (VPS (opens in new tab)) or dedicated server hosting (opens in new tab) plan, if you can afford it, to avoid the hassles of shared servers. Look for support that can be accessed at speed with telephone and live chat available, as well as emails and tickets. You’ll probably want a plan that includes automated backups, too, but that’s another area where you’ll need to check the small print: backups are often an optional extra.

Think about an upgrade path, too, especially if you’re starting with a basic shared hosting plan. If your business grows then your website needs might also expand, and it will make your life much easier if your chosen host has the add-ons and extras to cope.

There’s a lot to think about, but fortunately, there are also some excellent hosting providers around that understand exactly what small businesses need. In this article we’ve highlighted six web hosts who have something to offer everyone, from the smallest home business to demanding corporate users.

Also, if you would really like to save money, take advantage of the best Black Friday web hosting deals (opens in new tab) and Cyber Monday web hosting deals (opens in new tab) during Cyber week.

These are the best small business web host services of 2022

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

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Some small businesses might not want to pay for VPS or cloud hosting, or they just can’t afford it, so in that case, shared hosting is a good and affordable choice. 

Hostinger (opens in new tab) has been around for a long time and over the years it accumulated over 29 million customers. The company above all has very wallet-friendly plans, and these are a great choice for any newcomers.

The pricing starts at just $1.39 per month over the 4-year period. Seeing as this is a starter plan, you only get one website and two MySQL databases with 100GB bandwidth, but with that price, you can’t really complain.

That being said, the best option for small businesses would be the “Business (opens in new tab)” plan which gives you lots of features as well as being four times faster than the starter plan. You get unlimited databases, and bandwidth for up to 100 websites across 200GB SSD disk space. The price is $3.99 per month over a 4-year period. 

As you can see, you don’t get many restrictions and SSL certificate, Cloudflare protection, and daily backups are also included, among other features.

The company also has cheap VPS packages with a starting price of $3.95 per month. This has 1 CPU, 1GB RAM, 20GB of storage and 1TB of bandwidth. The high-end tier package gives you 8 CPU, 16GB RAM, 250GB of storage and 12TB of bandwidth, with the price being $77.99 per month.

All in all, Hostinger is a capable provider with very cheap plans that can appeal to everyone more or less. If you are not satisfied, the plans are also fully refundable for 30 days.

  • Read our Hostinger review

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2. HostGator

High-powered cloud hosting from a top provider

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Reasons to buy

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Speedy cloud hosting

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Good value

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Private SSL included

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Helpful live chat support

Reasons to avoid

Some downtime during the review

Underpowered VPS and dedicated hosting plans

US-only data centers

Another option for small businesses is cloud hosting, and HostGator has some good offers for cloud hosting, especially if you value speed above all else.

Cloud hosting is a smart technology which spreads your website content across multiple devices, improving redundancy and speeding up load times. It’s an interesting idea which has many business benefits, but if you choose wisely, you can try it out for less than the cost of some shared hosting products.

HostGator’s (opens in new tab) Business Cloud, for instance, delivers on the business basics with support for unlimited websites, unmetered storage and bandwidth, and a private SSL certificate.

As this is a cloud plan, three mirrored copies of your website are spread across multiple hosting servers. If there’s a hardware failure, your website can immediately be switched to another server.

All HostGator cloud plans give you shared access to a defined level of system resources (CPU time and RAM). Another benefit of cloud hosting is that you can purchase more of these and see the benefit immediately, with no downtime or time-consuming migrations required.

The high-end features continue with a distributed Varnish caching setup to accelerate the loading of your static content, freeing up RAM and CPU time for producing dynamic content.

While we’ve highlighted HostGator’s cloud plans here, as an interesting improvement on regular shared hosting, the company also provides managed WordPress hosting, good value VPS packages, dedicated servers and more. There really is something here for everyone.

  • Read our HostGator review

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    Hostgator Cloud Hosting subscription options:

  • 12 month plan – US$6.57 per month (US$78.84 total cost)

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3. DreamHost

Business-friendly features for a pocket-friendly price

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Reasons to buy

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Unlimited bandwidth, emails, websites

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Free SSL

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Wide range of plans

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Cheaper than most

Reasons to avoid

Many plans are short on features or configuration options

US-only data centers

No phone support

Shared hosting is slower and less reliable than VPS and dedicated plans, but it’s still perfectly adequate for many simple websites, and the best plans will handle all the main business needs.

DreamHost’s (opens in new tab) shared hosting plan scores well on the fundamentals. There are no limits on bandwidth, emails or MySQL databases. Your site is secured by a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, and preinstalled WordPress allows you to get a quality site up and running in an afternoon – plus SSD storage as standard will keep performance high.

Handy extras include the ability to host unlimited domains from a single account. And in a nice touch, DreamHost doesn’t just offer a free domain name with each shared hosting plan (except the monthly plan): there’s free privacy protection, too. If you’ve registered a domain without that, and been inundated with emails and phone calls from ‘website designers’ and assorted scammers, you’ll know how valuable that can be.

It’s a strong all-round package, but if you need more, DreamHost also offers everything from managed WordPress and WooCommerce, to VPS, dedicated and cloud hosting plans.

VPS Business plan is especially suited for small businesses as it was built for them according to DreamHost. You get unlimited everything except for storage (60GB). Since it’s a VPS, you’ll use your own server resources for unhindered performance and if the need arises, you can easily scale up the RAM. 

Billing is flexible. You can sign up for monthly billing, or alternatively choose the three-year plan for the best discounts. Don’t be put off by the longer term: DreamHost products are protected by an exceptional 97-day money-back guarantee, so there’s plenty of time to test the service for yourself.

  • Read our DreamHost review

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    DreamHost Web Hosting subscription options:

  • 12 month plan – US$2.59 per month (US$31.08 total cost)

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Most small business hosting products are focused on power and functionality above ease of use. That’s not a problem if you know what you’re doing, but small businesses don’t always have the technical expertise to manage this kind of hosting, and it could take quite some time and effort to figure out how the service works.

With GoDaddy Business Hosting (opens in new tab) small businesses have another choice if they want to try something different than what’s already mentioned. This is a hybrid product which aims to offer the dedicated resources and similar performance to Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting, with the simplified cPanel-style management of a shared hosting service.

GoDaddy’s baseline Launch plan gives you 4GB RAM, two CPUs and 100GB of storage, for instance. These resources are solely for the use of your website, which should give you improved and more consistent website performance, no matter what’s going on with other sites hosted on your server.

Restrictions elsewhere are kept to a minimum, with support for unlimited websites, databases and emails, and unmetered bandwidth. (‘Unmetered’ means there’s no fixed limit, but GoDaddy reserves the right to complain if your site is hogging resources.)

There’s a SSL certificate thrown into the mix, and GoDaddy has included a one-year, one-user subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Business Email.

Overall, the range is a little more expensive than some VPS products, but if you’re looking for easy setup and simpler website management, GoDaddy could be worth a look.

  • Read our GoDaddy review

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    GoDaddy Business Hosting subscription options:

  • 12 month plan – US$20.99 per month (US$251.88 total cost)

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Basic shared, cloud and similar hosting plans are easy to use and can deliver good performance, but they also limit your control over the server environment. You can’t choose to install Windows, for instance, or do anything else that would affect other websites hosted on the same server.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are isolated environments which you can tweak, adjust and customize however you like. As a bonus, you also get CPU time and RAM allocated just for you, improving both performance and stability.

For small businesses, we already mentioned DreamHost’s VPS plan but Liquid Web’s offer is more than deserving of a mention too.

Liquid Web’s (opens in new tab) starter VPS product gives you two CPUs, 2GB RAM, 40GB SSD space, 100GB backup, and 10TB bandwidth, for instance, and is priced from $59 (£42) a month. If you choose the two-year plan, the price drops to $15 per month.

Some hosts have cheaper VPS plans, but that’s often because specifications have been trimmed to the bare minimum. Liquid Web takes a more honest approach, with even the most basic plans including items that are often chargeable extras elsewhere. For example, that $59 gets you built-in backups, Gigabit transfers, unlimited sites, a dedicated IP address, CloudFlare CDN, DDoS protection, antivirus, antispam, cPanel/WHM or Plesk Onyx, and more.

All VPS plans are highly configurable, with Linux options including CentOS 6, CentOS 7, Ubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 16.04 and Debian 8, and high-level plans support Windows Server 2012 and 2016.

Whatever you’re installing will include server management by default, which means Liquid Web will handle maintenance tasks such as operating system updates. Proactive system monitoring allows the company to detect and fix some problems before you even notice them, and speedy, responsive 24x7x365 support will help you with anything else.

Factor in the 100% uptime guarantee and generous service level agreements and Liquid Web has a lot of business hosting appeal.

  • Read our Liquid Web review

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    Liquid Web Cloud VPS Hosting subscription options:

  • 1 month plan – US$19.99 per month (US$19.99 total cost)

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Small business web host FAQs

How we test and choose the best small business web hosting services

Similar to the way we test web hosting (opens in new tab) and website builder services, we dig through those services to find out which ones best suit small businesses.

This is done by identifying what a small business needs from a web hosting solution – anything from 24/7 customer support to custom shared hosting plans depending on the size of your small business.

We also test how reliable these services are and whether it’s easy to use for beginners.

Lastly, budget is everything. If you’re a small business that is looking to expand online, we are aware that you may not want to fork out a tone of money monthly to keep your site up and running. We choose web hosting solutions that give you more for your money.

Written by Jane