I am often asked where I host my niche websites, as well as my SaaS applications. Rather than making a review of all the 'best' web hosts, that you can read on many other websites, I wanted to give you my best recommendations depending on what you want to do and where you are in your online entrepreneur journey. Therefore, inside this article you'll find my best 3 recommendations for web hosting solutions, depending on what you want to achieve with your sites and/or web applications.
If You Are Getting Started: SiteGround
The first one that I always recommend for beginners is SiteGround. I really wish somebody would have recommended me this web host when I got started, as I lost countless hours on other web hosts that were either not fast enough, with a terrible customer service, or that just didn't work at all.
SiteGround is a great platform to host your website in many ways: it is blazing fast (their servers use SSD drives), it's optimised for WordPress, and they have an awesome customer support. It's actually the customer support that made me chose them in the first place. It was a Sunday, and I was battling with the host I was using then (they were so bad I don't even want to mention the name), and somebody from SiteGround answered to me and said they could actually move all my sites to them, for free! And less than a day after that, all my sites were on SiteGround, running faster than ever, and without any bugs anymore.
They are also really affordable, with plans starting at less than $5 a month. I actually was running most of my niche websites on their shared hosting plan, until I outgrew it in late 2016 (because I had more than 100,000 visitors/month). So if you are starting out or for now have less than 100,000 visitors a month, I'd for sure recommend SiteGround.
When You Grow: WPEngine
SiteGround, as I mentioned before, is awesome if you get started, and you'll already have a decent sized business if you can reach 100k visitors a month :) However, when I reached this limit, things started to change. They have what they called cloud hosting plans, but they actually didn't work for me as expected: I ended up paying much more than the shared plan, for much worse performances. The customer support team was very responsive as always, but it seems there was just nothing they could do.
That's were I decided to use another host to scale up my websites, that were then all based on WordPress. That's the time I found WPEngine, which is a web hosting solution specialised in WordPress hosting. They are the fastest in terms of WordPress site hosting, with a lot of WordPress specific optimisations on their servers.
I can't recommend WPEngine enough if you are running WordPress sites at scale: they are super fast, with a great interface and an awesome support team. All on the site is made to hide all the technical aspects of hosting, so you can focus on your site.
It's of course more pricey than SiteGround: it starts at $35 a month, but if like me you are coming from SiteGround and need a server that can handle more than 100k visits a month, you will need to get their $290/month plan, which is definitely not something you want when you are just starting out. Therefore, I really recommend considering WPEngine if you already have an online business up & running and if you outgrew your shared hosting plan.
Scaling Up and/or Hosting SaaS Applications: DigitalOcean
Let's now move to the host I am using at the moment: DigitalOcean. It's completely different from the other two web hosts I recommended so far. Indeed, instead of paying for a web application that hosts your sites, here you are basically renting your own server in the cloud (a virtual server, but still, you can use it like it was a dedicated server).
This means that you have complete control over what you are doing on the server, but also that you'll have to configure your applications yourself (or have it done by someone). Therefore, I really recommend DigitalOcean in different three situations.
The first situation is that you like to tinker and do things yourself. That was definitely my situation when I moved all my WordPress sites to DigitalOcean: I definitely didn't outgrew my WPEngine plan, but I wanted to have more control on what I was doing in terms of hosting, and also I just like playing with code :) However if that's not the case for you, note that they actually now have one-click install of WordPress to configure a brand new server with a WordPress install, so that can be a solution as well. It can also help you reduce your hosting bill (but more about that in a moment).
The second case would be when you want to scale your business beyond what other hosts can offer and/or reduce your current web hosting bill. Indeed, we saw that dedicated solution like WPEngine can be pricey, especially if you have more than 100k visitors per month. And after 400k visitors a month you actually get into their entreprise plans, which are even more expensive. They don't give details about their machines, but let's take the cloud hosting plans of SiteGround as an example. One of their biggest plan, called Business Plus, is at more than $150 a month, with 4 cores and 8 GB of memory. On DigitalOcean, the same server will cost you ... $40 a month only! So if you know how to do the technical part or hire someone to do it, that can definitely be great savings at the end of the year.
You need to deploy other applications than WordPress (for example a SaaS application), then you'll definitely have to look at a solution like DigitalOcean. There are other similar services out there to host a SaaS applications, but that's my favourite as you can start for as low as $5 per month for a basic server that will run most of SaaS apps projects. And from there it's super easy to scale, as you basically just need to move a slider inside the admin console.
That's already the end of this comparison between web hosts, depending on the current state of your online business journey. I hope this was helpful, and if you have any questions about web hosting don't hesitate to leave a comment!