Our Web Hosting Comparison: What we look at.
Definitions: Domain Hosting vs Web Hosting vs Domain Registration
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to choose a suitable web host, let’s answer one of the most common questions we get regarding hosting terminology. What exactly is the difference between domain hosting, web hosting, and domain registration?
Let’s start with domain registration. This refers to the buying or registering of a domain name (yourcompany.com.au), which can be done through a registrar. Most web hosting providers offer this service, meaning you can buy your domain name and host your site with the same provider, which is the ideal situation as support is centralised.
Next up, web hosting. This refers to the online space where you host the files that make up your website, it’s why you’re on this page, to find a great web host for your website. Once you have registered your domain name, you then point that name toward your hosting space to make the site show up in browsers.
Finally domain hosting. This isn’t actually a thing, domain hosting is a combination of domain registration and web hosting, presumably used by people actually looking for web hosting, but don’t know the correct terminology.
Alrighty, now that that’s clear, let’s get started!
1. Server Location
If you’re based in Australia, you should look for a web host that’s either in or close-ish to Australia, it’s that simple. Why? Because if you host your website on a server in the US for instance, you’ll probably encounter fun issues like lag, slower load times, delays, etc. Server location matters, but don’t worry about it on a city-specific level, so it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for web hosting in Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne… you won’t notice the speed difference anyway, as long as the servers are close-ish to, or in, Australia! That being said, keep in mind that most Australian hosting providers are more expensive than their US counterparts.
2. Types of Web Hosting Services
There are 3 main types of hosting: Cheap Shared Hosting, VPS Hosting, Dedicated Hosting, & Reseller Hosting. For most of those reading this (including those looking for business web hosting for Australia), you’ll want to go for the cheap web hosting type (shared hosting), as it’s perfect for small to medium sized businesses.
It’s a different story if you’re trying to sell 1000s of products online, or have a thriving forum, in which case dedicated hosting or a VPS is a better option.
Before we go on and do a web hosting comparison of these hosting types, there’s one thing that you should really understand about the hosting world: 99.9% of the time, you get what you pay for.
Cheap Web Hosting (Shared Hosting, recommended for most businesses/websites)
If your main focus is to look for cheap web hosting services, this is what you came for. While there are companies that offer free web hosting packages, they usually don’t last long due to too many limitations. What shared hosting means is that your website will be hosted on a server with a bunch of other websites. How many other websites? It depends on the hosting provider. Some companies put as much as 100 websites on a single physical server, while some are hosting 20 websites or less. For people looking specifically for business web hosting for Australia, shared hosting is most likely the hosting type for you, just go with more premium packages (and then apply coupons). Anyway, let’s lay out the pros and cons of shared hosting.
- Relatively cheap website hosting for Australia that starts as low as $3.95/mo
- Everything works out of the box
- You don’t need technical knowledge to get your website up and running
- You can do pretty much everything from a simple cPanel
- Usually, comes with 1-click install scripts for WordPress & the other major CMS’s.
- Your website can load slowly if the server is overloaded with too many sites.
- You’re open to security threats even if you’re doing nothing wrong.
- Someone from your neighbours can take more resources, and as a result, you’ll get very poor website performance.
Note that not all shared hosting plans are the same. There are actually plans that provide a VPS-like performance (like managed WordPress hosting services). You’ll recognise these shared hosting plans by their price – Our own top 10 is a nice balance between cheap web hosting, and super premium business web hosting. Shared hosting is good for blogs and small websites that are not resource-intensive.
Cpanel – A quick explanation
A quick word about Cpanel, the most used control panel in the hosting industry (this goes for most hosting types). If you’re not familiar with it, don’t worry, Cpanel is super easy to use and usually comes with 1-click installers for WordPress, Joomla, & many other systems. In fact, if you see that a certain cheap web host has Cpanel under their listed features, it’s a plus! Hosts that use their own proprietary control panels can have some issues (personal experience).
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. VPS hosting is a special type of hosting service where (Australian) hosting providers create a number of virtual servers on one physical server. If you’ve ever played with virtual machines, you already know what I’m talking about. Although it may look familiar, this is very different from shared hosting. Companies usually offer 2 types of VPS hosting:
- Self-managed VPS, you’re in control of every aspect of the server including the technical stuff.
- Managed VPS, the hosting company handles most of the technical things, while you primarily focus on your business. This option is more expensive.
Prices for VPS hosting services vary from $30 to $100+ per month. Let’s lay out the pros and cons.
- You get your own CPU, RAM, and Storage on the virtual server
- Significantly better performance
- Full control and root access
- Much more expensive than the more affordable shared hosting.
- You’ll need to have technical knowledge to maintain the server
- If not, you may need to hire a system administrator
Dedicated server hosting is the most powerful option of all. Instead of having to share resources with other people – which is basically the case with both of the upper 2 hosting types, you get a fully functional physical server all by yourself. This is as good as it gets for server performance. But on the downside, dedicated hosting is insanely expensive. That’s why this type of hosting is primarily intended for big companies that have resource intensive websites and web apps. Prices generally start at $100-200 per month.
Australian reseller hosting is usually only used by web agencies or individual web designers looking to start hosting their own clients. These plans enable you to create different accounts per client and manage them all from a single dashboard (preferably WHM in combination with Cpanel), setting bandwidth & space limitations, add-on domain limits, and much more. Reseller plans are definitely more expensive than your regular hosting package as they allow to host multiple websites each with their own Cpanel.
3. Server Uptime
You need to know whether you can rely on your web hosting company to provide stable servers and maximized server uptime. Every Australian web hosting provider will guarantee you a 99.9% uptime. But that’s not always the case, our top 10 does a great job at maintaining max uptime though.
The amount of storage implies how much files you can upload to the server. For blogs and small websites, you won’t need more than a couple of GB’s, which is what most cheap web hosting companies in Australia offer. But if you’re looking to host a larger website, you should get a hosting plan with more storage capacity. Make sure to give an advantage to companies that use SSD drives for storing data instead of regular HDDs. SSD performs up to x10 better in reading and writing speeds.
5. Bandwidth and Data Transfer
Many website hosting providers promote these two things as one. But, they are totally different. Bandwidth is the rate at which data can be transferred. Data transfer, on the other hand, represents the data traffic that your website generates – usually measured and limited per month. Data Transfer depends on how many visitors you have, and how large your files are. So be sure to check what’s the limit for the hosting plan you want to choose.
6. Customer Support
Having a good, responsive customer support is a must – as far as you’re concerned. Whenever you’re facing problems or something isn’t working properly, you’ll need to know that a group of experts has your back 24/7! Hosting providers tend to offer live chat, 24/7 availability, phone support, etc.
7. Email Features
If you want the complete hosting package from a single provider, you need to check for email features (usually more important for people looking for business web hosting as they’ll probably need multiple email addresses). Not all web hosting services you to create email addresses for your domains. If they do, check whether they provide an interface for the webmail, and integration with external services. Also, watch out for limitations. Some providers allow you to create up to 100 email addresses or send 200 emails per hour.
8. Backup System
Backups are very important, but unfortunately, it’s low on the priority list for most people. You’ll need to backup your website, database and email files on a regular basis. Check whether the company offers backups, and how often do they backup your files. Also, find out how can you restore the files if something goes wrong. Some companies charge for backup restore, while some provide the service for free.
9. Number of Addon Domains/Databases
This is important if you plan to host more than one website with your website hosting plan. The really cheap hosting plans are often limited to only one website.
And that’s it, it might seem overwhelming to cover all the points, but just take it one step at a time. Maybe even create a spreadsheet and log all the specs for the Australian web hosting companies, so you’ve got an easy overview.
Pick a host from our top 10