Author: Matthew Rogers
Last Updated: September 2020
As a web agency with a LOT of hosting accounts (we have countless side-projects and like to experiment), we’ve got a pretty good idea of what defines a great website host. These are our best Windows hosting providers, true quality web hosting without breaking the bank.
Best Windows Hosting 2020 Reviews
If you’re looking at HostGator to host your sites, know that a lot of people trust this Company – and for good reasons. Check out some of their best features below.
- Affordable prices – You’ll especially save on money by paying for 36 months upfront.
- 99.9% uptime – Not only is HostGator committed to delivering on their promise, but they’ll also give you 1 month of hosting credit should they fail to deliver on this. You can monitor your site’s uptime on your dashboard if you’re particular with this feature.
- Customer support – HostGator prides itself to providing their users 24/7/365 customer support. Therefore, they promise to be there for you at any time of the day, every day. You can contact them via email, phone, and live chat.
- Various hosting options – You can choose from Hatchling, Baby, or Business plan. They all come with unmetered bandwidth and unlimited websites (except for the Hatchling plan).
- Website builder – HostGator has a built-in website builder called Gator. Beginners will particularly appreciate this feature as it will allow the quick building of websites even without technical knowledge.
As you can see above, HostGator attracts customers because of their good performance and affordable plans.
- User-friendly control panel
- Variety of options on plans
- Free website builder
- Some people report of a long wait when seeking for support
- Related articles on their knowledge base are not that easy to find
- HostGator sites are not automatically PCI compliant.
2. A2 Hosting
A2 Hosting has some great features that you’d probably like such as the following:
- Free site transfer – This is particularly helpful to those who are transferring their sites from one hosting Company to A2 Hosting. Note, however, that only one website is eligible for the free migration service.
- Pricing plans – A2 presents its pricing packages clearly. They have three plans – Lite, Swift, and Turbo. As you can already tell, the Turbo plan is the fastest one among the three. It also comes with all the features carried by the two cheaper plans. Also, don’t opt for the Lite plan if you’re planning on having a lot of sites (you’re only allowed one website in the Lite plan).
- Customer support – If you need to get in touch with A2 Hosting, they have a lot of avenues for communication – live chat, phone support, and ticketing system.
- Money back guarantee – A2 Hosting is giving its customers up to 30 days to ask for a refund. In cases of unused service, they’re also offering prorated refunds.
- Cloudfare integration – Having this feature results in faster loading pages as your site’s servers are not heavily used.
Aside from the above, know that A2 Hosting also provides security by scanning for malware and other forms of attacks 24/7.
- Good refund policy
- Several options in pricing plans
- Flexible options in a domain (you can register, transfer, or use an existing domain)
- Free site migration is only applicable to one website
- Some users complain of frequent downtimes
- Canceling a plan is not that easy (they have strict guidelines with regards to this)
3. InMotion Hosting
Unlike typical plans, InMotion Hosting presents its customers with unique features such as the following:
- Launch plan – This is InMotion’s cheapest plan yet it already comes with unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth. In fact, you can have two websites when you choose to go with this plan (other Companies’ cheapest plans only allow for one website).
- Power plan – With this middle-priced plan, you can have up to 6 websites (other Companies’ middle-priced plans usually come with unlimited websites (so take note of this setting). Of course, it also comes with unlimited everything and is a lot faster than the Launch plan.
- Pro plan – InMotion’s priciest plan has all the features embodied in the Launch and Power plans. This is the only plan that allows for unlimited websites.
When you choose to get InMotion as your hosting provider, know that you’ll also get these:
- Guaranteed uptime of 99.95%
- Fast servers
- Customer support (live chat, phone, email, etc.)
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Free site transfer
Based on customer reports, InMotion can deliver on most of their promises. Still, we advise comparing their services with other hosting Companies before making your final choice.
- Free data backups (up to 10GB)
- Good security (with Threat Defense System)
- Google apps wizard
- You only get big discounts when you subscribe to a 24-month plan
- No instant access to your account after payment (verification process takes a lot of time)
- There’s no promise of zero downtime during a site migration
If you’re looking for a hosting provider that doesn’t have a lot of options to choose from, you can check out DreamHost. Unlike other hosting companies that usually have at least three options, DreamHost only has 2 (thereby making the act of choosing a little simpler).
With DreamHost’s shared hosting, you can either choose their Starter or Unlimited plan. The Starter plan is their most basic plan – and it comes with 1 website, unlimited storage, and unlimited bandwidth. Note that this is a lot (except for the 1 website limitation) as most basic plans don’t include unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth. In fact, DreamHost’s Starter plan even comes with a free domain and free SSL certificate.
If you’re impressed with DreamHost’s Starter plan, you’ll be even more impressed with their Unlimited plan. Aside from having unlimited everything (website, storage, bandwidth), the Unlimited package is also so much faster than the Starter plan. Needless to say, the price of the Unlimited plan is also (almost) double than the Starter plan.
Here are some more of DreamHost’s most exciting features:
- 99.96% guaranteed uptime
- Fast-loading pages for pleasant visitor experience and SEO
- Customer support via ticketing system and phone
- Reliable most of the time
- Wide knowledgebase of articles
- Renewal prices are not that high compared to the original (opening) prices
- Too many steps in the signup process
- Live chat is not available 24/7
- Their basic plan is not that cheap
With CloudWays, you get to choose your Cloud provider – CloudWays will then connect their platform to your said provider. It supports the following cloud providers:
- Google Cloud Platform
- AWS (Amazon)
With the DigitalOcean Starter plan, you get 25GB storage space, 1GB RAM, and 1TB bandwidth.
The Vultr Starter plan carries 25Gb storage space, 1GB RAM, and 1TB bandwidth.
Go for the Google Cloud Starter plan and get 20GB storage space, 1.70GB RAM, and 2GB bandwidth.
Should you choose the AWS Starter plan, you’ll get 20GB storage space, 1.75GB RAM, and 2GB bandwidth.
For the Linode Starter plan, it comes with 25GB storage space, 1GB RAM, and 1TB bandwidth.
All the above plans come with three more higher-priced plans that also carry bigger storage spaces, RAM, bandwidth, and other extra features. As each plan doubles their features, their prices more or less double as well.
Note that all the plans we mentioned come with a 3-day free trial. Yes, it’s just three days – so make sure that you use this time wisely. The good news is that you won’t even be asked for your payment details yet during this 3-day trial period.
- Easy installation of apps
- 24/7 customer support
- Fast servers
- Steep learning curve as the format is not based on standard cPanels.
- Complicated pricing system (you pay as you go)
- The built-in installer only supports 12 apps (WordPress, Joomla, Magento, PrestaShop, Drupal, MediaWiki, OpenCart, Thirty, Koken, Moodle, SugarCRM, and Laravel)
Windows hosting: How To Find The Best One!
Choose a good Windows web host for your site and you’ll be able to minimize your problems (and headaches) later on. By following our tips on which features to look for in hosting plans, you can avoid frequent downtimes, hacks, server issues, and more. In the end, you’ll be able to make an informed decision as to which is the best hosting provider to choose for your Windows site.
While it’s advisable to get a hosting provider with servers that are located near you (at least within your country), you can actually override this requirement if needed to. The solution to this is to get a Windows web host that’s integrated with CDN – that’s all.
CDN (Content Distribution Network) makes it possible for your site content to be stored in their servers. Should your site visitors open your web pages, the cached content will be delivered to them through the closest server. And their servers are spread throughout the world – making the feature seamless in its function.
You might recognize a popular CDN called CloudFlare. Windows hosting Companies often comes with this type of CDN for free so as to ease the load on their own servers. It’s really easy to use and set up (as most CDN services are).
We all want 100% uptime and 0% downtime – but that’s not possible right now. However, there are hosting companies that guarantee up to 99.99% uptime – and they’re the best in this area (if they can deliver, that is). So, look for server uptimes that are around 99% and you should be fine. You can find different hosting providers’ server uptime in figures by simply searching on Google.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are an indication of a site’s security. If your site doesn’t come with it, it would mean that it’s not that safe to use (in the eyes of your site visitors and search engines).
SSL works by encrypting the data transfers between your site visitors and servers – thereby hiding all private information like credit card details, passwords, etc.
If your site has an SSL certificate, your site URL will carry an additional “s” in its URL. So, instead of just http://, it will become https://. This security feature has become so important today that Google officially announced that it’s now a ranking factor in SEO.
We suggest going for hosting plans with a service called Let’s Encrypt. It’s one of those services that provide you with free basic SSL certificates. Of course, you can also purchase SSL certificates yourself (if your hosting plan doesn’t include it) – this service costs around $10 per year.
Of course, speed is a very important feature. We previously talked about server locations and CDN – and they both contribute to your site’s speed. Some web hosts come with extra features for speed, however, and they’re all good (we all want fast-loading web pages, right?).
Consider it a bonus when your chosen hosting provider includes additional CPU resources on your account. Custom scripts for optimizing servers for Windows sites are also good news.
While large storage spaces are indeed very appealing, you might not actually need them (and, therefore, not prioritize said feature in your hunt for the perfect hosting company for you). You only need 100 GB of disk space or larger (or unlimited) if you’re putting up a huge e-commerce site or a very large membership forum site. If not, a storage space of around 1GB is often enough.
Note that cheap plans that come with unlimited storage spaces usually come with other limitations. In order to provide you with this feature (which you might not really need in the first place), your other resources may prove to be incomplete or inadequate. So, if you need to purchase certain services and tools to fully function, it would defeat the purpose of buying a cheap plan anyway. Might as well get a more expensive one with all your needed features.
Bandwidth and Data Transfer
Bandwidth and data transfer are very important if you have a lot of files for download on your website. Examples of large files include music and video files, PDFs, and the like. In this situation, choose a windows hosting service that offers large bandwidth and fast data traffic. Large files eat up a lot of data and you’ll need high bandwidth to facilitate fast transferring of information on your network. You can always contact your Windows hosting provider if you have questions regarding this feature on their service.
Get a Windows web hosting service that carries 24/7 customer support and you’ll always have peace of mind. We especially recommend finding one that offers phone support and/ or live chat.
Windows Hosting: The Details
Finding the right Windows hosting provider will allow you to continue using the Windows-based technologies that you are accustomed to—including the.Net framework, MSSQL databases, and ASP—in addition to maintaining Sharepoint and Exchange access and supporting languages like #C and ColdFusion. However, in addition to offering plans that support these technologies, the best web hosting provider will also have an experienced technical support team that is specialized in Windows servers and available to answer your questions.
To help you chose the best Windows hosting that is right for you, we have compiled our top recommendations.
Advantages of Windows Hosting
Even though Windows hosting isn’t a requirement for those who have a Windows-based system, it is often the best hosting solution available. This is because if you want to design your website with .Net script and ASP, only a Windows host will be able to properly support it.
Choosing a hosting plan can sometimes be a complicated decision because there are many factors to keep in mind. In addition to considering the benefits of various plans in terms of resource allocations, speeds, and capacities, you will also need to decide between different platforms: Windows vs. Linux.
Many are initially attracted to Linux hosting because it is the most affordable option as well as the most commonly used hosting throughout the world. However, the Linux configuration is not right for everyone, and though it may be a good general hosting option, it can prove to be challenging for those who want to use specific technologies and applications.
Here are a few points to keep in mind when deciding between Linux and Windows:
- You will need a Windows server if you want to support .Net scripts and ASP (active server pages)
- If you are using ColdFusion, Visual Basic (VB), or C# you will need a Windows server
- If you want access to Microsoft stack products like Exchange, or if you are designing your website with SharePoint, a Windows host is a requirement.
- If you want to use legacy content that was created with Microsoft FrontPage it is recommended that you use a Windows host since Microsoft will continue to sustain the FrontPage Extension through July 2015.
Disadvantages of Windows Hosting
One disadvantage of Windows is that it is not suited for CGI, PHP, Python or Perl. If you wish to use these, Linux may be a better option as it has more general capabilities. In addition, if you plan to use Word Press (or are already) you may be better off choosing Linux over Microsoft because there are many more support resources for this configuration in the event that a problem occurs—although WordPress is still compatible with Windows hosting too.
You will also want to check with your hosting provider which type of database they use. In general, Linux tends to operate on MySQL, while Windows typically uses MS SQL and MS Access. Lastly, if you know you will need to connect via SSH, then you will need to choose Linux hosting.
Control panels will vary from host to host, so unless you are ready to learn a whole new interface, you may be better off choosing a hosting provider that uses the same control panel you are already accustomed to. For example, if you are used to using Plesk or DirectAdmin, you’ll probably end up choosing a Windows host as they commonly use this type of control panel. On the other hand, if you are more comfortable with cPanel and WHM you’ll be limited to hosting on a Linux server.
One advantageous feature of Windows hosting is also that you can use remote desktop direct access directly from your PC or Mac to your server; however, this is typically only offered with dedicated hosting plans.
The Pros and Cons of Windows Hosting
If launching a simple website is your goal, you can accomplish this with any type of hosting. However, depending on whether you simply need general tools or are hoping to use specific technologies and applications, Windows may be a good option for you.
Pros of Windows Hosting
- The best Windows hosting is user-friendly and does not require a lot of interactions with the server’s common line.
- Better for beginners and inexperienced users as many consider it easier to update and manage
- Compatible with specialized script language
- Equally stable as Linux hosting when properly managed
Cons of Windows Hosting
- If the script you require is written in PHP it will be much easier to use a Linux server
- There is less support information on using WordPress with a Windows server than with a Linux server
- Windows is always pricier than Linux hosting which is why many who are on a tight budget are initially attracted to Linux
- Some hosting providers don’t offer Windows
- Not suited for Apache or Apache modules
- If you want to customize your server it is easier with Linux hosting
Overall Windows hosting is best for those who are willing to pay a little extra in order to get a hosting solution that requires less tinkering and have the power to create robust websites with specific technologies and applications.
Windows Hosting FAQ
Do I need a Windows computer to get Windows hosting?
No. The type of operating system that you have on your computer is independent of the type of hosting you can use. Similarly, if you choose Windows hosting that doesn’t mean you always have to use a Windows computer. You can have a Mac computer and Windows hosting, a Windows computer and Linux hosting, and any other combination.
Why is Windows hosting less common than Linux hosting?
The majority of websites in the world are hosted on a Linux server, primarily because it is efficient and free. In addition, many applications and scripts have been developed specifically for Linux over the years which is why it continues to be the most popular options.
Why choose Windows when Linux is cheaper?
In some cases choosing Windows over Linux hosting may be more convenient if not required. Some websites need to be hosted on a Windows server in order to support specific scripts like .Net or to use Microsoft Exchange.
Can a Windows computer be used to host a website?
Yes! You can use a Windows server software to publish websites.
What kind of hosting can I buy with Windows hosting?
Every type of hosting is available on Windows servers. This includes dedicated hosting, shared hosting, reseller hosting and more.
What version of Windows do web hosting providers use?
All Windows hosting is operating on Windows Server. To find out more specifically which version of Windows Server is being used you will need to ask your hosting provider.
Can I use cPanel on Windows Hosting?
Currently, cPanel s not compatible with Windows hosting, you will need to use a different type of control panel. Many Windows hosts use Plesk but some use others.
Do I need to purchase Windows in order to have Windows hosting?
Windows hosting packages already include the price of a Windows license for your dedicated server—which is one of the reasons this type of hosting plan is cheaper than Linux.
What is the web server default on Windows?
Microsoft runs IIS on the Windows Server operating system.
Why do web developers utilize .Net scripts?
One of the greatest advantages of using .Net is that it allows you to write applications in multiple programming languages.
Can I transfer files from my Mac or Linux computer to a Windows server?
Yes. You will need to use a basic file transfer with FTP (or a variation of it) but otherwise, you should be able to upload files with ease.
What technologies can I only use with Windows hosting?
Any products in the Microsoft stack will need to be operated on Windows hosting. This includes Microsoft Exchange and Silverlight.
Can Remote Access be used to manage a Windows server?
Yes! If you chose a VPS or a dedicated hosting plan you can usually use remote access to manage your web server. Of course, however, this will not be possible if you choose shared hosting.
What are some alternatives to Windows hosting?
If Windows hosting doesn’t seem like the right choice for you, another popular option is Linux hosting. Linux is a great alternative for those looking for affordable hosting that will give them general tools, rather than the ability to use specific technologies.
There is also Mac hosting, but this type of hosting is very rare and is often simply “Mac-friendly” Linux hosting with additional Mac support.
Is Apache Web Server compatible with Windows hosting?
Yes, although it is much less common than IIS.