Bluehost is probably one of the more well known of all the hosting providers out there today and for good reason, as it has been around since 1996 and claims to host “millions of domains.” It also claims to generate 20,000 new customers a month, proving its popularity. Bluehost is most proud of its technology, which is what sets it apart from other hosting companies. They have their own datacenter, as well as secondary data centers, and build their own servers and custom Linux kernel. This means that if you encounter a problem, you will only have to deal with Bluehost and not several companies.

Bluehost provides unlimited disk storage, domain hosting, POP3 and IMAP secure e-mail accounts, forwarding e-mail accounts, add-on domains, parked domains, subdomains, and site transfer. It uses cPanel control panel, a file manager, and has three webmail clients in case you want to manage things from your browser. They also have FTP access. Other features include customizable error pages and Cronjobs, log files and site statistics, and spam assassin protection.

Many CGI and database options are supported. This includes JavaScript, DHTML, Flash, and other programming languages that do not require add-ons or script installations. Free website scripts include form mail, message forums, social networking, blogging platforms, poll and survey software, Joomla CMS, and many more. Almost all of these are one-click installations. e-Commerce features include password protected directories, SSL secure server, and numerous shopping carts. Bluehost also supports multimedia.

With all of these features, even neophyte webmasters should be able to do anything they can think of on their sites without too much trouble. You can even try out the services using Bluehost’s live demo. Bluehost has a Getting Started wizard and library full of video tutorials to help you along the way. There is also a knowledge base filled with FAQs. If you get stuck, they provide 24/7 customer support by phone, customer ticket, and live chat. They even offer postal mail support, though you probably will not need that.

Best of all, Bluehost is very competitively priced at just under $5.00US per month. They also have an affiliate and reseller program to help offset your hosting costs or simply generate a little extra income. They do not offer much in the way of marketing and promotion but they do give new users $100 in Google AdWords credits. Though it sounds like a lot, you are certain to blow through that quickly. This means that you will have to work to get the word out and promote your site.

Overall, Bluehost stands up quite well when compared to other hosting companies. While it may not be the cheapest, it offers more than enough features for almost any type of website and its technology and customer support are top-notch. Definitely a hosting company to look into if you are planning on developing an e-commerce site.

Godaddy logoGoDaddy is best known as a domain registrar – and, to be certain, it is one of the largest in the world – but they also offer a wide range of other web services, including hosting. You may be able to save money by bundling all of your web needs but GoDaddy has a lot of options so if you are uncertain as to whether or not you need something, you can probably safely skip it for now. Luckily, their site is very informative so you can often learn more about the options offered before you commit to anything.

One of GoDaddy’s weaknesses is that, though well organized, you are forced to pore through the site to find all of the features and options you need. This appears to be a strategic and intentional design meant to compele you to spend more time on the site but it is far from convenient for the end user.

GoDaddy’s hosting is scalable to your needs and boasts a 99.9% uptime. They also boast around the clock security monitoring which is probably a good thing these days, and may become more important in years to come, but is probably not a priority for most sites. Business site webmasters may feel safer with it though.

GoDaddy hosting comes in three sizes: Economy, Deluxe, and Ultimate. The Deluxe package is prominently advertised as the best deal and, for the price and the features it includes, it appears to be. Unlike many host providers though, GoDaddy is pretty stingy when it comes to space, e-mail accounts, and MySQL databases.

GoDaddy claims to have no hidden fees but it charges for literally every feature and option you choose. It does offer a large pool of one-click hosting options – add-ons, utilities, services, and software – that include blogging platforms, forums/message boards, content management systems (CMS), shopping cart software, social networking, and much more. These applications are conveniently categorized for easier access.

The Economy plan is probably all most freelance individual webmasters will ever need. Although disk space is limited to 10 GB, that is actually more than most websites will ever use. The Deluxe package allows for 150 GB disk space – a marked improvement over the Economy plan – 500 e-mail accounts and 25, 1 GB MySQL databases; the Economy plan allows for 100 e-mail accounts and 10 MySQL databases. Most of the hosts reviewed grant unlimited disk space, e-mail, and MySQL databases. Still, few websites are ever going to use all of these, so why pay for something you do not need? GoDaddy also grants Bing, Facebook, and Fotolio credits for each plan. It does not appear to include any Google AdWords credits.

Compared to other web host providers, GoDaddy does not stand-up very well. Again though, few websites will max-out their e-mail accounts or use all the disk space given them, even at the Economy level. All that aside, many of the hosts reviewed offer much more at a competitive price. The major benefit to hosting through GoDaddy is that you only have to deal with one company – that is, if you choose to register your domain through GoDaddy, as well.

Fatcow web hostingFatcow has a great introductory price but, like some other hosts, the price increases quite dramatically after the first year – it actually more than doubles. And though FatCow has a money back guarantee, it is only valid for 30 days. The regular rate may actually be one of the more expensive out there; you need to pay for a three year plan to bring the cost down to a comparable rate.

That said, you do get a lot for your money, though it is not much more than you get with most other hosting companies. A free domain name is included and that will save you a (very) little money but only for the first year. Also, there are no setup fees. Further, FatCow has floating limits on disk space and usage that is determined by the amount of traffic coming to your site. According to information provided on the site, most websites are never going to reach the limit but if you should, your usage will be capped. Most other hosts offer unlimited data storage and bandwidth.

While FatCow offers unlimited POP3 mailboxes, data transfer and space abide by the limitations outlined above. FatCow does not appear to support IMAP services. They do provide a webmail client for checking your e-mail from your browser, spam filtering, and newsletter manager tool for your POP3 e-mail accounts.

FatCow does offer several site tools to help you build, maintain, and manage your site. These include a website builder and FrontPage extensions and FTP access, but it does not appear that FatCow has a file manager. It does have a customizable control panel though it does not list it as cPanel, the leading and most ubiquitous control panel. Google custom search and webmaster tools are integrated into your services. Programming options include several but not all and a script library. They also support WordPress for blogging; Gallery2; phpBB forums software; GBook; Joomla (CMS or Content Management System); and polling, survey, and visitation counter tools. FatCow also offers a ShopSite online store, PayPal shopping cart integration, PowerPay, and the ability to accept credit cards.

FatCow’s “Moo Crew” support includes a satisfaction pledge and around the clock customer support via phone, e-mail, and live chat. They also provide step by step tutorials and a large FAQ library so that you can look up issues and attempt to handle problems yourself. Customer support agents may not be able to provide assistance for third-party add-ons and scripts.

FatCow offers several partnerships that can help offset the high price, including an affiliate program that pays out $100.00 and a referral program that pays $10 credits against your bill. There is also a reseller program but the payment is listed only as “deep discounts.”

Overall, FatCow falls short when compared to most other hosts. It offers little for the amount charged and its price is easily one of the highest. However, the service shines where marketing is concerned, offering credits for Google AdWords, Yahoo/Bing, and Facebook, as well as a free listing. Still, these “bonuses” provide little for the cost and are pretty standard for most hosting services.