Christian M. 8 min read

Business website hosting

Most British businesses have a website, despite social media platforms providing the opportunity for online exposure. This is because websites have more functionality, customisability, and domain names that give them PR authority.

That said, websites require hosting, which is more complicated than setting up social media profiles. There are many different types of web hosting infrastructure, providers, and factors that will affect your hosting choice.

But fret not; this article provides the most comprehensive overview of website hosting, including migration instructions, domain names, and email hosting.

💡 Key takeaways:

  • Variable costs: Web hosting can be as cheap as about £5 per month for a basic website but over £1,000 for custom-made websites with high-tech functionality.
  • A trilemma: Cheap, fast, or high-quality (secure and reliable). According to the web hosting trilemma, you can have two out of three, but never all three simultaneously!
  • No one-size-fits-all: Each business has a unique requirement and budget, and there isn’t a single web hosting provider or solution to fit all needs.


What is hosting?

In the digital age, ‘hosting’ is no longer about welcoming guests, employees, or partners to your business premises; it is about ‘hosting’ digital services for your own business or to another as a service. A ‘host’ is a business that uses its computing resources to host e-mail servers, storage, gaming servers, websites, cryptocurrency, and VPN nodes.

Hosting went from a niche activity for techy firms with a website in the 1990s to essential in just two decades. Now, it forms part of core business expenses, like company cars, office maintenance and executive bonuses.

💡 HaaS: No, not “Hass” avocadoes, but “Hosting-as-a-Service.” This is the practice of businesses like AWS or Microsoft Azure, which provide server, website, or storage hosting services on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis to other businesses like yours!

What is web hosting?

Website hosting involves renting space on a web server where the website’s files and data are stored and maintained. The hosting provider ensures that the server is always connected to the internet so that when users type in the website’s address or click on a link, their browser can access and load the website.

There are various website hosting services, including shared hosting, dedicated hosting, and cloud hosting, each catering to different needs based on website size, traffic, and specific technical requirements. Just know that you can’t have a cheap, scalable, and fast website—you will always need to sacrifice to meet your needs.

💡Did you know? According to the ONS, only 64% of UK businesses have a website. This is because, for many small businesses, a social media profile fulfils all their basic requirements, including exposure, instant messaging, and links to contact details.

The web hosting trilemma

Enter the trilemma: It is impossible to be fast, cheap, and good simultaneously, so your business must understand what it wants before choosing its plan and hosting provider. See our factors considering your web host section for how you can make the best choice.

Web hosting trilemma
Web hosting trilemma: It will never be fast, high-quality and cheap.

Types of web hosting

There are broadly three types of website hosting you can choose from, each fulfilling each part of the trilemma, depending on what factors are important for your business needs.

TypeWho is it for?Approximate costsHosting providers
SharedLocal shops and cafes, blogs, freelance portfolios.£2 to £15 per monthBluehost, HostGator, SiteGround
DedicatedEnterprises, institutions, online news portal.£80 to >£1000Liquid Web, InMotion Hosting, Rackspace
CloudE-commerces, Healthcare app, online gaming.£5 to >£1000Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform

Let’s look at each in more detail:

Shared Hosting

💡 Ideal for: Any businesses looking to create an online presence with minimal investment.

💡 Costs: Costs can range from as low as £2 – £15 per month, depending on the features and resources included in the package.

In this type of web hosting, multiple websites belonging to different companies are hosted on the same physical server, sharing resources such as CPU, RAM, and storage space. While this is the cheapest solution, ideal for small websites with limited traffic and budget, it is not the most reliable, safe or fast.

Businesses that act as ‘hosts’ are known as ‘providers’ and manage the physical server infrastructure, including network connectivity and necessary software like the operating system, web server, and database server. The best-known hosts include Bluehost, Hostgator, Siteground, GoDaddy and A2 Hosting, Caard, just to name a few.

Dedicated hosting

💡 Ideal for: Corporations, e-commerce sites with high traffic, websites with specific security or cybersecurity compliance requirements, and organisations that need full control over their server environment.

💡 Costs: Costs can range from as low as £80 – £100s per month, depending on the features and resources included in the package.

Dedicated hosting is like a VIP web hosting service. In it, a single business has exclusive use of an entire server, including all its resources, such as CPU, RAM, and storage. It provides maximum control, performance, and security but at the highest price.

Similarly to shared hosting, hosts manage the physical server infrastructure, except that they partition it so that a single unit serves each of their exclusive clients’ needs. The best-known hosts include those that also provide shared hosting services like Bluehost and Hostgator. Yet, there are others that solely provide dedicated hosting, like Liquid Web, Inmotion, and Rackspace.

Cloud hosting

💡 Ideal for: Businesses with fluctuating traffic, such as e-commerce sites during sales events, startups that need scalability, and essential organisations requiring high availability and disaster recovery capabilities.

💡 Costs: Since costs vary by usage, they can start from as low as £5 per month for the most basic packages and go up to £1,000s for packages with huge amounts of storage and high resource-use priorities.

In cloud hosting, websites are hosted on a network of interconnected virtual servers in the cloud, rather than on a single physical server. The latest type of hosting uses the latest advances in cloud technology to distribute resources across multiple servers, ensuring greater flexibility, scalability, and reliability at the expense of price and speed.

Major cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, and Linode offer cloud web hosting, managing complex infrastructure that includes multiple physical servers, network connections, and virtualisation technology to create a pool of shared resources.

Other hosting

Each of these broad types of hosting services also has its niches to accommodate all use cases, especially when it comes to cloud hosting. While this is outside the scope of typical UK businesses, here are two examples and when they are used:

Virtual Dedicated Server (also known as VPS)

This is when a shared hosting provider virtually divides its physical infrastructure to provide ‘dedicated’ root access to businesses. This means that businesses can customise the software side of their web hosting without paying for dedicated physical space.

Private web hosting

This is when a business has its own in-house server hosting one or more websites from its business broadband connection. Businesses using a leased line can host high-performance, high-uptime websites, while others with cheap business broadband deals supported by ADSL, GFAST or FTTC connections can host simple websites from old PCs.

💡 A growing cloud: Many UK businesses are increasingly migrating to cloud hosting solutions due to their flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. The UK’s cloud adoption rate is one of the highest in Europe!

Factors to consider when choosing a web hosting provider

Understanding the trilemma, the types of web hosting, and what typical businesses opt for is useful enough for many who only want a basic understanding of web hosting. But if you want to be actively involved in the hosting selection, you should consider these factors to differentiate between the many web hosting providers in existence:

Reliability and uptimeHigh uptime guarantees (99.9% or higher) ensure website accessibility without downtimes, but tends to cost more.
Performance and speedProviders offering fast server performance and load times offer a better user experience and search engines will rank them higher, but will cost more.
ScalabilityIf you expect your website to grow rapidly, fluctuate in traffic over time, or go viral, ensure the provider offers scalable hosting plans to accommodate this.
SecurityEnsure core features like SSL certificates, firewalls, backups, and malware scanning for protection are offered, no matter what plan.
Customer supportLook for responsive and knowledgeable support, available 24/7 through live chat, phone, and email. Cheapest plans won't have this.
PricingDepends on your budged. Compare pricing plans, assess value, and watch out for hidden fees or charges.
Features and add-onsEvaluate hosting features and add-ons like website builders, email hosting, and one-click installers. Essential for businesses without ample tech expertese.
ReputationResearch the provider's reputation and read user reviews to gauge reliability and satisfaction.
Host locationsConsider the locations of the provider's data centers, as it affects website speed and latency.

💡Service Level Agreements (SLAs): No matter what web hosting type you use, read the SLA before signing. This guarantees the minimum performance that your host is legally required to provide!

What size hosting does my business need?

Now that you know the main factors that affect your web host choice and the types of web hosting solutions. Let’s see at what some typical businesses may require:

Small local businesses or an individual freelancer

A small local business or freelancer needing a simple website like a landing page will fulfil their needs from one of the shared hosting providers available. Not only are these reliable enough (you won’t lose any sleep if the website is down 1% of the time), but they are also the cheapest option to keep a startup’s low budget on track.

Picking one of the shared providers offering the best customer support and UX would be useful for solving any issues rapidly and checking their reputation to ensure they are fulfilling their SLA.

A small online trading firm

This specialised company would certainly require dedicated web hosting for its operations because it offers the highest level of cybersecurity (which will be required by FCA regulations) and the fastest response times to minimise lag in trade execution. It could potentially host the non-operational part of the website with a cloud host to minimise costs and bandwidth for its key operations.

A growing e-commerce

An e-commerce site selling niche products will prioritise uptime (to ensure no sales are jeopardised by the website being down), scalability (to accommodate variable traffic), and customer support (to ensure any issues can be handled efficiently; any downtime is money lost!).

For this reason, hosting most of their online services using cloud hosting providers makes sense. Not only can its capacity scale with traffic and growing/shrinking inventories, but the fact that cloud services have so much redundancy means its uptime is likely nearly 100%. If the website responds in under 0.01 or 1 second, it does little in terms of user experience when all you are doing is shopping!

Web hosting migration

You will need to migrate if you are one of the millions of businesses in the UK with an existing website but are unsatisfied with your hosting provider. This may be due to poor performance, simply your website’s traffic, or changes in requirements—almost all businesses change providers at one point or another.

Here is an overview of a typical migration process so that you know what your IT department or your third-party webmaster will be doing:

How do you migrate your website to another hosting provider?

Here is an overview of what you will need to do:

  1. Choose a new hosting provider: Consider these factors and these types of web hosting to choose a provider and plan that meets your business needs.
  2. Create a backup: Backup all your website’s files, databases, and email accounts to prevent data loss.
  3. Set up a new account: Sign up for a hosting plan with the new provider and set up your hosting account. Note the new server’s details, such as FTP/SFTP credentials and database information.
  4. Transfer website files: Use an FTP client or a file manager tool provided by your hosting provider to transfer your website files from the old server to the new server. Ensure that all files, including scripts and media, are copied over.
  5. Migrate the database: Export it from your old hosting account using tools like phpMyAdmin and import it into the new hosting account. Update any configuration files (e.g., wp-config.php for WordPress) with the new database details, and ensure to migrate your email (if applicable).
  6. Update DNS settings: Once your files and database are set up on the new host, update your domain’s DNS settings to point to the new hosting provider’s servers. This typically involves changing the A record and possibly the MX records if you’re using email services.
  7. Test the website: After the DNS changes propagate (which can take up to 48 hours), thoroughly test your website on the new hosting platform to ensure everything functions correctly. Check links, forms, and other interactive elements.
  8. Monitor and optimise: Monitor your website’s performance and make necessary optimisations. Look for any issues and be ready to address them promptly.
  9. Cancel old hosting account: Once you’re confident that your website is running smoothly on the new host and you’ve moved all necessary services, cancel your old hosting account.

💡 Cybersecurity concerns: With the growing threat of cyberattacks, UK businesses increasingly prioritise security in their hosting decisions. This has led to a rise in migrations to hosting providers that offer advanced security features and cybersecurity compliance with UK data protection regulations.

Hosting considerations for prime website performance

Here are ten considerations if you are looking for the best possible website performance. This is important if your business relies on its digital presence, including competing for traffic through SEO. These go beyond those explained in the key factors section and are geared towards digital marketing departments, so they are more technical:

Server locationChoose data centers close to your audience to reduce latency and improve load times.
Resource allocationEnsure sufficient CPU, RAM, and storage for your website's traffic and data needs.
ScalabilityOpt for a solution that allows easy scaling of resources based on traffic fluctuations.
Uptime guaranteeLook for providers with high uptime guarantees (99.9% or higher) for constant website accessibility.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)Utilize a CDN to distribute content globally, reducing latency and speeding up delivery.
CachingImplement caching mechanisms to store frequently accessed data and speed up page load times.
Optimised softwareChoose providers that offer optimised software and configurations for your website platform.
Security measuresEnsure robust security features like firewalls, SSL certificates, and DDoS protection.
Regular backupsChoose a service that offers regular backups for quick website restoration in case of data loss.
Support for latest techEnsure support for the latest web technologies and protocols for improved performance and security.

💡 Did you know? According to Google, a 1-second delay in page load time can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions, highlighting the significance of selecting a web hosting provider that ensures optimal performance.

CMS Integrations

CMS (Content Management System) integration is crucial if your website’s performance is tied to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation: When you try to rank highly on search engines like Google to drive traffic). A CMS is designed to simplify the process of publishing and managing website content, making it accessible even to users with little or no technical expertise.

In other words, the CMS is like the bridge between your content creators (copywriters, marketers, etc) and your web hosting. If these didn’t exist, you would need to have them manually edit HTML files (website files), which is very troublesome and time-consuming.

The CMS is typically installed on the server where your website is hosted. Many providers offer one-click installation and database integration for popular CMS platforms like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal so that you can easily be up and running and releasing content in little time.

CMS considerations

Here are a couple of considerations when choosing a CMS (which may also affect the type of web hosting, so take note!). To keep this short and sweet, we don’t cover the obvious considerations like price and security features which all major CMS platforms offer:

  • Scalability: The hosting plan and CMS should be able to accommodate growth in website traffic and content without requiring a complete overhaul of the infrastructure. This is why many SEO-focused websites often go for cloud hosting.
  • Compatibility: If you’re dead set on a specific CMS like WordPress, ensure it’s compatible with the hosting environment, including support for the required programming languages, databases, and server settings.
  • Functionality: Different CMSs cater to different needs. Some focus on being user-friendly but offer little customisation and SEO functionality, while others have infinite functionality but can be confusing due to having too many options. The choice is yours!

Popular CMS platforms

We recommend choosing from one of the popular CMS platforms because they have the longest track record and, therefore, security against cyber threats and data breaches. Here are the top five by popularity:

WordPressHighly versatile and user-friendly, suitable for blogs, e-commerce sites, and more.Over 455 million
ShopifyKnown for its robustness and scalability, ideal for complex and high-traffic websites.Over 3.6 million
JoomlaOffers flexibility with a strong community, extensions, and templates for various website types.Around 1.5 million
DrupalA popular e-commerce platform with a user-friendly interface and extensive app store.Over 560,000
Magento (Adobe Commerce)A powerful e-commerce CMS with advanced customization options for large online stores.Over 250,000

Backup and Disaster Recovery

Another consideration is having a backup and disaster recovery plan for your website. It’s the only way to ensure your website can be restored in case of an unforeseen issue during migration—which does happen! This includes instances of data corruption, server failures, or hacking attempts.

In 2017,, a multi-million dollar startup, lost over 300GB of user data due to a failed backup process. The incident highlighted the importance of having backups and ensuring that they are reliable and tested regularly. (Source: The Hacker News). Can you imagine having your Google Cloud data accidentally deleted?

Hosting security features

Webhosting has plenty of security considerations, especially with the growing threat of cybersecurity attacks. Here are some of the security features of web hosting, together with information on whether these are core, optional or add-on security features:

Security FeatureDescriptionAvailability
SSL CertificatesEncrypts data transfer between the user's browser and the server.Core (All packages)
FirewallsActs as a barrier to block unauthorised access and protect against attacks.Core (All packages)
Software UpdatesRegular updates for hosting platform, CMS, and plugins to patch security vulnerabilities.Core (All packages)
Access ControlsControls to ensure only authorized personnel can access sensitive areas.Core (All packages)
Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)Provides a secure method for transferring files to and from the server.Core (All packages)
Regular BackupsAutomated backups to restore the website in case of data loss or security breach.Common (Most packages)
DDoS ProtectionProtects the website against Distributed Denial of Service attacks.Preferred (Higher-tier packages)
Malware Scanning and RemovalDetects and removes malicious software from the website.Optional (Some packages)
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)Adds an extra layer of security with a second form of verification.Optional (Some packages)
Security MonitoringContinuous monitoring for suspicious activity on the website.Niche (Specialized packages)

💡 Did you know? A UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport survey found that 39% of UK businesses experienced a cybersecurity breach or attack in the last 12 months. Taking essential cybersecurity measures in web hosting can mitigate most areas of weakness.

Domain names and email hosting

Finally, here is a short section on domain names (DNS) and e-mail hosting, which are integral to website hosting.

What is a domain name (DNS)?

A domain name is a unique address that identifies a website on the Internet, such as This name must be registered and attributed to your website hosting to ensure that any links to it access the correct files and code stored by the hosting service!

What is e-mail hosting?

Email hosting is a service that allows you to send, receive, and store emails using your domain name like Using a custom email address enhances your business’s professionalism and credibility but must be supported with robust security features like ample storage, spam filtering, and secure access (SSL/TLS).

💡 Integrations: Most web hosting packages include email hosting, which comes with the domain name. Alternatively, you can opt for standalone email hosting services or use providers like Google Workspace or Microsoft 365.

Business web hosting – FAQs

Our business broadband experts answer commonly asked questions on web hosting for UK businesses.

What is the best hosting for small businesses?

Generally, a small business will want the cheapest web hosting solution and typically opt for shared hosting to ensure its online presence at the bare minimum. However, if your business is an e-commerce or you offer online services, pay-as-you-store cloud hosting is probably more attractive as it guarantees better uptime and scalability if a product or website goes viral.

However, there is no absolute best type of hosting or best web hosting provider. It’s a competitive market, and each provider tries to excel in its niche. To choose your plan, see the main factors you need to consider when choosing a web hosting plan and some case studies of the web hosting solutions that typical UK businesses might pick based on their requirements.

Does my business need a website?

Not necessarily. As we mentioned in the intro, over a third of UK businesses don’t have a website and fulfil their online requirements with social media profiles like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn.

However, a website is necessary for more advanced functionality in e-commerce, such as payment services, forms, and custom applications such as calculators and games.

Does my ISP affect my hosting needs?

Your choice of business broadband provider shouldn’t affect your website’s performance because it will depend on the connection quality of your web host, not yours! The exception is if you are privately hosting your website from your servers.

If you are, compare business broadband deals to get the cheapest full-fibre broadband connection (and consider a leased line for the most stable connection possible). If this is unavailable in your area, Virgin’s cable broadband is the second-best option for private hosting as it is tethered, responsive and sometimes even faster.

If your business is off-grid, you can still host your website privately via Starlink (preferably) or one of the other business satellite broadband providers. The downside is that all wireless connections (including 5G broadband) are inherently less stable and can result in hosting issues.

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