Businesses large and small, local, and global, understand the value of having a web presence. A website makes it easier for customers to find you and establishes a basic level of credibility. It also gives you an opportunity to tout the products, services, practices, and attitudes that distinguish your business from the competition. This is your own corner of the web.
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However, you can only sing your praises if your website is up and running and performs reliably. For this reason, PCMag asks its readers to evaluate their own web hosting service for our Business Choice survey so you're armed with the inside scoop shared by your peers.
For more than 25 years, we have been augmenting our hands-on, labs-based product reviews with our Readers' Choice Awards, in which PCMag readers rate the products and services they use the most. The Business Choice Awards extend the reader-contributed ratings to the hardware, software, and services our readers deploy, administer, maintain, and use in a business environment.
You can be part of Business Choice! Sign up for the Readers' Choice Survey mailing list to receive invitations in the future.
Looking for an expert opinion? Read our roundup of the Best Web Hosting Services.
Web Hosting Services for Business
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Web hosting covers a wide range of services, so it's best to look before you leap. Our expert reviews and ratings from your peers should give you a strong foundation to make the best choice for your business.
This year, there were 207 companies (down slightly from last year's 212) nominated for Business Choice Awards for Best Web Hosting Service. Eight received enough votes to be considered for top honors. SquareSpace is the only new finalist—the others are repeat visitors, and have been for the past three years.
Our winner, for the fourth year in a row, is DreamHost with an overall satisfaction score of 8.8 (on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 as the best). That score is down a little from last year's 9.0. Once again, DreamHost's biggest fault seems to be that it has the highest percentage of respondents requiring tech support at 58 percent (way up from last year's 41 percent).
While it's concerning that DreamHost has such a high number of people who need tech support—almost one-third of users—they rate the quality of that tech support highly at 8.9 (maybe people just like to call in and chat with the dreamy DreamHost tech helpers). Bluehost had almost as many users who needed help at 54 percent, but those users only rate Bluehost support at 7.1.
DreamHost's scores are all down from last year, and those were down from all-time highs in 2015. But the numbers are still good enough to make it the top scoring (or tied) vendor in every rating category (other than tech support needed). It ties with HostGator for reliability (an excellent 9.1) and with 1&1 for the Net Promoter Score (54 percent). 1&1 and HostGator are the only web hosts in the survey that give DreamHost any competition among PCMag reader ratings, but neither can quite beat it. Yet.
Once again, Network Solutions comes in dead last with a 6.7 in overall satisfaction. Network Solutions has the lowest score in every category capped off by the only negative Net Promoter Score (-8 percent) among our finalists. That means survey respondents actively steer their colleagues away. This is the fourth year in a row Network Solutions has held this dubious distinction.
SquareSpace, a new finalist this year, racked up solid middle-of-the-road scores across the board while relative newcomer Wix, in its second year as a finalist, enjoys having the lowest percentage of respondents requiring technical support (10 percent). It's also interesting to note that since Yahoo! Small Business was spun off and rebranded as Aabaco Small Business, it has virtually disappeared from our list, receiving only a single (poor) rating. That's how it goes for what used to be Viaweb and GeoCities.
WINNERS: BUSINESS WEB HOSTS
The readers of PCMag have their choice of literally hundreds of web hosting services, but the one they tell us time and again is the most dreamy is DreamHost. The service scores through the roof on most categories, and even when it has a negative (like lots of tech support needed), customers appreciate the quality of that support so much it's still a winner. There is little doubt that if word of mouth drives your business decisions, the one you should hear about is DreamHost.
We email survey invitations to PCMag.com community members, specifically subscribers to our Readers' Choice Survey mailing list. The surveys are hosted by SurveyMonkey, which also performs our data collection. This survey was in the field from June 5, 2016 to June 26, 2016.
Respondents are asked to rate their web hosting service. They are asked multiple questions about their overall satisfaction with the solution, as well as experiences with technical support within the past 12 months.
Because the goal of the survey is to understand how the web hosting services compare to one another and not how one respondent's experience compares to another's, we use the average of the web hosting services' rating, not the average of every respondent's rating. In all cases, the overall ratings are not based on averages of other scores in the table; they are based on answers to the question, "Overall, how satisfied are you with your web hosting service provider?"
Scores not represented as a percentage are on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is the best.
Net Promoter Scores are based on the concept introduced by Fred Reichheld in his 2006 best seller, The Ultimate Question, that no other question can better define the loyalty of a company's customers than "how likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?" This measure of brand loyalty is calculated by taking the percent of respondents who answered 9 or 10 (promoters) and subtracting the percent who answered 0 through 6 (detractors).
If you would like to participate in PCMag's monthly Readers' Choice surveys and to be eligible for our sweepstakes promotions on each, please sign up today.