Web hosting is a necessity for any website — it is the physical location of your website on the Internet, an online storage center that houses the information, images, video, and other content that comprises your website. Web hosting service providers maintain the server where the data associated with your website resides, and also manage the technology that makes your website connect to the Internet.
There are two other factors that led to the nearly perfect score earned by Dreamhost. First, the company's pricing is pretty transparent. There are no hidden gotchas in the rates. Plus -- and this is the best we've seen across all our hosting providers -- Dreamhost provides a 97-day money back guarantee. There's quite literally zero risk in giving them a try.
Domain name registrations are priced on a subscription-like model that allows a person or business to register that domain name for a certain period of time (usually in annual increments). At the end of the registration period, you (the domain name registrant) have the option to renew the domain name registration for an additional period of time, or let it expire. It is important to renew your domain name registration, or you may find that all of your work building traffic and views to your site ends up benefiting someone else (in the instance that someone else registers your domain name after you let your registration expire), and potentially costing you more in rebranding.
Sadly, there is a bit of a "gotcha" to the free automatic backup service. If you're paying $3.95 a month (for the first year of hosting, then $9.95 a month), you don't get restores for free. Each restore, no matter how small or large, will cost you $19.95. I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, the company has to pay salaries to tech support reps who can handle panicking customers. On the other hand, it seems kind of mean-spirited to hit someone when they're down with an added fee. That said, getting your data back – at any price – is priceless.
BigCommerce is a bit different from our other hosting plans in that it's a SaaS (software-as-a-service) provider instead of an IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) provider. In other words, rather than renting space on a virtual machine where you setup and configure your own site, BigCommerce provides you with an app you login to that creates and online store.
If industry-leading uptime and rapid-scalability are your two biggest concerns, cloud hosting might be just what you're looking for. Cloud hosting will get you access to a cluster of servers from which you can quickly provision resources when you need them. Along with having enough separation from unruly neighbors, your application should be kept safe. VPS and Cloud services are sometimes combined into a hybrid service called Cloud VPS or Scalable VPS.
Beyond that, Dreamhost is a 5-of-5 hosting company for many reasons. They operate their own control panel, which is convenient and easy to understand. While phone support isn't available 24-7, they are responsive to chat and tickets. The company uses superfast SSDs for all their storage, has a free SSL certificate (for more secured web browsing), and provides SSH access for those plans that are intended for more technical users.