The best options for hosting through Microsoft rather than Linux
The majority of web hosting packages use Linux servers. This is no surprise—Linux is free, secure, and incredibly reliable, and it provides excellent web applications for a variety of use cases.
That said, there are also good reasons to use Microsoft over Linux for web hosting. This is particularly true for sites based on ASP.NET, .NET, or other Microsoft technologies. Furthermore, anyone planning to use Microsoft stack products should rely on Windows rather than Linux hosting.
Fortunately, you can use Windows hosting without being committed to Microsoft apps. A variety of plans support common apps such as PrestaShop, WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. Even without cPanel, Plesk and similar tools will enable you to generate email accounts, check your site’s status, use remote desktop features, and more.
While hosting via Windows comes with notable concerns including license fees, a smaller selection of applications, and limited troubleshooting options, it’s still the best option in some situations. In this article, we’ll take a look at five of the best Windows hosting services and help you find the right option for your business.
Affordable web hosting for both experienced and novice users
High prices are one of the most common downsides of Windows hosting compared to Linux. 1&1 IONOS provides excellent hosting services at affordable rates.
The base 1&1 IONOS subscription starts at $1 per month for the first year followed by an increase to $7.99 per month. It comes with one site (including a free domain and SSL certificate), unlimited bandwidth, 100 GB of space, daily backups, 24/7 help via email or phone, and up to 25 email addresses, each of which includes 2 GB of additional storage.
1&1 IONOS also provides strong features tailored to Windows users. Subscribers receive five SQL databases limited to 1 GB each, ASP.NET Ajax and 4.7, and MVC 3, 4, and 5. It also supports a variety of functions such as Windows Server 2019, SSI with dedicated app pools, and SQL import.
Users can also upgrade to the 1&1 IONOS Expert Windows plan for a number of notable features. Expert subscribers get up to 500 databases and email addresses plus malware scanning, a dedicated IP, and a Cloudflare CDN. This subscription costs $1 per month for the first six months followed by a permanent increase to $14 per month.
Along with shared subscriptions, 1&1 IONOS also provides dedicated plans and versatile VPS at surprisingly affordable prices. You can host via Windows rather than Linux for an additional $14 per month. Considering its features, pricing, and one-month free trial for new users, 1&1 IONOS is a great place to start for anyone interested in Windows hosting.
Windows Server 2016 hosting with ASP.NET, PHP 7, WordPress, and other products
A2 Hosting offers a large number of plans with different pricing and features. These subscriptions provide everything from email and WordPress hosting to cloud VPS, reseller plans, and dedicated servers along with basic shared products.
The Swift subscription costs $5.88 per month at first, although the price increases to $11.99 per month after you renew. Although it’s a shared product, users still get unlimited websites, email addresses, subdomains, and databases. Other features include standard SSD storage, convenient site migration, Cloudflare Free CDN, and automatic backups.
While A2 hosts via Windows Server 2012 by default, users can also switch to Windows Server 2016. The 2016 iteration of the platform comes with several tools that aren’t available with Windows Server 2012 including containers, support for Linux Secure Boot, ReFS, and Nano Server. That said, these features aren’t particularly relevant for anyone using a shared hosting subscription.
A2 hosting also provides thorough support for both legacy and current versions of Microsoft products. The Swift plan is compatible with ASP.NET 2.x, 3.x, and 4.x, .NET Corps 2.2, classic ASP, IIS 8.5, Silverlight 4 and 5, and ASP.NET MVC 4 and 5. You can also use PHP 5.6, 7.0, 7.1, or 7.2, phpMyAdmin, WordPress, PrestaShop, Drupal, and a variety of additional platforms.
Furthermore, A2 provides managed VPS subscriptions for anyone who wants to avoid shared hosting. These plans start at just $25 per month for the initial subscription followed by $49.99 per month after renewing. More expensive plans are also available if you need a wider range of features.
Ten different subscriptions make it easy to find the features you need
Pricing is obviously one of the most important factors to consider when looking for a hosting provider. That said, many people who are looking for a Windows hosting solution require functionality and speed beyond what most budget options can provide.
With ten different plans available, Hostwinds has a subscription for virtually every use case. In contrast, most hosting providers are limited to a few subscriptions, forcing users to pay for features they don’t need or save money while losing access to critical tools.
While each plan is different in notable ways, every subscription provides free migration, SSD storage, and network connectivity at 1 Gbps. The platform is compatible with Windows Server 2008, 2012, and 2016, although there’s no information about support for the 2019 iteration.
Additionally, Hostwinds provides excellent customer support, with response times of roughly 30 seconds for live chat and phone inquiries, and just five minutes for support tickets. The platform guarantees an incredible 99.999% uptime, which works out to around 5 minutes of downtime per year.
The Hostwinds Tier 1 subscription includes 1 GB of RAM, a single CPU core 1 TB of traffic per month, and up to 30 GB of disk space. It currently costs $9.89 for the first month, followed by $10.99 per month upon renewal. Unlike some other providers, Hostwinds bills monthly without any annual contracts.
Of course, upgrading to a more expensive plan significantly increases those limits. Tier 5, for example, comes with a total of four CPU cores plus 8 GB of RAM, 3 TB in bandwidth, and up to 150 GB in disk space. For the first month, the Tier 5 subscription costs $45.89, going up to $50.99 per month following renewal.
Along with its range of subscription tiers, Hostwinds also provides some optional add-ons at an additional charge. Cloud backups are available for $1 per month, while you can get basic server monitoring services for just $5.
With incredible flexibility and strong hosting plans for a variety of use cases, Hostwinds is worth considering for any user with robust Windows hosting needs. The service also offers a 60-day money-back guarantee to all new subscribers, so you can test it out risk-free for roughly two months before committing to a subscription.
Subscriptions ranging from basic shared hosting to highly-specified dedicated servers
HostGator is another highly flexible hosting service for Windows users, with subscriptions available for all user types, from individuals to large businesses that require dedicated servers. Its flexibility is a major benefit compared to providers that only offer limited support for Windows.
With HostGator, you can find everything from shared hosting plans for individual users to dedicated servers with substantially more power. Furthermore, HostGator imposes relatively few restrictions on its subscribers, particularly at more expensive tiers.
The Personal plan, for example, costs $2.64 per month when you commit to a three-year contract. The price increases to $6.95 per month when you renew. While Personal users only get one website, they can create an unlimited number of emails, subdomains, and Microsoft SQL and MySQL databases while accessing unlimited disk space and bandwidth.
Unfortunately, HostGator relies on outdated software, especially when compared to some of the other options on this list. Its software currently includes Windows Server 2008 R2, ASP.NET up to 4.5, IIS 7.5, Access Databases 2007 and 2010, PHP 5.2.17, PHP 5.3, and MSSQL Server 2008 R2 Web Edition.
While HostGator provides support for more current options through its dedicated subscriptions, these plans are still outdated relative to many competitors. Dedicated plans support Windows Server 2012 R2, SQL Server 2014 Express, IIS 8.5, and ASP.NET 2.0-4.6.
HostGator generally charges affordable rates, with Value Server subscriptions available from $119 per month. We’ve also seen promotional pricing at just $79.99 per month for some legacy servers. Keep in mind that HostGator prices represent the monthly cost of a three-year contract and can increase substantially upon renewal.
Outstanding hosting services for professional users
Another popular web hosting provider for businesses, Liquid Web is one of the most powerful options for companies looking for a Windows hosting solution. Its Cloud VPS tools enable users to host across devices for optimal scalability and performance. In fact, Liquid Web describes itself as the “fastest managed VPS hosting on the planet.”
Furthermore, the provider’s plans include features that are often considered add-ons by competing services. For example, all subscriptions come with Gigabit transfer, unlimited sites, protection from DDoS attacks, Cloudflare CDN, and hosting in either the EU or US.
Users can run either Windows Server 2012 or 2016 for just $59 per month, or $29 per month when paid annually. Liquid Web also gives users the ability to choose from SQL Server, 2014 or 2016 Express. Web Editions are available as an add-on for $35 per month, although you can also subscribe to the Standard or Enterprise plan.
Liquid Web also provides Private Cloud Servers for organizations interested in dedicated servers. The most affordable plan is $1,599 per month, with no discount for signing up for an annual contract, so these subscriptions are intended for larger businesses.
Private Cloud Server plans enable subscribers to create, use, and manage multiple virtual servers, including both Linux and Windows VPS instances. You may be charged a Windows licensing fee on top of the cost of your subscription, but these are only charged a single time for each Cloud Server. You can also avoid this fee by removing Windows instances.
The platform also comes with excellent support options including live chat, phone, and email help. The knowledge base and blog provide detailed responses to common questions and technical issues, so make sure to check these resources before contacting the support team.
Liquid Web backs up its pricing with a service level agreement guaranteeing 100% uptime for its users. This kind of guarantee is unusual among hosting services, and providers that do offer guarantees typically don’t commit to 100% uptime. While Liquid Web targets larger businesses than some of the competitors on this list, it’s among the top hosting providers for many use cases.