The best Windows hosting services of 2018


Most web hosting packages run on Linux servers, and it’s easy to see why: the operating system is fast, reliable, secure and free, with an impressive software ecosystem that includes some of the best web applications around.

For all these benefits, Linux won’t be the right setup for everyone. If your site is based on Microsoft technologies like ASP.NET or .NET, or you’re intending to run Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server or some other Microsoft stack product, you’ll need to choose a Windows plan.

Opting for Windows hosting doesn’t restrict you to Microsoft products. Most plans offer one-click easy installation of popular apps like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, PrestaShop, phpBB and more.

There’s no cPanel, but something similar (like Plesk) will make it easy to view your website status, create email accounts, tweak settings and generally manage your plan.

Select a VPS or dedicated hosting plan and you’ll also be able to use Remote Desktop to manage the server from its own desktop.

Windows hosting has some issues. You won’t get the same choice of applications as with Linux. There’s less help available for troubleshooting apps like WordPress on the Windows platform. There are Microsoft licence fees to pay, too, so it’s a little more expensive than Linux plans.

Overall, though, if you need to take advantage of Microsoft technologies, Windows hosting can deliver a great service for a surprisingly low price. Read on for five top Windows hosting providers you might want to check out first.

1. 1&1

High value plans for the Windows hosting newbie

Feature-packed plans

Low prices

Uses Windows Server 2016

Windows hosting has a reputation for being costly, but 1&1’s shared Windows range shows it doesn’t have to be that way.

Prices start at $1.40 (£0.99) a month for the first year, $7 (£4.99) afterwards, yet even the most basic plan is better specified than some of the Linux competition. You get unlimited websites, web space and bandwidth, along with 100 email accounts with 2GB storage each, plus daily backups, 24/7 phone and email support, a free domain and an SSL certificate thrown in.

Windows-specific features include five Microsoft SQL databases of up to 1GB each, ASP.NET 4.7, ASP.NET Ajax and MVC 3, 4 and 5. There’s support for SQL import, SSI and dedicated app pools, and your plan will be running on Windows Server 2016 (many hosts are still using 2012).

Ramping up to the top-of-the-range Pro Windows plan gets you 10 times the allocated RAM, 25 databases, unlimited emails, a dedicated IP, regular malware scanning and an integrated Cloudflare-based CDN. Again, this is good value at only $9.80 (£6.99) a month for the first year, $14 (£9.99) afterwards.

These are shared plans and don’t give you full control over the server, but more flexible VPS and dedicated plans are also available at very low prices, and opting for Windows instead of Linux will cost from an extra $14 (£10) a month.

Factor in the one-month trial and 1&1 could be a sensible choice for novices looking to try out Windows hosting with the minimum of risk.

2. A2 Hosting

Run ASP.NET, PHP 7, WordPress and more on the same Windows server

Speed-boosting CDN and Anycast DNS

Decent prices

PHP 7.x

A2 Hosting is a capable provider with a huge range of plans covering everything from basic shared products, managed WordPress and email hosting, to reseller plans, cloud VPS and dedicated servers.

A2’s Windows offerings include a capable Swift plan priced at $5.88 (£4.4) a month initially, $11.99 (£9) on renewal. This is a shared product, but a good one, with unlimited websites, subdomains, email addresses, databases and more. Highlights include free site migration, SSD storage as standard, virus scanning, automatic backups, free Let’s Encrypt SSL, Anycast DNS, and Cloudflare Free CDN for a claimed average of 200% faster page loads.

Your site will be hosted on Windows Server 2012, although you can choose Windows Server 2016. Windows Server 2016 debuted many new features – Nano Server, containers, ReFS, Linux Secure Boot support – but you won’t be using these capabilities on a shared hosting plan.

What you do get with the Lite plan is support for an array of current and legacy Microsoft products and standards: ASP.NET 2.x, 3.x and 4.x, classic ASP, .NET Core 2.0, ASP.NET MVC 4 or 5, IIS 8.5 and Silverlight 4 or 5. And if your needs are more cross-platform, there’s PHP 5.6, 7.0, 7.1 or 7.2 support, phpMyAdmin, and one-click installers for PrestaShop, WordPress, Drupal and more.

If shared hosting isn’t enough, A2 also provides managed Windows VPS plans. These are well specified and priced fairly from $36.29 (£26) a month initially, $54.99 (£39) on renewal, which represents decent value for the features and support you get.

3. Hostwinds

Flexible mid-range hosting for cash-strapped power users

Supports Windows Server 2008, 2012, 2016

Excellent tech support

Good value

While there are plenty of low-cost shared Windows hosting packages around, they’re not the best choice for everyone. We suspect that many users who need a Windows website will also require more speed and functionality than the average customer, and budget hosting may not be good enough.

Hostwinds‘ Windows VPS hosting offers no less than 10 plan configurations, making it much easier to find and purchase the precise level of service you need.

The baseline specification is impressive. Every plan offers free site migrations, SSD storage, and 1Gbps network connectivity (100Mbps is common with other plans). You also get the ability to use Windows Server 2008, 2012 or 2016, along with fast response times for any support issues (30 seconds for chat or phone, 5 minutes for tickets), and 99.999% uptime guaranteed overall.

The starter Tier 1 plan offers relatively limited resources, with one CPU core, 1GB RAM, 30GB disk space and 1TB traffic per month. But it’s also good value at $8.99 (£6.80) a month for the first term, $9.99 (£7.6) on renewal. Those prices are for a monthly billing cycle, too – no lengthy contract required.

Upgrading to a higher tier gets you more power. The mid-range Tier 5 plan offers four CPU cores, 8GB RAM, 150GB disk space and 3TB bandwidth, for example, and is priced at $39.59 (£30.40) a month initially, $43.99 (£33.4) a month afterwards.

Optional extras are reasonably priced. You could add cloud backups for $1 (£0.70) a month, for instance, while spending $5 (£3.60) on basic server monitoring will see Hostwinds watch your system and automatically raise a support ticket if it goes down.

Put it all together and these seem well-designed hosting plans which are powerful, configurable, with excellent support and a generous 60-day money-back guarantee. If basic Windows hosting isn’t enough, Hostwinds could be worth a try.

4. HostGator

From simple shared plans to full-on dedicated servers


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