When you are first looking for a hosting plan, you might blindly select a Windows hosting plan over a Linux web hosting plan because of the brand recognition. While Windows might seem more familiar, it doesn’t mean that it is right for you. Linux hosting is everywhere, and with good reason. This budget-friendly hosting solution runs on open-source Linux software, and as such is one of the most flexible and reliable hosting options available today. Here is what Linux hosting is and how to find the right Linux hosting for your business.
- Power-packed plans
- Excellent support
- Novice-friendly features
InMotion Hosting is a professional Linux web host that delivers high levels of power and control right across its range.
InMotion’s shared hosting includes many beginner-friendly features, for example – free website migration, a bundled website builder, regular backups – but that’s just the start. More experienced users will be happy to see support for MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, PHP 7, Ruby, Perl and Python, SSH access and more.
There are interesting touches wherever you look. You don’t just get the option to have WordPress, PrestaShop or Joomla preinstalled, for instance – InMotion throws in WP-CLI to enable managing multiple WordPress installations from the command line. It’s a far more capable product than you might expect, considering prices start at $3.99 a month for the three-year plan.
It’s a similar story as you upgrade. Optional self-managed cloud VPS hosting – from $5 a month for the initial term – gives you a choice of OS and a firewall, but after that, you’re able to install, optimize and configure the server however you like. Even InMotion’s managed VPS hosting still gives you root access for considerable low-level control.
For the operating system, you get to choose from CentOS, Ubuntu or Debian. If you encounter any setup issues, the Launch Assist feature gives you a minimum of two hours with an InMotion tech support staff member to help you solve any problems, which could prove invaluable in getting you off the ground.
- Powerful features
- Genuine technical expertise
- Responsive support
Every Linux host claims to offer the best possible technical support, but separating the experts from the pretenders isn’t always easy. One way to identify the most knowledgeable providers is to check their high-end products. You won’t get the same level of support if you’re buying a basic shared hosting package, but just knowing that level of expertise is available somewhere in the company can be a comfort.
SiteGround is a sterling example. If the company’s standard hosting products aren’t enough, it can build enterprise-level solutions from scratch, and SiteGround’s website lists some of the technologies it supports.
That includes custom private clouds, smart use of Linux containers, replication between databases, and in-depth expertise in WordPress, Drupal, Nginx, Apache, PHP, MySQL, MongoDB, ElasticSearch, Redis, Solr, Memcached and more. In short, this is clearly a provider that knows what it’s doing.
Home users won’t get the same level of support, of course, but even SiteGround’s shared hosting plan delivers more than you might expect: a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, cPanel and SSH access, Cloudflare integration, unlimited emails and databases, HTTP/2-enabled servers, free daily backups, and 24/7 technical support by phone, chat and a ticket system. Not bad at $6.99 (£5.99 in the UK) a month plus tax for the initial term, $14.99 (£11.99 in the UK) afterwards.
Ramping up to a VPS-like Cloud Hosting plan gets you a very well-specified CentOS system. MySQL 5, PostgreSQL, 5 PHP versions, HHVM, Apache, Nginx, Exim mail server, a private DNS server setup and Iptables firewall are all preinstalled and managed by SiteGround. Prices start at $80 (£48 in the UK) a month plus tax.
Opt for a dedicated server and you’ll get high-end extras like Git integration and performance-boosting Nginx-based cache options for WordPress, Memcached and HHVM.
Now, the truth is that you probably won’t want all these features – maybe you only need a small number of them – but they do provide a strong indicator of the company’s technical expertise, as we already mentioned.
If you’re looking for a provider that can support your site and help it grow, SiteGround could be a wise choice, for sure. On top of all the above, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you’re not happy with the service initially, plus there’s a 100% renewable energy match scheme on the green front (meaning this is a carbon-neutral host).
- Choice of operating system
- Good value
- Limited support
Linux hosting is available from just about everyone, but anything less than a dedicated server is often fully managed by the provider (they set up, manage and maintain the OS and all its components for you). That’s great for beginners, but more experienced users might be frustrated by the lack of features and control therein.
Hostwinds’ unmanaged VPS packages allow you to take complete charge of your workspace. You can choose from a range of distros, including CentOS, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Debian and Fedora. You can tweak and set up the operating system however you like, as well as configure your own backup scheme, and more.
That said, remember that unmanaged packages bring responsibilities, too. If there’s a missing update or some mystery software issue, you’ll be the person tasked with fixing the problem. But that shouldn’t be too intimidating for Linux users, and many elements of Hostwinds’ packages remain simple and easy-to-use (you get site management via cPanel, automated WordPress and other installs via Softaculous, one-click Nextcloud install, and so on).
Even better, as you’re not paying for management, Hostwinds gives you a 50% discount on every package. Normal managed Linux VPS packages range from $5.17 monthly (with initial discount at the time of writing – the normal cost is $10.99) for 1 CPU core, 1GB RAM, 30GB disk space, 1TB traffic, stepping up to $247.69 (with discount) for 16 cores, 96GB RAM, 750GB disk space, and 9TB traffic.
The unmanaged range runs from $4.49 monthly to $296 – currently, there is a much bigger 53% discount on managed packages and 10% off for unmanaged. There’s no long-term contract required, so you can try the service for as little as a month to see if it works for you, which is obviously very handy.
- Choice of OS
- Excellent support
- Above-average prices
Part of the appeal of Linux hosting should be the level of control you get over your working environment, but this doesn’t happen with every provider. Often you’re presented with a standard base environment – typically CentOS and cPanel – with no ability to choose anything else.
Liquid Web has been providing quality VPS and dedicated hosting packages for years, and one reason for this success could be the level of flexibility on offer. Whatever you’re after, the company gives you in-depth low-level control over your server specifications.
You’re not stuck with a single version of CentOS, for instance. Liquid Web offers CentOS 6 (optionally with CloudLinux) and 7, as well as Debian 8, 9 and 10, Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.04, and Fedora 30. The CentOS 7 images can include cPanel or Plesk, and plans are available in a mix of self-managed, core-managed and fully-managed variations.
There’s even more power over some supplementary features. While other hosts might throw in a standard backup plan, Liquid Web enables choosing how many daily backups you’d like to retain, or it can squeeze as many backups as will fit into a defined amount of disk space. Both options are charged at a very reasonable $0.08 per GB per month, so you only pay for whatever you use.
However your server is configured, Liquid Web’s excellent support is on hand 24/7, every day of the year, to resolve problems as quickly as possible. And we do mean quickly: if, say, there’s a hardware failure, the company promises it will be rectified within 30 minutes of the problem being identified.
What’s more, Liquid Web backs up these promises with an impressive service level agreement. If the company doesn’t respond to an initial helpdesk ticket within 30 minutes, you’ll be credited with 10 times the amount they missed it by, and there are similar clauses to cover you for power outages, network failure and more. All of this has to boost your confidence in the level of service which will be delivered if you choose the Liquid Web for Linux hosting.
- Wide choice of OS, control panels
- Amazingly cheap
- Poor support
It’s not easy to pick the right Linux web host, particularly given the bewildering number of features that are on offer with some providers – and this can prove to be a real struggle for hosting newbies who really aren’t sure which of these various features they might need.
So rather than make a big commitment, those in this predicament might want to sign up with a budget host such as OVH, to get a feel for the kind of Linux options that are out there. While we wouldn’t recommend this company for business-critical websites – in all honesty, it doesn’t have the best customer support out there – OVH represents superb value for money in terms of what you get, and as mentioned, it’s a cheap way of testing out the world of Linux hosting.
OVH offers plenty in the way of Linux options, and, for example, there’s a diverse selection of distros you can pick from. The firm’s VPS plans support Arch Linux, CentOS 6, CentOS 7, Debian 7, Debian 8, Debian 9, Fedora 26, Ubuntu 14.04 Server and Ubuntu 16.04 Server, along with Kubuntu 14.04 Desktop if you need a user interface.
You’re not restricted to cPanel as a website manager, either: OVH also supports CozyCloud, Plesk Onyx, Vesta CP and Virtualmin.
OVH says you can have WordPress, Drupal, Joomla! and PrestaShop pre-installed, conveniently, although there’s no mention of a general Softaculous-type one-click application installer. Still, with full root access, you should be able to manually set up whatever you need.
What’s really impressive here is the price, which starts at just $2.20 per month, excluding sales tax. OVH isn’t the best Linux host by any means, but it does provide a very cheap way to experiment with different distros and control panels to find out what works for you. It’s well worth a look for Linux newbies or anyone who feels they need more hosting experience before handing over substantial chunks of cash.