Businesses require robust web hosting services to maintain their online presences, and Liquid Web is one that many large brands trust. The company has a range of cloud, dedicated, reseller, virtual private server (VPS), and WordPress server packages with enough flexibility and muscle to power the likes of Eddie Bauer, Home Depot, National Geographic, Porsche, and Symantec. Be prepared to pay premium prices for this excellent, managed, enterprise-class service, though; Liquid Web lacks a low-cost, shared hosting tier. Individuals and small businesses may prefer DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostwinds, our Editors’ Choice picks that offer more affordably priced packages.
Liquid Web excels in managed hosting; in fact, that’s the reason for the service’s Editors’ Choice designation. With managed hosting, a business doesn’t house its servers onsite. Instead, the servers are hosted at a web host’s datacenter. That might sound like a description of what every web hosting service does, but Liquid Web goes far beyond simply serving up files remotely. The company can handle all the site’s administrative duties and support tasks, regardless of complexity and scale. As you’d probably suspect, this type of service is designed with big businesses in mind. Liquid Web’s managed hosting is also quite pricey, but with the big ticket comes big specs.
No Shared Web Hosting
As mentioned, Liquid Web does not offer shared web hosting, which is generally used by individuals and the smallest of businesses. If you want to dabble in that hosting category, you must look elsewhere. HostGator, the PCMag Editors’ Choice for shared web hosting services, is an excellent place to start. HostGator offers Linux- or Windows-based based shared hosting packages that give small- and medium-size business room to grow (starting at $2.75 per month for a 36 month plan). HostGator is the service to explore for cheap web hosting.
VPS Web Hosting
If you want a server with significant power, but without the high dedicated-server price tag, check out Liquid Web’s VPS servers. VPS hosting is a higher form of shared hosting, except that you deal with far more powerful (and guaranteed) system resources.
The entry-level VPS plan (starting at $35 per month for a 12-month plan) includes 2GB of RAM, 40GB of solid-state drive storage, 10TB of monthly data transfers, unlimited domains, and unlimited email. On the other end of the spectrum, Liquid Web’s high-end option (starting at $115 per month) ups the ante by including 16GB of RAM, 200GB of SSD storage, and the option to use either Linux- or Windows-based servers (the latter for $20 more per month). You can also contact Liquid Web if you want to spec out a more powerful server.
Liquid Web’s RAM and storage totals are the best we’ve seen for their price point. That’s a big qualifier, however, given Liquid Web’s prices. Hostwinds is the Editors’ Choice for VPS service for the SMBs that are our main audience, but if you’re shopping for enterprise-level hosting, Liquid Web is definitely worth checking out. Also, unlike many other VPS services we’ve have reviewed, Liquid Web only charges for the number of days you use the service per month, which comes in handy if you decided to cancel your account.
Dedicated Web Hosting
If you’re looking to build your website on the strongest possible foundation, however, you’ll want to check out Liquid Web’s dedicated server offerings. With dedicated hosting, your site taps a server’s full system resources, instead of sharing them with other sites. This is one of Liquid Web’s primary offerings in terms of hosting.
Liquid Web’s dedicated servers come in a variety of configurations, ranging from a server with a single quad-core processor, two 240GB solid-state drives (with a 1TB backup drive), 5TB of monthly data transfers, and 16GB of RAM (starting at $169 per month) to a server with high-end, 32-core processors with two 480GB solid-state drives (and a 1TB SATA backup drive), 15TB of monthly data transfers, and 128GB of RAM (starting at $549 per month). Clearly, Liquid Web’s dedicated servers are aimed at businesses that want sharp website performance and that have the money to spend on it.
Liquid Web’s well-rounded, managed-level dedicated server packages outclass AccuWebs’ excellent, SMB-friendly plans. That said, the price and spec differences between the two are so large that AccuWeb remains the Editors’ Choice for dedicated web hosting for personal use and SMBs. AccuWeb offers a choice of Linux- or Windows-based servers, up to 512GB of RAM, 6TB of storage, and up to 20TB monthly data transfers. It’s an apple and oranges situation, and Liquid Web is truly in its own class.
WordPress Web Hosting
Liquid Web also offers seven tiers of managed WordPress web hosting through its Nexcess brand, starting at $19 per month for a single domain, 2TB of monthly data transfers, and a 15GB solid-state drive. As with other managed WordPress hosts, Liquid Web has one-click installs, automatic updates, and access to hundreds of apps and WordPress plug-ins, courtesy of its Fantastico library.
Liquid Web’s managed hosting environment is specifically designed for installing WordPress and associated plug-ins. In fact, you don’t have to install the CMS at all, as it comes preinstalled. Once you’re logged into WordPress, you can create posts, pages, and galleries as you would with any other self-hosted WordPress site. We were able to quickly create a rudimentary test page that got the job done.
The WordPress installation’s back end contains several themes you can apply to your site to give it an attractive look or extra functionality. You can, of course, use a WordPress theme that was purchased elsewhere.
A2 is the PCMag Editors’ Choice for WordPress hosting aimed at individuals and small businesses. A2 boasts a pre-built environment that offers many WordPress-friendly features, including live malware protection and curated plug-ins designed to enhance your experience. More importantly, A2 boasts unlimited storage and monthly data transfers across the board.
For more on the content management system, read How to Get Started With WordPress.
Cloud Web Hosting
Besides shared, VPS, dedicated, and WordPress hosting, Liquid Web also offers cloud hosting. With cloud hosting, the resources that your site needs to operate are shared across multiple servers.
Liquid Web’s cloud hosting comes in multiple tiers, with the CentOS 7 Linux or Windows operating systems. The prices start at a whopping $149 per month (for 15GB of RAM, 452GB of storage, and 5TB of monthly data) and scale to more than $1,100 per month depending on your configuration of choice. There’s a lot of flexibility should you need to expand server resources.
However, DreamHost wins PCMag Editors’ Choice, mainly because it’s available to a broader cross section of would-be cloud-hosting users than Liquid Web’s higher-end, managed solutions, which are in a category of their own. DreamHost has excellent packages that start at $4.50 per month (for 512MB of RAM, 80GB of SSD storage, and unlimited monthly data transfers) and top out at $48 per month (for four CPU cores, 8GB of RAM, 80GB of storage, and unlimited monthly data transfers).
Reseller Web Hosting
If you’re looking to get into the web hosting business for yourself, but you don’t want to deal with managing servers, bandwidth, and other infrastructure matters, check out Liquid Web’s excellent reseller web hosting packages. Liquid Web’s plans, starting at $139 per month, come with an exclusive WebHost Manager Complete Solution (or WHMCS) plug-in and instant provisioning.
The dedicated and VPS reseller packages are of both the Linux and Windows variety, and they have the same RAM, monthly data transfers, and storage amounts as those that Liquid Web supplies directly. There are, again, no shared reseller hosting plans. Liquid Web also lets you apply your own branding to the servers you rent, and it supplies 24/7 tech support, too.
Liquid Web offers well-rounded reseller plans, but Hostwinds goes the extra mile with stacked specs in a larger variety of server categories. As a result, Hostwinds is the Editors’ Choice for reseller hosting.
Want Security? Liquid Web’s got you covered. The company offers firewalls, Secure Socket Layer (SSL), virtual private networks (VPN), malware scanning and removal, and much more.
Some features come bundled with specific packages, while others you’ll need to purchase as add-ons. Liquid Web has free nightly backups, too, which will safeguard you should your site suffer massive damage.
Highly Dependable Uptime
Website uptime is one of the most important aspects of a hosting service. If your site is down, clients or customers will be unable to find you or access your products or services. You do not want that. Fortunately, Liquid Web is incredibly dependable.
We use a website monitoring tool to track my test sites’ uptime over a two-week period. Every 15 minutes, the tool pings my websites and sends us an email if it is unable to contact the test site for at least one minute. The data revealed that Liquid Web did have one, brief failure over the course of the past 14 days. That said, it appeared to be an isolated incident, as the service delivered strong uptime for months.
Excellent Customer Service
Liquid Web boasts an excellent Heroic Support customer service team, a squad of knowledgeable people who assist you in under a minute if you reach out by phone, in under 30 minutes if you submit a help desk ticket, and in under 59 seconds if you reach out by chat. Sounds good, yes? It is. We fired up the web chat on a weekday morning to ask a representative about the difference between cloud hosting and traditional hosting. A rep came to our aid seconds later and gave us a friendly, thorough explanation. We were impressed with the response’s speed and thoroughness.
Since Liquid Web is pricey, it’s unfortunate that the service lacks the standard 30-day money-back guarantee, which is typical in the web hosting industry. The company only offers pro-rated refunds on monthly cloud servers, and most of its other services are non-refundable. Considering the amount of money that a company is likely to spend for Liquid Web hosting, it would be nice to see more refund options. Liquid Web contends that’s impossible because most services are custom-tailored to the user. In contrast, other hosting options have money-back guarantee periods; DreamHost has an impressive 97-day money-back guarantee, for example.
Expensive, But Highly Capable for Big Biz
Without question, Liquid Web is one of the most-powerful web hosts PCMag has reviewed, and it’s a clear Editors’ Choice for managed web hosting. It has numerous packages with absolutely killer specs—specs that will cost you a pretty penny. Liquid Web may not have shared hosting packages, but the company’s excellent dedicated and VPS hosting are enough to place it among the web hosting elite.
That’s not to say that DreamHost, HostGator, or Hostwinds are irrelevant—far from it. They remain Editors’ Choice overall award-winners for those who need more wallet-friendly web hosting options. Still, if your business requires high-powered, managed web hosting, Liquid Web will do the job, and do the job very well.
For more on getting started online, read our tips on how to create a website. You might also want to check out our story on how to register a domain name for your website.