What makes for the best Windows hosting? Most if not all of the best web hosting (opens in new tab) services offer plans designed for use with Windows machines, while some specialize in offering best Linux hosting (opens in new tab) services. While that type of hosting is ideal given many hosts use Linux servers, there are many advantages of using Microsoft and Windows over Linux when it comes to web hosting.
Among these are that Windows is ideal for websites based on ASP.NET, .NET, or other Microsoft technologies, and are also best for those planning to use Microsoft stack products. In such specific cases, the best Windows hosting is what you should be aiming for, and fortunately it doesn't commit you to using Microsoft apps.
In fact, as you'll see below, many of the best Windows hosting providers support common apps and CMSs like PrestaShop, WordPress (opens in new tab), Drupal, and Joomla across their hosting services. In addition, should you not have cPanel (opens in new tab), similar apps like Plesk enable email account creation, site status checks, remote desktop features, and more.
There are of course some notable issues for top Windows hosting services, such as licence fees, a smaller app selection, and limited options when it comes to troubleshooting. However, despite these, the best Windows hosting services are still the top choice in many situations. Read on to see which hosts we ranked top.
The 3 best Windows hosting providers available
Liquid Web: top for cloud VPS and quality features
(opens in new tab)Liquid Web is a powerful option, as its cloud VPS (opens in new tab) tools provide scalability and performance. All plans feature unlimited sites, DDoS attack protection, and Cloudflare CDN. Private servers are available, while top customer support is matched by a 100% uptime guarantee.
Hostwinds: best for dedicated hosting (opens in new tab)
Hostwinds is top for dedicated hosting, thanks to its strong configurations for both general and high-demand users. It offers highly-customizable hosting, and is an attractive choice for anyone looking to scale a site, while cheaper packages come complete with strong tools.
HostGator: competitively-priced Windows hosting (opens in new tab) HostGator's highly flexible hosting for Windows includes plans for all user types, ranging from shared hosting up to dedicated servers. With relatively few restrictions, especially with higher-priced plans, it's a leading choice when it comes to unlimited hosting.
Which are the best Windows hosting services?
Our pick for the best Windows hosting service is Liquid Web. One of the most powerful options for companies looking for Windows hosting, Liquid Web employs cloud VPS tools for optimal scalability and performance, with top additional features included that other hosts usually charge extra for.
It also offers private cloud servers, top customer support options, and a 100% uptime service level agreement: not usual for hosting services, and a mark of its quality.
Hostwinds offers Windows hosting for nearly every use case, billing monthly without annual contracts and offering functionality and speed beyond most budget competitors. It also provides excellent and quick customer support, a 99.999% uptime guarantee, and wide-ranging flexibility alongside a 60-day money-back guarantee for new subscribers.
HostGator gives yet more affordability and flexibility to Windows hosting users, covering individuals all the way up to large businesses looking for dedicated hosting. It also has very few restrictions, though it does rely on outdated software.
Finally, 1&1 IONOS is a top-level host providing customers with competitively-priced plans, and strong Windows-tailored features across a series of plans and hosting types.
The best Windows hosting available right now
Another popular web hosting provider for businesses, Liquid Web is one of the most powerful options for companies looking for Windows hosting. 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, 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 a month, or $29 a 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 a 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 a 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 the top Windows hosting provider for many use cases.
Read our Liquid Web review (opens in new tab).
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 the best Windows hosting solution require functionality and speed beyond what most budget options can provide.
With 10 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 1Gbps. The platform is compatible with Windows Server 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2019.
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 five minutes of downtime per year.
The Hostwinds Tier 1 subscription includes 1GB RAM, a single CPU core, 1TB bandwidth a month, and up to 30GB storage. It currently costs $12.74 for the first month, followed by $16.99 a 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 8GB RAM, 3TB bandwidth, and up to 150GB storage. For the first month, the Tier 5 subscription costs $68.99, going up to $91.99 a 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 a 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.
Read our full Hostwinds review (opens in new tab).
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 $4.76 a month when you commit to a three-year contract. The price increases 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.
HostGator does however rely 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 a month. We’ve also seen promotional pricing at just $79.99 a 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.
Read our HostGator review (opens in new tab).
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 $5 a month for the first year, followed by an increase to $10 a month. It comes with one site (including a free domain and SSL certificate), unlimited bandwidth, 100GB storage, daily backups, 24/7 help via email or phone, and up to 25 email addresses, each of which includes 2GB of additional SSD storage.
1&1 IONOS also provides strong features tailored to Windows users. Subscribers receive five SQL (Structured Query Language) databases limited to 1GB 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 (Server Side Includes) 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 (content delivery network). This subscription costs $10 a month for the first year followed by a permanent increase to $20 a 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 a 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 the best Windows hosting.
Windows hosting FAQs
What is Windows web hosting?
Web hosting (opens in new tab) is the process where servers and infrastructure owned by web hosts store site files, delivering them to visitors. Any website comprises a wide range of files including text, code, images, and more, which when linked together create a functional site.
However, files must be stored somewhere for visitors to access them when loading the page. Web hosts provide the storage for and access to website files, with the data stored on a web-connected server. As a visitor loads your homepage, all of the files are delivered to their device of choice.
When it comes to the best Windows hosting, providers will often offer managed web hosting (opens in new tab). This is available across all hosting types, but specifically for both Linux and Windows-specific hosting requirements, meaning that you can hand over the administration of your site, and any complex or day-to-day tasks, to the web host. Many compare managed vs unmanaged hosting (opens in new tab), but the latter is only ideal for those with the requisite knowledge and technical experience.
How we review the best Windows hosting services
In reviewing any web hosting service, we assess response times and uptimes over a two-week period, because both figures are integral to site performance. To do this, we build a test site with the host, or with a separate platform if a built-in builder isn't included.
With this site, we test, analyze, and evaluate user interfaces, features, and tools, in order to ensure these are easy-to-use and not too complex. Security elements and customer service and support response are also focused on, because we want to make sure that your chosen host keeps your site safe, and fixes any issues encountered as soon as possible.
To do this, we test out how easy it is to import or set up an SSL certificate, alongside interrogating and testing other relevant security tools offered. We test customer support by seeing how quickly they respond to issues, and how reliable and knowledgeable staff are when responding.
Finally, we undertake an in-depth interrogation of pricing plans, in order to make you aware if there are any increasing monthly costs after an initial period. Many hosting packages can be confusingly-priced, so we outline for you how costs might change down the line.
Next steps with web hosting and website builders
Before you learn how to host a website (opens in new tab), it's worth looking into how to choose a web hosting service (opens in new tab), and the most common mistakes to avoid when choosing a web hosting provider (opens in new tab). Make sure to read our other buying guides ranking the best VPS hosting (opens in new tab), the best WordPress hosting (opens in new tab), the best cloud hosting (opens in new tab), and the best unlimited web hosting (opens in new tab).
When you've chosen a provider, learn top tips when it comes to buying a web hosting service (opens in new tab), and find out more about web hosting security (opens in new tab), as well as anonymous website hosting (opens in new tab), to keep yourself safe. Need to build a website (opens in new tab)? Take a look at the best website builders (opens in new tab) available, and learn how to go about building a website (opens in new tab).
Finally, ensure that you've chosen a domain name (opens in new tab) and registered your domain (opens in new tab). It's also worth looking into how hosting can affect SEO (opens in new tab), especially if you're looking to create a site that competes with rivals for business on search engines.