If you have simple hosting requirements, the likelihood is you’ll opt for an account based on practical features like the amount of storage or bandwidth. The operating system (OS) is probably way down on your priority list. In fact, the OS is often left out of features lists and comparison tables altogether.
However, experienced technical users with prior experience or knowledge of Linux may want to take advantage of the control this OS can give them over their websites.
For example, you might have a favorite distro or control panel, or want to exercise greater control over your web server. You’ll find most providers are more than happy to accommodate any requests, and often, Linux packages include lots of extras, like a firewall, private DNS (domain name server), mail server, and good quality technical support.
Your idea as to what constitutes an attractive Linux package may be unique, but the following list includes what we believe to be the best Linux web hosting services. More than likely, you’ll find one of them is right for your business. At the least, you’ll get a good starting point for your own research.
The best Linux web hosting services available right now
InMotion Hosting is widely known as a reliable Linux web host, offering top-end packages that give users ultimate control over their websites. Its shared hosting is packed with features ideal for novices, including regular backups, free website migration, and a website builder.
Technical users are very well-catered for too, with plans that include support for PostreSQL and MySQL databases, Ruby, Perl, PHP 7, Python, and SSH (secure shell protocol) access. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
For example, as well as having PrestaShop, WordPress, and Joomla pre-installation options, you also get WP-CLI, enabling you to manage numerous WordPress installations via the command line. And all of this comes at a very reasonable price: InMotion Hosting’s plans start at just $2.49 a month on a three-year plan.
The more powerful upgrades are just as reasonably priced—you can get optional self-managed cloud VPS (virtual private server) hosting from $5 a month for year one.
This plan enables you to choose your OS and firewall and then install, configure, and optimize the server in any way you like. We were pleased to find that even its managed VPS hosting provided users with root access, enabling a good degree of low-level control.
You have a choice of OSs, including CentOS, Debian, or Ubuntu, and if you come across any problems during the setup phase, InMotion’s Launch Assist gives you a two-hour time slot with qualified tech support to help you iron out any issues.
To find out more about the hosting provider, read our InMotion Hosting review.
Almost every provider aiming to offer the best Linux web hosting will promise top-end technical support. What is hard for users to do is determine which provider is genuine, and which are simply talking the talk.
A good way to figure out whether the provider you’re interested in really can deliver on this promise is to do a little research into its most advanced package. Standard plans won’t provide you with the level of support that a pro package will, but it’s very helpful to know what’s on offer should you need it.
SiteGround takes advanced technical support up a notch. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in its standard products, the company can build you a custom solution. Its website lists a range of the technologies it can support on its platform, including smart Linux containers, bespoke private clouds, database replication, and advanced technical knowledge of MySQL, PHP, WordPress, Drupal, Apache, Nginx, MongoDB, ElasticSearch, Redis, Memcached, Solr, and others.
Of course, home users can’t expect this degree of support, but SiteGround's shared hosting plan has a lot going for it too, with cPanel and SSH access, free Let's Encrypt SSLs (secure sockets layers), unlimited emails and databases, Cloudflare integration, HTTP/2-enabled servers, daily backups, and open-all-hours support via phone, live chat, and a ticket system. All this comes at a cost of just $4.99 a month plus tax for year one, then $14.99 afterward.
SiteGround’s VPS-style cloud hosting includes a well-defined CentOS system, PostgreSQL, MySQL 5, 5 PHP versions, Apache, Nginx, HHVM, an Exim mail server, a private DNS (domain name server) setup, and Iptables firewall. Everything is pre-installed and managed for your convenience. These packages begin at $100 a month plus tax.
If you decide a dedicated server would best serve your needs, you’ll get some serious extras, including Nginx-based cache options for WordPress, Memcached and HHVM to boost performance, along with Git integration.
Even though many of these features may be surplus to requirements, they do give users a good indication of the level of technical expertise SiteGround can offer. So for a Linux-based site that you hope to scale up, this provider definitely has the right tools for the task.
Read our full SiteGround review to learn more.
Most providers offer Linux hosting, but usually, unless you opt for a dedicated server, you’ll find that your plan is managed totally by the company. This means your provider will set up, manage, and service the OS and all the other corresponding features for you.
For first-time users, this is a good option, but more technical users might want to have a little more control and get frustrated by the lack of flexibility.
With Hostwinds' unmanaged VPS plans, you are given total control over your hosting. You can take your pick from a wide range of operating systems, including openSUSE, CentOS, Ubuntu, Fedora, and Debian. What’s more, it’s possible for you to set up and configure your chosen OS in any way you choose and tweak your backup system.
It’s important to remember that deciding on an unmanaged package will require you to be more responsible for it—it won’t be the responsibility of your hosting provider. For example, if you stumble across a hard-to-solve software issue it’s you who will have to find a way to fix it. Still, experienced Linux users shouldn’t find this too intimidating.
But even with these advanced features, many components of Hostwinds' plans are still fairly straightforward and simple to use. For example, site management is conducted through cPanel, while WordPress and other installs are automated via Softaculous. You’ll also find one-click Nextcloud install, and more.
And because there are no management fees, you’ll receive 50% off your package. Regular managed Linux VPS plans start at $8.24 a month for 1GB RAM, one CPU core, 30GB disk space, and 1TB traffic, and go all the way up to $395.24 for 96GB RAM, 16 cores, 750GB disk space, and 9TB traffic.
In contrast, HostWinds' unmanaged packages start at $4.99 and go as high as $328.99 a month. Hostwinds also offers rolling contracts, so you can try the service for a month and change it if you're not satisfied. Read our Hostwinds review to find out more.
One of the appealing things about Linux hosting is the amount of control you can have over the separate components that make up your package. But this isn’t something you can expect from every provider.
In most cases, you’ll find that you are offered a default OS like CentOS and cPanel as standard, with no other options.
Liquid Web is different. It has a proven track record in providing flexible VPS and dedicated servers, and it’s this flexibility that attracts many technical users. Liquid Web creates bespoke solutions, enabling users to have advanced low-level control over their server.
For example, you don’t just have a single version of CentOS. Instead, you can opt for CentOS 6 (with CloudLinux if you want it), CentOS 7 (with either cPanel or Plesk), Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.04, Debian 8, 9, and 10, and Fedora 30. You can choose from a mix of self-managed, core-managed, and fully managed plans too.
You’ll find you have even more control over other extras. For example, instead of a regular backup strategy, Liquid Web enables you to choose the number of daily backups you'd like to do, or fit as many backups as possible into a disk space the size of which is up to you to determine. For this feature, you’ll pay a nominal $0.08 per GB a month for the space required.
Liquid Web provides round-the-clock support, and the team is very quick to respond to any issues you may encounter. If there’s a hardware failure, the provider guarantees it will be dealt with and replaced within half an hour of the issue being identified.
These claims are underpinned by a comprehensive service level agreement. One clause states that if the company doesn't respond to your ticket within 30 minutes, you'll be credited with 10 times the amount the deadline was missed by. You’ll also find other clauses covering things like network, electricity outages, and more.
First-timers might struggle to choose their initial Linux hosting plan as the range of features and optional extras can be a little overwhelming.
One way to test the waters is to sign up with a provider that’s both flexible and affordable. A budget provider like OVH will give you the opportunity to learn the ropes without shelling out too much capital.
OVH doesn’t have great support, and there’s no way we would recommend the provider for websites that are critical to a business’s success, but it does give you a lot for the price.
The provider’s VPS plans support a wide range of operating systems, including Ubuntu 14.04 Server and Ubuntu 16.04 Server, CentOS 6, CentOS 7, Debian 7, 8, and 9, Fedora 26, Arch Linux, and Kubuntu 14.04 Desktop if you require a user interface.
What’s more, you don’t have to have cPanel as a website manager as the provider also supports Plesk Onyx, Vesta CP, CozyCloud, and Virtualmin.
OVH claims that it’s possible to have WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, and PrestaShop pre-installed, but we couldn’t find any reference to a one-click application installer like Softaculous.
But you do have full root access, so in theory, it should be possible to configure anything you require. The most impressive thing about OVH, however, is the price of its plans, which start at only $2.20 a month minus VAT.
OVH is by no means one of the best Linux hosts on the market, but it does enable novice users to experiment with control panels and distros at very little expense.
We’d recommend this to users who are ready to dip a toe in the water but not yet prepared to take the plunge with a comprehensive Linux package.
- Read our guide to the best web hosting services