The topic of “who is a good Australian web host” is something that often comes up at various tech events. At a recent Meetup, I was lucky enough to be talking to a few folks involved in the local web hosting and web development industries. I asked them as a group, who they’d recommend and thought it would make a useful topic for a blog post.
Originally published in 2013 (last update March 2019): I’ve updated the list to include a few more hosts I’ve been working with that warrant being added. I’ve also added some information about VPS and shared hosting.
As with most things, if you ask enough people, you will come across someone that hasn’t had the best experience with any given provider so your mileage may (probably will) vary. Do your own research, but hopefully the list below provides a handy starting point. They also cover a wide range of budgets, with hosting – you really do get what you pay for.
Hosting services range from the simple provision of “web space” where you’re mostly on your own, through to managed services where you have an experienced team managing and actively supporting your websites. These recommendations come from knowing or knowing of the people managing the systems, and the client facing support they offer. The more reputable companies can generally attract the best local talent.
Even though my company offers hosting, I always encourage people to shop around for the best fit. A few of the companies I’ve used and recommend are – in no particular order:
- Bulletproof (http://www.bulletproof.net.au/)
- Digital Pacific (http://www.digitalpacific.com.au/)
- Anchor (http://www.anchor.com.au/)
- Hostworks (https://www.hostworks.com.au/)
- Panthur (http://www.panthur.com.au/)
- Ventra IP (https://ventraip.com.au/)
- Conetix (https://www.conetix.com.au/)
I use a few of these providers myself and I know there are others that are also good, but the companies above were the ones that were mentioned in the group discussion. One of the deciding factors I use when choosing or recommending a web host is support. Local Australian forums such as Whirlpool, DNTrade and Web Hosting Talk will usually give you an accurate picture of how good support is. The scope of support also varies.
Be sure to also check out the prices for extra storage space, bandwidth, backups, IP addresses and SSL certificates. These can add up quite quickly.
VPS or Shared Hosting?
A common question I get asked is “What is better, a VPS or shared hosting service?”, or “Do I need a VPS?”. There’s no standard answer, but if you’re running a business site, you should make sure that you avoid poor hosting performance, since it will seriously impact on your business and bottom line.
The Difference Between VPS and Shared Hosting
Shared hosting means you’re sharing the server with other websites. Well managed shared hosts can be reliable, but not typically recommended for serious business-grade websites that receive high volumes of traffic, or require custom configuration.
Shared hosting from a reputable company can be adequate for simple sites, however most of the mass market web hosting companies (the “host your website for only $10 a year! kind of deal) are lacking when it comes to performance and support.
A VPS is an isolated server just for your website. VPS’s typically come in 2 forms; 1) managed, where the hosting company takes care of updates, backups, monitoring and support – and 2) unmanaged or bare bones VPS, which means you’ll need to manage the server yourself.
There are also a lot of other terms you’ll hear, such as “cloud hosting”. This does have a meaning, but it’s usually used incorrectly as just a buzz word in most contexts. It might mean that it’s built on a “cloud” platform such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), but not always. Always ask questions to get past the marketing-speak.
We haven’t mentioned dedicated servers, but this means you get a physical server all to yourself. These usually cost more, and something you won’t find everyone offering.
Managed WordPress Hosting and Specialist WordPress Services
In recent years we’ve seen the rise of specialised WordPress hosting services, and pretty much every mainstream provider now offers some form of “WordPress” hosting product. In my experience, when it comes to the mass market hosting companies it’s mostly marketing hype and usually no different to their standard hosting when you scratch the surface.
In addition to the hosts above, there are quite a few WordPress specialist hosts (WordPress VIP, Pagely, WP Engine to name a few), however you do pay a premium for the more reputable providers. These services range from shared hosting, albeit more WordPress-friendly, to services with a 24/7 support team dedicated to Enterprise level customers. If managed WordPress hosting is what you’re after, go along to your local WordPress Meetup and ask some of the regulars who they use and recommend. For example, you’ll often see the team from Conetix active on the WordPress AU Slack channel or presenting at Meetups. Things like that are a very good sign.
Support outside the scope of providing the hosting space and website maintenance is something only a few of the higher-end providers offer, and the most common complaint I hear when it comes to hosts. As mentioned above, the old saying “you get what pay for” definitely holds true for business-grade hosting. Make sure you do your research and shop around!