If you’ve landed here, chances are you’re hunting for a host for your UK-based website.
First off – kudos to you that you’re doing your research! A fast and reliable host is the foundation of every successful site.
To pick out THE best host for you, you’ll also want to understand the UK’s hosting environment. This’ll help reveal which hosts can truly best the competition.
This article will be taking a look at our top 5 hosts for UK websites (plus 2 worthy mentions!)
Ready? Let’s dig in.
Tremendous Growth In The UK’s E-commerce Scene
With a staggering 94.8% of the population now with access to the internet, and the region’s e-commerce industry booming, it’s an exciting time to be kicking off your own UK website.
Last year, e-commerce made up a whopping 20% of all retail sales in the UK. Yup, e-commerce is set to grow by 5.7% annually until 2023.
This sort of growth means BIG opportunity. Question is – are you able to catch it?
And… how so?
Perhaps an affiliate blog? Or online store? Depending on what you’re going for, your site will come with its own specific needs that your host provider will have a chance to address.
Maybe you need extra bandwidth for your growing inventory. Or, compatibility with a preferred e-comm platform like Shopify UK (read about what makes a great e-commerce host here).
End of the day, a good host isn’t just a tech platform – it’s a tech partner. The ‘right’ one should support your business’s growth long into the future.
That means being flexible and resourceful enough to help you cash into the promising future of UK e-commerce.
How might Brexit and GDPR affect you?
London as a major hub… for now
Part of your host decision-making is considering where in the world to host from. Since you want your site to load quickly for your audience, it’s usually best to pick the datacenter closest to them.
Good news if your audience is local – London is currently Europe’s largest data center market, and the third-largest in the world! It’s home to local hosts, but it’s a hotspot for big international hosts to set up servers. In fact, it currently ranks #2 amongst the top financial centers in the world.
That said… the uncertainty of Brexit is raising lots of questions about its future. Some reports suggest that Brexit is a real threat to London’s role as a major global datacenter hub.
Sure, London is highly developed and well-connected. But if, due to passporting and legal complications, the UK isn’t able to sustain EU’s financial services, there could be a big migration of data and services out of London.
Then, there’s the question of data residency…
For that, you need to understand the VERY important concept of GDPR.
What on earth is GDPR?
In short, it stands for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
It’s a set of standards that applies to all members of the EU, including Britain for now… including you!
It exists to give regular people power over the use of their personal data, and holds businesses more accountable.
And – it’s VERY important that your website is fully compliant with it! Non-compliance can land you a very ugly fine.
Thing is, Brexit complicates things. When Britain exits the EU, it’ll be considered a ‘third country’ not technically under GDPR. EU organisations will need to take extra-strict measures to make sure all their data transfers to the UK are lawful.
“So… I’d need to move my site to a London server??”
Well – hope is not lost. The UK’s best bet is to hope for ‘adequacy status’.
This basically means the European Commission will assess the UK’s regulations to check that they’re up to scratch. If adequacy is granted, the UK will be able to transfer data much more freely. Unfortunately, this process can only begin after the UK leaves, so all of this is speculation for now.
Many predict that the main direction of data movement will be OUT of London and back into the EU, to avoid these cross-border complications. Some large European companies have already started shifting some of their data requirements back home.
However, the reverse is also likely – with some British data likely to return home.
To host inside, or outside the UK?
Is your audience mostly in UK?
- GDPR compliance necessary now, very likely still important in the future.
- Consider hosting from London (should also be faster)
- Note, if UK is eventually granted ‘adequacy’, it shouldn’t matter where you’re hosting from.
Is your audience mostly in EU?
- GDPR compliance necessary.
- Consider hosting from the EU, outside London (should also be faster)
- Note: GDPR applies to anyone processing the personal data of individuals in the EU – regardless of where in the world they’re based.
For both cases, and if your audience is a mix of UK & EU citizens – you might want to consider a host that has datacenters in both London & elsewhere in Europe. This will give you the flexibility to migrate between them with minimal hassle.
The UK has already implemented GDPR into domestic law, so it does look like they’ll still be upholding GDPR, post-Brexit.
And so, wherever your audience is, your best bet is to make your site fully GDPR compliant (we’ll explain how in a bit).
What else might Brexit affect?
- New hefty import duties and additional VAT means UK products may get more expensive for those outside the UK.
- Some ccTLD domain names, like .eu, are only available to businesses in the EU. What’ll happen to the 300k+ .eu domains already registered to UK businesses is unknown!
Still, at the end of the day – we can only guess at the implications of Brexit (we aren’t lawyers, only host enthusiasts).For sure, it’s a climate of both potential and uncertainty.
Setting your website up with a reputable host that offers very strong security features, can only be a good place to start.
What to look for in a good UK host
Different host providers have different strengths.
However, there are a couple of things that any good UK host needs to have:
1. Security & GDPR Compliance
So we’ve introduced GDPR. But how does this factor into choosing a host?
Under GDPR you’re expected to keep data secure, and explain to users how you’re using their data. It’s enforced with hefty fines for any organisations who fail to comply, or suffer serious data breaches.
So, a good host will help provide a secure line of defense:
- Offer enhanced server security through firewalls and brute-force defense systems.
- Offer SSL certificates to ensure any data submitted into a web form is encrypted. SSL isn’t required under GDPR, but come highly recommended.
- Offer a proactive monitoring software or system to track and detect any attempts to hack your website, with a system in place to react quickly in the event of a breach. According to GDPR, any serious data breach needs to be reported to the ICO within 72 hours.
(Read up the specifics of GDPR compliance here, we don’t want to bore you)
Not only are you protecting customers, you’re also protecting yourself and making sure you’re ready to transact with your customers, wherever they’re based.
2. Host speed
At Bitcatcha, we’re kind of speed-obsessed. A good host should always offer excellent speed.
Research keeps showing that a site’s loading speed can make or break your user experience. Quicker load times lead to higher retention and happier customers.
After all, you’re up against fierce competition – most of UK e-commerce is still dominated by the big online businesses from the US. Good speed lends a big competitive edge.
A great host will optimise speed through both hardware build and software add-ons like caching and CDN.
To rate host speed, we’ll be using our handy Bitcatcha server speed test which reveals how quickly a server responds to a request from anywhere in the world.
We have 10x testing nodes installed in different locations to simulate people around the globe visiting your site, including one in London!
If you want your site to stay up and running smoothly, you need to know that help is available whenever you need it. And that… the help is actually helpful!
That means a dependable customer support team that takes no notice of time-zones. If your host provider is based outside the UK, you don’t want to only be receiving responses to your tickets only during that country’s business hours.
Look for nothing less than 24/7 support, and an expert team that’s skilled enough to solve issues with minimal escalations.
Downtime can be catastrophic for your site’s traffic and reputation, and is the enemy of opportunity. A good host takes every measure possible to avoid downtime.
Look out for hosts with a uptime guarantee of at least 99%. Even better, have a look at third-party tools like UptimeRobot and reviews to see if popular opinion agrees.
5. Value for money
Lastly, a good host should get you your money’s worth. That means balancing function with price.
Unfortunately, UK hosting tends to be slightly more expensive than US host packages. Although the numbers often look quite similar, the different value of the US dollar means hosting tends to be more expensive for UK companies. Take Hostinger’s introductory price: $0.80/mo in the US, £0.80 in the UK.
Different hosts vary on offerings, so be sure to understand exactly what you’re getting. One host may include a free domain registration, whilst another may not. Make no assumptions!
Ranked: The 5 Best Web Hosting For UK Websites
Now that we know what to look out for, let’s talk hosts!
Starting with our top pick…
- All pricing listed are based on 12-month contract introductory price.
- The forex rate being used is 1 Pound Sterling to 1.25 USD.
- 20GB SSD storage
- 25,000 visits /mo
- 24/7 techn. support
- Premium backup
"Well-rounded host with datacenters across Europe delivering fantastic security, speed & support."
We’re kicking this list off with our all-around favourite: SiteGround.
This renowned brand delivers quality offerings, making it Bitcatcha’s top pick. They’ve been our host since 2015 and we couldn’t be happier with the speed and service!
SiteGround has been expanding around the world since its inception in 2004. Today, they have data centers in 4 locations, including London.
But how fast is it really? We hosted a test site on their GrowBig plan to get some official numbers.
(This test site was hosted from SiteGround’s London datacenter on a GrowBig plan)
Our test site data scored a VERY solid A+.
With an average response time of 148.7 ms, SiteGround is officially the fastest host on this list.
But best of all – it pinged a super fast 4 ms from London! So if your audience is based in the UK, you can rest easy.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising, given SiteGround runs on speed-enhancing SSD disks. All plans also come with free Cloudflare CDN integration to serve audiences from the closest location, plus premium SuperCacher which claims to boost load times up to 4x.
And aside from speed?
SiteGround is fantastically reliable. Their 99.9% uptime guarantee is bolstered by a state-of-the-art security suite that should protect you from malware and those dreaded data breaches that are a GDPR nightmare.
SiteGround also owns datacenters in other European countries, including two in Amsterdam! If you do decide you need to relocate datacenter location later down the line, you’ll only be charged a one-time $30 fee and the process only takes a couple of hours.
Their ‘recommended’ GrowBig plan starts at £4.95/mo. Though this sounds reasonable, bear in mind this will jump up significantly to £14.95/mo upon renewal.
SiteGround isn’t the cheapest option, but it does deliver real quality on all fronts. Expect a solid set of features, peace of mind and excellent speeds whether your audience is based in the UK, or beyond.
What we didn’t like about SiteGround
- SiteGround’s price almost triples in price upon renewal.
- Free domain name
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Localised support
"As cheap as it gets and offers excellent uptime and security, plus multiple servers in Europe."
Hostinger is another international company, spread across 6 regions, that include the UK and the Netherlands. So again, you’ve got the option between the two.
There’s one thing about Hostinger that secures it a spot in most of our top-hosts lists…
It’s so dang cheap!
Their single web hosting plan starts from an unbelievable £0.80/mo. Fancy going large? Even their ‘premium’ plan starts from only £2.15.
Does a low price mean a dodgy deal? Not at all!
We ran it through Bitcatcha’s server speed checker and the numbers spoke for themselves.
(This test site was hosted from Hostinger’s Netherlands datacenter on a Premium Shared plan)
Our test site is actually already hosted from their Netherlands server, however the numbers still blew us away!
The London response time was 54 ms.
That’s 50 ms slower than SiteGround, but still very respectable! Bear in mind this would likely be even quicker if you chose to host from the UK. However, we’re pretty happy knowing that this host offers the option to switch between Amsterdam and the UK, should Brexit cause any issue later down the road.
It scored another A+ rating with an average speed of 165 ms.
Great speed and low prices aren’t the only things that qualify Hostinger as true value-for-money host.
They’re a very experienced company that knows the industry well. They’ve helped serve over 29 million clients to date!
What’s more? Hostinger users are protected by a 99.9% uptime guarantee a Bitninja security suite, and you’ll manage everything from their custom, user-friendly hPanel interface. You’ll also get a free SSL cert on their business hosting plan.
Sure, there are some functions missing, like CDN and daily backups. But Hostinger definitely gives you great value for what you’re getting, and is a great option for anyone on a budget getting started.
What we didn’t like about Hostinger
- Their lowest introductory price requires a commitment of 48 months.
- Powered by Google Cloud
- 20,000 visits /mo
- Daily backups
- WP expert as support
- Hack fix guarantee
"Built on Google Cloud architecture, Kinsta is lightning-fast & GDPR-conscious, but pricier."
Fact: Kinsta is a managed WordPress host.
What’s more important to know? Kinsta’s services are powered by Google Cloud’s premium network.
That means users have access to the highest levels of performance, speed and security of Google. What is already a leader in the cloud networking industry.
We’ll get into how this directly benefits you in a sec.
We whipped up a test site using their Starter shared hosting plan. The results?
(This test site was hosted from Kinsta’s London datacenter on a Starter plan)
Yes, another solid A+! With an average speed of 179.5 ms.
Best of all – they have a London datacenter that pinged an amazing 10 ms. That means UK audiences should definitely enjoy top speeds.
Since it leverages off 20 Google Cloud server locations (yes, 20!), there’s unsurprisingly one right in London. You’ve got another 5 options in Europe: Zurich, Belgium, Frankfurt, the Netherlands, and Hamina. Shifting between them is just a matter of opening up a support ticket. It’s definitely the most flexible host in this aspect.
Can their speed be improved on? Well, Kinsta also offers a free CDN service through a partnership with the reputable brand KeyCDN. It’s more premium than the CDN options typically offered by hosts and should help slash load times further.
What about GDPR? Well.
Encryption isn’t mandatory to GDPR, however comes strongly recommended. Thanks to Google Cloud Platform, all data is encrypted at rest. Kinsta has even built their own WordPress cookie consent plugin that lets users choose which types of cookies to opt in on, which helps websites guarantee legal compliance.
So out of all the hosts on this list, Kinsta seems to be the one that goes above and beyond for GDPR compliance.
Kinsta users will also enjoy other benefits from its cloud architecture that many typical shared or VPS hosts can’t offer.
For example, you’ll get great protection against traffic surges. In the event of a spike, your website’s container simply scales to as many CPUs as you need.
Similarly, if your site starts to outgrow your current bandwidth allowances, there’s no need to migrate to another server type or host. Just pay the next tier up!
However! As a premium solution, Kinsta comes at a premium price, starting at £20/mo. It’s a higher price point than most competitors and goes up considerably by tier.
Sure, Kinsta also offers slick management tools and a support team of WordPress experts. However, you’ll have to ask yourself if YOU yourself are looking for this degree of support, and resources.
If the answer is yes, well then Kinsta might be perfect. It’s a great fit to owners serious about growing traffic, and wanting a fully-managed solution that’s fully GDPR compliant. Otherwise, it may be overkill for smaller sites.
What we didn’t like about Kinsta
- A higher price point.
- No phone support.
- Unlimited SSD
- Unlimited bandwidth
- A2 Site Accelerator
- Free site migration
- Anytime money back
"A feature-rich solution for the amount it costs, plus offering an excellent turbo option."
A2 is another global company with servers across Europe, Asia and the USA. They offer a huge range of hosting options, from VPS to shared to dedicated, and more.
After a lot of reading, we found ourselves most drawn to their Turbo plan, which is primed and polished for speed.
So we set up a test site to check it out.
Here’s what came back:
(This test site was hosted from A2’s Amsterdam datacenter on a Turbo plan)
As can be seen, A2 also scored itself a proud A+. Even though its datacenter closest to the UK was in Amsterdam, London pinged in at a very speedy 19 ms. That’s super quick!
Not to mention, all shared hosting plans come with speed-enhancing SSD storage, Cloudflare CDN, Hackscan protection, and optimised apps. They also offer an easy option to request a Data Protection Agreement (DPA), which is necessary to fulfil your own GDPR compliance.
However, what’s also really great about A2, is this: it knows how to throw in a LOT of value.
Their Swift (£4.46/mo) plan and anything above will unlock an attractive list of ‘unlimiteds’.
This includes unlimited websites, email addresses, total databases, storage, transfers and more! You won’t even need to pay for SSL, which is another win for GDPR.
If you have the cash to splurge – consider their most popular ‘Turbo’ plan, like we did. At a steeper £8.52/mo you’ll run on Turbo web hosting servers (said to load sites up to 20x quicker) and enjoy three different levels of caching.
All this, at a reasonable price, makes A2 a very feature-rich solution that’s great for sites whether your audience is in the UK or beyond.
What we didn’t like about A2 Hosting
- Approach the claims of ‘Unlimited’ with a grain of salt – sites that breach their allocated resource share, do run the chance of having their resources restricted by the host.
- We did read quite a few complaints about slow support that wasn’t immediately available.
- Host 6 websites
- Unlimited disk space
- Unlimited transfer
- SSH access
- 24×7 US support
"Intuitive, value-packed and first-timer friendly. However you’ll be limited to US servers"
Inmotion is a top-rated CNET web hosting company with a slew of awards to their name.
They’re actually Bitcatcha’s ex host, and are somewhat still close to our heart. What’s the fuss all about?
Well, not only have they been in the industry for 16+ years, but their plans build upon an impressive server stack.
Customers should enjoy speeds up to 10x faster than regular shared hosting, with Inmotion’s built-for-speed combo of SSD, NGINX set-up and advanced server caching.
However, Inmotion unfortunately only has servers in the US. We hosted a test site from their Los Angeles server anyway, to see how it’d fare. The results?
(This test site was hosted from Inmotion’s Los Angeles datacenter on a Power plan)
Whilst the 2 ms response time in the US (W) was the fastest yet for a node in the region of its datacenters’, the response time from London was a somewhat disappointing 322 ms.
That could lead to some hiccups in speed for UK audiences. However, if you’re a UK site with your audience primarily in the US, this could be a fantastic option.
Inmotion offers plenty of life-simplifying functions that may be particularly compelling to first-time website owners. This includes their ‘QuickStarter’ offer, where your site is designed from scratch, SEO-optimised and put online within 2 days. They also offer drag-and-drop website builders said to help you put a website together in under an hour.
Another thing we liked about Inmotion is its very useful knowledge base that’s great for self-directed troubleshooting. Their articles are ‘conversation’ structured – users post their related problems to a thread, and Inmotion reps respond publicly. We had a look and found several that advised on GDPR compliance.
Like A2, Inmotion also gives you a lot of features and freebies. From unlimited storage space, bandwidth and disk space, to a free domain name, free themes and even free marketing content & photos.
All this for a price that’s very fair. Their smallest business shared plan has an introductory price of £3.19 /mo, for a commitment of 2 years. It also has a 90-day money back guarantee (most hosts offer 30 days).
We’d recommend it to small to medium-sized sites, with US audiences.
What we didn’t like about Inmotion Hosting
- There have been some reported issues with uptime in the past. The first week of May 2018 saw some significant network problems.
- Inmotion only has 2 datacenters, both based in the US.
Now a quick mention of our bonus hosts!
- 300% green host
- Linux & cPanel
- RAID-10 SSD
- RHTTP/2 & PHP 7
"Environmentally-friendly hosting that delivers fantastic speed and security."
GreenGeeks is an independently owned company, with 5 datacenters worldwide. We already had a host site running from their Canada data center, however you’ll be pleased to know they also offer one in the UK itself.
Even from Canada, it still performs pretty snappy. It pinged 191 ms from London (still within benchmark) and a speedy 9 ms from Canada node, so you can get some idea of the difference it makes when a datacenter is outside the UK/Europe!
(This test site was hosted from GreenGeek’s Canada datacenter on an EcoSite Lite plan)
Honestly, the more we read up on GreenGeeks, the more we liked them.
Out of the hosts on this list, GreenGeeks has the biggest commitment to the environment. Hosting with GreenGeeks means you will not be simply carbon-neutral, but actually “carbon-reducing”.
Whatever energy they consume, they invest 3 times that in the form of renewable energy via the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
And they’re still a fantastic host!
On top of decent speed, even their lowest shared plan gets you unlimited SSD web space & data transfer. Top that off with a strong security suite and proactive server monitoring. This includes ‘advanced clustered thread analysis’ – which basically means their team identify potential attacks happening across their network, in order to develop security rules before problems occur.
So GreenGeeks has a feel-good factor that’s pretty unique. You’ll be helping to make a difference, whilst reaping the benefits of an excellent & secure hosting provider.
- Linux & cPanel
- 50 GB SSD storage
- Automatic backup
- Resource protection
- Free SSL Certificate
"WordPress-endorsed hosting that offers great speed, and an even better support team of WP experts."
Whilst it also didn’t make our top five, we figured Bluehost still deserved a mention.
Why? Because Bluehost is the official recommendation of WordPress. They claim that ‘No one powers WordPress better or understands it more than we do.’
With a full-time WordPress CORE development engineers in their team, it’s not a stretch to believe.
Based in North America, they scored a very decent A+ rating on our server speed checker.
(This test site was hosted from Bluehost’s Utah datacenter on a Basic plan)
It pinged from London at a slightly laggier 183 ms. Not the fastest of this list, but still within benchmark.
Key features include:
- Versatile pricing plans
- A highly technical WordPress support team
- Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) services to help sites build a SEO plan
- Free SSL
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Where required, they pledge to support you in fulfilling any GDPR related data subject requests
Their Basic plan starts from £2.43 (36-mo contract) and includes 50 GB SSD Storage, unmetered bandwidth and free SSL.
So there you have it.
Which is the very best host for a UK website?
There will never be an absolute right answer, but you’ll want to be sure your chosen host meets the following criteria:
Effectively helps defend your site from hackers and malware, and aids you in GDPR compliance.
- Excellent speed
Earns at least an A+ or A rating on our Bitcatcha speed test.
Provides 24/7, effective support.
An uptime guarantee of 99%.
- Value for money
Balances the features you need with a fair price.
To recap our top 3 picks:
#1 SiteGround UK
A well-rounded host with datacenters in London & Amsterdam, with very high-quality offerings of security, speed and support.
#2 Hostinger UK
Datacenters in London & Amsterdam that offer extremely cheap hosting, excellent uptime and security.
Google Cloud architecture makes Kinsta a highly flexible, speedy, and GDPR-conscious option that comes at more premium price.